A trip to Georgia, unscheduled pit stops and a temporarily missing couple

October 25, 2019 chris
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By Vicki Scott

The George Wallace Senior Center’s 2019 Senior Apple Orchard Trip 2019 on Monday, Oct. 14, was a journey I will never forget.

I should have braced myself when I caught at every red light from center. We prayed as a group first thing that morning for everyone to have a good trip and arrive home safely.

Author’s note: Before I proceed further, I want it to be known everyone arrived home safely, so we can laugh now!

We promptly left at 7:30 a.m. Our planned destination was for Ellijay, Georgia, and the itinerary was to eat at Mike’s Restaurant, shop, go to Panorama, shop and then ride back to Glencoe. The trip turned out to be was a little more eventful than that.

We had one of our senior volunteers lead us in his vehicle, followed by our van that holds 15 passengers, which was followed by another vehicle. I drove my car carrying three more riders. I do not like to lead since I still have no sense of direction. I shared phone numbers with each driver so we could all stop when needed. The directions were calculated. We had three hours to get to our first stop for a trip that should take two and a half hours if we did not stop anywhere.

We barely made it out of the center when we made a pit stop. Messages were sent around the convoy and everyone stayed in contact. When we did, everyone had to get out and use the facilities of the Taco Bell so we would not have to stop again. We still were making good time. I had made arrangements with Mike’s Restaurant to arrive between 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.

About one hour into the trip, the couple in front of us stopped to get gas. It was a surprise, so the lead van and the following van did not know to stop. After the second attempt, my precious couple got gas and said that they would follow me.

The other vehicles had to make another pit stop, so we were convinced we could catch up to them. All 15 passengers took advantage of this stop, which bought me some time.

Once my GPS was programmed in, Siri directed my paths. Even with GPS, I somehow made a wrong turn. Siri left me and I had no signal. With all the winding roads, I could not turn around until about three miles down the road. When I did turn around, I explained to my patient couple behind me what happened, and the husband just smiled and said that he was following me.

When I was back on track, Siri decided she would come back as well and promptly directed me to a roadblock. We waited for our turn to pass, checking and making sure that our sweet gassed-up couple was behind us.

We passed through the roadblock and came to a stop sign where we were to turn either right or left.  We were five minutes from Mike’s Restaurant. The rest of the crew was already there. I turned left, and about a mile down the road I noticed that the couple following us was missing. I pulled over and waited a few minutes.  No couple. I told the others that I would go on to Mike’s, drop them off and try to find the missing couple. Everyone in my car wanted to go with me.

After some discussion, we tried to call them, with no answer. We thought they might be having signal issues like we did, so we waited a little while to call again.

At the restaurant, I called Pat Hill, the director at the George Wallace Senior Center, to ask for some direction on the matter. Before I could tell her of the missing couple, they called us and said they were at McDonald’s, which was five minutes away. I summoned a waitress to give them directions to Mike’s. We ordered and ate our food, all the time calling their phone with no answer. The couple answered one time, but it was fuzzy.

By this time, we skipped shopping in Ellijay’s vendor village and went on to Panorama. About three of us kept calling the couple’s house and cell phone with no answer. I called Pat back and updated her on the situation. She tried to call them and their contact person with no luck. She then called the police.

There was one pit stop in Centre, Alabama, but no one asked for it. We were constantly calling the couple, with no answer.

Around 6 p.m., the sun was going down and it was starting to get dark. Our couple’s contact person decided to start toward Ellijay to search for them, only to pass them on their way back on the Appalachian Highway, a few minutes from home.

With their phone and GPS not working, our previously missing couple could not communicate with us. They ended up eating at McDonald’s, going to the apple orchard to buy apples and then returning home on their own. They said they did not see us at the apple orchard. But they made it home safe, and I praise God.

Another good thing about this trip is that my precious couple became famous. Every police officer from Glencoe to Ellijay knows who they are. Early Tuesday morning, a police officer came to the center to check on our newly famous couple and was thankful that everything was okay. When all was well, the rest of the week was jovial at my expense. I love to make people laugh, and I praise God we can laugh now.

In the midst of this whole ordeal, I kept reminding myself that we prayed for everyone to have a good trip and for the weather to be perfect. The forecast was for rain the day before and the day after. The temperature was not too hot nor too cold. It was a good trip. We prayed for everyone to arrive home safe, and they did.

I think, however, that I will be a little more specific next time.