To begin, riding on a 4-wheeler driven by the husband is an adventure in itself.
So there’s this one person who is from Arkansas and who is not in the habit of driving a 4-wheeler up and down rough, rocky, and often steep mountain trails (with, it must be said, never a guardrail. Once we reach that kind of elevation we don’t see any point in them). Then there is this other person who is from Colorado and who has on occasion done this thing; who has, in fact, once driven down ‘the deadliest pass in Colorado’ in the pouring rain with a small sister clinging to her waist and shrieking “OH JENNY OH JENNY OH JENNY SLOW DOWN OH JENNY WE’RE GOING TO DIE OH JENNY OH JENNY” with suitable variations. (Luckily I had no idea at the time that it was supposed to be such a deadly place, or I might really have died.)
Now which of these two people, do you suppose, has the least caution about driving around in these wild places? I’ll give you a hint: IT’S HIM.
He hasn’t the faintest clue how to be afraid of risky trails. “What’s the point in being alive if you never take the dangerous route?” he shouts merrily as he careens up smooth, steep boulders embedded in the road and then swerves so close to the edge that for a second I’m sure there’s not an inch of earth between our tire and the sheer drop-off. And we keep going.
There happens to be a snowdrift over our uphill trail, and the mountain beside it is too steep for even the husband to suppose he can climb it with a 4-wheeler. Daddy says okay, we’ll just have to take the other trail, but do the younger and less sensible males in the group want to try going over the snow first? Why, yes, they do! The husband tries first, after making a cheerful remark about dropping through and getting stuck. It’s steep and we spin out quickly. Next the brother tries, getting only a little farther before succumbing to the same fate. But now it’s a challenge, and we must not let a bank of snow beat us! So we try again and again, backing up farther and farther so we can be going faster and faster before we hit the snow. I imagine this could end by killing us, but we actually do reach the top of it eventually, with triumph and without death. And we keep going.
When there is a lot of snow over our trail heading steeply down, the men suppose sliding to our doom that way might take a little of the fun out of the day. Daddy simply turns around and takes another longer trail, but the husband and the brother think they can find a more exciting solution: we will cruise straight down the mountainside. This doesn’t seem to be any kind of wise to me; these mountains are inclined to have sudden drop-offs and I don’t prefer to spend the rest of my life in a long drop and a short stop. But with amusement at my fear, the husband roars down. Near the bottom of the slope he does safely steer us onto the trail again, though I am sure at the steepest part we could not have stopped to save our lives. And we keep going.
Puddles, in case you were wondering, were meant to be driven through with speed and glee. Some of them are muddy and I get splattered all the way up to my hair, but some are clear and in the brilliant sun the sparkling drops feel nice on my skin. “These are sometimes unexpectedly deep,” I remark to the husband as he steers towards a particularly large mud puddle. This is how Mom was once dumped into the mud. “But this one isn’t!” he says merrily once we’ve sailed through it. He’s not wrong, so I don’t disagree. And we keep going.
We drive up (and down) two passes that are both nearly 13,000 feet. I love those high passes, where you’re above tree-line and the wind always blows cold and thin so that it hurts to breathe and there is a snow-dotted highland world spread all around you. This early in the year the trails going up to the passes still have snow higher than our heads on either side. But he drives up quite reasonably and the roads themselves are mostly dry. On the way down I do get a little nervous on the occasions when he lets the 4-wheeler fly faster and faster and I can just suppose we will smash into the snow wall at the next sharp corner and never be seen or heard of again. But he always slows down before that actually happens. And we keep going.
When at the end of the trail I have no injuries more serious than the aches and stiffness that I have come to accept as part of bouncing about on a 4-wheeler all day, I have to admit he’s really not a bad driver. Yes, he scares me, but apparently he’s intelligent enough to only take the risks he can handle. And is an adventure really an adventure if there’s no danger in it?
That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. Have you ever had an adventure without there being some element of danger in it? Tell me!