We live in a very rural area in western Nebraska. We are on the edge of a geological formation known as The Sandhills. They are the largest formation of something called stabilized sand dunes in the world. Geologists say the sand is part of the remains of the last time the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, and in a few hundred thousand more years, this will all be sandstone.
Yesterday, my husband and I went into the county seat to see an attorney about drawing up wills and to go on our biweekly grocery shopping trip. With the county seat about 20 miles away, and gas being around $4 per gallon, we combine and plan trips as much as possible.
Note that there are 3 roads in the entire county which are paved more than a mile outside the city limits of a town - the largest of which is just over 1000 people.
Feeling adventurous, he decided to take a back road home. Indeed, it was a pretty trip. After about a mile, as expected, the road turned to gravel. After a couple more miles, we saw a sign that said "minimum maintenance road". Such signs are pretty much a staple around here. After about another mile, this road turned into fine, powdered sand.
We're driving a Honda, not a dune buggy! We thought about turning around, but there were no good places to do it, so we ploughed ahead. And, ploughed is right! We got to the top of a hill, that the "other side" was about a 10% grade, with a sand pit at the bottom. We ploughed ahead, going about 60 MPH down the hill, into the sand pit, in which the car sank in to the undercarriage, followed by a sharp right-turn - accomplished with a controlled skid. When we got out of the sand pit, we were going about 15 mph.
There were a few other places with deep sand in the remaining 12 miles or so of sand road, but nothing like the sand pit "trap"! Let's say that I was very relieved when we reached another county road paved for about the first mile outside of the tiny town we live in. Had we gotten stuck, it could well be days before anyone would discover us. Getting pulled out would certainly be another adventure.
We got the groceries out of the car, and put away. My husband asked me what I thought of our new route home. I replied with a "Hail Mary", except I changed a line, "Pray for us sinners now and at the second of our our death - which could well be within the next minute."
My husband, another atheist and also another recovering Catholic, misunderstood on whether I was praying as I thought I was going to die. No, only afterward. It seemed to be more useful to break out the gin we picked up with the groceries, and sample it with tonic water, Kool Aid (TM), and Dr Pepper (TM) - in that order.