Wednesday, November 6, 2013

We are NOT In Kansas Or Iowa Anymore!

"We are NOT in Kansas anymore!"  That became a mantra of mine over the course of our two weeks of traveling.  Our first navigating misstep came when we decided to stop for gas before getting on the tollway near Chicago because in our naive minds, it would be cheaper.  My hubby is all about getting the best gas price, or at least he was until this adventure. 

We got off Interstate 80 and could not find a gas station with the "right price" gas or a bathroom.  So we drove a bit farther and finally just stopped at one.  The gas was $3.75 a gallon.  Now, in  your world that may seem normal or even cheap, but when we left Iowa we were paying almost a dollar less than that for a gallon of gas.  While Joel filled up I got out to go into the bathroom and when I went inside the woman clerk was behind a glass encasement, which was not a good sign.  Going into the bathroom almost made me gag.  Filthy.  And since I had no option to wait, I did what I always do.....covered the whole toilet with paper before doing my business.  I went out to the car thinking, I sooooooooooooo need a bath. 

The atmosphere in the area was heavy and unfriendly.  I knew it was not because our lily white faces stood out in the crowd. We are a multicultural family.......lily white is a minority when we gather and we are blessed that way.  So I know it was not  the faces of those in the area but the atmosphere/energy that was as thick as a heavy dark cloud.  How sad to have to live there! 

The price of gas sent my husband into a tizzy,  but that was only the beginning!  We backtracked to get on the interstate and there was no entrance ramp.  Oh boy.  We saw a small sign that sent us back into the area we had just left, but then it just disappeared.  Again.   We drove and drove hoping to find a way on.............stopped again for help, and eventually by the grace of God found a way to the tollway.  I kept thinking in my mind, we are not in Kansas, not in Kansas...or Iowa!  I had texted our daughter Bethany because they spent 10 years in Chicago and she gave us sound advice.  ~~Always use the Tollway travel plazas to stop at and NEVER under any circumstances get off the tollway in Gary, Indiana.~~  That advice came back to us when on our way home we ended up in trouble again.

Throughout the trip as we would get off track from our destinations we would say, "Well, at least we don't have to go through Chicago."   We were to eat those words!  On our way home we exited into the last travel plaza before the tollway ended for gas and a bathroom break.  When we go back on, while the navigator(me) was texting, the driver (Joel) somehow ended up on I-90 instead of 80.  I was texting away when he said, I think we are on I-90?  I replied, "Oh, no!"  We were, heading straight into Chicago.  I remember Beth saying NEVER get off the interstate in Gary Indiana so I said to Joel, "Guess what....we are going to see Chicago after all!"  I texted our daughter Bethany again to tell her that her travel weary parents were heading into Chicago and what was the best way to go.  She told us to stay on I-90 until we were well on the other side, then take the Rockford exit for Galena and go west.  I knew we would go through a very pretty area from there into Iowa, as we had traveled that way many times when they lived in a suburb of Chicago.

I would say of all our traveling which includes navigating the winding roads of CT and NYC itself, this caused us the most stress.  We still have no clue how we ended up on I-90, but are grateful for our daughter's instructions. 

Now I know many of you are thinking...............don't they have GPS in their car or on their phones?  Uhhh, yes we do.  And at times we completely forget to use it!  Other times we have used it and our "Lady Long Way" as we call her has gotten us so lost we would end up stopping to ask for directions!  One time we were going to Whole Foods and she told us we had arrived at our destination...........which was a lovely home in a wealthy suburb of Westport Ct but no where near the store!  We had fed her the right address and but she sent us on a wild goose chase.   Sigh.....Once she had us taking an on ramp which existed in her mind only!  Needless to say, we often used an atlas, our phone GPS, and the ageless "app" of just stopping and asking for help when we navigated new territory.

The most frustrating part of the whole trip was getting off track or just plain lost.  Albany..........Niagara Falls............Westport.............Chicago.  All were an easy fix but Chicago and like I told Joel on the last leg of our journey......."maybe we were not to go home that way for reasons we don't understand, and if it was just a mistake on our part, we now get to see a beautiful part of Illinois!  Life goes on!

 On a side note, during the whole trip there were only three times I felt unsafe.  The first was the stop in the area close to Chicago, the second was when we were driving after dark in a area of Niagara Falls we later learned was a place to avoid, and the third was when we were walking back to our car after seeing Niagara Falls.  It was literally just us and a young man who appeared out of nowhere and made my radar rise up to the point I said to Joel, "We need to stop right now and pray for a hedge of protection around us."  Joel trusts my radar, so we slowed down to avoid being close to the man, then stopped and prayed.  When we looked up, he had disappeared as quickly as he appeared.  So strange.

Driving through big cities or new places was once upon a time "normal" for us, but it had been yaers since we had ventured out into unknown territory.  Mostly we navigated our way throughout the trip just fine with a few glitches here and there.  We learned to use both the map and the GPS and we have never been shy to stop and ask people for help.  We also learned to not take our missteps seriously.  We had no time to waste on that.  Most importantly we learned that God has our back.  He is one prayer away, even when it comes to finding our way through Chicago, the winding roads of CT or the dark streets of an unknown city. 


NanaNor's said...

Oh Renee, This sounds awful!!!! There have been times in Ca. when we got lost in a bad area too-so scary.
Glad your daughter was able to help out with directions. We use our phone GPS and have found it pretty reliable. Glad you got back safe and sound; thankful for angels surrounding you and Joel.
Hugs, Noreen

Kim said...

Renee, you guys had quite the adventure! I've never navigated through Chicago, but now I know it could be extra confusing if I ever have to! Though I have to admit, I think my husband would be excited about $3.75 gas! I'm glad you got home safely and had such a good trip!

Renee said...

Hi Noreen
Yes it was a bit scary, but it certainly could have been worse....and a worse area. Yes, we are glad to be home safe too.

Renee said...

Hi Kim....hugs friend! Tell Heyshan our gas is $2.82 a gallon now!

Annesphamily said...

Glad you are both safe! It is always frightening to be in an unknown area. Glad you have the Lord on your side. He is always the best GPS guide we know (and sweet daughters who once lived in Chicago huh?) Love these stories of your travels.