Yesterday, I visited Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, which is about a one-hour drive from my home. I had seen photos of Hickson Lake, which is located in Dagmar, and decided I would travel there and see it for myself. But, because of insufficient research and a little bit of bad luck, it turned into a bit of an adventure for me.
It began when I took the wrong turn into Dagmar. Because I would be arriving before sunrise (of course!), I used Google Map’s Street View feature to find some road sign, landmark, or other feature to make sure I could find my turn. By using this feature, I found there was road sign just before the turn I needed. Great! There is no way I can miss that!
Driving down the road, I kept watching for this sign. Finally, as I cross a bridge, I see it – Dagmar Wildlife Management Area Next Left. Easy enough, but here is where my inadequate research caught up with me.
I took the turn and was on a gravel road just as it had been described. But what I had read described the road as being well maintained. The road I was on was rough and full of potholes. Maybe my definition of well maintained wasn’t the same as the person who wrote the description thought it was. So, I kept going even though I was questioning that decision from the moment I turned off the main highway.
I would drive several miles down the road (or gravel path is more like it) then turn around and go back to the start to regain my bearings. Finally, I decided to just stay on this main path and see what happened. This worked great until I had to stop when I came upon a part of the roadway that was covered with water for about 30 or 40 feet. Not only did I not know how deep the water was, but I also knew that the odds were exceptionally good that I would get stuck trying to cross it no matter how deep it was. I needed to turn around. Unfortunately, the “road” wasn’t much wider than my truck, so trying to get turned in the opposite direction would be a long-term ordeal. I remembered passing by a campsite a few minutes before and decided my best course of action was to back up until I got to the campsite and turn around there. Of course, the campsite was a lot further behind my than I thought, and I had to drive in reverse for probably close to a half mile before I got to it. Finally, I got turned around and decided it was time to get out of there.
When I finally got back to the main highway, I decided to head toward the closest town and see what else I could find. As I drove, I saw it. My sign! I hadn’t realized there were two entrances into Dagmar, and I had taken the wrong one and driven around for nearly an hour essentially lost.
I took the turn, and this time the gravel road was well maintained just as described. I kept driving and even came upon another sign that told me exactly where I needed to go. So far, so good!
As I approached my location, I noticed my tire pressure light had come on. Ooooh, that can’t be too good. I continued on, found the spot I was looking for, and parked my truck. I got out and looked at my tires. One looked like it might have been a little low, but I thought it could possibly be the way I was parked. I got out my equipment and began taking pictures. And this is where the bad luck caught up to me. And maybe the fact I was probably driving too fast on a rocky road.
After about ten minutes, I happened to glance back at my truck and noticed something odd…the tire that looked a just a little bit low now looked a lot low. I walked back to take a look. The tire wasn’t a little low. It wasn’t a lot low. It was completely, totally flat. Not a good feeling when the last hint of civilization I had seen was two or three miles back up a windy gravel road.
Knowing I was going to have to change the tire, I did what any self-respecting photographer would do in that kind of situation. I went to back and finished shooting my pictures. After all, it wasn’t like my truck was going anywhere with only three tires. I finished my shooting, walked back to my truck, and began to change the tire, which I completed in the earth-shattering, world record time of one hour!
Tired and drenched in sweat, I decided it was time to limp back home. Of course, I the way out of Dagmar, I saw another area that, as soon as I saw it, I thought to myself “That would look really nice at sunrise.” So, I’ll be back out there, at sunrise, taking more pictures. But next time, I’ll at least know where I’m going.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 32mm, 1/8 sec, f/22