June’s column was a recount of the difficulties Mrs. Poynor and I experienced over the Memorial Day weekend in getting to our newly acquired cabin. A month had passed time aplenty to heal our mental and physical wounds so a visit to the cabin over the long Fourth of July weekend seemed like a good idea.
We headed out merrily enough, and as mutually agreed upon, we only thumbed our noses at the turn for Regret Lane as we passed by. We continued blissfully another mile down the beach, turning off the beach to access the pipeline trail. Progress was easy until we hit the last serious obstacle in the path to the cabin.
The “big boys” had pretty much whipped what we have dubbed as “For Peat’s Sake Bog” into a peat frappe’, rendering it all but impassable by smaller machines such as ours. We picked out what looked like a negotiable route along the side of the bog and gave it our best shot.
Mrs. Poynor managed to zigzag her way through the mushy pits. My attempt was less successful. I was dragging the trailer. I had decided to take in enough drinking water to leave plenty behind 25 gallons so we wouldn’t need to haul water for several trips.
At the time of loading, Mrs. Poynor was skeptical of my plan. “Are you sure you want to haul all that? That’s awful heavy. Remember last time?”
“No sweat. It’s the dry season,” I responded confidently. “Better now than in late August, or September, when it’s wet and the bogs are really ugly.”
That conversation echoed in my head as the trailer and my ATV simultaneously sank into separate mushy pits separated by a thin patch of solid ground. The rear of my ATV and the wheels on the trailer were effectively high-centered.
As we contemplated our predicament, Mrs. Poynor related how she had once read that certain mental and physical afflictions can exist without any symptoms for years. The word to describe such a condition is “latent.” Apparently, a latent malady can be carried around completely unnoticed for years, until a trigger of some sort activates the symptoms.
Mrs. Poynor frequently offers such random observations, so I asked if she had a point.
“Well, we went through this drill a month ago. You didn’t seem to pick up on the lesson. I believe you have suffered from some sort of latent learning disability all your life, and it has just recently manifested itself. I’ll bet the trigger has something to do with the combined exposure of peat bog muck and mosquito bites.”
With bog froth seeping over the running boards of my ATV, I was in no mood to be trifled with. “OK,” I countered, “I’ll go along with your evaluation: I have a learning disability that has just surfaced. But you’re standing right here in the muck with me, sweet cheeks, so what’s your excuse?”
In retrospect, it is crystal clear that a prudent man, regardless of the circumstances, would not have uttered those words; at least not loud enough that they could be heard. In fact, that very statement could serve as a sterling example of what should eternally remain as “internal dialogue.”
In my estimation there was no need for panic. We were toting four pieces of three-quarter inch plywood for just such an occasion. The plan was to use them for bridging any bad spots in the bog; albeit before getting stuck. However, not all plans are destined to work out. The difficulty now lay in getting the sunken ATV high enough to get the plywood strips under the front wheels.
Disability or no, I took very good mental notes during the resulting lesson. I can even repeat what I learned.
A) Archimedes was full of wet hay: one would NOT be able to move the Earth with a large enough lever. One can just barely budge a 550-pound, mired-downATV using a 15 foot spruce treetrunk!
B) Three-quarter inch plywood, by itself,cannot adequately support the weight of an ATV over an unsupported span of six feet.
C) The WhimpyWinch Company makes a low-priced, inferior product. It is invaluable only by virtue of the fact that it has 35 feet of steel cable to hook onto another ATV. It’s true that one gets what one pays for. (I’m a BIG fan of Warn winches now, and I don’t even own one yet.)
D) Inner dialogue makes for outer peace.
E) There are some things that even a hand-picked wild geranium, dandelion, dwarf fireweed and swamp cotton bouquet can’t fix.
I also learned something else on that particular trip: the answer to the age-old question about bears and “in the woods.” The answer is no. They use outhouses, but more on that next time.
A.E. Poynor is a freelance writer who lives in Kenai.
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