I didn’t have the best off-road judgment as a teen

Both my boys have been driving for several years now, and they’ve managed to avoid the off-road incidents I had at their age. I only hope their better decisions than mine continue.

It’s a wonder I’ve made it this far. I made more than my fair share of stupid decisions when I was growing up, and many of them involved a motorized vehicle. And a great many of those also involved driving said vehicle on dirt roads – or no roads at all.

The bad decision that sticks out the most in my mind was the time I went coyote hunting with my friends Josh and Blaine. They were twins, but they tended to be like the little angel on one shoulder and the little devil on the other in the cartoons. Josh was usually the voice of reason and responsibility, and Blaine was normally the one saying, “you only live once.”

But that morning as we blazed down a two-track in the Gas Hills in my Ford Ranger, it was Josh who was urging me on. We had seen a coyote across the prairie, and we were trying to cut it off at the pass. Every so often, a snow drift crossed the road, and the Ranger would cut right through that snow in a shower of white. But there was what looked like a bigger drift in the road ahead. Josh said, “just gun it, and you’ll be fine.”

But it wasn’t a drift. There was a drift there, sure, but it was hiding the ditch behind it. A big ditch. Big enough that when we went into it, the entire truck fit between the sides. It didn’t fit well, though. There was some damage. OK, there was a lot of damage. And not just to the truck. Blaine was in the back seat, and when we hit the far side of the ditch, he rocked forward. When we launched back out, he rocked back, and his head turned my back window into tiny pebbles of safety glass. But he was still yelling, ‘Go, go, go! We can still catch him!”

I’m glad my boys seem to have more sense than I had at their age.