When the best-laid plans go awry
WATFORD CITY– “Well, I’m on my way home now anyway,” he said on the other end of the phone. I called him for something trivial, like why the lawnmower wasn’t starting, just the kind of phone call every husband likes to get when they’re off on a manly weekend getaway. (The same way he likes that I call it a manly weekend getaway).
He’d been preparing for a trip with his dad to scout for elk in Montana for a couple weeks. The plan was to pack up the pickup and pop-up camper with essential supplies like cans of Vienna sausages, a couple sleeping bags and a spotting scope and head a few hours west into the foothills to see if they could find a good place to hunt during the season.
I was excited for him to take the time away to do something he’s passionate about. He doesn’t golf, participate in fantasy football or go to the bar to shoot darts; when you work full time and try to run a ranch, build a house and maneuver tiny ponytails in your off hours, it doesn’t leave much time for extracurriculars. But he does bow hunt. Bowhunting is his thing.
So off he went for two full days of no grooming, no vegetables, no broken down equipment and no tiny ponytails, kicking up dust, blaring the radio and howling the primal howl of his ancestors out the window of this pickup on his way to the wilderness.
Or at least that’s how I envisioned his departure that Friday evening.
But come Saturday afternoon it was apparent it didn’t end well. Actually, it sounds like it didn’t start well either.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Well, it started with the brakes,” he said, going on to explain that they were miles along a dirt road in a primitive land where cellphones are useless and Bigfoot originated, when they heard the grinding noise and consequently spent the next several hours using the resourcefulness the two men honed from years of patching together old broken stuff from parts saved and scrounged off of other old broken stuff to get the brakes fixed enough to limp the pickup back to the paved roads of civilization known as the town of Ekalaka, Mont., population 343.
And while I admit I might have spoken too soon about that whole “no broken down equipment” thing, they did fix those brakes in Ekalaka, as they often do in those small town body shops.
Which was a good thing, because it turns out brakes are an imperative part of the recovery equation when you’re driving down the highway at 70 mph and the top of your camper blows completely off, sending those Vienna sausages, sleeping bags and a stray shoe or two bouncing down the highway, busted and bruised just like the broken down dreams of your manly man-cation.
“I’ve always wondered how people lose shoes on the highway,” I remarked. “See you when you get home. I’ll have the TV turned to that channel you like where they’re always fishing…”
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughter on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at email@example.com.