Mt Pleasant News
http://mt-pleasant-ia.villagesoup.com/p/it-was-a-long-long-way-home/110490

Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

It was a long, long way home

By Steph Tahtinen

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

I was never as happy to see the Sheboygan County, Wis., sign as when I passed it about 11 p.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day. I decided to go home to visit my parents that weekend. I had a new route to take that bypassed Madison, as I hate driving on the beltline. Although this route was supposed to be easier, it ended up being the worst road trip of my life.

The first time I was lost, I have nobody to blame but myself. Well, myself and my GPS, Helga. Now, Helga is usually pretty trustworthy. She gets me where I need to go. However, she has a habit of taking me on scenic byways. I’ll admit, the scenery is beautiful, but I’d rather get to my destination quickly instead of going down roads that would be ideal for a rollercoaster. Therefore, I usually have a map in my mind and will ignore Helga when she tells me to turn off onto some random county road.

For some reason I decided to listen to her on Friday night, and I ended up on some of the scariest roads I’ve ever driven on.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever driven around southwestern Wisconsin much, but it is very hilly. The hills are steep and the roads have sharp curves. Take away the trees and paved road, add some sunshine and you could almost picture Julie Andrews running around singing.

So there I was, convinced I was going to die as I climbed up hill after hill where I had no idea how steep the hill was on the other side or how sharp the curve was until I reached the top.

The road signs warning me of steep declines and advising a speed limit of 15 mph only increased my anxiety as I reached the crest of hill after hill, praying that there would be no vehicles coming from the other direction. Thankfully I seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. The only other signs of life I saw were six deer hanging out on the side of the road, which only made me more apprehensive with every turn.

I never expected my close call to come from the sky. It was starting to get dark and I was going down a hill when suddenly my windshield was blocked by a huge, tan stomach of an owl as it swooped down in front of my car and almost crashed into my windshield.

I’ll admit, I screamed.

When I eventually wound up on Highway 23 —the same road I had left about 40 minutes before — I continued my destination towards Highway 60. As my luck would have it, most of this road was under construction.

Thanks to the kindness of the department of transportation, I experienced more detours that evening. I followed the bright orange detour signs, I ended up on roads similar to the ones I had just left. Instead of trees lining the roads, though, there were farms and cows. By now it was completely dark outside and rain pounded on my windshield.

I came to the conclusion that I should switch fields and become a scientist so I can discover how to teleport places.

I eventually found myself in a town called Waunakee about 9:30 p.m. I have never been so happy to see civilization.

I pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot and studied the map Dad insisted I keep in my glove box. If I took Highway 19 out of town, in about 20 minutes I would reach Highway 151, which was my destination this entire time. For the first time in about two hours I had some idea of where I was. Once I got to Highway 151, I knew how to get home.

Well, I thought I did. After a harrowing drive through pouring rain, I got to Fond du Lac. I knew I had to turn onto Highway 23, which would take me into Sheboygan. However, I somehow missed my straight-shot exit. Helga was no help. She showed me driving in the middle of a field.

So, I ended up turning around, heading into downtown Fond du Lac and driving around for about five minutes until I found where to turn onto Highway 23. The rain started to let up, and about 45 minutes later, I pulled into my parents’ driveway, exhausted and glad to be home.

Thankfully, my trip back to Iowa was much less eventful. That is, until I stopped at Hy-Vee when I got back into town and locked my keys in my car.