I would like to begin by saying that while I am a fantasy writer, and while I do often embellish what happens in life to make it more interesting to read, this story is completely true.
It was supposed to be a quick weekend trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with my two closest friends. They wanted to see their younger brother, and I wanted to find an adventure (in literature this would be foreshadowing, but in real life it's just called not knowing what's about to hit you). The trip began exactly as planned. We made it down to a college about two hours away from Gettysburg in time to watch their brother play lacrosse. It was when we got back in the car that things started to very much not go as planned. We heard a grinding noise first, and then a squeaking. When the car began to wobble, we immediately pulled over to the side of the highway. Fast forward through some very confusing phone calls, a ride in a truck that required us to practically sit on top of each other, and about two hours of waiting, and we were sitting in a Mavis Discount Tire waiting for a mechanic who had offered to give us a ride to the Philadelphia airport. The plan was to rent a car at the airport, drive the two remaining hours to Gettysburg, and carry on with our trip. That's not exactly what happened.
We got to the Philadelphia airport only to discover that we couldn't rent a car without a credit card (which, of course, we didn't have). By this point, our mechanic friend had continued on his way home after we insisted that he didn't have to stay to help us. The car rental worker that we talked to had said we could stay as long as we wanted, so we naturally took up temporary residence there until we could figure out what to do. We stayed for a little over an hour, eating snacks and talking, until we were picked up by a transportation service to take us back to the town where the car was being fixed. The ride to our newly reserved hotel room was spent confusing our driver with the tale of how we got to that particular point in our trip and going to the wrong address before finally arriving at our destination. Once we checked into our hotel room, we realized that we hadn't eaten since 7 o'clock that morning and it was now 10 at night. So, we had a very nice dinner at the hotel restaurant that we ate in mostly stunned silence. Of course, our adventure for that day was apparently still not over, and before we settled into our room, we were met with a horde of rambunctious thirteen-year-old boys. They said they were there for a variety of eating competitions (we're still not sure if that was true). They also said I looked like a slow runner (I know for sure that one's true). Finally, we collapsed onto our beds and went to sleep... still two hours from Gettysburg.
We woke up the next morning, planning to leave around 10 because that was when the mechanics had said our car would be done. However, we were given a ride to the shop around noon with the explanation that the parts for the car were not in yet. The parts didn't arrive until 2 o'clock, and after three hours of work (and a few other complications with the car that I can't describe because I don't know enough about cars) we were finally ready to go. I should add that absolutely none of this was the fault of the mechanics. They were incredibly helpful and positively angelic, but I guess the call for unexpected adventure was just too much that weekend. At this point, it was around 5:30 in the evening, but we still decided to make the two hour drive to Gettysburg and then drive five and a half hours home because, frankly, we hadn't come all that way to not actually get where we were planning on going.
So, we drove to Gettysburg (a trip that was blessedly uneventful) and finally arrived at their brother's dorm building (where he greeted us with a very reasonable, "Why are you here?"). After spending about a half and hour there, we left Gettysburg to head home, planning on getting back to our own college at around 1:30 in the morning.
At this point in the story, I'm not sure you'll even be surprised to learn that that didn't work out. Not long after we started our trip home, we found ourselves driving through a vicious rainstorm. It might have been a thunderstorm. I don't know because I couldn't hear or see anything except the rain. My mom informed me over the phone that we were in a tornado watch, a flood watch, and a flash flood warning. Naturally, we wanted to get off the road, but we were on a stretch of highway where the exits were few and far between. Eventually, we made our way off the highway to a hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 11:30 at night and slept until 4:30 the following morning. Then we were up and on the road again before 5 o'clock to get back to college at 8:30. And that was the end of our adventure.
Like all good stories, this one does have a point (besides sharing the excitement with whoever finds themselves reading this). The point is this: that every day, every opportunity, every trip is what you make it. Our experience on this Gettysburg trip could have been hectic and miserable. But because we looked at the blessings, focused on each other's company, and enjoyed the adventure, it was a fantastic experience that I won't forget. I wouldn't trade this experience for any other because it brought me closer to my two best friends and showed me what a good adventure feels like. Adventure isn't always what you think it's going to be, but it's priceless nonetheless.
One last note: the picture accompanying this story is part of the car resting in my hand. The mechanics gave us each one as a souvenir of our trip.
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