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Ever thought you were out in the Middle of Nowhere, but found you really weren't?

Last weekend the weather was absolutely great. Normally I would have spent it doing chores, but winter isn't that long past and I couldn’t bear to waste the sunshine. We all loaded up for a drive up in the hills – husband, kids and, of course, dogs.

While I packed the cooler, gathered coats, hats, sunscreen, dog bowls, first aide kit, etc. (all those items that keep disaster at bay!), and loaded up the dogs, everyone else sat in the truck complaining they were ready to go.

Eventually we headed out, and while there are perfectly good mountains minutes away, my husband preferred those three hours distant. By the time we got there the kids were bickering, my husband was grumpy, the dogs were eating the upholstery, and I really needed to go to the bathroom.

After passing up innumerable excellent opportunities because my husband said there’s a good place just down the road, I realized there aren’t any trees, shrubs, rocks or, in fact, any features large enough to hide a kangaroo rat. “Not to worry,” he said, “there’s a pretty little lake just a ways down this road, can’t you hold it?” So I did…for the next twenty minutes over boulders and potholes at about five miles an hour.

Finally, we arrived. I oooh’d and aaah’d about the view for all of fifteen seconds then hightailed it back up the road on foot, the dogs happily following. Of course, now the undergrowth is so thick I couldn’t fight my way through it with a chainsaw. Besides, I’m out in the middle of nowhere…miles from other people, cars or any type of civilization, right? I found a spot in the road on a corner where I could see both ways, and got down to business.

Just about then I heard a sound. It wasn’t my trusty watchdogs. No sir-e-bob. Instead, I looked up and locked eyes with a total stranger walking toward me down the road. Apparently, he’d been shielded by a tree when I scoped the area out, and my champion dogs were too interested in a fresh cow pie to give me any warning. With great difficulty and enormous amounts of finesse, I managed to get my shorts back up while maintaining a somewhat genteel position, but by that time he’s only a few feet away.

We both attempted a suitable acknowledgement of the other without actually making eye contact, and quickly headed off in opposite directions. He, toward the lake and my family, me…as far from him as possible.

I walked for miles trying to get over my mortification, and I’d just about finished berating myself for not risking poison ivy, bear attack, or being carried off by woman-eating mosquitoes to get off the trail instead of exposing everything to nature and strangers, when I heard our truck coming up the road.

Boy, my husband is really going to get a laugh out of this! I stepped off the side of the road to wait from him. When he pulled up I leaned in, opened the door…and found myself looking into the soft blue eyes of the self-same stranger.

My Good-Samaritan husband offered the hiker a ride back up the road to his car! I gracefully stumbled though an explanation about how I really wanted to ride in the pickup bed with the kids and the now-stinky, green tinged dogs, and climbed in the back.

Just another lovely day with the family (and our new friend!).

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