Lauré has been the primary driver, in fact, the only driver of Earl. We have not had the time to let me practice as yet. My role then defaults to primary navigator (along with being the drinks and snacks girl).
Multi-tasking is in my make-up. I tend to write on long stretches of highway, grabbing a map when need be. Over the last few days, I started getting greedy on my writing focus, so set Google Maps up for the next stop.
Early on, I suggested we give a more personal name to the woman’s voice on Google Maps. We decided on calling her, Rita.
A couple of days ago, I set Rita up so she’d alert us (really for L) on changes in our route. Heading due south and getting close to crossing the Mississippi River, the headwinds coming up from the Gulf were unbelievable. There was no break for L’s upper arms as she fought the blusterous attack on Earl and Nacho.
Heads up, Rita has just announced an unexpected and unfamiliar highway number for us to turn on. I grab the phone to see what she’s talking about. Not enough time to double check her work, I command our captain to go the opposite direction.
Our 50’ train starts barreling down a road that I immediately realize is the wrong one. Not only is it the wrong one, it’s a narrow country road with no shoulder. Every road we pass that branches off is even smaller and narrower and dirt. There is no way Earl could make the sharp 90 degree turn, and Nacho would be dragged across a ditch or two in the process.
12 miles later: L finds an intersection that works for a very tight, hold-your-breath 180 degree turn. She does an amazing job of turning our rigs around, and keeping all upright.
Swearing at Rita, I see that even though the Highway number she gave us was wrong, the direction was correct. Okay, she’s forgiven. I should have figured it out with the paper maps beforehand, but I had been too absorbed with my laptop.
We are now going on the correct road, when Rita announces a route change due to construction delays. Thinking I’ve got this, I consult her map, along with the AAA map.
The detour she has laid out for us seems legit. Confident, I give L the new coordinates, and direct her on Rita’s advice.
The Gulf winds have gotten stronger. Easily 40 to 45 gusts hit us broadside. Turning off my laptop, I am at full attention in my navigational duties. This is unknown territory for us. Smack in the Mississippi Delta.
Being in the Delta basin when the trade winds are at full force means dirt. Sweeping up the fallow fields, the winds turn the humid haze into brown, stinging grit.
Driving the country roads in the Delta basin means old broken down infrastructure. Potholes that would hide standing giraffes. Every nut, bolt, screw in Earl is shaking and rattling. He’s making noises that would scare off banshees.
L: Are you sure this is the right way? (She yells above the din)
Me (Yelling back): Yes, I see what Rita is doing. We’re avoiding major construction delay by going this way.
The road gets smaller and worse with holes. Little bridges that say ‘8,000 pounds Max’. Not just one, but three. Earl is closer to 40,000 pounds. Nowhere to turn around.
L looks at me.
I yell “Go fast!”
We both look in the side view mirrors to see if all of us have made it across the planks. All good.
Bang! The arm of the passenger awning has popped open. Between the wind and the road of holes, the lock has come undone. Big problem. The door awning has turned into a parachute. The wind could easily tear the awning completely off, or twist the arms into unusable pieces of aluminum.
Again, the only roads branching off have been tiny, dirt paths. And again, no shoulder. However, at the very moment when the awning arm started taking flying lessons, a wide, paved driveway appeared less than 100 yards away. Into a big church parking lot. Empty because it wasn’t a Sunday. Lord, you move in mysterious ways, and I love it!
Carefully opening the RV door, holding it tight so the wind didn’t rip it off, we get outside. You cannot stand upright. Takes both of us to try to wrangle the awning arm back against the side of Earl.
15 minutes later, my master of troubleshooting super woman has gotten out Velcro straps and we’ve jimmy rigged a temporary fix until we can get out of the wind and have a ladder. I won’t let L climb on top of the roof. She’d disappear like Dorothy in the twister.
Back on the Rita-chosen road from Hell, wiping the silt out of our eyes, Rita pipes up to remind us to that we have 6 more miles to go. Swearing, I silence her. She is now officially demoted.
That very evening, we are in a restaurant regaling our story to our friend, Hillary. We go on and on how we were burned by Rita’s mistakes. As we are waiting for the check. I stroll over to look at the eclectic art work on the restaurant walls. I’m not kidding. This is what I find:
In reflection, it comes down to forgiveness. Forgiving myself for making mistakes. Once I forgive, I may truly learn.
Yes, it was Rita that I tried to blame, but it was my lack of attention that got us into trouble in the first place. It’s up to me, not a software app, to do what I humanly can do to keep us safe and moving in the right direction. As most clergy know, and what I can verify: Saints are for help in guidance and awareness. Not for dependency.