WARNING: I TOLD YOU THIS WAS LONG...GRAB A DONUT AND SADDLE UP PACO...YUR IN FOR THE LONG HAUL...
The ring has been found! …ok flash back to the cabin roughly two hours ago. We loaded up what remained from a case of Coors Light in an old feed sack. I loaded it up, stocked it with ice, wrapped it in a towel, and super-strapped three bungee cords around it securing it to the rear rack of my wheeler. It was solid, that bitch was going nowhere and at the time I was quite proud of my hillbilly cooler. I should have known it wouldn’t last.
…so back to the celebration-o-the-ring…I reach into the mutilated feed sack, soaked with river water and melted ice. I reach and reach only to have my frigid hands go numb from the remaining ice. Through the river crossing and high-centered ring toss melee, the coveted silver bullets had vanished into the darkness one by one leaving behind a bungeed mess of coated paper pulp held loosely by the dangling towel. They were gone. We had nothing more to drink. Panic set in again, how would we survive? How can we live without liquids to sustain us? Never mind a river of fresh Ozark mountain water roils beneath us. I relent, mount the wheeler, and press onward.
We make it another 40 or 50 yards downriver when we land onto a crossing which is no longer rolling with the contour of the river bottom. In daylight and in sober mind, we would have known this to be a fairly deep hole, we were in neither. Truck goes first inching forward into the pool as water slowly rises up the front tires. It levels out for a few feet and with a sense of security in reaching the bottom he hammers on the gas.
Bloop…I see headlights under the water. This cannot be good. He gets off the bike and steps off in water over the waist. He shuffles side to side and yells back to me that it is far shallower just to the right of him; he doesn’t see a problem with me making it across. I backup, and accelerate forward to gain momentum…I can make it if I go fast enough. Bloop…headlights underwater. There is an eerie quiet, no engine noise, no talking, just the distant trickle of the river. It is a few minutes before either of us speaks. There are no words…we both bust out laughing. We joke, what else can happen to us tonight?
Should’ve kept our mouths shut…
With the submersible fiasco behind us, our bikes running again after dewatering, and the thirst for more beer driving our mindset, we finally decide it best to return to base. We are 5 miles from home. Never fear, Truck knows a shortcut. Instead of following our Hansel and Gretel path of silver beer cans back, let’s get out of the riverbed and go over the mountain. What a great idea I am thinking…we need a drink and some dry shorts. Wait, I need my glasses. Fortuitously I had stuffed my glasses and my cell phone in the dry box which is stock mounted at the rear of the bike. It has a rubber gasket ring which would infer it to be watertight (read: DRY box). I walk to the rear of the Yamaha…my stomach instantly drops to the river bottom. The door to the dry box, usually held closed by a small rubber strap, is wide open.
No glasses. No cell phone. Nothing but a wet yet clean orifice for holding such valuables. My day has officially turned to crap.
So with no glasses, the 5 mile journey over the mountain ahead, a lost cell phone, and no Coors Light as consolation for my misery we press on. It starts to rain. Buckets. I have ner a stitch of dry clothing. But I have my wedding ring by damn!
The forest trail we have chosen is littered with briars, big ass briars the size of my di...uh I mean...finger. Half way up the mountain, the water that has “mysteriously” been injected into my gas tank begins to show signs of its power over the internal combustion engine. Sputter, climb, sputter, climb…level out and it runs fine…pitch back uphill and it poops out. As we wind our way slowly up the mountain trail we stumble across a tree with about a two foot caliper that has fallen and made its final resting place in our path. Damn you giant elm, you had to get old and brittle and allow a little wind to derail your destiny as the tallest tree in the forest…and screw my night even more.
By this time, I’m in the zone…ain’t no rotten ass tree gonna get in my way of a cold beer and some dry shorts. I steer around, mowing down endless saplings in the process to find a place where I can muster the power to cross the downed log. The watery gas throws a final punch. The bike is KO’d. Eerie silence again as Truck pulls up behind me and shuts down to assess the situation. It was futile.
We agree to say TO HELL with it…let’s leave it hear and we’ll come back for it at daylight (translation: mid morning or whenever we wake up). So I mount the back of Michael’s bike to ride bitch. Something I am not proud of by the way. Are we there yet? Can we finally be home now?
Alas, the night had one more surprise for me…
As I am clinging to the rear rack for dear life…sidebar…dudes never hold onto each other when having to share an ATV, it is an unwritten rule…I can see a sharp curve ahead. Knowing how I would react on my own bike, I lean into the curve. This is textbook operating procedure while piloting an ATV…unless there are briars hanging within the darkness like apple wielding serpents teasing you with succulent temptations (insert your own fantasy here).
It came out of nowhere. Like a lion picking off the weak antelope from the herd, it sliced my right cheek (face cheek…jeez you guys and your dirty minds) across the rosy chub of a cheek bone all the way to my ear. Michael, of course, leaned away from the curve.
“Sorry dude, I didn’t see that comin’”…yeah thanks. It did sting a bit, but I really didn’t notice the full severity of the situation until back at base. It was probably a good thing.
FINALLY…I can see the generator-powered lights of the cabin filling the clearing upon which it sits with the angelic glow of safety and serenity…our nocturnal adventure has concluded. We have survived, albeit with a gash on my face, no glasses, no cell phone, and a dead quad laying helpless down the mountain somewhere. It was time for a frosty cold beverage. The gash did heal eventually although it probably should have had a few stitches…ah well…I now have a nice scar as a prop for recounting my tale to future generations of Eli’s (God help them).
So now you too can sense the kind of trouble into which I seem to find myself from time to time...perhaps next time I will heed the advice of the older and wiser. "Nothing good can come of this"...he was absolutely spot-on.