My Hilarious First Vacation

MY FIRST VACATION

I had just completed Marine Corps basic training and was spending my first vacation at my grandparents. They lived in the Ozark Mountains of Crawford County, Arkansas. I had spent a good part of my youth growing up there.

As a young boy, my brothers and I frequently explored the mountainsides and I had never tired of that. There were still places l had not discovered yet and that’s what set this series of events into motion.

My grandparents had gone off to town to shop and I stayed behind. It was a typical hot summer day with the air heavy with steam and the fragrant scent of honey suckle. The air was still and you could hear the buzzing of insects all around. It brought back memories of my youthful adventures in these hills. It occurred to me I was thinking like an old man. I was only twenty years old! What was stopping me from going on a little expedition while I had the time?

Since I had just completed basic training I was in pretty good shape physically, but the Corps gently reminds you from time to time to stay that way. That’s what prompted me to buy a set of five pound ankle weights. I could put them on and forget I was exercising…so I thought. You were definitely aware you had them on.

So, I strapped on the ankle weights and called for our pet dog “Ginger”. She was a mixed breed, mostly Dachshund and loved to go off exploring. I set off down the dirt road for the unknown with Ginger happily trotting along at my side.


A GOOD WATCH DOG

The dog’s company made me feel more secure. After all there were still dangers lurking in these woods. The usual snakes and spiders didn’t worry me much. However, there were still occasional reports of bears, wild cats and mountain lions being seen in the area. In other words we were “out in the boonies”. Ginger was a good watch dog and would come in handy if we ran into unexpected company.

About two miles down the dusty road I noticed someone had put up a barb wire fence and a gate on the left side of the road sometime in the last few years. I had never been over in that part and there were no signs telling me to keep out, so I decided to go into the pasture. Besides, the owner was probably related to me anyway. (Were in the Ozarks, remember?)

The gate was heavy and difficult to open since the hinges seemed to be rusted. But I succeeded in opening it up enough to squeeze in. I continued on with my site seeing trip with Ginger bringing up the rear who was stopping here and there to investigate her new surroundings.

Rounding a strand of sweet gum trees we came upon a few grazing cattle scattered across a wide expanse of open pasture. One cow, less than fifty yards away, briefly glanced up at me. Seemingly unimpressed with my presence the beast continued on grazing. Ginger, on the other hand, had to make her presence known and began barking. The cow again appeared unconcerned with our being there. I silenced the barking dog and proceeded to go around to the right. The cow now got concerned!

A huge bellow issued from the bovine. One that didn’t sound like any cow I’d ever heard before. I halted in my tracks heeding the cow’s warning. I studied the cow in more detail and noticed this animal didn’t have the right equipment to be a cow…it was a bull!

A STRATEGIC WITHDRAWL

I figured it was time to make a strategic withdrawal. However, the bull wasn’t partial to that idea either and bellowed again as he inched a few paces in my direction. But Ginger didn’t take to the bull’s rudeness and began barking her disapproval…which only aggravated our predicament. The bull, apparently tired of our company, slowly began walking in my direction. (By the way, forget about that wild animal taming move Paul Hogan used in his “Crocodile Dundee” movie…it doesn’t work.)

So I slowly backed away from the perturbed animal and made an about face to begin exiting from the premises. I called for Ginger but she was already 50 yards ahead of me, her short little legs carrying her as fast as they could. I could hear the bulls’ hooves beating the ground behind me and could tell he was gaining on us.

I neared the old rusty gate and realized there wouldn’t be enough time to open it. The only option left was to jump that barb wire fence. It was about shoulder height…and me with those darn leg weights on! I had always done fairly well in track at school and had done a few high jumps close to that height. However, I had not been wearing leg weights. But there was no other choice. I cleared the wire by scant millimeters and landed in the dusty, rocky dirt road as Ginger easily scrambled under it.

I picked myself up and checked myself for injuries. No cuts or bruises…except for my ego. I looked up and saw the bull standing at the fence. I could have sworn that was a smile he was wearing. That’s when I noticed the bottom of my jeans was hanging on the barb wire. I removed my shirt and tied it around my waist to cover my rear end.

Ginger and I headed on back to the house. When only a short distance away I noticed my grandparents had returned. Grandpa was sitting on the front porch in his favorite rocking chair and smoking his corn cob pipe. As I walked up the drive way I sensed something was awry. I was right. The owner of the pasture, a good friend of my grandfather, had overseen the entire episode and had called to tell him all about it.


"WHATCHA DOING?"

“Whatcha doing with yer shirt off” he queried. I realized he knew and wasn’t going to let me off without a good hazing. “It just got too hot for me” I answered. “That’s a pretty shirt” he said. “Let me see it, I might want to buy one like it.” I realized the jig was up so I gave it to him.

The ensuing laughter was so loud it brought Grandma running to see what was up. “Look at your grandson” he guffawed. “He done lost his a__”! Grandma didn’t think it was funny…grandmas never do.


What’s the moral of this story? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. And if you ever go exploring…leave the darn dog at home.

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