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road with snow

Road Trip Plan for the Day

We are just over a week in to our 28 day road trip and the laughs seem to flow non-stop.  Today I just want to share a true road trip story. No tips, only a life lesson about what makes road trips so special because regardless of the events, this was an adventure I’ll never forget.

I think Brandee and I are already spending too much time together. We are finding humor in the most bizarre things. But then again, even with our couchsurfing hosts, the laughs seem to be plentiful. This morning was more of the same. Every part of this road trip has been the best or my favorite in some capacity or another. I’ve never had an experience like this before in so many ways. Brandee and I were headed to many new places and meeting people from all walks of life. We were constantly re-evaluating our stops, sleeping in strangers’ houses and having the time of our lives. And this morning was a whole new kind of adventure that led to uncontrollable belly laughing. In hind sight, you probably had to be there for it to be that funny, but I’m still inspired to share the story.

Road Trip Destination - Burlington Vermont

person couchsurfing on a grey couch

We were on our way to Burlington, VT to stay with Katie. Our stay was her first couchsurfing experience! She is fabulous and I’m so glad she’s now part of the community. I’ll get to that in the next post. This is all about the road trip adventure to get there. 

Before we left Utica, Katie and I were texting about the route that we would be taking to get to Burlington. Katie mentioned that she often drives between Burlington and Rochester, NY and is familiar with the area. She offered up suggestions on things to stop and see along the way.

One of the stops Katie mentioned was Lake Pleasant. This sounded fun and exactly like the type of stop that we would love. We packed the car up and headed out. I programmed Lake Pleasant into the GPS and we were off. Well, we thought we were off. The adventure we were embarking on turned out to be quite frightening for me, in the most literal way. There was no actual danger so it seems strange that I felt scared, but I was. 

Brandee and I were in the car and there was no one around us. There was NOTHING to be scared of. It didn’t matter, I was still in fight or flight mode during the couple of hours that I’m about to describe to you.

people planning a route with a map and computer

The Drive

We had been driving for about 30 minutes when the roads started to shrink. It was still a 2 lane road but it had become a narrow 2 lane road. I was still doing alright at this point Maybe starting to get nervous but not quite scared. Two cars could be on the same road at one time, still a few houses around and the trees were set back from the road a few feet but much closer than you’d typically expect. 

The narrowing roads and seemingly deserted area had us wondering where the GPS, aka Tiffany, was taking us. Still we continued on.

We drove a little further and the roads narrowed some more. The trees moved closer to the road and I’ll admit it, I was starting to get a little freaked out. Okay, wait.. honesty between us… My apologies to anyone that lives in this area but I was completely freaked out, not just a little. 

Let me paint the picture in my head. **DISCLAIMER** This was the picture in my head. This was my perception, not anyone else’s, or even Brandee’s truth. 

I thought I had been to upstate New York before but this was UP state New York. Katie would later tell us that the area is lovingly referred to as “North Country”. It was a whole different world and I felt like it was the twilight zone crossed with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 

The roads were we were traveling on had narrowed as much as they possibly could have. We were now down to one lane, bumpy, unmaintained roads. There was no sign of life on them. Every road we came to had a road closed sign on it as we were trying to navigate our way to Lake Pleasant. Each time we’d turn around and try another route the roads and paths were the same. There seemed to be a definite lack of sunlight due to the surrounding forested areas. 

Most of the houses we came across looked like very run down shacks. They seemed to be falling apart and had a feeling of desperation and abandonment about them. I had a distinct feeling that something was going to jump out of the woods at me. I wasn’t sure what. It could have been a werewolf, a vampire, a bear, or a masked murderer; who knows, but I had convinced myself that something was lurking in the trees. 

trees and fog

The trees themselves were scary. It was November and all the leaves had fallen off them so the branches were bare. These bare branches lightly scraped along the car in some areas as we were driving. I was already about to jump out of my skin when we drove by a small open space. It was very small but it caught my eye because that had something like wooden planks coming out of the ground. 

I couldn’t be sure but I could have sworn it was a cemetery. Reflecting back on it, I’m almost positive it really was a cemetery. Later on in our travels we saw several other cemeteries with the same type of headstones. These cemeteries are among the oldest in the country. The headstone markers were just a flat slab and that’s exactly what we had come across here. 

At this point, I finally reached over and locked the doors of the car while Brandee continued to drive. You know, in case the bears or werewolves could open the car door from the outside.

Road Closed

Now that I’ve painted the picture for you, it’s safe to tell you, we never did make it to Lake Pleasant. 

The road on route that the GPS sent us on was closed. We tried several other roads as well and every road we drove down we ran into a “road closed” gate. There was one point when we came to an intersection where there was a couple cleaning up their lawn for fall. We tried every road leading from that intersection. There were all closed too. We put in a gallant effort before we gave up on this path. 

After the fourth time we drove back to that intersection we stopped in the middle of the intersection and laughed until we cried. I don’t know what Brandee’s reasoning was but honestly, I was too creeped out to do much else. The couple I mentioned, and their “neighbors”, stared at us like we were a little loony tunes. I can only imagine what they were thinking because we weren’t brave enough to ask them for directions.

After that, we decided to try another route entirely. We backtracked a few miles and tried a different road. Now we were met with no GPS signal and more road closures. Turning around to go yet another direction, we drove by some buildings that I believe were houses. I couldn’t be sure though, because they were so run down and dilapidated. More fear and panic from my 1/2 of the car.

Change of Plans

We decided that it was time to give up on the dream of seeing Lake Pleasant and find a path to Burlington didn’t have road closures. Keep in mind that this point, our GPS no longer worked. We were so far out in the middle of nowhere that there was no signal. Thank God Brandee was calm and collected but I’m sure it was only because I had securely locked us into the car. I mean, why else would she be able to stay calm in this situation?!?! 

All joking aside, we did have an atlas with us and we both knew we’d be fine. I want to point out that to use the atlas you have to be able to read a map. Thanks to google maps and other similar options, I haven’t had to do that since middle school. Suffice to say that reading a map isn’t quite like riding a bike. 

We did find our way. We had a great laugh and made some memories that we never would have if we stayed on the major highways. I’m super grateful for this experience. I’m positive that the communities in this area are wonderful and have a ton to offer visitors. I hope to one day see Lake Pleasant. Maybe in the summer when there’s leaves on the trees and nature is growing new life instead of laying down for a long winter nap.

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