We asked readers to send us their most horrific stories about getting lost while driving, for a chance to win a Pioneer Electronics AVIC-D2 GPS and other prizes. We talked to our first place winner, Aaron Tucker from Del Valle, Texas, and found out that the day we notified him was, coincidentally, his birthday. So, Happy Birthday, Aaron! Here's his winning entry:
My wife and I won a little $100 Explorist GPS a few years ago at a casino in Louisiana and we go geocaching every week as far out as we can stand to drive. We'd been north to Oklahoma, east to Louisiana, and west to San Angelo, just picking up caches as we went and taking pictures of historical markers. Then two weeks ago we decided to go south. There were several caches in that direction, and about half way (150 miles) we noticed mile markers for the first time. The first one we saw was 143, then 142 and so on, so we decided to see where it ended up. The GPS we own just draws lines to track your route and doesn't tell you where you are or where you're going. We ended up in a fairly small town called Laredo, and half way through we were asked for $3 and entered a little gateway. Suddenly everything changed. Every block of the road ended with a deadly car-wrecking speedbump. We saw some police in a truck with very large guns and that's when we realized we weren't in the United States anymore. Stop signs switched to Alto signs. Gas went from $2.75 to $10.81. We were scared. The pointer on the GPS just blinked innocently as if nothing had changed. We went about six more blocks, dodging pediestrians and bicyclers like we'd never seen before. Then we were assaulted by the smell of something good! Cookies! After five hours of driving, cookies were good. The building only said "Jugar Jugar" and was pretty awful looking, like every other building in what we would soon learn was Nuevo Laredo. As soon as we stepped in, we saw about a hundred slot machines and large trays of cookies. Since we were there, we handed over $40 for $420 pesos and played for several hours, and had cookies. Apparently you can smoke, drink, and play without ID! We actually left with over $120 after taxes and their 1% fee, so our scary driving trip suddenly turned into a fun accidental trip across the border.
The bad news, leaving Mexico without buying anything is bad. Customs and Border Patrol swooped down on this 30ish couple like ants on sugar. They pulled us around to a private holding area and questioned us and searched us like we were some kind of smugglers or something. Apparently there's been a lot of crime in the area. After 2 hours we were allowed to go. Three miles into Texas there was another border patrol checkpoint and when we said we dind't buy anything, we knew it was time for another rubdown. We don't plan on going that direction again. Ever.
To keep his story short, Aaron left out the details of why border patrol was so interested in his car. Here's the rest of what happened: ". . . since we were Geocaching we had a trunkload of stuffed toys stuffed into big green ammo boxes, each with a notepad and pens in plastic bags for visitors to our caches to log their finds, AND stuffed animals are the #1 way for families of drug lords to carry their drugs across the border! . . ." Aaron's GPS (from the story) was stolen a month ago.
We haven't heard from our second and third place winners yet -- it could be you, so check your emails.