If you are new to this blog, it might be helpful to understand up front that I get lost a lot. If you are not new to this blog. I’m fairly certain there is no way you could have missed this.

Because I know this about myself, I take certain precautions. I look up directions before I leave, even if I’m going somewhere I’ve been before. I have the Photographer, who knows that part of his job for pretty much the rest of his life is going to be giving me directions and occasionally coming to the rescue when, despite those directions, I am still lost. I have a road atlas in the car pretty much all the time that covers at least 48 states. Somehow, in spite of all of this, I managed last weekend to become profoundly and totally lost.

A friend who is soon to be married was having a shower at a local winery, about an hour and a half from my home. The website of the establishment warned visitors not to use a GPS or mapquest to find their way because those methods would tell them to use roads that have not existed for years. I carefully wrote down the directions the proprietors provided, thinking it was a very good thing I’d visited the site. I was to go to this winery for the shower, then later meet the Photographer and some other friends at another winery in that same area for an afternoon picnic. I carefully wrote directions from one winery to the other. It was only maybe 15 minutes away.

My first mistake was in not gassing up immediately when I got off the interstate and noticed that I had about a quarter of a tank left, but I was running late, and according to my directions I should not be going that far off the main highway. This turned out to be incorrect. It also turned out that as careful as the winery proprietors were in offering precautions on their website, their directions sucked. Roads they told me to turn on were unmarked, and I missed a very important turn. I did eventually arrive, 45 minutes late, and frighteningly low on gas. the winery proprietor offered to give me directions to the nearest gas station, which was maybe 15 miles in the opposite direction of where I needed to go. This was the same proprietor whose directions had gotten me lost on my way there, so I politely declined. I texted the Photographer. No problem, he said, he would bring some gas with him, so all I needed to do was meet him as planned. As usual, thank God for the Photographer. I had enough gas to get to where he was.

My second mistake was in failing to realize that if my directions to establishment #1 were poor, very likely I would not fare any better with my directions to establishment #2. I had no idea how badly, in fact, they would lead me astray. I also had no idea that I would have no cell phone reception, and neither would the Photographer, or that my phone had been searching diligently for a signal for over an hour, which was running the battery down to practically nothing.

My directions informed me there would be a fork in the road, and I should go right. There were many, many forks in the road. I always went right. These were gravel roads, and there were no street signs. There were also no other human beings. At once point I realized I’d gone about 25 miles with the gas light on After that, I stopped keeping track and decided that since I was probably going to be on the side of the road at some point, it would be better to look for a highway. I was very happy when I found one.I was incredulous that my car continued to work, mile after mile, as I did not pass anything remotely resembling a gas station.

Finally, fortunately, I found a building with an empty parking lot, next to a farm where an entire family was outside working. I parked, walked over and asked if they had a phone I could use. They turned out to be incredibly nice people who gave me gas, directions to the nearest gas station, and directions to the winery I was trying to get to. Good directions, as it turns out, something I’d been lacking all day. When I offered to reimburse them for the gas, they told me, “Just pay it forward.” I gassed up and made it to the Photographer and our friends just as they were considering the question of when they should start driving around looking for me.

If you’re looking for the moral to this story, I’m not sure there is one. What I’m left with is yet another story of getting lost and then found, and another reminder that as much as getting lost seems to be a perpetual part of my story, so is finding helpful friends. This seems to be true even in the middle of nowhere.