Thursday, September 12, 2013

God sent us a couple of cowboys

We found ourselves with a few free days after the grandkids and their parents packed up and left Bear Lake.
We had already spent the weekend splashing and ski-dooing on the deep blue lake water and collected a fair amount of sun.
Now here we were, two grandparents with time on our hands.
We decided to each pick something we wanted to do that we hadn't done before.
I picked out horseback riding but the lady we called in Laketown didn't have a ride time before Wednesday so it became Marc's turn.
He chose off-road riding.
We found a little shop that was still open. (It is off-season now in Bear Lake.)
They had a sweet red and black ATV with no windshield and high clearance and sturdy tires.
The teenager in charge handed us helmets and goggles. He showed us how to make the driver's door stay closed with a velcro strap. He explained how we ought to go and suggested we avoid hitting big rocks at 40 miles an hour.
Then he handed Marc a map and we were off!
(This is after we signed legal documents saying we wouldn't sue or come back from the dead to complain if we died doing this.)
We headed up a rugged but simple trail towards the mountain top with instructions about turning left, going for a while and connecting with Hodges' Canyon after we found the underpass in the forest.
Marc manned the wheel. I manned my side, clutching my "steering wheel" tightly even while I understood it had absolutely no effect on our outcome. I stuck my feet firmly to the floor.
At first it was glorious. The air was clear. The sky was blue. The road was pretty straightforward and you could see dirt between the rocks.
It wasn't until after a while that it became terrifying.
There were places with big washes where Marc had to decide whether to try and straddle the ruts or climb the boulders. The choices were mostly between big rocks and bigger rocks.
We struggled along thinking we were pretty good at this. We scared away cows and deer and the occasional chipmunk.
Our sweet ride
We found the under-the-road tunnel. We gunned the engine.
Then we found ourselves on a decent gravel Forest Service road that was easy but we seemed to be going to Wyoming. After a fair time, we realized we'd missed something.
We tried to check the map.
Marc couldn't find it.
And he couldn't remember the name of the turn-off.
Oh dear. We were going to die for sure.
We headed back the way we came but now the novelty had worn off and I was worried.
We tried a turn-off called Richardson Fork.
Oh boy!
There were more rocks and ruts and less dirt and trail than one could imagine. We chased a cow into the brush and ended up in a pasture with him and his bovine friends.
We were two hours into our two-hour ride with no clue as to how to get back. We had no
cell-phone service as well as no matches, food, flashlights or warm clothing.
I was getting a little upset as I tend to do when I can't see any future for us.
So Marc said a prayer asking that we find our way home safely and that he/we could make good decisions.
We started again and promptly came to a fork. He suggested going right. I said left back the way we came through Hell.
Then remembering the prayer, I decided to trust him.
We went right and 10 feet up the trail a herd of white-faced cows blocked our way. Two cowboys were rustling them up. They regarded us with amusement -- two senior citizens in an ATV, obviously lost.
"Can we get out this way?" Marc asked.
"Yeah," said the talkative cowboy nearest to us as he parted the cows.
We motored noisily on, relieved that we had some clear direction but still battling the worst road I had ever seen.
I now understand how people upset their ATVs, how they get seriously injured and the exhilaration that's very much like riding a really scary roller-coaster.
Marc was laughing. I was trying to image how much more difficult a difficult path could be. The one we were on was supposed to be easy to moderate.
And, actually when we did get back to the rental shop, the kid admitted that Richardson Fork can be one of the more tricky ones particularly after a good rainstorm.
"I wouldn't recommend it," he said.

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