One bright sunny summer day I decided to take a trip to see the Serpent Mounds. As I climbed into my Horizon early that peaceful morning I had no idea what lay in store for me. Had I known that I would be facing death I might have stayed home.
Things started out good enough. I had the radio on and was singing to it—painfully off key, I might add. The morning light flickered across my face as drove down the scenic St. Rt. 314 and I was full of energy. I was glad to be getting away from work and all the stress of daily life. I told myself that this little adventure would be refreshing and invigorating. A smile crept across my face as I thought about seeing new towns and new sites.
Adventure begins in your own back yard I told everyone. Maybe I didn’t have the money to take off for exotic locations half way around the world, but that didn’t mean I still couldn’t have some fun. My mother and I would hop in the car and meander along the many back roads nearly every weekend for a while when I was a teenager. I kept track of where all we went by highlighting our routes on an old beat up Ohio map. It looked like a shattered window, with the center starting in Shelby and spreading out like fingers across Richland, Ashland, and Morrow counties. We would explore places like Charles Mill, Pleasant Hill, Malabar Farm, and Mohican some days. Other days we would go north up toward Lake Eerie and get lost along roads named things like Egypt and Peru.
This adventure was all my own though, and I was going father than we had ever gone before. I had plotted out one route down there and another back the night before and made the proper preparations for the days outing. I packed a map, a camera, a lunch, gas money, and lots of tapes. I thought I had remembered everything. I left at seven a.m. and planned to be back before super time. It all seemed to be falling together perfectly.
Then I hit a snag.
Well, more like a pothole.
This pothole was more like the Grand Canyon. When I hit it my whole body jolted and I yelled some obscenities. My pleasantly swift pace had just been reduced to a turtle like crawling. As I drove I realized the horrible truth–my tire was going flat. Reluctantly I pulled over to the side of the road and shut off the car. I got out and inspected the damage done. It was going to have to be changed. The problem was that I didn’t have a spare tire or even a jack. The car had not come equipped with such luxuries since I had bought it used. Now, had I owned a cell phone it wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but instead, I had to walk to a gas station about a mile down the road and beg one of the mechanics to sell me a tire and put it on for me.
An hour and nearly a hundred dollars later I was back on the road. That was one minor set back I told myself. It wasn’t a huge deal. These things happen all the time in Ohio, especially when the roads get a great deal of ware and tear from the snowy winters and the snowplows.
Then I ran into construction! It was good that they were repairing the roads, which obviously needed it, but the long and slow lines of traffic were putting a damper on my mood. As I drove at thirty-five miles an hour along the highway I had the urge to yell at some of the guys that they missed a spot about twenty miles back, but I didn’t. I listened to music and tried to think about other things. The traffic slowed down to twenty and then ten miles an hour before the orange barrels and cones disappeared. Finally the line of cars began to speed up to the normal pace of fifty-five. Okay, now we were getting somewhere. I glanced at my watch. I was not going to be home in time for dinner at this rate. I looked back up at the traffic. If only I could break away from all of this traffic maybe I would have a chance. I watched the double yellow line turn into a dotted yellow line and decided to take my chance.
I pulled out of my place in the long line and accelerated. My heart raced as passed one, two, three and four cars. As I passed the fifth car, I noticed the yellow line become solid and hill sloping up farther ahead. I looked over to see if I could get over, but there was no place to go. My place in line had been take and no one was going to let me into the line. I would have to pass the remaining six cars and pray that no cars came. Then I saw it. There was a car coming straight for me and I still had five more cars to pass. I am going to die I thought. Then something strange happened. The cars to my left moved over toward the shoulder just a few inches and the on coming cars moved toward the right side of the road just a little and I found myself driving down the middle of the road right on the yellow line between two lines of traffic. Adrenaline pumping I managed to pass the last of the cars and zoom on ahead.
Eventually I stopped shaking and pulled into a gas station to fill up. The cool morning had turned into a very humid afternoon. Wishing I had air conditioning in my car I studied my map and drank my pop. I collected myself and continued onward. I was thankful that the next couple of highways I took were all but deserted. The only problems I had were my engine light coming on and a bee that flew in my window that nearly made me wreck.
It was about noon when I finally arrived at my destination. The Serpent Mound looked like tiny hills from the ground, but once I got up on the look out tower I saw the spiraling earth and realized how awesome it was. For a moment I forgot all my modern day problems and thought about the natives who once lived there and what their life must have been like. I drew in a deep breath and descended the stairs. I was glad that I had taken the time to come and enjoy the natural beauty of Ohio. My hardships were nothing compared to what the Natives must have faced.
The drive home was pretty peaceful. I only got lost once.
The sun sank into the western sky as I drove home. I had would miss dinner, but it was worth it to see this sunset. The clouds went from dark blue to pink, orange and then red. The colors seemed almost to come alive as they shifted and faded. The last rays of the day touched my face as I came to a stop at my house. Sighing I thought of how I had survived the day and was a better person for it.