Sometimes we are guided to do things and know why and other times we are led and aren’t sure what it’s all about… until later. The bigger picture may escape us. Here’s a story where the “why” is up for question.
Recently, we took a trip to Western Maryland to enjoy an activity that was on my bucket list. All my adult life, I’ve wanted to ride in a real husky dog sled, and I finally got the chance. Last fall, I came across an article in my local town magazine about a woman who owned a Siberian husky and how she volunteered to support the Iditarod race in Alaska. The article provided resources for interested people to learn more about the sport of husky racing as well as for those wishing to actually ride in a husky dog sled. I was surprised to learn that one such organization was within a three-hour drive from my home in Northern Virginia. Wow! I didn’t have to go to Alaska. (I did try to take a sled ride while travelling in Switzerland, but when we arrived at the top of the mountain, we were informed that the temperature was too warm for the dogs to run!) The date finally came and we were off, prepared to hit a bad snow storm sometime during the three days of our trip, (one day to drive up, a day to take the sled ride and do a bit of skiing and then a day to drive back).
Paying attention to guidance
After about an hour and a half of driving my slightly aging 2002 Volvo, I turned off the cruise control as we came upon some traffic and I wanted to have more driving maneuverability. Unfortunately, the car continued to respond as if it was still controlled by the cruise capability. I put my foot gently on the brake and the car slowed down, but when I used the accelerator, the car stopped at 60 mph, the speed at which I had set the cruise feature previously. This became frightening since I wasn’t sure how the car would respond to my actions, particularly in light of the normally delicately sensitive reaction to which I was accustomed. I told my travelling company of the situation and he kept asking me questions to which I answered, “The car isn’t responding. It’s like it has a mind of its own!” I felt that I had to pull off the highway to figure out what was going on, so I took the next exit, and pulled over at a nearby fast food restaurant. I turned off the car engine hoping to reset the cruise control, but it didn’t have the desired effect. When I returned to the highway, the car was still not under normal functioning.
This time, I was even more afraid. I knew that we had two more hours to drive to reach our destination. What to do? Again, I told my companion that I had to pull off the road. I took the very next exit, which was Hagerstown, a rather old railroad town. Immediately as I left the main road, there were two car dealerships, one with a service center and an associated car rental company. Pulling into the Toyota Center, I entered the service area and commenced to explain what was happening. Rhonda, one of the technicians, in trying to help me, provided instructions to pull my car into one of the service docks right away even though other people were waiting in the outer area. Rhonda couldn’t have been nicer. Toyota diagnostics aren’t much use on a Volvo so she started to work with my service manual and even called the nearest Volvo dealer (about 25 minutes behind us), but to no avail. Finally, my travelling companion and I decided to leave my car and book a rental car to continue on to our destination. We knew that about 10” of snow was predicted the next day and that driving in a bad storm with a car acting questionably would not be advisable. So off we went with the rental car, knowing that my “baby” would be safe in the hands of the Toyota Service Center’s parking lot and Rhonda’s watchful eye.
The rest of our drive up to the Western Maryland resort area of WISP went very smoothly now that I no longer was concerned about our mode of transportation. I could relax and leave the driving in the capable hands of my travelling companion as he’d taken over once we switched cars. Relaxing is something that I need to do more of and now I could get comfortable. We reached the resort in late afternoon, checked in, and surveyed the grounds. It was snowing lightly and rather chilly with the temperature hovering around 30 degrees. For the rest of Tuesday, we enjoyed our brief respite which included making plans for rental skis and a lift ticket for each of us for the next day after our husky dog sled ride. While we had time, we were fitted with skis, books and poles and put our rental equipment in the lockers provided by the resort for use by the guests. It was all very convenient. We also enjoyed dinner in the restaurant and watched the evening skiers on the slopes while wondering from where all their energy materialized.
The Ride of my life
The next morning, I jumped out of bed quite excitedly, prepared for the ride of my life. We were early to the Husky Power Dog Sled location as it was snowing quite heavily and we could hardly see to drive. Luckily, we only had a few miles to travel. Upon arrival, I realized how cold my hands and feet had become but I just had to be tough. After all, I was about to do something that was on my bucket list – a line item that I wanted to do before I died! And it was fast approaching. First, we heard the dogs barking in anticipation of the opportunity to pull a sled. These Alaskan husky dogs just live to pull and in addition, they love the cold weather. Today they would be very happy as it was cold enough for them and they would get to pull on an 11-dog sled team first for my friend and then for me. How fun!
Our husky ride was amazing; nothing short of spectacular, as we curved through the woods over fresh powder snow. I normally don’t like cold weather, but I braved a snow storm and for me, very cold weather to do this ride and loved every minute of it. My husky dog sled ride was all I’d hoped for and more.
Afterwards, we drove again through a snowstorm to get back to the resort just in time to make a few ski runs down the beginner slope. It was quite funny how I was a bit scared to take the lift and the operator stopped it in order to allow me to get on. I felt like the whole trip was planned just for me! Ok, so I’ve slowed down over the years. I can’t do the heavyweight slopes anymore, but that’s ok, I still got down the hill without getting hurt and it was fun.
Back inside the Resort we heard people in the hallway saying they were going to drive home in what was by now a terrible snowstorm. We were so glad that we had decided to stay over an extra day during our trip planning so were not concerned about driving in such bad weather. Later, we heard the horror stories of people being stuck in their cars for upwards of 10 hours on highways around Washington, DC. But fortunately, we were not among them.
Instead, we left Thursday morning with a clear sky and smooth sailing all the way back to the Toyota Dealer to pick up my car. There was Rhonda, on duty. We were grateful for her support and attempts to help. As a thank-you to her, I offered a copy of my inspirational memoir, The Circle of Life – A Journey through Grief to Understanding, asking, “Are you spiritual?” She replied, “Yes, my son has had issues since birth and we almost lost him a few times.” Rhonda thanked me for the autographed copy of my book which she assured me she would read.
After having a quick lunch and saying good-bye, we quickly moved all of our things from the rental car back to my car and continued on our way. At this point, I figured I would have to drive slowly, keeping my car below the speed where the cruise control had been set previously. But, to my surprise, the speed of the car inched up normally. I told my companion, “The car appears to be driving normally. How is that possible?”
Then it hit me. We were supposed to stop at the Toyota Dealers. What’s the probability that my car would act up, then I would decide to pull off the road exactly in front of a location where a woman had a son that might die any time? I believe I was supposed to give her my book as there is information in it regarding life after death that will be reassuring for her. I only hope that she understands that death is not the end and that it is possible to communicate with loved ones after they cross the veil of death. I was guided to leave my car. The universe, once again, provided a perfect plan for all concerned.