This little Focus has been our faithful companion for more than 8 years and has taken us to some wonderful places in our travels. She's been crashed into 4 times and scratched up on numerous occasions but never abused by us until our unplanned adventure last Thursday!
After a visit to the local laundromat we decided to explore a road in southeast Missoula, a half-hour drive, Mr. Keith said. It was a gorgeous drive up a canyon that we hadn't known existed. Soon the road turned to gravel and Mr. Keith kept saying, "Can we just go a little farther?" Always one to agree, I said okay. The road got more narrow and we contemplated turning back until we saw another car and asked where the road came out. We were assured it was a lovely drive high up on a mountain pass and that we could easily get back to the freeway from there. We took the advice, and thus began our unplanned adventure. Of course I did not have my camera, since this was "unplanned".
As we proceeded, at no more than 20 miles an hour, the road got slimmer, the weeds got taller, and by the number of sharp shale rocks in the road we could tell no one had been this way maybe for years. There were no turn-arounds, so we kept going, taking the most likely looking branch whenever we came to a crossroads. Each time it got worse, there were more rocks, and then we started seeing small trees across the road. By then I was walking out ahead to remove the biggest rocks. Little Focus was getting her underparts bombarded if I missed one, and she was getting lashed across her front by the tall weeds in the center of the lane. We came to a large tree fallen across the road, one too big to remove, so we broke off the branches and inched up, one side of the car up on the edge of the bank and the other barely clearing the tree. After that challenge we went on, thinking the road was getting better, but to our dismay it completely ended at the edge of a cliff. Did I mention that all along these roads one side was a steep dropoff and the other a bank? Now what? There wasn't room to turn around but Mr. Keith did it anyway, scratching the front bumper on the sharp rocks on the bank. We kept on back the way we came till we reached a crossroad that we hadn't tried before. This one was worse than any of the others, and though it went downhill we knew we couldn't continue. By then we were hot and sweaty and worn out, and little Focus was filthy with dust, inside and out.
Various thoughts crossed our minds. What if... we had a flat tire? What if... we high-centered? What if... we ran out of gas? (We had 1/8 of a tank.) What if... we had heart attacks from the exertion of moving rocks and trees? What if... what if...? One consolation was that the back seat was filled up with the blankets and comforters we had just laundered, so if we had to spend the night we'd be warm. Never mind we'd be starving! Through all this we prayed, and trusted that one way or another God would help us find the way out.
He did. After 5 hours of being lost, we returned to where we'd first heard about this "easy" route, and drove on back down the mountain and home to Missoula, exhausted, but so thankful, and agreed that we would never go on a gravel mountain road in the wilderness again without really knowing what we were doing. We shook hands on it!
Our Focus has been washed and is now in the auto garage where all her brakes and rotors are being replaced. She will carry some scars from her adventure, but once again she brought us home safely, thanks be to God!