Gas Stations Aren’t on Every Corner in the Wilderness

Continuing from my post last week, I’ll finish my tale that belongs in a horror movie or at the very least deserves its own National Lampoon’s movie.

It had been about twenty minutes since we turned onto NF 15 and we still hadn’t seen a vehicle, house or any other sign of life.  When we arrived in Ellijay, my Mom had said she wanted to see a bear…now in the middle of the dark forest she changed her mind.

The gas was steadily going down, but our only saving grace was that my Dpd had a hard and fast rule when it comes to fueling your vehicle: When traveling always refuel when you reach a half a tank.

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve given him a hard time about that one. I thought it was silly, because how often would you ever be in a place that you couldn’t get to a gas station when you were on a quarter or below and still had plenty of miles to go?

Tonight…he proved his point. If we had went with my laissez faire approach to gas refueling, we’d be stuck in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in a car and spending the rest of our vacation trying to get back to civilization. But even with his good mantra, this little road trip was testing the limits of it.

The bumpy road wasn’t helping either. We were being jarred and thrown around the inside of the vehicle to the point that it felt like we were on some Jurassic Park ride at a theme park. By this point my Mom and I had almost had our limit of the off road adventure in the woods.

Dad was trying to stay up beat, and my husband? He thought it was a blast. He kept saying how fun this was and I all I could think is, really? I guess I shouldn’t have expected less from a hunter and a former Army Medic. This was just the tip of the iceberg compared to the things I’m sure he’s dealt with and therefore it was just crazy enough to be fun.

I, on the other hand, didn’t think there was anything fun about it.

Finally, we saw something besides endless woods. The “road” came to a dead end, and you had to turn left or right. But the choice wasn’t hard and for once the GPS made the right  choice. To the left the road dead ended at a 4-H camp. “Hey, I’ve been to this camp!” my husband exclaimed. That had to mean the road from 4-H camp had to lead back to civilization, right?

We turned right and the road was still gravel, but less bumpy. We passed the Rangers Training Station, which was interesting and explained a lot about the roads.

Finally, we hit pavement! It was like reaching the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I was so happy! I felt relief rush through me, only to have it dashed by the stupid GPS that I really wanted to throw out of the window. It was indicating that we should turn down another gravel road. I refused. I looked at it and I said “No, you moron!”

Montaluce Winery & Estates

So I backed up and turned around, hoping it would choose a new route, which it did. This one led us into a neighborhood called Montaluce, which I thought was odd, but maybe it had a way out on the other side. It was very dark out, but it was easy to see this was a super upscale neighborhood. The homes were huge and looked like they belonged in the Alps.

On top of that, the homes were surrounded by grape vines, and there was a restaurant perched on top of a sloping hill in the middle of the houses. Even in the dark, you could tell it was a very pretty area. It was definitely an area worth coming back to when we weren’t tired and annoyed.

We pass all the houses and the restaurant and guess what? The road the GPS wants us to go down has been barricaded. UGH…that meant we would have to go all the way back out of this neighborhood and onto the road to find a new route.

We all were so frustrated that we decide to go the restaurant and ask for directions. My husband and I stay in the car, while my parents went in to speak with someone.

He begs me to let someone else drive, because he could tell how frustrated and stressed out I was. I refused. I don’t give him a reason, but I knew exactly why. One, I wasn’t about to quit when I had made it this far, and two, as long as I was in the driver’s seat I didn’t have to worry about Speedy Gonzalez terrifying me with his professional driving skills that belonged on a closed course.

My parents came back with good news. There were told there was an easy way to get back to the highway from there. The man who helped them did ask how we ended up all the way out here from Helen.

Yeah, I could do this…no problem now.

We left the neighborhood with new found purpose. The man had told them to turn on such and such road and it should lead us straight to the highway. He did say that it was one lane and pretty curvy, but at this point I was a pro and would’ve drove up the side of a mountain like in a Jeep or Subaru commercial if it meant there was a highway on the other side.

The man was correct! And voila, we were back to the highway. Never in my life had I been so relieved to see a divided highway made of asphalt.

When we arrived back at the cabin (after a stop at the gas station), my Dad and I tried furiously to figure out what had wrong. We couldn’t figure it out, except for that I had to have made a wrong turn somewhere and instead of the GPS telling me to go back it re-routed. Lesson here folks? Never set your GPS on fastest route without excluding side roads that barely pass as such.

By the way, do you want to take a guess at what NF stands for in a road name?

National Forest or National Forest Service Road. That explains a lot.

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