Posted by: canaryinacoalmine | July 20, 2005

Missed the exit

A small lump formed in my throat when Shelley said,
“Jessie I didn’t know it at the time but there is no one I would have rather have gone through today with.”
“Me too, we’re still the same.”
“I know. Guess I just assumed you had turned into some pretentious Texas Bitch”
“Quite possibly. But I am still a tom boy from Jersey at heart and your still just as stubborn and care free but with more responsibility.”

The day began like any other day in North Carolina, Bloody Marys and horseback riding.

We rose early, for a vacation day, and wandered down by the river to clean up the champagne glasses from the previous night. We quickly calculated activities in the area and decided upon the days events. Horse back riding in the morning, grilling in the afternoon, and a champagne tour in the evening. Reservations were made as coffee and Bloody Marys were consumed.

Becca and I departed for the horse back riding adventure and wound up lost in the country driving around. Forgetting we were on country time, we called to let the stables know we were running 5 minutes late. Had we known we were entering Deliverance territory we may have turned around and not turned right, “at the confederate flag.”
We walked into the barn office pushed open the door and were greeted by Billy Bob Thorton in Slingblade. I whispered in Becky’s ear,

“You’ve got a pretty mouth little girl.”

Becky replied, “Oh FUCK!”

Our tour guide was a quaint southern girl freshly out of high school who was quite content with, “Gettin paid to ryde horses fuh a livin’” She had a confederate flag belt and wore her name as a necklace … in case she forgot. Charming. The horse ride was uneventful except for the dangerous rocks “Shadow” kept tripping over. The horse I was on actually stumbled a time or two. Hardly correlates to the dangerous taxi cab rides I am accustomed to taking.

Note to self: screw the knight in shining armor especially if he is riding a horse.

Back at the trailer down by the river we decided against grilling and made sandwiches. Soon after, we learned we could rent tubes and take a 20 minute tube ride around the camp ground. This would leave plenty of time to get ready for the champagne tour. The thought of leaving the 12 month old alone did occur but was quickly voted against so we opted to go tubing in pairs. Shelley and I would go first then Tiffy and Becky would go. Tiff drove us to the area where we were to exit and said, “Whatever you do. Don’t go beyond this point.” She then unloaded Shelley and I waiving goodbye as we floated down the river.

Shelley and I laughed uncontrollably taking in every ounce of nature all the while remembering why we were friends. Every thought, every conversation, and sideways glance was natural around one another. The smiles weren’t forced and neither was the giddy feeling of reconnecting. We continued down the river merrily feeling the vast thick forest close in on us as though we were riding the moat between heaven and hell. Predator vs. Prey.

The vast thick woods surrounded us, in denial we assumed our exit was just around the bend. There were 3 clues telling us we had reached the end of inhabited land. As we passed clue number one the couple appeared startled by our emergence from the usual desolate river. They waived and threw us a beer. Shell did a swan dive for her beer and settled back into her tube. We relaxed and continued reconnecting. After another 20 minutes two teenagers appeared high on a cliff above us. We waived as they stood motionless. We continued to sit in our tubes admiring nature as rain drops began to fall for a mere 5 minutes. The sober person in me now realizes this was God trying to tell us,


Shell said, “ It has to be just around the corner.”
J “Let’s go around one more bend it goes in a U right? Where does the Grand River End?”
S “I don’t know it goes on forever maybe into the ocean”
J “Great we both got C’s in geography.”

Just then a creature took flight down the river and was headed straight towards us. We heard the flap of the wings and were mesmerized as it flew 6 feet directly over us. I let out a scream like Jamie Lee Curtis in a D rated horror film while Shelley was to terrified to move.

S “Did we go through a time warp when we crossed the rapids”
J “I think that was a tarradactyl. What lives out here in the woods?”
S “Snakes, Cougars, and Bears”
J “We couldn’t have missed it, it HAS to be just around the bend.”
S “Okay one more”

Another 15 minutes passed with no sign of civilization when we began to see black sheets of plastic hanging from the trees.

S “This is directly out of Blaire Witch”
J “D-rated movie material for sure”
S “We’ve got two options stay in the water or get out and hike
back to the campground.”

We looked towards the woods then down the river and agreed we had to be proactive. We paddled our tubes to the edge of the woods and let our tubes float down the river discussing how horrible it would be if Tiff and Becky found our tubes and not us. Were pretty sure they were flipping out by now in our absence.

We began trekking through the woods in bathing suites and flip flops. Climbing and jumping over the natural brush that had never been touched or seen by man. Fallen trees and branches, leaves, damp mud,and cob webs surrounded us. As we scaled the trees and grasped at branches they broke lose in our hands sending us soaring down the hill. Every time this happened one of us would say,
“Don’t do that again. I am not carrying anyone.”
We reached a part of the woods where a huge tree had fallen. Under the tree was a vast nothingness where a deep stream once ran. Realizing we had to cross the gap and acknowledging this would be impossible with out breaking our necks, we decided to attempt to swim past the tree upstream. This was Impossible. Even grabbing the branches to swing like monkey’s did not work. Back in the woods we climbed the hill rationalizing we could go around the tree. Impossible yet again as we kept slipping and falling down the hill.

J “Let’s go back down and stay as close to the bank as possible”
Shelley looked at me from high above on the hill. Her eyes began to swell as she put her hands on her hips covered from head to toe with scratches and dirt. I could tell she was contemplating having a break down on the spot. She was thinking about her 12 month old and it showed on her face.
S “Jessie what are we going to do?”
J “Not stand still. “
S “Okay” she continued on down the mountain
J “Oh fuck!”
S “You alright?”
J “I just grabbed a thorn bush for grip”

Once we conquered the tree we forged on. About this time I wish I had read one of those silly self help articles in my mindless magazines instead of always discounting them for the weak minded. Just one, why didn’t I read just one? The woods continued to scrape against our bare skin and draw blood lashing out as we trespassed. For distraction we began singing,
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings”

Another hour or two passed of Shelley and I not being able to talk as conversation would only FORCE a break down. However, we knew our friends were going crazy and quite possibly lost it by now. They’d blame themselves for bringing us to Deliverance Territory. Distracting myself from the sitution i deemed it necessary to tell Shell – that when we get out of this we ARE still going on the champagne tour. Several times we tricked ourselves into believing we heard a motor boat and people laughing.

A good bit later we looked down and saw a chubby man in a kayak. Still unsure if it was a mirage a few moments passed as we were dumbfounded.


It was part of our search party. We crawled down the mountain and were greeted with Gatorade. We were only a ¼ mile from the campground at this point. Our hero said he would need to take us one at a time across the river to the mining place.

After insisting Shelley go first I sat on the edge of the river and sanity and have never felt more alone. I began to question everything in my life. Suddenly, none of it mattered. Not my shoes or expensive jeans. The jolly man appeared again, I climbed into the kayak as he took me across the river to Shelley. The three of us docked the kayak and walked up the hill to the tourist mining trap. There we saw the boys that waived goodbye to us and a toothless godsend of a man who was talking to two customers. Being the shaken mother and all around shy individual Shelley is. She walked up to the toothless wonder and asked him for a cigarette. He oblidged and ran to get us some beers while our hero phoned to the campground to let everyone know he had found us.

We rode in the back of a pick up truck to the campground and sat on the back porch still shaken and stirred from the deadly thoughts that had traveled through our minds. Tiff and Becky had followed a sunken treasure map of sorts to a bridge 45 minutes by car where they could catch us. As Shelley went to take a shower I phoned my mother,

“Hey Mom, the good thing is we are all alive”
“We were lost in the woods of North Carolina”
“Honey, did they find you? I am going through Customs right now and they want me to get off the phone.”


  1. I am glad to see that you made it home okay! I was hoping you and tiffy would actually make it to the airprt when you left the house.
    Hope that everything is well in Houston, coming to visit sometime soon….thanks for posting the pics!

  2. wow… i was skeered reading that!
    i am deathly afraid of the woods, ANY woods, so i would have been a goner.
    glad you made it out okay!

  3. Glad you made it out of there okay! At least now you have a story!

  4. It sounds like where I grew up … except in North Carolina. 🙂 I’m really glad you made it out ok. Now to fill that apartment …

  5. Sass, do you suspect that you may have a future in writing horror films targeted at teenagers?

  6. Jess,
    Do you want me to shopping with you for a GPS? We can work it into our Saturday shopping trip.

  7. I was never any good at the man vs nature thing. I’m sure you learned a lot about your inner strength. You did well remaining calm which helped Shell, I think. But next time, bring a cell phone with you for god sakes!

  8. We did a lot for calming one another. Trust me, if I could I would have a cell phone implanted in my writst.

  9. is it me or did your mothing really ask if they found you… I mean you’re talking on the phone right? Someone musta found ya ^_^


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