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Why I Love Family Outings

So Hubby and I had a fun little adventure yesterday in the Owyhee Mountains. Our family outing left me hobbling like Quasimodo and sounding like James Earl Jones. My poor butt hurts even when I sit, my right peck muscle feels like it’s been ripped from my chest and I can’t lift my arms over my head.

I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, the outdoors, or solving a puzzle. But, when you mix those three things together with freezing rain, mud, chilling winds, night time and being an hour’s drive away from any civilization, I tend to become a little less inclined to participate. But, before I go on to tell you the story; I want to put the minds and hearts of those of you that were freaked out by my fb status, to rest.

Sass the Machine is alive and well and back at home.

Geode (Thunder egg)

I complain a lot to Hubby about how we don’t do enough outdoor activities, like hiking and camping. So, when his dad suggested a family outing, he thought I’d be ecstatic. Me? Not so much. When I envision hiking, I think of mountains and trees. Hubby’s vision: foothills, in the desert, looking for rocks. Thunder eggs, actually. But, being the AMAZING wife that I am, I agreed to go (Hubby will tell you there was a lot of sighs, eye rolling and foot stomping, but don’t believe it).

Dad’s paint job

The day started off with everyone meeting at our house for a big breakfast, which was a lot of fun. Those present: Me, Hubby, Bobblehead, Hubby’s dad and mom, and his sister, her husband and their two kids (4 and 2.5). When the eating and coffee drinking was done, we all piled into two ginormous trucks and headed out for a small town an hour away. There, we met up with two more adults and four boys, ages 8 – 13 (I’m guessing here). Then, it was another hour out into the boonies, in the middle of the Owyhee Mountains with no cell phone reception.

A view through the window

The drive was long and somewhat uneventful; so we had to make things interesting for ourselves. In the giant white Ford was Yours Truly, Bobblehead, Mom and Dad. The road was (unpaved, obviously), rutted, muddy, bumpy, steep and on occasion, treacherous. Bobblehead was in the back seat asking, “Can I drive yet? Can I drive yet?” (after all, it was his car). Mom was in the front seat closing her eyes and praying for us all to arrive alive to our destination, Dad was effectively and efficiently changing the paint job on Bobblehead’s truck to a nice, muddy brown, and Hubby and I were sitting back and being entertained by his brother.

Besides the clockwork question about driving, Bobblehead squirmed out the back window into the bed of the truck to check on the two German Sheppards kenneled in the back (at one point, one of the kennels had flipped over; the poor dog pooped herself and threw us—they both get carsick). When Bobblehead returned back to the inside of the truck, he took out his .22 and unrolled the window. Time for target practice with a moving target: a salt lick.

Ping, ping, ping, ping

Mom: “Are you shooting that gun from inside the car?” The entire truck smells of gunpowder

Bobblehead: Pause. “No.” As a shell casing lands on my foot.

That grew tiresome after a while, so we decided to motivate Bobblehead for something more entertaining. Like counting coup with the cows (counting coup is what Native Americans used to do with their enemies. It was considered more manly if you could touch your enemy and return to tell the tale. Dad does it with animals, so Bobblehead decided to try). Cows and their calves were aplenty on this trip. Bobblehead thought touching one of the babies would be easy. But as he said upon re-entry of the truck, “Those little suckers are like turbo cows with rockets!” (The video doesn’t capture everything, but it gives you an idea)

We made it to our destination, but the mud was so bad, and the hills so steep, that we had to abandon the vehicles and hike the rest of the way in (it felt like 3 miles, but it was probably closer to 2).

Parker’s Kingdom

The next 3 – 4 hours was spent hunting for thunder eggs by most of the adults. I decided to hang out with a pretty stellar kid named Parker. Together, he and I, Sass and another lab, Lucy, ran around like crazy people, climbing rocks, boulders, and cliffs. Each time Parker scrambled to the top of the tallest point, he’d yell out, “I’m on top of the world!” It was a lot of fun. We even caught a blue-bellied lizard.

A Blue-bellied lizard

Towards the end of our day there, Bobblehead and his brother-in-law decided to go and get the trucks and drive them up so we wouldn’t have to lug out all the rocks collected. Plus, we were all tired and worn out.

Very thoughtful. We’re still trying to find out whose idea it was so they can be properly thanked.

We load everything out, hop in the cars, Bobblehead’s truck leading the group, get about 20 yards or so, and I feel the entire left side of the truck sink into the mud. (pic) The inside of the car is so quiet, you can actually hear the mud swallowing the tires with a slurp.

It’s a good thing we had six grown men and three good-sized boys. And shovels. Thank God for the shovels. Upon inspection, it was documented that the tires were about half-way sunk into soupy mud. The guys all grabbed shovels and formed a chain gang, digging trenches for the wheels, while the smaller kids and women pulled grass and plants to try and soak up some of the water and give the traction tires. We felt a bit like the Hebrews making bricks for Pharaoh. At least if we were stranded in the wilderness we’d be skilled enough to make a nice, mud brick house.

Stuck the first time

Eventually, we got the Ford out, and Bobblehead gunned it back down the hill to a slightly safer area. Brother-in-Law decided to give it a shot next, with his diesel Dodge. That got stuck, too, not as dramatically as the Ford was, but still unable to move anywhere. We all tried to push it, but all that resulted was mud-splattered men and a broken bumper. Mom drank hot coffee, directing traffic as the men tried again to free the truck. Without our direction, they surely wouldn’t have been as successful as they were.

It was discussed that Bobblehead’s truck would be powerful enough to pull the Dodge out of the mud, so Bobblehead went to get the Ford. But, on his way back up the hill, it got stuck. Again. This one MUCH worse than before. It took about twice as long to get it out. Many plants donated their lives for the freedom of those honkin’ mud tires. We thank you and morn your loss. Eventually, Bobblehead and the hard work of many guys freed the truck, and it was coaxed to safety and a somewhat swamp free area a hundred yards or so down the road. Where it sat.

The Dodge

We tried again to get Dodge free, but that wasn’t happening. So, we packed out. We still had the other vehicle, a Suburban, a few miles away that we hoped would carry seventeen of us to civilization and to freedom.

Oh, wait. It started to rain. And the wind picked up. So, we piled four dogs into two kennels in the back of the Dodge (which, thank the Lord, had a camper top on it, so they were somewhat protected from the elements and the freezing temps). Tara and Icy (the Sheppards), and Sass and Lucy each sharing a kennel, and off we trudged, towards the car.

The men talking about the problem. You can’t see it from here but Mom’s directing traffic off to the left.

It’s amazing how two miles turns into two hundred when you’re in the conditions we were. By the time we all made it down to the Suburban, my jeans were soaked from bottom to top and the sun had set. We all piled into the eight person vehicle, said more prayers (something is wrong with the transmission and it periodically shuts off, the roads were still very ify, and stress was high). By the grace of God alone, we made it out of the Owyhees alive and in one piece, but let me tell you, it was touch and go for a while there, including the tranny giving out at one point.

The boys called in some favors and got another, bigger truck with a winch to go back out there this morning, in the wee hours, when the mud was frozen and managed to get the trucks out of the mud. I was told, that when they opened the back of the Dodge to check on the dogs, that all four girls gave them looks that said, “We can’t believe you did this to us. Come a little closer and we’ll eat your faces.”

Sass is in one piece, and little worse for wear, but alive. She’s been sleeping all day and trying not to move. Not even for food. I’m tired, and could probably sleep for another day. But, I’m happy to report that I have another adventure under my belt.

Moral of the story: buy foreign trucks. Better yet, just don’t go outside at all.

How we all felt on the car ride home


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