It was our second day in Springfield, and in a guide book we had it said to look for a stretch of the original Route 66 on the east border of a park. We found the park and decided to take a hike while we were there. It was a beautiful fall day, sunny and warm, but not too warm.
There was a rough map of the trails by the parking lot, and we saw a short trail going to the river that we thought we would try. The path started going downhill through a ravine toward a river, and it wasn’t far before we saw a huge tree blocking the way. The tree had obviously been down for a while, because a smooth path was worn around the uprooted end of the trunk. Ed went first, as the trail was rather steep at that point. I stood at the end of the tree, watching him, gauging the steepness to see if it was too steep for Emmy. Just as Emmy was deciding that the path was too steep for her, I froze.
Two beady, unblinking eyes were watching me. The black rat snake in the hillside above me was just as still as I was, as it wondered where I was going. As I saw a second, brown snake under the first, I quickly decided this path wasn’t the right path for me, either!
We still wanted to see the river, so we traipsed back to the map sign and looked for another short trail. We headed off again, hopeful that we had picked a better trail than the last one. As we walked through the woods, there were no steep hills or black snakes. We reached a shallow, leaf-covered gully, and the path seemed to cross it. So we followed it.
But then, the path seemed to change into more of a prairie-like path. It was definitely not leading to the river. We were going in the wrong direction, turned around, and definitely not on the path we had seen on the map. We didn’t want to wander around too long; it was late in the afternoon and in October, it gets dark early. Both Ed and I checked the GPS on our phones, but it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere. J.R.R. Tolkien may have wrote, “All those who wander are not lost,” but we were definitely lost!
Our GPS showed that the parking lot where we had parked seemed to be to the northeast of us, but it really didn’t make sense to us since we parked by the river, and the river was in the opposite direction. After a few more minutes of walking, we finally decided to retrace our steps back across the gully.
When we did, we followed a trail along the gully, hoping that we weren’t just getting more lost. It wasn’t too far before we heard a couple of dogs barking, and then we saw them as they rushed up to us with tails wagging, shaking their fur, splattering Ed and making him wet. Yup, we had found the river.
The dogs’ owners called for them and apologized, and we went on our way, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. The way back to the parking lot was easily found, along with our car. We discovered that the road into the park, much less the parking lot, wasn’t even on the GPS. Our phones had been showing us the parking lot for a trailer park just north of us!
And what about the section of Route 66 we had been hoping to find? We found an unmarked, crumbling patch of blacktop just at the entrance of the park that we determined must have been used as Route 66 many years ago. Hoping to see this little, easily overlooked stretch of blacktop is what led us on quite an adventure!
Where has HOPE led you? What do you HOPE for? Link up your HOPE posts here for the Spin Cycle!
Join us for the month of December with these #SpinCycle writing prompts:
Week of Dec. 7-11 : Peace
Week of Dec 14-18 : Joy
Week of Dec. 21-25 : Love
Week of Dec. 28-Jan. 1: New