41. Blind Faith
It was practically dark by the time we left Grafton. We slid a ‘Saturday Morning with Kim Hill'(126) podcast into the stereo and submitted to the rhythms of Ronnan and the road. We got lost in oh-my-gosh-Oshkosh; with no warning Ronnan got all ambiguous on us, which forced Sharon and I out of our slumber and into thinking for ourselves. But I followed my natural instincts and eventually Ronnan stopped telling us to turn around and plotted us a corrected course. Now because we were still green with the GPS, we still had the thing plotted for the shortest route, so Ronnan was taking us away from the highways and down all of the country lanes. This would have been fine if we had wanted a tiki tour(127). But being tired and cranky, we just wanted to get the 185km behind us. The problem was this was a particularly dark, sleety, misty evening and there seemed to once again be almost no cars on the road.
Deer. We had heard many Americans talk about deer, hunting etc. Americans talk about hunting and deer on the roads like Scots talk about the weather. The subject had always been somewhat of a curious amusement for us, but this night all those conversations were justified and it became our reality. Kim had long since expended herself and rather appropriately, country music had found its way into the car. Whilst merrily bouncing our way around a dark, misty, moonless corner, suddenly two sets of glowing eyes seated in two almost invisible bodies appeared in the middle of the road. In an effort to have more control for sudden movement on a wet road, I quickly jammed my foot on the clutch and reached for the gear lever, only to discover that I had been duped once again by America’s infatuation with the automatic transmission. Next effort was the brakes. If I was to hit them too hard, I would only lose control and probably speed up as I either collected the deer or veered off the road into the trees, whence they should have been. I braked, and braked hard, Betsie did not lock-up, I pulled out onto the wrong side of the road, took my foot off the brakes and coasted past the deer. I am not sure if they even bothered to get off the road. This experience both shook us and as I said, validated many previous conversations.
Suddenly we were flung out of the beautiful lethargic rhythms of the road into the cold hard reality, that if we did not wake from our slumber and peel our eyes for the road ahead, that we could be meeting our maker with deer antler protruding from our foreheads in dark, dank, misty, nowhereville hicksville ‘Up North’ Wisconsin. It is no accident that both Satan and deer are rumoured to have horns.
It took us a wee while to recover from this Godly-stroke-of-the-smite-button. And then seemingly just as I was allowing the country music to invade my thoughts and the stillness of the road to settle in again, I was coldly woken by a terse, tense shrill from Sharon. The piercing shriek of ‘deer’ invaded my consciousness . I fumbled for the clutch and braked, swerving to the right of the road on a blind corner. It was about here when I realised that some mean, truly nasty and callous infidel had put two reflectors on their letterbox. Grrrr, they looked just like deer eyes to these untrained loopies(128). Over the next hour there was many a terrified shout of ‘deer’ and many a time when Betsie’s brake lights burst into bright red action. About seventy percent of the time we were taking evasive action to avoid stinkin’ letter boxes and the other thirty percent really were stupid, lazy deer who seemed to prefer suicide by motor car rather than a safe evening’s sleep.
By the time Betsie dumped us in Antigio, we were frazzled wrecks who had suffered one country song too many. We needed milk and bread, so set out exploring this oversized intersection of a town for a supermarket. And oddly enough we found one which was open. We parked in a huge empty car-park right outside the supermarket door. Sharon went searching for bread and milk whilst I recovered from my driving ordeal by dreamily meandering through the cheap Packer’s merchandise. It was quite a large supermarket and it eerily felt as though we had the whole shop to ourselves, this feeling being perhaps encouraged by the seemingly total absence of anyone else. Sharon eventually found me and we tiredly dragged our sad and sorry bodies up to the check-outs. We walked along a row of about ten identical check-out booths, they all seemed to be open, but no one was there. It was odd, eventually we just chose a check-out and stood there and waited. It was a bit weird. We waiting a long time, I suggested to Sharon that perhaps this was a help-yourself shop and that we did not have to pay. Either that or Jesus had returned and taken all of his believers away with him to the new heaven and new earth and left Sharon and I behind realising that we had spelt his name wrong and had been spending all of this time worshipping Mesus, rather than Jesus, thus missing out on our ticket to a better afterlife.
Anyhow, just when hell was settling in, we heard a voice from some far off corner yelling, ‘I will be there in a minute’. Shortly afterwards an elderly, beer-bellied figure who looked surprisingly like an over-weight Jesus came jogging down the aisle, with a big smile and a bouncing belly. Perhaps this dude really was omnipresent and was jogging to prove to me that Americans, if only to move quicker between the doughnuts and the maple syrup, actually do use their sport shoes for sport. This part of Wisconsin was particularly over-weight. Anyhow, with a bead of sweat, Christ-like smile and wilting halo, he offered a rather hefty apology and we set forth, bread and milk in tow, out into the wet, empty apocalyptic car-park.
We pulled out of the car-park, kicked over Ronnan and somehow expected that there was another adventure waiting for us on the final eighteen mile leg of our trip. How hard could it be? Ronnan had said, ‘Drive north on the US-45’. Well about thirty minutes later we were breathing in relaxed and relieved tones as we entered Summit Lake. Ronnan said ‘turn right’, we turned right, Ronnan said ‘ turn left’, we turned left and then Ronnan said ‘turn left’ again. We didn’t see the left hand turn, so we carried on hoping to find it. Then Ronnan said ‘you have missed your turn please turn around’. We turned around and drove back, then Ronnan said ‘turn right’, we stopped. We peered out the window, through the mist, rain and darkness and spotted a lonely, deserted track and thought surely not. So we drove away with the beautiful Ronnan persistently and irritatingly protesting. We drove around the same rather large rural block a few times and every time we went past this little track Ronnan chirped in with ‘turn left now’.
Finally for a second time we stopped beside this track. I mentioned to Sharon that it was possible that our crib was down there. Our friends called it a cabin and I had seen such things on the tele, a single rustic log room with a pot-bellied stove(129) nestled amongst the trees of a Indian-infested forest. After some hesitation and turning our lights onto high beam, we tentatively set off down the track. With a head full of stories about Polish truck drivers getting stuck blindly following equally as innate GPSs up narrow English lanes, we set off down this dark, dismal, narrow and hellish forest track. Fortunately for Betsie’s sake it was only five minutes long, flat and well drained. Before we knew it, we popped out onto the same road at the other side of the block we had just driven round a number of times. However now that we had passed through this forested track, the rather snarkie Ronnan gave us a fresh set of instructions. I spent the last two hundred metres driving to the sound of Betsie and Ronnan arguing about directions and forests and listening to Sharon talk about her growing dislike of technology. With heavenly anticipation, we pulled down the driveway and gleefully shut down both Betsie and Ronnan with the turn of a key, opened our doors and stepped into the freezing paradise of an ‘Up North’, Wisconsin evening.
Tune in next week to find out why George Bush invaded Afghanistan.
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You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry!
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