Trip reaffirms the ever-present potential for adventure

Trip reaffirms the ever-present potential for adventure

“Look at it as a simple mission with strong potential for adventure.”

That’s how I billed a whirlwind trip to Western Michigan as I tried to coax my wife into riding along on the red-eye drive to pick up a trailer full of tree seedlings for our annual tree sale at work. Intentionally omitting the full, round-trip total of 12-13 hours of sitting in the truck, I did my best to sell her with the promise of stimulating conversations. I also pitched the “rare beauty” of the borderland where Michigan, Indiana and Ohio converge, but there’s only so much artistic inspiration one can glean from pan-flat, winter-barren bean fields stretching to every horizon.

The promise of a side trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law along the way ultimately landed my co-pilot right where I needed her to keep me from going batty during the long drive.

Our trip north was a miracle of good weather, great music and fine company. And our visit with Tim and Dot was wonderful, if all too short. Our journey home, however, provided the “adventure” part of the journey.

One of the more reassuring features of modern automobiles is a little light that pops up on the dash accompanied by a calm but authoritative “ding” that lets a driver know when the fuel supply is running low. I’ve played that ding in my own car for years, proving time and gain and without fail that I’ve got an easy 20-30 miles before my tank is dead dry.

When the light flashed and the ding “dinged” in the work truck Kristin and I were driving for the trip, I also enjoyed the added assurance of a count-down screen on the dash that told me I had exactly 39 miles left to go before the truck was dead flat empty.

In our own 200-years-settled and relatively civilized portion of Ohio, you could choose any point on a compass and run into a filling station within 5-10 miles. In the far northwestern hinterlands of the state, however, a place where you can see the same windmill in your rearview mirror for 50 miles, service stations are few and far between.

Not to be intimidated, I asked my smartphone to locate the nearest gas station, to which a wonderfully melodic voice responded, “There is a Marathon station 4.3 miles due east as the crow flies from your current location.”

“As the crow flies?” I said to Kristin. “Does she think I’m driving a hovercraft?”

I asked once again, this time in hope of a more detailed set of instructions — you know, little details like a highway exit number or a road name.

The pleasant voice responded, “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re asking.”

At that very moment, with my dash still confidently declaring I had another 35 miles to figure the whole thing out, the truck gasped a sputtering death rattle, and we coasted to the berm in silence. There we sat for 45 minutes — just me, my wife and a U-Haul trailer filled with 10,000 baby trees — until a heroic young tow-truck driver, summoned from some unseen settlement beyond the far horizon, arrived with 2 gallons of the most expensive gasoline on the planet. I’d pitched my wife on the potential for adventure, and the universe did not disappoint.

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at

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