For our second camping trip this summer with our new camper we spent a long weekend with my Mom’s family in the north wood’s of Wisconsin. This was a trip we took often when I was a kid. Now the kids, my cousin’s and I, are grown and we have kids of our own. I watched my babies play with my cousin’s babies just like we used to play. They were riding bikes, swimming in the lake, and taking many adventures out in the canoe to fish. There were camp fires every night that rotated the different camp sites. We roasted lots of marshmallows and laughed more than I have in a really long time. We even enjoyed a scary story of a creeper camper that will be re-told for many, many years to come! The trip was an all around good time and we are all already looking forward to next year!
I did make sure to keep up with my training while we were camping. It was almost easier to train there then it is when I’m home. The kids were so busy with their cousins that when I was gone no one even noticed. On my first training day there my dad drove me out about five miles to the nearest hwy so I could ride. The road made for perfect riding. I did a sixty mile ride on the country two lane hwy. There were plenty of hills to climb, which I need for my race in October, the shoulder was wide, and the road smooth so I could ride safely. With about twenty miles to go my dad refilled my water and I finished strong.
I finished the ride and my dad took my bike and I decided to run back into the camp ground. This was perfect I had a forty-five minute run planned and the run back in would be almost exactly what I needed. I started running and at about three miles in I came to a sign on a corner that read Laura Lake Camp Group 2 miles ahead. The sign was on a corner so ahead was both right and left. On the right side there was a sign that read dead-end. So after reading the dead-end sign I went left and kept on running. After about two miles the road became a lot smoother. Something just didn’t feel right. Plus I had gone two miles and no sign of a camp ground. I started to worry.
At this point I was knew I was lost and I had a feeling at least my dad was worried about my where I was. I wanted to confirm I was lost, so what better way than to walk up to a random old man drinking a beer hanging out in his garage in the north woods of Wisconsin. I mean everything about that seems super safe. I asked if Laura Lake was in the direction I was running. He said, “No, turn around. You’ll go right twice and then the turn to Laura Lake will be on your left.” I figured ok, that doesn’t sound too bad. I can just turn around curve right twice and I’ll be back. I ventured out knowing at least I was going in the right direction. Although I was acutely aware that no one else knew where I was except this random man and I’m not sure he was going to be much help.
I set out and after another mile and feeling like I had curved right twice, yet never saw a left turn I once again became concerned. I’ve now run over three miles out of my way, I don’t know where I am, and no one who knows me knows where I am. I decide I’m going to stop the next vehicle that goes by. Well it ends up being a truck driving in the opposite direction I need to run so I quickly decide not to wave it down.
A few minutes later a women, who I later learn is named Michelle, is coming down the road on a four-wheeler with her two children behind on another four-wheeler. Without much hesitation, I flag her down and ask her where Laura Lake camp ground is. She says quiet a ways down this road, but you’re going in the right direction. Then she must have seen the desperation in my face and she asks if I wanted a ride. I’m sure I said yes before she could even get the words out. I jumped on the back and wrapped my sweaty arms around her. She does say I could hold the side of the four-wheeler, but I say I feel more comfortable this way. So with a smile, even though I’m sure I smell after a sixty mile bike ride and now a seven mile run, she drives me back to the camp ground. Come to find out the camp ground was another four miles away. She dropped me off and I thanked her profusely. She introduced herself and watched to make sure I found my camp site without incident, but at this point I did know where I was and was very happy to be back.
I found my family happily swimming at the beach. My dad, however, was out looking for me and was so relieved to see me when I arrived. No one else really knew I was missing. I started chatting with everyone about what happened and I started to piece together how I could get so lost running? Never in the twenty-three years I’ve been running have I gotten lost. So here’s what happened and the mistakes I made to lead me astray….
My run was to take me from the highway I was biking on straight in down a country road and at five miles I would be back at my camp site. In my head there was only one fork in the road that required any decision on which way to go. I remembered when we were driving into the camp ground a National Forest sign indicating you should veer left to go to Gordon Lake and veer right, but mostly straight, to Laura Lake. When I was running that was the landmark I was looking for. There is mistake number one. I was looking for the wrong sign.
Here is mistake number two, but I would love to get your opinion on which way you would have gone. Remember the sign I saw stating Laura Lake Camp Ground 2 Miles Ahead on a corner where both right and left could be ahead? I choose to go left because on the right there was a sign that read dead-end. I should have gone right. The camp ground was down the dead-end road.
The night before when I my cousin was driving into the camp ground she did the same thing I did. She went left instead of right because of the dead-end sign. Although she was in her car so to go two miles out-of-the-way is a lot less time-consuming than when you do it running. As we were commiserating over our wrong turns we decided there were a few things they (the they we all talk about but don’t actually know) could do to make the turn clear. One, the sing could just be on the right side of the road instead of in the middle. Two, there could be an arrow on the sign indicating which way to go. Three, the dead-end sign should be removed. Four, there could be another National Forest sign on the right side. Sometimes it’s just a super small change that makes the difference in clarity. I say often words matter. You should call things by what they are. Use the appropriate adjectives to describe what you’re saying. All of this leads to better clarity for everyone.
Getting lost aside, the weekend was amazing. I spent time reconnecting with all my family. I needed this time with them. I also got in two long bike rides, two long runs (although I only wanted one long run and one short one), and I swam in the lake. I have to thank my cousin for kayaking with me while I swam! Even getting lost wasn’t too bad. Michelle gave me my first four-wheeler ride. I just hope my next ride on a four-wheeler is not because I’m lost. My question still stands…which way would you have gone?