Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Poor Judgement

So I just took some time off for spring turkey hunting next month and I am SOOOO excited to go. What’s great about spring turkey is that we (my father and a couple of our friends) go to the Wayne National Forest in Southeastern Ohio and camp in the backcountry. During spring turkey, by the way, you’re only allowed to hunt from sunrise to noon. So, much of the time is spent drinking beer, enjoying the warm weather, plinking with .22’s, and going off-roading in my Jeep. Which reminds me of a story…

You see three years ago, I almost died down there. Seriously.

The road to get to the area we camp in has several small creek crossings. Basically the road dips down into the creek and continues across the other side. So, the last night of turkey hunting, a major thunderstorm rolls in and it pours like a monsoon for a good 6 or so hours. When we woke up in the morning, the creeks had swollen. They had gone from lazy, meandering brook to a rushing, 30 or 40 foot wide torrent. As a result the road is completely washed out. We had no choice but to sit and wait for the water to come down some so we could get out.After a few hours, the river's are still rushing and my dad says, "You know, I left one of my turkey blinds up where I was hunting. I want to get it before we leave."

I respond, "I've got the Jeep, we should be able to do a few river crossings."

What is it they say? Never try to cross water during a flood?

Anyway, we take off down the road. When we come to the first river crossing, I inch in and cross it no problem. It was a little touch and go, so my dad says I need to go faster or I'm going to get stuck. I advise him that I can't just splash in because of the placement of the airbox in my old Jeep. You see, one of the design flaws in the 1988 through 1995 Jeep Wranglers was the placing of the airbox. Basically, it was in the front of the engine compartment and had a large bored hole facing the radiator. If you hit water too hard, it would spray into the engine compartment, hit the airbox, and get sucked into the motor – immediately killing it because, apparently, internal combustion engines don’t work with water. Who’d have thunk it?

So, my dad keeps busting my balls, and I keep telling him that I know what I'm doing. Soon, we come to the next river crossing and it is readily apparent this one is much worse. I begin thinking, ‘maybe dad's right’. Part of this was that I didn’t want to spend too much time in the rushing gray, class two rapids that were in front of me. The other part was that reptile part of the male brain that makes all men think we are both invulnerable and damn sexy when drunk. So, my ego and hubris getting the better of me, I gun the Jeep and hit the rushing river head on.

Water splashes up over the top of the jeep and I sink to the edge of the hood. Immediately, I suck water into the airbox and the motor dies with a jarring gasp and sputter.

"Oh shit!" my dad and I say in unison.

My initial entry had taken us 20 or so feet into the water and as I'm sitting there, trying to get the motor to turn over, water starts coming through the doors and the Jeep’s body tub starts to fill up. Then, to my mounting horror, the force of the rushing river starts to move the jeep sideways down the river.

Mass panic ensues! My dad is screaming on the cb to the other guys in hunting camp to, “Come save us, we're going to die! Dear God in heaven! We’re going to die!”

I'm mother fucking him because I suddenly feel that this is his fault; after all, he made me go get his blind and he suggested we hit the water headfirst.

I’m madly twisting the key in the ignition and pumping the now submerged gas pedal, trying to get a spark in my hydro-locked engine. My dad’s desperately trying to unzip the window and bail out. We’re both cursing at each other like sailors on shore leave. My Jeep is bobbing sideways in a flooded mountain river and moving downstream to our next stop - the Ohio River; and I still can't get it to start.

Just then, as the Jeep bobs down and touches the river bottom, the motor turns over! It's chugging and bucking because there's so much water in it but I get enough of a spark to get some power to the wheels. I slam the Jeep into four wheel drive and my tires - amazingly - grip on some submerged rocks. We shoot up and out of the river.

As we're sitting on the other side of the river, shaking with adrenaline, breathing hard and looking at each other in that way that says, 'Wow. We almost just died,'; we vow to never tells our wives that this EVER happened...

There are two morals to this story really. The first is, they ain’t fuckin’ kidding about NOT driving through flood waters. The second is, bad things happen when my dad and I drink and there’s no women around to talk us out of stupid ideas...

Funny that. I’ve almost died a couple times whilst with me da’. Remind me to tell you sometime about me, my dad, a campfire, and a one pound can of Pyrodex black powder. All I can say is…BOOOOM!!!!

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