Shortly after arriving at work on Monday, I set out for Angels Acres Arena. I drove in silence admiring the leftover Christmas snow until I came upon Fulton Hill Road, located near Berry off of Highway 18.
Mr. Lusby, the owner, had said that it was the first place on the right. So I turned onto a dirt road at the first mailbox.
The farther I drove, the more concerned I got that a house wasn’t appearing among the trees. The road was muddy, there weren’t a lot of places to turn around and I couldn’t call Mr. Lusby because I hadn’t had cell service since I left the Oakman city limits.
Finally, I came to a fork. The path straight ahead didn’t look like a driveway at all. It turned out to be the road less traveled by and for good reason.
The turn to my right led me down a rather steep hill. I was happy to find a house at the bottom. Unfortunately, the homeowner (I found out later that her name is Virginia) told me that Mr. Lusby and his wife lived at the top of the hill.
I sighed with relief when my little Toyota Yaris made it back to the top, then braced myself for a bumpy ride down the road I had tried to avoid earlier.
I went around a couple of ugly mud holes, wondering why the Lusbys didn’t do something about their lousy driveway. Then I saw a few shooting houses and realized that I was on a dark, dirty path of doom. I kept driving against my better judgment in hopes of finding somewhere to turn around.
I went one mud hole too far. When my front tires sank, so did my stomach. I spun mud everywhere trying to back out, but I quickly realized that I was stuck. Alone. In the woods. With no cell service.
I ran back down the hill to Virginia’s house, trying not to panic and extremely glad that I always wear tennis shoes to work.
She and a lady named Stacey (I didn’t ask how they were related) took pity on me and drove me to Mr. Lusby’s house. I’ve probably misspelled Stacey’s name, but I hope she’ll understand that I wasn’t really in a frame of mind to double check my facts when we met.
I know she reads my column sometimes because she said she recognized me from my picture in the paper. I was grateful and incredibly embarrassed at the same time.
As it turned out, Mr. Lusby lives in the first house I would have passed on Fulton Hill Road, which isn’t even close to Virginia’s woods. He borrowed a chain from a neighbor and pulled me out of the mud. He was truly my all-American hero — blue jeans, pickup truck, Ronald Reagan looks and all.
He got a big kick out of me, I think. He laughed when he tried to get in the car to put it in neutral and realized that I had locked my door when I left to get help. “You are a city girl” were his exact words.
That was also apparent when I couldn’t pay anyone for their help because I never carry cash anymore. Life lesson 1549: debit cards don’t work in the woods.
I calmed down enough to go through with our scheduled interview and then headed back to the office two hours after my adventure began. I was about halfway there when a deer ran in front of the truck I was following.
I slowed down, prayed that it wouldn’t cross the road again and called Zac to tell him to take care of our son in case I never made it home again.
Even though my experiences on Monday seemed awful at the time, I realized later how lucky I was.
What if I hadn’t known Virginia’s house was there because I drove to it first by mistake? What if she hadn’t been home or thought that I was someone trying to scam her instead of a dumb reporter who got stuck looking for Angels Acres Arena? What if Mr. Lusby hadn’t come to my rescue?
My life depended on the generosity of strangers multiple times that day. In each instance, I didn’t entertain angels unaware — the angels entertained me.
I thank them and God for bringing me home safely. I almost kissed the pavement when I finally pulled into the office parking lot.
As I was going to clock out that night, I found a penny in the floor. I bent down to inspect it and saw that it was on tails.
I didn’t dare touch it.