Lost in Hartford

For my sister Molly’s graduation trip last year, our whole family took a road trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada.  (Benefit of homeschooling:  the whole family enjoys the senior trips.  But I digress.)

On the way there, we wanted to visit the site of the Charter Oak in Hartford, Connecticut.  We arrived in downtown as the sun was descending, and we spent some time photographing the stunningly ornate Capitol building.  Then we spent some more time walking in the wrong direction, and we had to turn around.  Finally we made it to the stone monument that marked the place where the Charter Oak had stood. A stone pillar with metal plaque, which we photographed, right on the edge of the part of town that kind of gave you the creeps.

We made it back to the car, only mildly unnerved by a gang who rode by us on bicycles, glancing over their shoulders a time or two.  My sister Leah complained the whole walk about getting a blister on her heel (cowboy boots weren’t designed for sidewalk strolls), but nothing especially interesting happened.

Until we were in our minivan, riding back to the interstate.  Dad followed the signs and turned right.  The road forked almost immediately.  The left lane had “Bus Lane” painted on the asphalt, and a little sign to the side said, “Buses Only.” (Or something equally clear; I can’t remember the exact words.)

Inexplicably, Dad bore left at the fork. “But Dave,” Mom objected from the back seat, as I said, “I don’t think…”

Too late. We had taken the wrong lane.

Dad didn’t seem concerned as we drove between short, concrete walls with no highway in sight.  Until we approached a lighted building on our right–a bus stop.

“Wait, this isn’t the road!” Dad exclaimed, as we glided by, astonishing the few folks waiting at the bus stop.

As we’re busy getting nervous about how we’ll get out of here, and trying to explain to Dad how it happened, we see headlights behind us.  Yes, a bus.  We had a grand laugh imagining the driver’s reaction.

“What is this van doing on the bus line?  Oh, look at that license plate.  They’re from Georgia. They are lost.”

Which we certainly were. Dad drove straight on past another bus stop.  This time I took a good look at the people waiting.  One man lifted his head from studying at his phone and stared in blank surprise, following our van with his gaze.  (I can’t help laughing as I remember.  He was too surprised to frown or do anything other than stare.)

Anyway, the bus behind us halted at the stop, and we went on until we came to a place where a normal road crossed the bus line.  With no idea where we were, Dad turned right. We’d thought the monument was in a rough part of town.  This place looked worse.

“We are in the hood,” Dad announced, none too excited about the prospect. “We are lost in the Hartford hood.  I have no clue where we are. I don’t know how we’ll get out. We are so lost. We are totally lost.”

And, no, I’m not really exaggerating what he said.  His tone bordered on panic. (Did I mention it’s quite dark by now?)

Molly, our brave navigator, pulled out the cell phone to consult Google maps (which gave us fits the whole, livelong trip).  As she tried to figure out our location related to the interstate we needed, Mom said, “Turn right, here, Dave.”

“Honey, I have no idea where we are. We are completely lost.”

“I know. Just turn right.”

So he did.

“What’s that street ahead?” Molly looked between the street names and the map, trying desperately to locate us. (So we’re not the most techno-savvy family in the world, and we hadn’t discovered the phone’s built-in GPS yet. Molly was truly amazing, fighting with the maps.) “Okay, I think you turn left up here, and the highway should be nearby.”

We turned and, hurray!, a sign for the interstate exit.  We made it.

After Dad’s heart-rate returned to normal, and Mom and I explained again where we made the wrong turn, we all had a spectacular laugh.

“I wondered what was up with that exit ramp,” Dad said. “I thought, ‘Well, it doesn’t look like a normal exit, running along all by itself. This is interesting.’ And then I’m driving past the bus stop with folks looking at us like, ‘You ain’t the bus.'”

We reached our hotel a bit later than planned, but, hey. Not many folks can boast the experience of driving down a bus line in Hartford, Connecticut.  It wasn’t on my bucket list, naturally, but I’ll take nearly any adventure life offers.  I can’t tell you how hard we laughed.

I hope you laughed, too, because what’s the use of a funny story if you can’t make people laugh?

Yet I can’t resist adding a moral.  Dad was utterly convinced he was on the right road, but he was dead wrong.  It’s possible to be deceived. 

It’s good to evaluate your path once in a while–and I’m not talking about asphalt roads.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

-Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)

In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

-Proverbs 12:28 (NKJV)

-Miss Darcy

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Learning to Waltz

My two sisters are my undisputed best friends.  Molly is two years and one day younger than me with dark chocolate eyes and brown hair liberally mingled with red and gold.  Leah is four and a half years and two days younger than me; she has sparkly brown eyes and a mane of brown waves.  We have all kinds of fun together, not the least of which is laughing at our own antics.

The latest craze is learning the waltz.  They look up the instructional videos for each step online, and proceed to practice until “The Blue Danube” is perpetually stuck in everyone’s head.  Mind you, we have no brothers, so they must practice with one another.  As the taller, Molly usually gets to dance the man’s part.  Since I am taller still, I always dance that part.  My sisters often practice in unusual places, for instance, the top of the driveway, which seems to rather shock our little subdivision.

You see, a particular red truck visits our next door neighbor nearly every day.  Occasionally it tows a trailer, more often not; sometimes there’s only a young guy driving, and sometimes he has a person with him who might be his younger brother.  The first few times he drove by, I was weeding the flower beds.  We exchanged waves, and my sisters and I took to calling him “the guy in the red truck.”  We saw him once when we were taking the dog for a walk in the evening.  He said, “Hey, y’all,” politely, and I said, “Hi.”

One afternoon we astonished him and his companion by standing in a group on the driveway, talking sister stuff.  Why exactly they gave us such strange looks is beyond me.  Three girls wearing skirts standing on the driveway having a nice talk who waved politely when they drove by.  What’s so strange about that?

But last night, Molly and Leah topped it all.  The sky was growing dark, and I was busy inside.  Under the sliver of new moon, my sisters practiced their waltz–the balance step, in particular.  Headlights approached, slowing to a crawl when they reached the house before ours.  Leah’s hand tightened on Molly’s arm.  “It’s the guys in the red truck,” she whispered.

My sisters stopped their waltzing, still in their proper positions, and Leah gave the guys a bright smile and a wave.  The passenger had his window rolled down.  As the truck crept by, he turned all the way around in his seat, staring as if my sisters were complete lunatics.  Naturally, Molly and Leah burst into laughter.

Leah came running in to tell me, complaining that she was “dying,” by which I knew there was a good story coming.  As Mr. Bennet says in Pride and Prejudice, “What do we live for but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”

Of course, we do live for much more than that, but I don’t think there’s any harm in a bit of clean fun like waltzing at the top of the driveway.  And I hope the “guys in the red truck” get a laugh out of it when they get over their shock.  We sure did.

Miss Darcy