Jan 28, 2020

My kid starts driving soon, here’s why I’m not worried…

On Friday, Emily will begin driving the Jeep. Am I worried about it? Absolutely not because that Jeep has already been through the ringer and nothing Emily could do would ever even come close.

I’m pretty late in sharing this story, but it’s a good one, for sure.

This time 2 years ago, at almost the exact time, Tony and I headed up to Chattanooga (super cute town, by the way, but that’s another post) for our annual date weekend.  We found Adventure Off Road Park, an OHV (off highway vehicle, if you’re new to this like me) park full of trails, hills, puddles, slippy spots and big rocks. The trails run all around and up and down the side of a mountain.  Super fun if you like living close to death. And seems like I do each year ’round this time.

The first year we went, it was so fun, but uneventful, really.

Last year?  Well, last year we went all in.


If you’re not familiar with risking your life on an OHV trail, here’s how it works.

There are really only three rules:

  1.  air down the tires so that they will grip the rocks as you creep up-n-down those steep-n-rocky hills.
  2. have some sort of alcohol in your possession. In some cases you may be driven to drink. Literally. And I don’t drink. Other times you don’t even need booze.  This year?  We were able to make stupid decisions without the help of libations.
  3. wear your seat belt and potty before you leave.

Okay so technically that’s four.  But whatever.

The first hour of our trip was pretty hunky dory.  Every now and then we’d come up on a big hill and I’d actually feel my underwear creeping up my hiney in fear.  Things get rather slick on those hills and I pretty much really like my kids and get super anxious about…you know…never seeing them again and all.  Of course, I trust Tony’s driving (well, you may not believe me on that as we get deeper into this story.  No pun intended I don’t think.), but I don’t really trust gravity and the side of the mountain. I mean.  Do you?

So, around an hour into this Adventure, we couldn’t find a station on the radio that didn’t come with waves of static.  It is the Boonies of Tennessee, of course.  The station we landed on was some God music and my first thought was ‘oh perfect. Let’s listen to some God music as we are on our way to sit right next to the guy here in a minute’.

That made me even more anxious instead of calming me down because really I don’t want to sit by God yet.

I switched the station and wouldn’t you know it?  It’s ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees.

Ah.  Now that’s better.

Right after that Tony says we are going back over to the big puddle that has the bypass around it.  Now why does it come with a bypass, do you think?  Eh… cool by me because it’s flat and I can get some great film footage.  We’d already tested it out earlier by throwing rocks in it (Tony’s idea) to see how deep it was. And also throwing sticks in it (my idea).  Did you know sticks float?  Not to worry because the rock made a pretty substantial ‘kerplunk’ sound.  Which we probably should have considered.

We head back over that way…bump, bump, bump.

We pull up on the puddle.  Still as big as the last time we saw it.  An hour before.  Still as epic as the last time we were at the OHV park, 365 days back.

That’s when he says it: “This is either gonna be really dynamic?  Or the DUMBEST thing I’ve done in a really long time”

Hey. It’s 24 degrees and snowy plus we are the ONLY people here.  Why don’t we go with Option B?

Here.  Hold my beer.*

I hop out.  Because who wants to be IN the Jeep at that point?  Plus I have two choices of recording devices.  A phone and a Nikon.  If anything?  This will be well documented.

I make my way to search out the best spot for documentation.  After I choose my place, he rolls down the window to let me know that’s not the best option.  I keep walking because you know what? Sure.

Film rolling. Go for it Richard Petty.

Richard went for it, but he didn’t go far.  I’m thinking the splash that Jeep made was as big as Tony’s eyes about the time the Jeep shut off.  That’s the last of me sitting in that warm Jeep.

This part of my life….this part right here?  This part is called “Stuck”

**in the following photos, he is INSIDE the Jeep. 

For a few minutes, we talk about a plan.  There’s about half an inch between the water and the crack of the Jeep door.  As far as we knew, there were no other people as stupid as we were to be out in that weather. So the only person to help was the trail manager that let us in earlier.  Tony calls him from his Black Jeep Island in the middle of Boonies of Tennessee.  A few minutes after, and the trail manager, David (which means ‘beloved’) is on the way, we hear some loud rumble rumble coming up the trail.  Wow, David’s fast, I thought.  Except it wasn’t David.  It was the Mountain Men of Boonies of Tennessee and three little boys.

Praise the Lord in heaven.

They are in one of those big-n-giant buggy things with the HUGE tires and loud pipes.  The kids are on 4-wheelers.  ‘That’s pretty risky’ I think.  But, I keep quiet because who am I to judge at this point?  After several minutes of discussion, loud talking (over the buggy engines) and plans, all of the men decided that hooking their buggy up to the front of the Jeep was a great idea.

The little boys hid behind a tree next to me because “that cable might snap and come ’round to whack you in the face ‘ya hear?” (The dad’s words, not mine)

That loud buggy thing pulled and pulled and pulled some more, but the Jeep wouldn’t move an inch.  All it did was suck up more mud and water. I thought about telling them that was a bad idea, but…

Next, they all decide that pulling from the back of the Jeep is best and after a few minutes of lugging and loud yelling, that joker slid right out of the puddle.

I hear the little boys say to me “good thang you standin’ over here next’a us cause that wranch could’a wrapped around that tree rite thare and whopped you rite up side cho’ head”

Yes. It’s a good thing.

Bad news now is that the Jeep won’t start (crank?) so Trail Manager David is pulling us down the mountain. I can’t help but wonder how we will manage this without dropping off the side. Is there a parachute option? Can a chopper save us Daddy Warbucks Style? Oh boy am I glad we dropped the air in the tires (insert eye roll here).

Thankfully, there’s Chattanooga whiskey in the back seat. Which we ended up giving to the guy who saved the day.

Long story short(ish), we had to leave the Jeep at a repair shop and drive back to Atlanta in a teeny tiny rented Kia that the two of us barely fit in. But of course, it all worked out and that Jeep is currently sitting in the driveway with a new, used engine. And every now and again I still wonder how Tony wiggled around on the hood of that Jeep without so much as getting his heel damp. Then shimmied himself all along the back bumper and his hat didn’t even fall off.

So, you see?  I’m not too worried about Emily driving the Jeep next week because that thing has already been through the worst of it. What else is there?

*Just kidding.  There was no beer.  There was whiskey.

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