After my night in the motel, I woke up with the dawn and was on the road with the hopes of reaching my destination by nightfall. Things went well, and despite some confusion with toll booths (we don’t have those in Ontario), I was making good progress. I entered Minnesota with my van slaloming gently beneath low mountains dripping with vibrant shrubs and trees and set against a steel grey sky. There were some scattered showers, but they didn’t last for too long.

Things were going well and I was about 20 miles from my destination. I pulled off the main highway and started driving past large farmlands. I had been using the maps feature of my cellphone to help me navigate, but it was only receiving signals intermittently out in the countryside and I was relying on map images that had downloaded when I last passed close to a cell tower – and more frequently now that I was on the backroads.

And so it was that I pulled into a driveway in the back of a large farmhouse. It wasn’t really a driveway anymore – more the remains of what used to be one but which had long since been allowed to return to grass and sedge. (I had overshot the main driveway – it’s not easy to find good places to pull over when you’re traveling highway speeds in unfamiliar territory). I checked my map, planned the next few turn of my journey, turned the keys and…

…heard the back wheels spin while the van did little more than rock back and forth. The rear wheels were sunk about an inch into the soil slick with the recent rains. My second and third attempts at starting the engine were no more productive than the first. I partially unloaded the van, not expecting that it would help much. It didn’t. Then it started to rain again.

I got everything packed back in the van and decided to call a tow truck. If there wasn’t any cell service in the area, though, my cell phone wasn’t finding it. So I decided to swallow my pride and ask up at the farmhouse. But no one was home save for a large Labrador who was stalwartly defending the front door. I went back to the van, checked the map and then set out on foot back up the highway to the nearest town I had passed.

About a mile and a half up the road, I came across a large building that looked inhabited and with a big door marked ‘Office’. The woman inside was kind enough to let me use her phone to contact a tow crew to get me back on the road. She offered to help pull me out with some of the machines they had around the place, but I felt it was best to go with a tow company that the U-haul people provided just in case something went wrong. In any case, a big thank you from me to the Schneider family of Schneider Heating and Air Conditioning and their two little terriers.

Anyhow, the tow arrived in about a half hour – it was large as long as an 18-wheeler. He wrapped a cable around it and hauled my truck back onto solid ground. The owner of the farmhouse had returned home by then and was out driving around on her riding mower. She said that she didn’t mind the mess my truck had made at the end of her lawn and wished me luck on my way. I tried to replace the divots from the drag marks as best as I could, but I could only cover so much.

After that, the rest of my journey went smoothly. I did get lost a few more times, but I was very careful to only consult maps when I had solid pavement under my wheels.