I’ve had some pretty wacky days in my life, but last Saturday ranked right up there as one of the wackiest. In fact, there were moments when I thought I’d never be heard from again.
It all began a few days earlier when a friend told me about a woman in Franklin who’d rescued some dogs from a shelter in Virginia and now wanted to find good homes for them. Two of them were young female rottweilers, my favorite breed.
Sabre, my older rottweiler, who’d just turned 10, passed away last month, and my younger rottie, Willow, age two, had been moping around ever since. Actually, so had my husband and I. Still, I had to think long and hard about getting another dog so soon. Finally, I called the woman for information. She invited me to come see the two dogs on Saturday at 1:30. I figured there was no harm in just looking at them.
I had an appointment to have my eyes checked at 9:30 that morning and I knew my pupils would have to be dilated, but I thought I’d have plenty of time to get them un-dilated by the time I had to head to Franklin.
I don’t have any fancy GPS or direction-guiding gizmos in my car, so I went to Mapquest on my computer and got step-by-step directions leading from my door to the dogs’ door. Mapquest said the distance was 29 miles and my travel time would be about 35 minutes.
I headed to Franklin at 12:30, allowing myself some extra time, just to be safe. Everything went well time-wise…until I took a left off Exit 17. I was supposed to take a right.
“Go 3.7 miles,” my Mapquest directions said, “then take a slight left onto High Street.”
A slight left? To me, something is either left or right. “Slight” isn’t in my direction-following vocabulary.
I drove 5 miles and never saw High Street. Of course, that’s because I was heading in the wrong direction. That’s when I realized that my vision still wasn’t 100 percent. I could see the road and oncoming cars just fine (thank goodness), but the letters on the street signs looked pretty fuzzy.
When I came to a school building that had “Loudon” in the name, it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t in Franklin. I grabbed my cell phone, called the dog woman and begged for help.
“Oh, we just moved here two weeks ago,” she said. “I’m afraid I don’t know any of the routes or roads around here yet. I wish I could help you, but sorry, I can’t.”
I was in big trouble…I, with only my Mapquest directions, was on my own.
I figured I’d stop and ask someone for directions, but every time I spotted an actual human, he was pushing a power mower. The only way I’d have been able to get anyone’s attention would be to walk up and grab him. Finally, I spotted a man changing a flat tire along the side of the road. I pulled up behind him.
With the directions he gave me, I was able to backtrack 12 miles to Exit 17 and go right instead of left.
After that, I managed to spot all of the routes and roads listed on my Mapquest sheet…until it came to Route 127. For some reason, it eluded me. I spotted a gas station/convenience store up ahead and went in there to buy a map. The minute I set foot inside, however, it dawned on me that I’d never be able to read a map with my pupils still foggy, so I asked the man behind the counter how to find Route 127.
“Gee, I really don’t know,” he said. “But I’m sure that one of our customers will, if you just hang around for a minute or two.”
“Do you have a restroom?” I asked. All of that riding over endless bumps and hills had bounced my bladder around like a basketball.
He looked as if I’d just asked him to lend me $100. “Well…um, we don’t have a public restroom…but…oh, wait…I’ll go check it out and let you use it.”
He disappeared out back. I figured he’d seen the pained expression on my face and was worried I’d have an accident on his floor. When I finally entered the restroom, it looked as if the seat and sink had been freshly wiped down.
Shortly thereafter, an elderly customer kindly gave me directions to Route 127. I set off with renewed determination. By then, it was after 2:30.
Five minutes later, I was pulling into another filling station, lost again. Just as I was stepping out of the car to go inside and ask for directions, a car pulled up next to mine. Inside was the elderly customer from the previous gas station.
“Follow me,” he said, rolling his eyes.
I eagerly did, and he led me right to Route 127. All I had to do after that was find the house number of the dog woman.
The trouble was, she didn’t have a number on her mailbox. Neither did the guy next door. Luckily, I caught a glimpse of a bunch of dogs out in a field behind a big house. One of them clearly was a rottweiler. I prayed that I’d finally found the house. It turned out that I had…and it had taken me only three hours to cover the 29-mile trip.
One poor little rottweiler was in terrible condition – emaciated, runny nose and eyes, covered in fleas. She greeted me by leaping on me and covering me with sloppy kisses. It was love at first sight. I had to have her.
“Don’t go back the way you came,” the woman said, once the dog was comfortably stretched out in my car and I was more than ready to head home. I wanted to tell her that even if I tried, I couldn’t go back home the way I’d come, mainly because I had absolutely no clue how I’d gotten there.
“Just go straight out this way,” she said, pointing. “Follow it to the end and you’ll run right into Route 93.”
Sounded simple enough. So Raven, which I named my new rottie, and I headed off.
Not only did I not run into Route 93, I found myself passing through the town of Webster and then past the Hopkinton Fairgrounds. The roads were some of the bumpiest I’d ever been on – and experience had taught me that bumpy roads and dogs in back seats weren’t a good combination. I expected to hear a volcano erupting behind me at any moment.
Concord Hospital suddenly came into view. I’d never been so happy to see a familiar place. I looked at my odometer. I’d gone 103 miles.
When I finally turned into our driveway, I felt like kissing the ground, I was so relieved. That’s when I heard it…the sound of Mount St. Helens erupting in the back seat.
Welcome to the Breslin family, Raven.