Sunday, March 15, 2015


      There’s a lot of buzz these days amongst the outdoor crowd about how people in America have become afraid of the outdoors. No big surprise there. Given that the average American kid gets about 7 hours of screen time per day and about 7 minutes of unstructured time in the outdoors, it would follow that outside might become an frightening, even alien environment. Likewise given the media penchant for hysteria over violent weather and animal attacks and heaven only knows what terrifying things might lurk behind your picnic table in a park, it’s no surprise that people increasingly fear the great wide open. With the ultimate goal of eliminating pretty much everyone else from the mountains and deserts we call home, let me offer one more terrifying thought: You might get stuck.
       Over the course of the last 45 years, I’ve been stuck in 17 of Wyoming’s 23 counties. (Hence the name of this post.) I believe that qualifies me to have opinion on this matter. If I was FOX News, this would qualify me to have FOX News bill me as an international expert. I’m not (fortunately) but if I were, I’d offer three simple rules about getting stuck:

       1) If you can get out, you were never really stuck. We spent the day with Long Rifle, Mama B and the kiddos. It snowed pretty much all day. And since it’s southeast Wyoming, the wind blew. Hence, the driveway was drifted shut. Not little drifts, either – big drifts. Despite my fervent pleas for caution, Grandma demanded that we back up and “give ‘er heck”. We hit the first drift at about 45 MPH and “gave ‘er heck” for about the first 100 yards, but came to a halt with a dull thud when we high-centered the big F-250 in about 4 feet of snow. The neighbor and his Suburban couldn’t pull me out. The wrecker could. We got out. As such, we were not stuck.
        2) It matters what you’re stuck in. Snow and ice are for sissies. It’s just water, people. Sooner or later, it’s going to melt and you won’t be stuck anymore. Mud is another matter. Long Rifle once took a wrong turn on a faint two-track out in the desert and burrowed the pickup into a serious mudhole. To make matters worse, it’s a diesel pickup and the front end weighs about as much as the state of Connecticut. But even seemingly bottomless mudholes, given enough rocks submerged in them, will allow you to get out. Sand is another matter. Being stuck in sand is like being swallowed by a black hole. One of my very first memories is of being stuck with my parents in a bottomless sea of sand. I was four and thought it was great fun. My mother did not agree.

3) Technology may be your friend. Or not. We’ve all read the stories of charming little old couples who set out to drive to Costco for some muffins and ended up frozen to death in a snowdrift in Oregon because they believed their Garmin. Garmins lie. It’s just that simple. Even simple technology like a winch can be treacherous. Ever try to winch your jillion pound truck out by hooking it to a sagebrush? I have. It doesn’t work. You have to drive a deadman. Not a real dead man – just a big metal stake that you drive into the frozen tundra like a 500 penny nail so you can hook the winch cable to it. Ever try to drive a 500 penny nail into the frozen tundra? I have. That doesn’t work either.
       In the end, if you go hunting or fishing or messing around out in the real world you will probably get stuck. If that terrifies you, good. That means you won’t be hunting or fishing or messing around in any of the places we want to go. Besides, bears will probably eat you and you’ll almost certainly get beriberi. So stay home.


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