Lies, GPS, and Off-Roading in My Minivan

There’s nothing like finding yourself in a situation when you’re forced to reflect on exactly how much common sense you truly have. A situation like this:

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Me, in my van, stuck on a muddy watery hole in the middle of BFE North Carolina.

 

I have no idea why I decided that THIS was the day that I would put 100% of my trust in my minivan’s GPS (newly updated, mind you), but despite years of constantly doubting that my GPS truly had my best interest at heart as a driver or as a person, it was THIS day I thought, of course my GPS knows how to get me to my friend and business partner’s home. After all, she lives in suburbia, right?

Wrong.

As a matter of principle, I don’t do regrets. I do lessons learned…and holy crap did I learn a very valuable lesson that day: TRUST YOUR GUT.

My gut told me to turn around on three separate moments along my mini-van offloading adventure through Deliverance, but I ignored it simply because

1. My GPS wouldn’t send me to my death in a backwoods forest

2. I was less than 1.5 miles from my friend’s house, and

3. I allowed myself to rationalize my way out of certain danger.

Let’s take a look at each of these missteps.

Lie: My GPS wouldn’t send me to my death in a backwoods forest.

First of all, my GPS, and your GPS, for all its humanoid sounding tendencies, truly doesn’t give a shit where it sends you.

As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that my GPS doesn’t like me.

I often don’t listen to her and she’s sick and tired of telling me “when possible, make a u-turn”. Perhaps this was my comeuppance for blatantly disobeying her suggested routes.

With all of the movies about artificial intelligence, what if my newly updated GPS came with some sort of trial AI? What if my GPS was punishing me as part of some malicious plot for machines to take over the world?

What if I’m just an idiot and I should’ve known that a road with the suffix “PVT” meant that maybe I should’ve turned around and forced her to detour me against her will.

Yeah, that.

Lie: 1.5 miles on a paved road is equal to 1.5 miles on a dirt road with giant muddy water filled craters.

As i sat stuck in the mud, I realized that the 1.5 miles to my friend’s house (Krystel Spell of Army Wife 101 fame), might has well been 26 miles because I was in the forest…

…alone

…off roading in a mini van

…in Birkenstocks

…in the North Carolina wilderness.

At the rate I was going, I figured that if I opened the door to step out I’d find a cottonmouth…and be moments away from a headline on the 6 o’clock news in about two weeks or so. I shudder at the thought of what my news story teaser would be.

Think your minivan can handle off-roading? Think again. Suburban Florida woman found dead next to her van in the woods on unidentified road.

The Florida Man Reddit would have a field day.

Lie: You can rationalize your way out of certain danger.

Let’s take this gut check, by gut check:

Fact: Road is marked as private

Rationalized thought: Well, ton’s of newly established subdivisions have unpaved roads. I’m sure it’s not far from the main road.

Fact: Private dirt road meanders through a cluster of sketchily maintained trailers and discarded household miscellany.

Rationalized thought: Mmm….that’s a bit scary. But I’m only about 1.5 miles out from her house. It can’t be that far.

Fact: GIANT ASS MUDDY WATER FILLED CRATERS are ahead. They’re not safe to go through

Rationalized thought: I have a big car. I’ll just go around….I’m almost there…

and now I’m stuck.

Wheel spinning, water spraying, holy-crap-my-only-landmark-is-a-tore-up-abandoned-blue-couch-and-a-muddy-hole stuck.

I immediately called Krystel and asked exactly how far off the dirt road she lived and of course, she said the one thing I didn’t really want to hear,

“What dirt road?”

As panic set in, I said, “What do you mean? The GPS sent me this way and I’m about 1.5 miles from you. You know, the dirt road off of the highway?”

“Um, no. I mean there’s a dirt road but I never thought it led anywhere. We’ll come find you.”

I hung up the phone with her and jumped on the line with my roadside assistance service (thanks, USAA!) to get a tow truck out to wherever I was immediately.

As I anxiously awaited the tow truck, Krystel and her husband found me. The tow truck followed about 30 minutes later.  They’d actually promised 10 minutes, but as it turns out on the way to get me, another car had gotten itself stuck behind me…get this… because he followed his GPS.

All of a sudden, I didn’t feel quite a stupid as I felt. I mean, I still felt stupid, but ya know, a little validated. That little bit of validation didn’t go as far as I needed it to, but I took it.

About 45 minutes post stuckedness, my van was torn from its muddy abyss and back on the pavement.

My bumper is a little worse for the wear and my tires and brakes are full of mud, but it could’ve been worse, right? At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

All in all, I will never trust my GPS again, I will always trust my gut, and I will never take my van off-roading again.

Magical News for Military Families! Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Renewed for 2014-2015!

Disney Family Vacation 2014

One of my favorite things about summer is awaiting news about the renewal of Disney’s Armed Forces Salute! I have to say that I love having a direct line to magical news via  Military Disney Tips!  They’ve always seem to have their ears to the ground! As many of you know, Disney is one of our skipping Thanksgiving destinations and is on our calendar for Thanksgiving 2014.

We absolutely love Disney’s Armed Forces Salute program because it allows so many military families to fit a visit to Disney in their budget. We always stay at the Disney Resort thanks to the generous discounts on value resorts like the Art of Animation (a must stay in our book).

Are you ready to plan your vacation? Don’t forget to check out my 5 Must Know Disney Vacation Planning Tips for Military Families before you get started!

Armed Forces Salute Program Details for Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL

Disney World Resort Ticket Options:

  • 4 Day Park Hopper ($177)
  • 4 Day Park + Water Parks & More ($177)
  • 4 Day Park Hopper + Water Parks & More ($207)

 Related Resort Discounts:

  • 40% off Deluxe Resorts
  • 35% off Moderates and Fort Wilderness Cabins
  • 30% off Value Resorts including Art of Animation

Armed Forces Salute Info for Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA

Disneyland Park Tickets:

  • 3 Day Park Hopper Pass ($132)

Disneyland Resort Military Discounts:

  • 40% off at the Grand Californian
  • 35% off at the Disneyland Hotel
  • 30% off at the Paradise Pier

Other Must Know Details About Disney’s Armed Forces Salute

Block Out Dates:

  • November 27-29, 2014 - No Room Rate Discounts
  • December 24-31 – No Room Rate Discounts
  • December 22, 2014- January 2, 2015- No Theme Park or Water Park Use
  • March 29-April 9, 2015- No Theme Park or Water Park Use
  • March 30-April 4, 2014 - No Room Rate Discounts

Eligibility:

  • Current military members who are active duty, reserve, or national guard
  • Retired military members from active duty, reserve, or national guard.
  • 100% Service Connected Disabled Veterans
  • Spouses and un-remarried widows of above

A big thanks to Military Disney Tips for the heads up on this magical announcement! Check out their  comprehensive page about restrictions and uses for Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Program for more information!

Before You Say Get Off My Lawn to 50,000 Immigrant Children, Look Around Your Home

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I’ve stayed mum about the immigrant children situation via social media channels, but no more. As much as I believe in securing our borders, I cannot, in good faith, turn a blind eye to the fact that we, as Americans, have benefitted at the hands of the scores of undocumented workers who live within our borders.

We are a global society. Every consumer decision we make from demanding (via dollars) out-of-season produce to supporting non-living wages in countries that have inherited traditionally American manufacturing industries (garment/household goods/foods), because we refuse to pay the price to keep those jobs in America (at the register) is contributing to a larger global problem.

As industries jump from country to country, fighting each other tooth-and-nail to bring jobs to their people by promising damningly low corporate tax rates and sacrificing their own workforce’s safety because I have to have a product for the lowest possible price with zero thought the real cost of that artificially low price, I can’t help but feel like I’m part of the problem.

And those children? Perhaps my consumer choices…my desire to save the almighty dollar…contributed to the disintegration of their family unit. Maybe my choice to signal the invisible hand that I am 100% complicit in systems, no matter how corrupt, no matter how low wages push workers towards black market industries like drug and people trafficking, pushed that family to send their most prized possession on the most dangerous journey of their life to a land that promises that a life of hard work can change their fate.

Before we cry CRIMINAL! ILLEGAL! GET OFF MY LAWN! Perhaps, we should all go take a look around our homes, our pantries, our fridges, our closets, and then pause and reflect on our part in this mess.

Image source Pixabay.

Bugs, Fear, & Friendship: Why Every Military Spouse Needs a True Friend

“Shit, what was that?” I ask myself as I leap up on the kitchen counter. “Holy crap. That’s a huge bug.”

Terror strikes me deep in my bones. I know am a strong, kick-ass woman. I am 1,000 times bigger than this menacing shiny, black, and orange…oh my God…what if it flies?

“Shit where’s the vacuum cleaner?”

I will Venkman this SOB. I bet Dyson never considered marketing it’s vacuums as bug-sucking death traps.

“Crap. It’s upstairs.”

It’s at this point that I begin to lament the fact that I don’t have a second set of eyes to make sure this creature from hell doesn’t move or scuttle away.

Facing a crisis of scylla and charybdis proportions, I begin to survey the shoe rack for the only thing I know that makes me feel brave enough to face any entymological confrontation.

MilSpouse Combat Boots

“Are you kidding me? Dammit!” No boots.

Of course there aren’t any boots. Sigh. He’s not here. If he were here, mind you, I’d be cursing the fact that the boots never made it properly on to the shoe rack or something like that.

Things are not looking good for me.

It’s 9:25pm and I’m stranded on the kitchen counter, powerless to stop what I believe is one of the largest human-flesh-eating beetles I’ve ever seen.

“Get yourself together woman! Get  off of this counter and..holy guacamoleeeeeeeeeee”

It scuttled forward. I planted myself firmly back on the counter.

With little chance of me finding my ovaries and getting my shit together enough to take down this monster, I gather all of my dignity, throw it away with both hands and grab my trusty laptop and take to Facebook.

 

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And in that moment, I learned the most valuable lesson about true friendship and how insanely important it is that every single person, especially military spouses, out there, whether you’re facing a week-long TDY, four month deployment, or year-long separation, must have at least ONE amazing friend like I have in Amanda.

We never did find that bug, despite Amanda’s thorough inspection that included the use of a flashlight and vacuum cleaner ala Ghostbusters, as I stood at a safe distance behind her in total-girly like fashion cheering her on. But that’s okay. We might not have found that infernal bug, but what we found, in that hilariously pathetic moment, was true friendship.

Amanda, you are awesome. Thank you.