This will probably come as no surprise to you, but I’m not a fan of off-roading. For one thing, vehicles are expensive. I don’t drive a rig with scratches and I don’t want covered with mud either. When the neighbor’s horses opted to scratch the paint on my truck by using their teeth to polish the surface, I called State Farm. Like a good neighbor, they were there to help. My comprehensive coverage only had a $50 dollar deductible. For that matter, it could have been $500. It wouldn’t have mattered. Even if it is a truck, I don’t want mine covered with scratches. I would have had the damage repaired or bought a new truck. Those are the only acceptible two options.
I have a neighbor who gets a new truck every two years. One of the rights of passage early on for almost every truck he’s driven always results in a scratch or dent. It doesn’t bother him. He obviously didn’t see it coming, or he would have avoided the mishap, but he also doesn’t mind a scratch. He calls it character. That is the same description he uses to describe a hairline crack in a stained concrete floor. Either would be an unwanted stress factor for me. I know, I know, we don’t live in a perfect world. I need to get over it.
Okay, I may describe the General as a little OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), but in that regard we are equally yoked. She wouldn’t drive a vehicle covered with mud either. For that matter, why would anyone want to play in the mud? I am the guy who prefers to eat pizza by using a fork. I do that because I don’t want to get my fingers dirty. I actually feel the same way about my car.
For those of you who see it differently, you probably have a different frame of reference. You also my drive a vehicle equipped to accommodate off road conditions with extended ground clearance, four wheel drive and off-road tires. Some vehicles are designed exclusively for off-road use. I figure if you’ve got one of those, you’ve got more money that you’ve got sense. Okay, okay, I could be wrong. I’m making a value judgment that what meets your fancy isn’t okay just because it’s covered with mud and a heightened sense of danger.
I guess it all gets back to one’s frame of reference. I’ve only had three off-road experiences and all three were harrowing. The first took place about forty-five years ago. It was in the very early morning hours and I was headed to the middle of nowhere. Actually, that’s not totally true. I started my travel in the early morning hours, but by the time I was off-roading, the sun was up enough that I could see clearly. But off course, I had to wake up first. That was what added the harrowing aspect of the experience. I had fallen asleep behind the wheel and when I awakened, I wasn’t on the road. I was also driving the speed limit that was designed for the paved highway and not the adjacent bar ditch.
The second off-road experience was in 1996. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had flown from Midland to Austin, rented a car and spent the night in staff lodging at the children’s home in Round Rock. Very early the next morning, I headed for Brenham. Okay so maybe I was driving a little faster than I should be driving, but the truth is, I didn’t recognize the roadway was covered with ice. As I quickly inched into a sharp turn, my car began spinning round and round. It was a surreal kind of experience. I’ve never been in a ride at a carnival that spun that quickly, but at the same time, it was almost as everything was in slow motion. That is what was so weird.
My first thought was that I should have taken the extra car insurance. My second thought was, “I’ve got to get rid of this cup of hot coffee that I’m holding in my right hand”. I gently tossed it to the right floorboard. Much to my dismay, the car didn’t turn over, but I anticipated it would. Otherwise I’d have kept the cup full of hot coffee. As the vehicle left the pavement, I anticipated going through a fence, but there wasn’t a fence. When the car finally stopped, it was still upright and I was clearly in someone’s field. It was still very dark. I could see the headlights of cars coming from both directions. All cars were stopped. “Smart people” was my best explanation. I subsequently took my foot off the brake and pressed the accelerator. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, I drove out of the pasture. They say you live and you learn. I drove much more slowly going forward.
The only other off-road experience was also in the midst of early morning darkness. It was at least a year ago when I backed out the driveway of the Strauss Haus Bed and Breakfast in Cat Spring and over-shot the road in front of the house. It added a whole new dimension to stuck in the mud. That in itself is embarrassing enough, but to make matters worse, I didn’t know how close I was to the railroad tracks and I could clearly see the light of a train headed my direction. Like I said, it was a harrowing experience. Fortunately for me, my daughter-in-law’s brother is the “go to guy” in Cat Spring to get you out of a bind.
Last night Craig called and said, “Dad, I’ve got a blog suggestion for you. Do you remember the story I told you about Becky getting stuck in the mud helping another family who was also stuck in the mud?” Long-story short, the family had knowingly driven their vehicle across acreage where their new weekend home was located. They’d come to Cat Spring only for the day and wanted to plant some trees. When they telephoned their builder who was also the “go to guy” in Cat Spring to get you out of a bind, he wasn’t in Cat Spring. Subsequently he called his sister. Apparently family rescue is an innate tradition. Whether it is dogs or people, if they can help, they gladly do so.
At any rate, as Becky made her way toward the location to offer assistance, she telephoned Craig. With the voice of prophecy she announced that he needed to head that direction because she was probably going to get stuck. Perceptive? – Yes, but not really necessarily in this situation. If it has rained and you are in Cat Spring and attempting to drive a vehicle somewhere other than on a paved road, the only place you are going is up to your axles in mud (maybe it should be down to your axles). It works like quicksand. Get it wet and you’re going down.
When Craig arrived in his 4-wheel drive pickup that he doesn’t mind getting muddy, he had no difficulty pulling Becky’s vehicle out. He didn’t anticipate difficulty pulling the other vehicle out either, but even then it requires a key. The occupants had somehow lost the key. Well the search was on. Where could it be? They had it in the ignition when they got stuck in the mud. Where was it now? That was the $64,000 question.
Because of the family needing to pick up kids from school thirty plus miles away, Becky offered them the loan of her Ford Expedition. I guess you could say the “go to guy” in Cat Spring has a “go to sister” that is also in the rescue business. As it turned out, it was subsequently discovered that the wife had inadvertently placed the key in her blouse pocket rather than the pocket of her jeans. She didn’t check the blouse until she got home. When they were searching for the key, she only checked her jean pockets. They returned Becky’s Expedition the following day and the stuck vehicle was retrieved.
Well, yesterday Becky received a call from the lady with the lost key. They’ve been out of the country for the past couple or three weeks. She called to ask Becky to look in the glove compartment of her Expedition. She said, I’ve misplaced the key to my vehicle and I think I remember putting it in the glove-compartment of your car. True to life, it was still there.
Speaking of keys, I’ve misplaced one of the two keys to my truck that continues to be free of subsequent scratches that could be made by horses and at the moment is in pristine condition. Unfortunately, I’ve been missing the second key months. If you find it, please let me know.
All My Best!