Do I have a story to tell you …

Whitehurst marci
Freelance Writer
Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can foll...

But it’s a little embarrassing, so go easy on me.

First of all, I love my map app. My phone tells me where to go. Perfect! I can read a map, but my husband is the map lover and usually gives directions.

Recently, our daughter and I traveled to North Dakota for a wedding. (Shoutout to Luke and Abby and their families! What delightful people!) I have forgone carrying an actual paper map with me or even reading one very much because my friend Siri can talk to me and tell me where to go. I punch in an address and voila!

Except in rural areas.


I’m a country girl, so I know rural areas, but I did not realize the extent of rural in parts of North Dakota. Friends, there was little to no cell service – which is the case in my home of Montana as well, but usually you drive a handful of miles and you can find a pocket of reception. I am unaware of such pockets in North Dakota.

Now, North Dakota gets a bad rap, but let me first tell you that it is beautiful. Fields stretched out like gold with pockets of lakes all around. My favorite discovery? They don’t irrigate – at least not where we were. They have enough rain and groundwater that irrigation isn’t necessary. Beautiful!

Our daughter was in the wedding, so it was just me traipsing around while she was off with the bridal party. I didn’t know anyone, so after the wedding, I struck up a conversation with some women. Lovely people. In fact, before long, I’d realized that everyone had left except for myself and another lady. I didn’t know where the reception was, only that it was roughly 25 minutes away. I asked to follow her to the reception. She replied that she was unable to attend.

“No worries,” I thought. “I’ll just drive until I get some cell service to pull up the address on a map.” (I know, I should’ve done it sooner, but then I wouldn’t have had this adventure.) It’s a small community, so as I’m driving away from the church and out of the tiny town, I was delighted to see vehicles in my rearview mirror, pulling away from the church. Vehicles I remembered seeing there earlier. “Perfect! I’ll follow them.” 

Now, I was a newcomer to those parts, so I did call my daughter when I had cell service, described the vehicles and confirmed that I could follow them. “Yes, they were there, go ahead and follow them.”

The vehicles turned south, so again, I called my daughter. “We turned right, not left. Is this correct?”

My daughter had taken a different route. She thought it was correct, so I kept following. Before we hung up, she said, “Just so you know, you go down the highway for quite a while before turning. Don’t worry.”

“Good to know.” I cranked up the tunes and followed for a long while. Eventually, the cars turned off and headed toward a lake. Not the correct lake, but since I still couldn’t get a map to pull up on my phone, I assumed the correct lake was also on this road. I followed the vehicles around the lake on a dirt road.

And followed.

And followed.

All the way around the lake until they pulled into a driveway. Uh-oh.

Everyone got out of their cars and headed toward the house. I sheepishly got out and asked, “Hi there, are you all going to the wedding reception from the church?”

They looked at me strangely. One gal replied, “No, we just came from a funeral across the street.”

A funeral? Oh, no!

I couldn’t smooth talk my way out of this. “Oh, well, I’m sorry I’ve just stalked you for the last 25 miles.” I got in my car and drove out the way I came!

At least I didn’t go in the house, assume it was a wedding reception, eat their food and tell them “Congratulations.” That would’ve been worse.

The town was maybe 80 people on a good day and we didn’t know there was a funeral across the street. As soon as I was out of their sight, I burst out laughing. Obviously, my condolences and sympathy go to the family for their loss. However, only I can go looking for a wedding reception and end up at a funeral!

I drove 30 minutes back the way I came and turned the opposite direction after getting a spotty call out to my husband, who looked up a map and gave me directions. I never did get a map to pull up. Nor could I get a hold of my daughter again.

When I finally arrived at the wedding reception, my daughter asked if I took a detour.

“Sort of. I went to a funeral.” Her eyes got as big as saucers.

Hopefully, I provided some comedic relief to a grieving family. Regardless, please forgive me.

The important thing is that a very special couple was celebrated and started a new life together.

Luke and Abby, here’s my advice: They say life is full of twists and turns. I’d agree. Take a map!