Stories About Getting Lost

Throughout most of his career, my husband traveled the world. Because I also worked, I could not accompany him very often, but on the rare occasion that I could join him (usually a business venue within driving distance of our home), my favorite thing to do while my husband was in meetings was to wander around seeing the sights.

Many years ago I accompanied my husband to a conference held at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was before cell phones and GPS were common (at least I didn’t have them) but I was driving our new Chevy Tahoe which had a magical feature called “OnStar”.

I had a grand time exploring the area. As usual, I was confident in my ability to retrace my route but I suppose I was more adventurous than usual because I had OnStar available if needed. When it was time to return and meet my husband, I found myself hopelessly lost. I pushed the OnStar button and was connected to a disembodied voice that promised to guide me back to Carnegie. Well, it didn’t work. I was met with one-way streets, construction and every manner of obstacle as On-Star tried to assist me to my destination. The OnStar guy was on the verge of giving up when I saw a police car at a convenience store. I said goodbye to OnStar and approached the police officer. I asked him, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The officer gave me a big smile and responded, “Practice, practice, practice!”

I had never heard the “Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice” joke, and as far as I was concerned, I had been “practicing” half of the afternoon. I burst into tears. The poor officer, who had probably been waiting for decades for someone to ask him how to get to Carnegie Hall, was taken aback by my tears. He gave me directions and I arrived on time.

It was years before I found out that I was an unwitting party to a pretty good joke.

5 Likes

Love this story. Much to the annoyance of those around me, that is one of my favorite jokes!

1 Like

@cdgarcia Search “we do things the old way” New Mexico, and you will find a Google Book excerpt with a pic. It was quite frightening!

1 Like

Last summer, I went to Brussels Belgium with the travel club at my college. Our second full day there our instructor decided to let us run loose as long as we met back up at the Grand-Place in time for our walking tour. My friend and I immediately ran off from the hotel to the Royal Gallery of St. Hubert in search of fancy Belgium chocolate. After a few hours of binge eating the best chocolate we had ever had and walking around, we realized that we had no idea how to get back to the square. This lead us to wandering around aimlessly looking for other members of our group. We went around in a circle (that we later were told was the perimeter of the Grand Place.) Eventually we gave up and sat down at a nice coffee shop halfway between our hotel and the main part of the city. Then suddenly from the corner of my eye, I saw the familiar shape of a professor/father of one of my high school friends. We immediately ran to him and stayed glued to his side the rest of the night while he repeatedly quizzed us about where we were at. That night at the hotel I messaged my friend that I was stealing her dad.

1 Like

Dear SeeSaw, thank you for the hint, I may need your help - my search comes up with lots of stuff but no scary image that I can see even down into the 4th or 5th page… am I looking for a dummy hanging from a noose?

This a great story but I am also curious to know whether you’ve ever gotten lost on Tralfamadore. If you have a missing part, I have a suggestion how to work with that.

Plenty of stories about my unstuck time in the alien zoo, but I’ll have to save that for another thread.

Yes, I actually posted it earlier, but was reminded that it was an inappropriate image :grimacing:. Which totally makes sense, I wasn’t thinking lol. The book is call Lynching: American Mob Murder and here’s the link- https://books.google.com/books?id=cS8fDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=%22we+do+things+the+old+way%22+new+mexico&source=bl&ots=dpd8ZSjXgv&sig=ACfU3U1Ru6GnOqnZeCcznvxJGB5yTHKrhA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZqPiNweLgAhUKGKwKHWW1AXwQ6AEwCnoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22we%20do%20things%20the%20old%20way%22%20new%20mexico&f=false. It shows to be on page 94, and it shows the dummy hanging from a ranch sign.

Amazing. I just might have to read that book. :astonished:

I LOVE historic places. Inviting my friend to go to George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, it never occurred to that not everyone LOVES historic places. Well, enough she agreed to go, once we got there she told me the truth: she HATES historic places. Wait, what? You work in a museum, how is this possible? It just is. Both she and I belonged to our community woodlands committee, so luckily for us, Mt. Vernon has vast surrounds of woodlands (I did not know this!) We headed off and found beautiful wild flowers in abundance. Cool native trees and shrubs–witch hazel, wild rhododendron, incredibly tall American hollys. We wandered and wandered–how could the property be so vast–I thought it had been eaten up by suburbia. We had found a wild wonderland right outside DC and we were having a blast! But, alas, our blast didn’t last. We now realized we were completely lost. Pre-mobile, pre-GPS, even HELLO-ANYBODY THERE? didn’t work. So we walked… Ah, civilization, there’s a horse. We headed in that direction. As we got closer, we saw that it was a very big horse, I mean huge. As we got closer, we realized it was not alive. It once was, but at some point a taxidermist had gotten a hold of it. Why was it there? Who had owned it? General Washington? I think not. But it was just standing there on it’s own in a maze of trees and under- and over-growth. It was kind of scary looking, tattered and looking out of glass eyes–we knew this was not our ride home. The long and the short of it is that we continued on, and then, we saw a golf cart coming straight toward us. We were relieved that it had a real live person driving it! This was our ride home. We had been lost, but it was still a great experience. I highly recommend seeing the “new” Mt. Vernon estate, out buildings, and Learning Center. Even more, I recommend a trip to the woods around the estate. And I have two requests: 1- always landscape with native plants and 2- always remember, you’re never really lost, you’re always somewhere. I can’t remember who said that, but someone famous, and when I’m lost on back roads or walking on foot I TRY to remember that and just enjoy the experience!

2 Likes

You win with this story!

That mysterious horse though…

1 Like

It was April, 1976. I was 16 years old and on a French Class trip to France and England. On our second night in Paris, three young ladies and one other young man and I decided to take advantage of the relaxed alcohol laws in France and purchase several bottles of wine and some beer. Bolstered by our newfound alcoholic confidence, we then broke curfew and went on an unsanctioned tour of nighttime Paris. Leaving from the Hotel Mondial at around 9:30 pm we wandered around some wonderful neighborhoods for hours.
Soon we all agreed that we should return to our hotel. Here was the problem. None of us were keeping track of the route we were travelling! Panic started to set in, as you might imagine. After about an hour we met two native Parisians also out on a late night stroll. Thankfully they knew a little English and we knew enough French to be able to communicate.
When they learned that most of us were from the Chicago area they were excited and made reference to the Capone era by making machine gun noises and gestures. We politely smiled and agreed. They then provided us with directions back to our hotel. We returned without the chaperones ever knowing of our absence. My greatest adventure EVER!

1 Like

I always find out about these things far too late.

In the summer of 2012, my gal pal and I flew into San Francisco, and wanted to watch ballgames in San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle. We allotted two weeks for the journey, since we had seen the Grand Canyon in 2011, along with Arches and Zion and developed a newfound love for national parks.

We figured 2 weeks would give us time to see Redwoods and Crater Lakes, Goonies and Cascades, Olympic and Lassen. It did. We saw all of that.

My uncle lived on Camano Island, and while staying with him, we thought we’d check out a state park. Deception Pass sounded awesome, so we headed that way. It was so awesome, it was packed to the gills. I’m not sure if we stopped or not, but we decided to look further down whidbey island.

We found fort ebey park, and the island has a bit of a cliff bluff system, and i saw a trail leading down the bluff. there was another trail off to the right, and that’s the one we took.

I’m allergic to bees, and the trail we took was full of them, buzzing my tower as i hurriedly made my way through. eventually we wandered to the bay, and i thought there was no way I was going back through the bees.

I was wearing sandals, and the beach was rocky. Eventually, I’d go barefoot, but not before I saw the same deer I saw at the start of the trail, showing me where I should have gone back up. I should have put two and two together, but I’m a bit of a speciesist, and all deer look pretty similar, especially west coast deer to my east coast eyes.

Helping us miss the path was the the fact that the sea had washed away the beach side of the trail. We were looking for the trail at eye level, but it didn’t start for another 15 feet up the bluff.

So we kept walking.

We found a raft, that looked like a memorial, washed to shore. We fixed it up and sent it back out. Had we not looked behind us, we would have believed that we succeeded in our task.

We succeeded in nothing.

We kept walking. Fort Ebey is a pretty big park and we walked right out of it. We finally found a spot we could climb the bluff and PRIVATE PROPERTY signs greeted us. We had no cel service. We had no idea we left Fort Ebey, but we pushed on. In a few hours, we began to wonder if we were going to miss dinner. My aunt and uncle had planned for us to eat together, and we’d feel really bad if we missed it.

We had no cell service, so we couldn’t tell them. Eventually, we found other hikers. There were others as lost as us, or at least they pretended to be, and then we found our saviors.

Another couple had started their day just like us at Fort Ebey, but finding no usable trail, went to Ebey’s Landing. We had wandered aimlessly on the coast of Whidbey Island from one state park, through privately owned coastline and ending up in a completely different state park, something like 6 miles down the coast.

The other couple, knowing where we came from, drove us back. Thanks to my sandals and my barefoot miles, my feet were burning. Finally back in our vehicle, we made it just in time for dinner, but I’ll never forget the day we got lost on Whidbey Island.

4 Likes

I was about six months pregnant with my first child in spring 2000 and my husband and I took one last childless vacation to Cat Island in the Bahamas — very small, no casinos or resorts, just a funky place with seaside cabins and a surprisingly good restaurant. One day we borrowed kayaks and a map showing us how to get from a lovely mangrove-lined river out to the sea so we could circle back to the hotel. This involved turning from the main river at a market to a “trail” in the water. We found the turnoff OK, but the route afterwards was a little unclear, so we just tried to guess by the depth of the water, which was getting shallower and shallower as it wound among the mangroves. Pretty soon it was too shallow to kayak and we were walking in knee-deep water pulling them. It was about then that I realized we were totally lost. I think we had a small amount of water with us, and a camera with a flash. We imagined a scenario where we didn’t return to the hotel after dar and they sent out a search party or even a place, and we could signal them by firing the camera flash, with rescue coming dramatically just as the batteries died. Fortunately I had some experience with walking in the woods as a kid and had learned that, when walking an unfamiliar route that I later wanted to retrace, I should keep looking behind me to see how things appeared when looking from the opposite direction, so on the way back, things would look familiar now and then to confirm we were going the right way. Another thing that helped was that the water was very clear and still and had a sandy bottom, so I could actually see our footprints here and there on the bottom. In this manner we managed to retrace out steps. Despite or perhaps because of this incident, it remains one of my favorite vacations.

2 Likes

I went hiking with my brothers in Canyonlands, Utah. Southern Utah has some amazing geology. There’s nowhere else like it in the world. The hike we planned was an 8 mile loop that went down into a canyon and up the other end. The trail we were following was marked only with cairns, little piles of rocks, which were few and far between. They became harder to follow as the trail went over and under large boulders. I think hikers were expected to keep moving forward because there really wasn’t a place to get lost at the bottom of a canyon. Eventually, we got to the end of the canyon where the trail was supposed to have a few switchbacks going up. Instead, there was a waterfall. No switchbacks, no trail. So we decided to climb the side of the canyon to get it. It was steep in many places and I am scared of heights. We made it to the top and we just had to find the trail again. I examined the map and determined, using my Eagle Scout skills, that the trail was just over that next hill. Here is what was over the next hill:

Some of the biggest cliffs I’ve ever seen in my life. We were still lost. We wandered around for a bit more and dealt with some more cliffs and a lost backpack with our water until we made it back to the car right before it got dark and started raining.

5 Likes

Love That Story!

As a resident I’m happy to acknowledge that Pittsburgh is stupid easy to get lost in. The one way streets and “not quite through” streets are a killer. Just be grateful that you didn’t wind up on one side of the major bridges. I did that a few times before I lived in town and got oriented and it’s intimidating to try to get turned around and back on the right track.

My simple story of getting lost in the flip phone days: I spent a lot of years seeing moe. a bunch up and down the east coast. Normally I’d get MapQuest directions (remember MapQuest?) and I always had an atlas with me. I was headed to Toronto to see a show at the Phoenix and as soon as I got into Toronto proper I was totally discombobulated. It took me a while to admit how bad it was and suck it up and ask for rough directions but I made it to the show on time. I still curse MQ to this day. There’s no way it could have been user error, of course.

1 Like

HA HA HA HA sound’s Great.Know That was a Adventure.

My mother and I travelled extensively, including nearly 2,300 miles of driving through 4 states (CO, WY, UT and ID) after flying from Harrisburg, PA to Denver. Great airport, Denver! We saw a part of the country which I had never imagined could be so vast and so empty. We went through Yellowstone and I was amazed by the falls and the thermal pools and features and even Old Faithful. Utah has the most beautiful rock I’ve ever seen in colors new to me in nature. What a wonderful place “Out West” is for a lifelong Pennsylvanian! But the best part was our stay with Manetta Schrite, the “hat lady” my maternal grandfather had married after someone sent him to her to get his custom-made “cowboy hat” repaired. As Manetta Rowell, she and her late husband had made custom hats and kept the old wooden hat-fitters there with each person’s personal head measurements locked into place. That way, they could make a new hat without needing the buyer to return to the shop. They also made the tricorn hats worn by Paul Revere and the Raiders, a band from Idaho famous in the late 1960s and early 70s. Lots of hats!

Another long trip took us through New England, including a drive around the entire coast of Cape Cod and into Canada, where we continued to eat fresh seafood (a habit that had begun in Maine) and went to one of my bucket list places, the biggest tidal change in the world, at the Bay if Fundy. We went on to see the coasts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. A spectacular drive, we saw some of the most picturesque scenes imaginable, like little harbors full of boats and lighthouses.

We ended up on Prince Edward Island, another place on my bucket list. I fell in love with the island and would have moved there in a heartbeat - until I realized how vicious the storms and Winters are there. We saw the hugest pumpkin we ever laid eyes on while driving out to a lighthouse, which had a graveyard where the American dead from a shipwreck had been laid to rest. It’s restful and well-kept, a tribute from the locals to those who perished.

In these and trips, we’ve driven thousands of miles in 2 countries, 20 or more states and 6 Canadian provinces and we were never once “LOST.” There were a few times when we weren’t quite sure where we were, but we always made it an adventure and went off the beaten path and away from the tourist areas, except when the tourist areas were places like Williamsburg and Jamestown, VA.

But lost? That will never happen to us.