Monday, March 23, 2009

Morning Misadventure

Note: My sister Cindy has expressed her approval of the high points of this story for the humorous editorial content but some of it is not suitable for younger or more sensitive folk, so use some good sense and discretion, PLEASE.

Last night I went to bed in the middle of a nightmare of my own creation, the details of which I cannot elaborate on further. But I passed out earlier on my dad's living room floor. I was in no condition to conduct a rational discussion, which is exactly what I later attempted -- and failed so abysmally, it put me into the deepest funk I have been in since I last wanted so much to end my life.

As I said, it was a miserable way to take to my bed, and I slept not at all. I felt sick and upset and faint all night, and about 4:00, I finally abandoned the pretense of trying to sleep and took to my shower. The hot water always gives some soothing relaxation. Not this time.

I continued to worry, and quickly built a scheme to drive to my sister's house on my ATV. It is only about 40 mile to Price as the crow flies, so I could make it easily. These obstacles:
  1. Parents would never consent, too dangerous
  2. Illegal to operate OHV on highway
  3. Registration is not current
  4. If I sneak, people will likely be searching
  5. Deep snow and and icy across Skyline
  6. Currently light snow showers
I decided I needed to do this, so I sneaked out the back door and cranked up the Polaris 800 and zoomed past the house, lights ablaze. Mistake #1. My dad was standing at the door looking as I blazed down the driveway. Not a very subtle getaway. Not even out the driveway, and I was already in trouble.

I was feeling really sick, but hung on and navigated up the highway toward Hilltop and Millburn. I figured they'd look toward U6 first because it is the direct route to Price, but there are better routes for an ATV.

On the road out of Snail Hollow, I saw that only a sprinkling of snow had fallen. There was not even enough to warrant snowplow operation today, which I thought of as in my favor.

I start south, on the side of the highway, but did not realize that there are deep culverts hidden in the snow alongside the road. I skirted a few by chance, but bumped into a very deep hole on about the third or forth. It was no challenge at all for the Polaris, but it turned me into the hillside, and I lost control at 40 mph.

I panicked.

I started to fall off, because I was cruising along unable to correct the steering or hold my body against the increasing grade, that was fast approaching roll-over. Okay. Release the throttle first, gently. Calm down. Your machine has saved you, as it has so many times before.'

Coasting to a near halt, at a near 40% slope, I tried to hold my body with right leg that is weak and trembling. Motorists are speeding past on 89, thinking "...what FUN that guy must be having, swoop up slopes on his 4 wheeler!" And I'm just wondering how to get down from her without wrecking my bike and breaking myself.

The next thing -- after calming -- was to put both hands together on the left side handlebar and PUSH while holding with trembling right leg, to keep myself from falling off the bike and tumbling down the hill. I imagined if I did, the 4-wheeler would run over me too, just for good measure.

Anyway, that worked! so I didn't find out.

I had made it as far as Hilltop without being caught, but I figured if my dad was looking my mom would call out the troops, so I'd better stick to back road, so I turned down toward Millburn. I was cruising pretty good when I realized I should take off the tire chains, the pavement was almost dry. So I pulled around the curve and parked off the pavement.

I swung off the ATV saddle and fell flat on my face. I lay trembling and tired for a few minutes just glad I made it that far without falling off.

After that I tried using the winch to pull me some slack in the chain, but the locking carabiner was jammed tight in the fairlead rollers, and I could not get it out either!  I got the starboard chains off in the mean time, and was using a crowbar to pry some slack in. Naturally I lost my grip and cut my hand with the crowbar, but I did finally get the port side chains off and everything stowed away.

Then I put on some speed. The Polaris is made to do about 60mph on level ground. I was crusing down the side of the wrong side of the road, because I have no peripheral view with the helmet on, cannot see with the wind blowing anyway, and this way I can see oncoming traffic, and I pull off into the borrow pit and stop. I got through Millburn in about 30 seconds. It was one of the fastest traverses on an ATV ever, I'm pretty sure. The only thing that slowed me, at the end, Cindy Mower had to stop for the school bus and I was coming up behind at about 50 mph, so I had to slow down. I pulled into the gas station to fill up. That turned out to be the end of the ride.

Fred and Audreys was not opened yet so I drove over to Walkers. I bought some jersey gloves for liners becase my hands were frozen, and a hot chocolate to help warm up. I was going to fill up with gas, and I tried to bak over to the pumps, but the h=ot chocolate tipped over and spilled just as I was rolling backwards, and I backed right into the diesel pump handle as I grabbed for the tipping cup. My luck started draining out as fast as diesel fuel, all over the ground.

I missed the chocolate, too.

As the ATV bumped up against the pump, the handle broke off at the swivel fitting. I had felt so confident up to that point, Then I saw that everything I was scheming was going to unravel, and I tried to dismount from the saddle of the bike. It was too close to the pump though, and I caught my foot and fell backwards out of control again, this time flat onto my butt onto the hard concrete pavement of the gas station. I fractured my coccyx again, I think. I just laid there sobbing, and right then, my neighbor Phil drove up. He immediately radioed on his shortwave handi-talkie a status up to the SAR net, that the SUBJECT was located, namely ME, and he did all right, just like we were taught.

The jig was up. They'd found me.

After I finished sobbing like a bawl baby, Phil and Ricky took charge of the ATV and Ron drove me home in dad's pickup.  The lady at Walkers said don't worry about it, they'll have their maintenance guy fix the diesel handle. I asked the Sheriff guy who came by Walkers to call off the SAR and call my folks and tell them I'm coming right home.

They won't let me have the Polaris back now. Guess I'll just walk if I should happen to go berserk and get the insane inclination to set out across the Skyline again.


Anonymous said...

You know, you could just call me and ask me to come get you. I'm not welcome in the house, but I don't suppose anyone would stop me from driving in the driveway.

Please consider that as an alternative next time, ok? I'm available tomorrow (Tuesday), and could come get you. Let me know.

Mary Cook said...

Sounds like walking _might_ be a better idea. It makes a great story, as long as you were found before Spring! Next time, try asking a friend for a ride.

Love, Mary

Jim Cobabe said...


I tried friends.

They all said no.

Jim Cobabe said...


I'm busy all this week.

Can we try next Sunday?

Jim Cobabe said...


It seems ironic that so many friends rush out to brave the storm and save me from my foolish mistake, but none of them had the time to drive me out to Price. That was all I wanted in the first place.

Patricia said...

First, Jim, I'm glad you (and everybody around you) survived your runaway attempt.

Second, this post has some absolutely wonderful sentences in it, like this one:

As I said, it was a miserable way to take to my bed, and I slept not at all.

That is a beautifully structured sentence, full of music. It bespeaks your distress elegantly (though I'm struck by your distress as well as by the elegance of the sentence).

I read this post to my husband and he remarked that you're writing authentic Americana. I agree. Keep it up. BUT! No more running away! Pleeease?

Third, you really, absolutely, need more rest. Somehow you have to find a way to get that. Charging off on knight's errands on your trusty OHV isn't going to do it. You're lucky you and your noble steed Polaris didn't find yourselves bogged down in mud halfway through St. Peter's Gate.

There's a new John Grisham novel out called The Associate. Why don't you get that and settle down to relax and read?

By the way, I found one of your comments over at Wilderness Interface Zone caught in the spam filter. I approved it for posting and it's up now.

Anonymous said...

Cindy here...and still laughing! You really tell great stories on yourself!

Seriously though, don't try that again! I'm sure Mom and Dad were scared you'd be hurt, I know I would have been. Keep talking when you have a "great" idea, then be sure to listen to the answers you get. You might not always like the answer, but you should listen and consider what those who love you are saying.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty cool to see that in an emergency, where they were concerned for your life, "so many friends rush out to brave the storm and save" you. That is a great comfort to be sure.

I suspect the friends you asked to take you did not feel it was an emergency for you to get to Price that day. There are different responses for different levels of needs, that's all.

Love you,

Jim Cobabe said...


Thanks for your exercise of literary acumen on my behalf. I promise not to engage in any more jousts. At least until summer. Rick has wagered that I cannot make it to Price in less than an hour on an ATV, so my hor is at stake. Taking the Carbon Canyon route, I believe I can make it in less than 40 minutes. So the race is on.

We'll wait for the 24th of July though.

Jim Cobabe said...


I am not selling my friends short. I was just not thinking.

Anonymous said...

Please wait until June 24th, as I will not be here July 24th. If the way is passable, I will be waiting breathlessly at the other end of the trail with a bottle of water, and a great big hug, no matter how sweaty and dusty you are.



Jim Cobabe said...


You're on.

I'll put up a map of the route.