I got my sense of humor from my mother. I’d tell her my tragedies. She’d make me laugh. She said comedy is tragedy plus time. – Carol Burnett

“I think we’re going the wrong way,” my son David said. We had decided to take the longer, more leisurely trail back to the parking lot after hiking to the top of Crabtree Falls. A 2.5-mile loop, according to the National Park Service website and map.

But at this point, we’d been walking much longer and were heading south instead of north and west instead of east, back to the parking lot where we’d left the car. Somehow, we’d taken a wrong turn. When we reached a gravel road, David was able to get a signal to consult his cell home for directions. 

“We’re going north now, but we’re four miles from the state highway and an additional two-point-five miles from the park entrance.” The three of us pressed on. My son-in-law Gerard took everything in stride, so to speak, as we jogged and walked the gravel road. 

I texted Keith, “Will be late. Having an adventure.” Later, I discovered my text had not been delivered. When the sun dropped below the horizon, I knew two things: we wouldn’t make it to the car before dark, and the State highway was narrow, winding, and often without shoulders or guardrails. So, when I got a weak signal, I tried texting Keith again: “Lost. Please call me.” That wasn’t delivered either. David texted a map and message, “Please come get us” and called, too. His call went to Keith’s voicemail.

We were on our own. I prayed for a helper, as Fred Rogers’s mother had taught him. At dusk, we reached the State highway and along came a red pickup truck with a young couple in the cab. They kindly gave us a ride in the bed of their truck, all the way to our car. 

“God bless you,” I said. All’s Well That Ends Well—or so we thought.


About ten minutes from home, David’s phone finally picked up a strong signal. He discovered his text to Keith had gone through—the one that said, “Come get us” with the map.

“On my way,” Keith had replied. Now Keith was looking for us in the dark, not knowing what might have happened, and without a cell phone signal. David texted and left him a voicemail just in case.

I dropped David and Gerard at home and drove back to find Keith. When we passed each other along the State highway close to park entrance, I flashed my lights. He arrived home a few minutes before I did.

We made nachos for supper. I drank a large mug water. Our Comedy of Errors had ended, though we were too tired to laugh.


In the February 1957 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, TV personality and actor Steve Allen said that “most comedy is tragic,” and the formula for comedy is “tragedy plus time equals comedy.” Maybe Carol Burnett’s mother, who died in 1958, had read that article. I’ve also heard it said that the difference between comedy and tragedy is where the writer decides to end the story, and this story hadn’t quite ended.

About 2:30 am, I got up to relieve myself of that big mug of water. While slipping into bed, I noticed Keith had placed his leg on my side, as he often does so he knows when I come back. I also noticed most of the blankets were on my side.

“I hogged the blankets again,” I said.

Keith chuckled. “I think you just want me to come and get you.”

“That’s right. Oh please, please, come get me,” I said like a damsel in distress.

Then we laughed.

And so, the story ended as we lapsed into A Late-Summer Night’s Dream.


  1. seekingdivineperspective

    “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” Excellent! If we could all take that to heart and not strike out when things happen that we don’t like. I used to write a letter when I was angry, and instead of mailing it, I’d hang onto it for three days. Then I would reread it, and if I still wanted to send it, fine. But usually it would end up in the trash.

  2. vonettayoung

    Carole, I was holding my breath! So much suspense! So glad it all worked out.

    • Carole Duff

      Thanks, Vonetta. At Crabtree Falls, I recommend going up and down the same trail. Then all the drama is in viewing the falls.

  3. Sarah Myers

    Thank goodness you are all back at home!

    • Carole Duff

      Yes, safe and sound after quite an adventure… and we all have them.

  4. Nancy Ruegg

    Whew!! Cell phones are so helpful–until they’re not!! A suspenseful story well-told, Carole.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, Nancy. We all have adventures, and God is with us.

  5. Sue Love

    My mother was very fond of Carol Burnette. I can still hear my mom laughing in my mind when I think of her watching Carol Burnette on TV. Yes, we need humor, and sometimes we need to find humor in our circumstances, too, for it helps sometimes just to laugh, even at ourselves.


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