“There’s this road,” ominous words. In May, 1993, we were newbies to the American west. John and I decided to take a long weekend and go see the sights in Utah. On our last day, we visited Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park and then had to decide on a route to get back to Las Vegas to catch our flight home. Since I am the navigator, I looked at the map, the AAA Indian Country map, and it looked like we would have to go all the way back up to St. George to pick up I-15 The Grand Canyon is in the way of any direct route. But wait, there’s this road. We could take a couple of these faint gray lines and end up cutting off a corner on our trip! Certainly, our stalwart Cadillac rental car was up to the task.

So off we went. The roads were dirt but manageable. Then they got a little worse but we were okay. Then we passed some BLM guys grading one of the roads. They warned us to be careful. Then there was some sand. And a stream. We tried to ford the stream but the car did not want to go up the other side. We tried several times ultimately breaking the license plate surround by crashing into the other bank. Uh oh, what now? We really didn’t want to have backtrack all the way back but it looked like that’s what we were going to have to do. We backed up a ways on the sandy road and then tried to turn around. A mistake. The back wheels sunk deeply into the sand. The more we tried to get out, the deeper they sank. We got out, we tried to push, we pulled out brush to stick under the wheels. Nothing worked. We were going to have to be rescued.

Luckily, we had some water with us. I put a t-shirt over my head to keep from burning and we started walking. And walking. And walking. Our idea was to try to intercept the BLM guys we had seen hours earlier. We had seen nobody else the whole time we were driving. Finally, at an intersection, we saw the road crew turning the other way in the distance. We ran after them waving our arms. They stopped. We explained our plight. They told us that the road we were stuck on was rarely used by anyone. One of the guys drove us the several miles back to our car. With his jeep, he towed us out of the sand. We were saved!

This past weekend we decided to redo our ill-fated trip. We packed up our 4-wheel drive with gallons of water, mats to put under the wheels in case we got stuck in the sand, food, blankets, and a jar for me to pee in (my most horrid fear in the first adventure was that I might have to pee in the bushes.) Three things we learned from our redo. One, if you are prepared, nothing bad will happen; two, the BLM has posted a lot more signs and improved the dirt roads; and three, although I thought the situation was fairly grim when we were there in 1993, I realize now that we could have been in serious trouble out there, over twenty miles from anywhere with limited water and an inadequate map.

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