The day started out so well. Rachel was all set to drive the 300 miles to her parent's house for their annual family reunion. She and her faithful Bichon, Fluffy, were prepared for an adventure. The car was stocked with goodies and water for them both. Rachel had her favorite traveling music in the cd changer so she could sing along. Everything was set for a fine trip. Around noon, after a couple hours of driving, Rachel saw a scenic rest stop advertised and decided she and Fluffy could use a walk to stretch their legs, so she pulled into the rest area. There were signs for a short scenic hike through the forest and this sounded just perfect to them both, so Rachel fastened Fluffy's leash and they headed out. At first the trail was clearly marked and it certainly was very beautiful and serene. But suddenly there was a wall of fog and as they passed through it the world seemed to change. The trail became much harder to follow. Soon Rachel had to carry Fluffy because the undergrowth was too dense. The trail was advertised as a loop, so Rachel continued figuring it was a shorter distance to the end that it would be to go back to the beginning. As they approached a clearing, Rachel put Fluffy back down only to be met by 5 men with growling dogs. This was definitely not auspicious. Rachel picked up Fluffy and they hurried past but now Rachel was definitely scared and she also was determined not to go back the way she had come. The men had only laughed at her as she went by, but she was afraid of what they might do on a return trip. The landscape kept changing and it no longer resembled a scenic woodland path. After what seemed like hours, Rachel found that the path came right up to the back door of a house. There was no way around, so she knocked tentatively. The door swung open and Rachel, carrying Fluffy, went in. She passed a man talking on the phone and another man in bed, sick, asleep, or unconscious, Rachel wasn't sure which. Neither man seemed aware of Rachel at all. Moving forward, Rachel passed a third man waiting outside a door, possibly waiting for a turn in the bathroom, and then off to her left she saw the front door. Hurrying along, Rachel made a beeline for the door and quickly exited the house. Again, the landscape changed and now the path was clearer, but extremely narrow with brambles on each side. Rachel and Fluffy continued. Soon they were climbing up a very steep incline. Then the path began a branching pattern and every few minutes Rachel was forced to make a decision. She decided always to take the path that appeared to be going downhill, but even there she was stymied at times when all the choices went upwards. Rachel began to panic. She and Fluffy were both hungry and tired. They had been walking for hours. She pulled out her cell phone thinking is it ok to call 911 just because you are lost and she decided it was. The light was failing and the thought of being in the dark in this world that seemed like something out of Alice in Wonderland was far from appealing. As she started to dial she saw that there was no cell phone reception. Now panic really did set in. Rachel tried running, but that didn't last long. She kept moving as best she could, most of the time carrying Fluffy who definitely was not cut out for this type of walk. The trees started to thin, and she pushed onwards until she came to a real road. Wondering which way to walk, she did her best to head back in the direction of her car. Suddenly she saw the headlights of an oncoming car. Having no idea whether this was a good or bad sign, but being too tired to care, Rachel flagged the car down and was very relieved to see the uniform of a National Parks ranger. The ranger offered her a ride and said that he had gotten worried when he saw that her car had been there for so many hours and all the other cars were now gone. Strange things had been happening in the woods and so he came looking. It turns out that Rachel and Fluffy had traveled over 10 miles that day, 10 miles on a trail which was supposed to be an easy 1/2 mile loop. Rachel thanked the ranger profusely and got herself and Fluffy back into their car where they both collapsed. Rachel fixed water and snacks for them and then, having gotten directions from the park ranger, headed back out onto the highway to find a good motel for the night. No way was she continuing onto her parents tonight, but what a tale she would have to tell tomorrow at her family reunion!