I've Got A Million Of 'Em...
The episodes of Rockhauler and myself doing something foolish could easily be the subject of an entirely new blog. It's hard to imagine that in the almost 20 years I've known him, we haven't been whisked away in the dead of night by a large horde of assorted armed agents from a dozen Alphabet Agencies.
The issue is that each of us has a broad streak of... well, the Brits would call it "cheek". The nearest Yank translation would be a heavy dose of recklessness and contempt for (inept) authority that tends to amplify in each other's presence. What neither one of us would dream of doing solo would often become de rigeuer
when we hung out together.
Case in point... A simple visit to a friend ends with us involved in a late night pursuit by a pissed-off Sheriff's deputy.
It started out, like most of these episodes do, with a basically good idea. "Hey! Let's go visit the PolkaBrit down in the Hill Country!" PolkaBrit is a buddy of ours we worked with whilst employed by the BSA
as summer camp staff many years back.
Rockhauler and I were "not invited back" that summer due to our previous summer's efforts to be a constant burr under the camp director's saddle. PolkaBrit, however, still remained in SHAC
's good graces, and had a gig at a camp right near Canyon Lake, TX.
We called up PolkaBrit, let him know we were coming, and got him to secure the OK for us to stay on the reservation overnight. This was done, or so we thought. We made our preparations, and left D/FW as soon as Rockhauler got off of work, which should have had us rolling up to the main gate of the camp about 9 pm.
We had the essential travel supplies, as follows:
1 Chevy Nova Sedan
2 intrepid adventurers
1 bottle Jim Beam bourbon
1 dozen assorted bottled alcoholic beverages
1 S&W Mod. 459 9mm pistol
1 pair binoculars
1 Qbeam spotlight
2 lbs. assorted fireworks
1/2 dozen homemade bombs (more on these later)
In our defense, the dozen bottled beverages didn't join our little caravan until we stopped for gas and 'refreshments' in Austin. They were, however, in the process of being rapidly consumed as soon as we were outside the revealing glare of city lights. Now that I think about it, I don't think we bothered packing a change of clothes. After 6 weeks of camp, everyone on camp staff is covered with ground-in filth anyway, so no one would notice if we were a bit rumpled.
The trip went without incident until we left Austin, coincidentally also the time we started ingesting alcohol. By the time we hit Dripping Springs to make the turn off to Wimberly, we were in a fairly convivial mood, and the spirit of adventure was upon us.
If you've never been on that stretch of road, it's a nice piece of twisty-windy going through the edge of Texas Hill Country. Lots of deer, armadillos, and great fun to take at about 90 mph. Even more fun to take with the headlights off, with one of us pointing the Qbeam spotlight on the road ahead to light the way, while the driver squinted through binoculars for "telescopic vision". We had about 3 miles of this fun, and had avoided any nosedives into local crevasses. Unfortunately, as we rounded a curve not too far outside of Wimberly, the Qbeam swept across the hood of a Sheriff's Deputy driving in the opposite direction.
As he rounded the curve behind us, we saw the glow from his brake lights. The accelerator of the Nova hit the floor as the headlights came back on and any open containers were quickly jettisoned. If we could make it to town before he caught up, we could duck into some shop or B&B, kill the lights, and let him roll on by.
Yeah, as if.
He was on our ass faster than a Democrat creates a new social program. Ain't no 4-banger getting away from a V-8 equipped Crown Vic. He pulls us over, gets our ID's, then asks the magic question:
"Y'all got any weapons in the car?"
Rockhauler reluctantly points to the glove box. Thus began a long, long time standing around on a dark road lit up by pretty blue & red rollers on a hot July evening. Rockhauler and I being fairly sizable specimens, intoxication was not an issue. What the real issue was involved that pistol and the Qbeam. See, Johnny Law thought we were out jacklighting deer.
For you city folk, lemme explain. When you throw a bright light on a deer at night, the deer does not run away. Instead, it stands there motionless, trying to work out with that tablespoonful of deer brains just what that big bright shiny ball is. An opportunistic poacher can use that 30 seconds of processing time to line up a shot, and drop the deer.
Rockhauler and I had no intention of trying to poach a deer. First, whitetail's out of season, and while we ignore a lot of silly laws, we don't ignore that one. Second, we've only got a 9mm handgun, and it's just not sporting to shoot a deer with the 9mm Europellet. You'd just end up wounding it, most likely, and then be obligated to follow a blood trail in the dark of night through rattlesnake-infested hill country.
Johnny Law does not follow our logic. He's certain he's cracked the international jacklighting conspiracy, based on the evidence at hand. We do not disabuse him of this notion, because as he's fixated on the gun, he's NOT peeking into the paper bags in the rear floorboards concealing a couple of depleted sixpacks, and a shitload of fireworks and explosives.
See, back when I was on camp staff, I ran the black powder program. Took kids out, taught them how to load and shoot muzzleloaders, that kind of thing. As a result, I had access to all the black powder I could use.
It didn't take long to figure out that I could pack lots of powder into plastic film cans, after boring a hole in the bottom and inserting a length of cannon fuse. After cramming it with powder, you wrapped the whole thing as tight as you could with about 20 yards of duct tape. If you got REALLY creative, you could run hotglue over the outside and then roll it in a plate of BBs or carpet tacks. Not that I know anything about that. The plan was to go to a remote location, and throw the little boomers out over a canyon, to see if they would echo.
So, every time the cop shined his light around the car, our blood pressure spiked 30 points. The alcohol and fireworks, no biggie. The boomers? Genu-wine Dee-structive devices, there. 6 of 'em. Get us some jail time for sure.
Johnny Law can't find anything on SCMODS
worth holding us for, so he lets us go after a severe verbal lashing. The next time you saw such a similar display of nodding and agreeing between me & Rockhauler was when Clinton got impeached. "Whatever you say, Mr. Law. We're sorry, we suck, we'll never do it again... Can we go now???"
Unfortunately, the rest of that weekend followed in a similar vein. PolkaBrit couldn't seem to give a shit that we were there, the camp directors were surly and officious, and we ended up sleeping in the Nova in the middle of a cow pasture.
Still, any road trip that ends without a ride in the back of a police cruiser is a winner, as far as I'm concerned.
The bombs? Dismantled. Burned the powder in a BBQ grill. No, really! That's what happened!