Stranded at the New River Gorge in West Virginia


Maggie is pointing at Jack, just outside of the frame. 

It’s his turn to continue the story of the Big Red Goat who saw a scary ghost outside of the window one bright sunny morning. Each child was tasked with adding new and exciting details when the tale was handed to them. Halfway through our “game” it occurred to me that I was intuitively passing along a technique of dealing with life in the exact.same.way I’ve always dealt – 

Story Telling. 

Look behind them….

We were on the side of the highway. 

Stranded. 

Expedition broke down on Hwy 19-S on the way home from vacationing in Upstate New York. 

Towards Fayetteville, West Virginia. 

Mountain terrain. 

Winding roads. 

We were coasting along at 65 when the SUV just shut down. 

Big rigs passing like we were standing still. 

RPMs dropped. 

Engine died. 

Car stopped. 

319 miles from home in South Carolina. 

Might as well be a million. 

The feeling of having my four oblivious children behind me in a vehicle that has just lost power on the interstate is one I could have done without experiencing! 

If I were a miracle believer, I’d certainly label those next few moments miracle-worthy. Somehow we were able to coast in neutral to a magical safe spot that seemed to appear out of nowhere. And just off the bypass behind me in the photo was a randomly placed small church – the only building for five miles. 

If there was ever a song about a church in the valley by the wildwood, this place was its poster child.

Immediately, three teenage boys who saw what happened came running out to meet us and helped Kevin push the car further off the road. 

Within twenty minutes, four other vehicles had stopped to offer assistance, rides, and even a quick pull offer from a guy with a pickup and chain. 

I can’t emphasize enough that we WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. 

And then the WVDOT patrol pulled up. 

As the highway patrol helped Kevin deal with the car, the youth pastor-a 20something named Greg-from the church and his sweet-as-tea elderly mother drove me and the kids the five miles into town to the Quality Inn, leaving us with fresh bottled water, soda, two whole pizza pies and loads of hugs. 

I may have hidden some tears on her motherly shoulder while the kids jumped on the motel bed, excited for their new adventure. 

It’s been a few hours now. 

Kids are fed, bathed, and tucked in watching Sprout. 

Kevin and I are tucked in this cozy hotel room with them. 

And our Expedition is tucked into the parking lot of the local Ford mechanic a few miles away. 

Local legend has it that the greatest country singer of all time, Hank Williams Sr, was found dead in his car just 4.7 miles from this exact spot. So obviously things could have ended worse. 

And while there may be a tear in my beer tonight, I’m not so lonesome I could cry.