“I don’t know whether to shake your hand or punch you,” Chance told my husband when he stepped out of his pickup at our cow camp home.
Apparently, the dirt road to our house on a remote cattle ranch fell considerably short of our visitor’s standards for an acceptable level of smoothness.
Just as we did with all (okay, both) of our previous visitors, my husband had warned Chance that we lived down nearly 50 miles of rough dirt road that only got rougher with passing each mile. Just like our other previous visitors, Chance had underestimated the roughness.
“I thought you meant ‘rough’ as in ‘you’ll need to slow down occasionally for the washboards,'” he said. “Not ‘rough’ as in ‘you’ll need to stop to replace the front shocks, see if the suitcase bounced out of the pickup, and question the ongoing value of our friendship.'”
I don’t think Chance would have been so worked up about his suitcase bouncing out of the pickup if it hadn’t been riding in the front seat at the time. Some people are funny like that.
“How do you get eggs out here?” asked Chance.
“Um, I put them in the shopping cart, pay for them, put them in my car and drive home,” I replied.
Good thing Chance is married, I thought. His shirts are clean and ironed, but he’d starve to death if he had to procure his own groceries.
Admittedly, grocery shopping while living 2 1/2 hours from the nearest town is a challenge, primitive dirt roads notwithstanding. We’ve lived here for over a year, though, and our kids finally quit tripping over every rock, bump, and pothole when they run down the driveway, so I’d forgotten how rough the country appears to newcomers.
None of the creeks have bridges. As someone who travels these byways on a weekly basis, I look at a rock pile covered with running water, shift my ’95 Jeep Cherokee into four-high and say “Heck yes.”
I forget that more civilized people who drive newer vehicles with remote starting capabilities and a monthly payment look at the same creek crossing and say “Is your left eye still swelled up? Because I can punch you in the right eye now, just to mix it up.”
Chance was in our neck of the woods on a horse hauling expedition, and his original plan involved towing his wife’s brand-new 26′ horse trailer to our house. Due a recent heavy rain that turned the roads to a sticky, slimy, rutted slip ‘n slide, we called Chance and cautioned him against bringing the trailer. He unhooked and left it in the low country. “Low country” is a fun phrase to use, because it makes me feel like Jessica Harrison in The Man From Snowy River. And if you can’t occasionally feel like the star in a western movie from the ’80s, is it really worth getting out of bed in the morning?
After we realized the full extent of the roads’ muddiness, we were instantly remorseful that we didn’t let Chance bring the horse trailer all the way to our house. Having a friend come visit is fun, but it’s even more fun if you can get them stuck in the mud and in trouble with their spouse.
This is a typical creek crossing on the ranch. The actual road part of the crossing is slightly less rocky, but the locals would think nothing of just powering over these rocks, undercarriage be darned.