Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Gentler Thanksgiving: Men Being Men

We looked forward to this Thanksgiving weekend in Mammoth. There was just enough snow around the condo to introduce 20 month old Lee to it and watch his eager dad, pull him around in a red sled. Lois and Terri came up and Lois made the feast since I was a little under the weather. Fred and Phil ATV’ed while 8 month pregnant Abby and I stayed inside or toddled outside with Lee or Oreo. Three years ago I was in Denver Trauma Center with Fred and his broken pelvis courtesy of an ATV accident. This was a more gentle, tamer week.

Lois and Terri left Friday. Saturday Fred and Phil planned a big ATV trip to Coyote Flats  (10,500 elevation), a lovely place in the summer where we have camped with an off-road church group before.
They packed their lunches. Phil made an offhand suggestion that they should take an ax just in case they might need to chop wood, but Fred declined. Abby and I settled in to knit, read and snack. She was finishing the 3rd book of the Hunger Games series. We took Lee to the library and the skating rink to watch.

Fred had told me just the night before that if ever there was a mechanical breakdown or a situation where he couldn’t get back on an adventure, he would send a message on his spot tracker. (a device that my wise & considerate son bought him that beacons out his GPS co-ordinates so we can track him and be less likely to worry- it also has a button to push for emergencies that triggers the military to seek immediate help- that button was pushed 3 years ago) He would send the message out 3 times: “Everything is ok and going as planned.”
At 2:44 pm, my inbox got this message.
One time.
At 5 o’clock I checked the inbox, no message. Six o’clock, no message. It is dark and very cold outside. By 7pm, I am beginning to wonder, I see 3 more GPS co-ordinates that were beaconed out but they have no message and they are all very close to each other. I head over to the police dept. to get their opinion and to use their computer to get a better look at the co-ordinates. Since no one answers the door, I have no recourse but to use the RED 911 phone outside. I try and steady my voice in case this call goes viral IF this adventure ends unfavorably. “..Yes, my husband and my son in law, haven’t returned, Fred Taylor, Philip Stevens, we expected them back by nightfall, etc. Ok, I will wait here until an officer opens the door.”

Five minutes later an officer escorts me inside and I log into the spot finder site. Yup, he hasn’t moved much since 2:44. More questions: now my license is copied and we contact Search and Rescue. Outside temperatures where they are tonight will be in the teens.  But the good news is that there haven’t been any emergency messages sent, so they assume that the 2 are probably all right. As I go out the door, one officer quips, “This isn’t bad, its just men being men.” I raise my hand incredulously and say, “WHAT is up with that?!”

Back at the condo, I tell Abby. She is engrossed in her book, but we stop and pray. We are interrupted by a call from Search and Rescue. “Are the men experienced ATV’ers? “Yes, one of them is,” I answer and Abby energetically shakes her head that the other one isn’t.”  Search and Rescue asks, “ Are they prepared for cold? Are they familiar with the area?”  I answer affirmatively. I remember that Fred always has emergency provisions packed and he secretly hoped that he would get stuck out sometime so he could face that challenge. Later we find out that it was more Phil’s ambition that kept them out. I ask what the chances of survival in this weather are. The officer assures me, that the guys survival is very good, but they will suffer a “cold and miserable night.” I gave Search and Rescue the log in information so they can watch for any activity through the spot tracker.  The officer tells me he will call if they have any updates.

At 3:30 am after finally getting to sleep, he calls me. "Have I heard anything?"
"Ok, then they are going to get their volunteer Search & Rescue group together & position to head out.

Another call at 7 am. They are moving out. The officer informs me that unless they have an emergency call they don’t head out until daylight. So all this time I thought they were searching they were just on standby till the sun came up. I guess that is better to know on this side of night than on that side.
During the night I prayed. Among my prayers was: Dear God make Fred so miserable in this adventure that he won’t want to do these things again, and preserve Phil from being so miserable that he won’t go out with Fred again.

In the meantime, had I had the presence of mind to view the co-ordinates up very close on the Satellite view I would have seen this.

A meager but sheltering cabin, where adventurers could take emergency refuge.
Apparently, The guys realized when they drove out that the snow was softening and causing them to use more gas than usual just to make headway. Fred figured the only way to get them out on the gas that remained was to wait for the snow to ice up solid again. Only way to do that was to wait for nightfall. Phil was up for spending the whole night out and Fred remembering the old cabin’s location ATV’ed them to it.

Once there, they scrounged around to prepare for the night.
Phil thought he could use his knife to pry wood for burning, but upon exploring around found an ax in the attic area. Phil began to split wood.  Fred found a pile of snow next to the cabin and brushed off the top. Eureka! A wood pile. Phil was eager to get the fire going so at 3pm he started it. The wood burning stove warmed the place up to 88 degrees, but the cabin’s construction dissipated the heat quickly, requiring them to keep the fire stoked all night. Fred broke out his emergency food, and they settled in for the night of 13 degree weather. Granted, sleeping on a table top and a piece of wood in your clothes wasn’t the most satisfying but it was sure better than being in the elements outside.
 Here's the temperature reading
as they left in the morning.

Wish we had known they were so toasty. It was warmer in that cabin than in ours!

7:34 am my phone rings once again.
 Its Fred.
"WHERE are you?" I ask concernedly.
 “Didn’t you get my messages??” he asks.
 In the background, Phil mutters, “BUSTED.”

So Fred had tried to send us messages, but they failed.

Once they arrived Fred was apologetic and said the fact that we had been worried, cast a shadow on their ride home. But hey, that was 2 hours as opposed to the previous 12 we had to worry- so I say we women were the winners, or…
wait maybe that’s the losers?
So, all is well and the guys had a stellar adventure and it turned out "not to be bad but just men being men.."
I don’t understand that
men being men stuff but I know its a fact of life.
And I am glad this son-in-law-ATV-adventure was a milder one. 
Phil counted this as an adventure of epic proportions! 
I guess half of my prayer was answered.

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