Friday, February 3, 2017


In the last two weeks Bluff has been getting a fair proportion of our annual rainfall. We generally receive a mere six inches a year, so an inch or more in a short period of time can saturate the ground and cause a bog in low-lying areas. Such was the case last Saturday when Rick Bell and I stood at the large picture windows of Twin Rocks Trading Post, watching the clouds roll in then roll away again. The shifting patterns of sunlight and shadow were fascinating because the scenery beyond the glass morphed with each passing moment.

As we admired the ever-changing vista Rick and I swapped sarcastic humor, each attempting to creatively outdo the other. As we bantered, a small white Toyota SUV took a hard left at the intersection of Highway 191 and came blasting through our graveled parking lot at a breakneck rate of speed. We both noticed the vehicle's direction of travel would take it past us and into the red dirt parking area south of the towering Twin Rocks. “Don’t do it!” I said aloud. In actuality, however, I hoped they would. “There’s no stopping them now,” chuckled Rick. “This should prove entertaining!”

Could the driver not see the tracks of the last knucklehead that ventured in there and the three to four inches of standing water within the ruts he left behind? Our best guess is the occupants of the runaway rover were looking up at our giant hoodoos and not in the direction of the loblolly into which they were launching themselves. The Toyota hit the marshy morass and hydroplaned across the thick gruel until its forward momentum was checked, about one hundred feet past the point of no return.

As the vehicle came to a sliding stop, the driver slammed it in reverse and backed the spinning SUV halfway around and up the hill several feet, actually gaining a slight advantage. I thought if the driver goosed the 4x4 and swung it back into the ruts that had just been created there might be a chance the vehicle could re-emerge from the boondoggle. Alas, it was not to be! As Rick and I gazed in amazement, the driver punched the gas and sped straight downhill, right into the heart of the bog.

“Well, that otta do it”, quipped Rick as the SUV settled upon its axels and began spinning again. Sure enough, the misguided reproach and the turning tires were digging the now red Toyota into the deep, dark depths of the mud hole. Just then the local savant we often refer to as “Bishop”, drove-up in his newly washed Ford Expedition and climbed the steps of the porch. Upon entering the trading post he saw us standing there and, as usual, made a wisecrack about how every time he comes around he finds us standing about doing nothing butt scratching our backsides.

Ignoring the Reverend’s caustic comment, we pointed out the side show going on in the swamp to the west. As we watched and made bad jokes, three young people, two male and one female, emerged from the vehicle and lit their smokes. After what looked like much contemplation and significant inhalation, the girl hopped into the driver’s seat. She put the SUV in gear and gunned it while the boys leaned a little harder on the fender. The car settled deeper into the quagmire.

Rick and I suggested that our local Moses should climb into his buffed-up Ford and lead the threesome back to the Promised Land. He would have none of it. “I already have several service projects on tap”, was his reply. He continued, “those waters will not easily be parted.” The Bishop pointed out that no one was in immediate danger and no incurable harm would likely come their way. He suggested Rick and I wade out there and do some service of our own, directing us to, “lift them from their dire straits.”

As the Bishop departed our company, Rick and I sprang into action. I went outside to appraise the situation further. Rick watched the shop and began looking up phone numbers for nearby towing services or locals who might prove helpful. I approached the mellow youths and their mired beast of burden to see what might be done. The situation looked more serious up close than from afar. “No worries man”, they reassured me, “we have a tow truck coming from Cortez and it will arrive in four hours.”

Not being one to give in easily, and desiring to impress our local holy man, I brought lumber to build a bridge, but the SUV was buried far too deep. We connected a small cable I had in my pick-up truck, but that snapped instantly. After several failed attempts and adding multiple layers of mud to the soles of my shoes, the kids waved me off. “No worries brother, the truck will arrive soon; we are going to wait it out and have lunch.” I acquiesced, “it is your call and I am out of options.”

Right on time a giant Kenworth flatbed tow truck arrived to extract the kids from their muddy morass. As we watched, the truck driver attach a long line and the Bishop returned from his mission, joining us on the porch of the trading post. The wayward youth were soon freed of their predicament and continued on their way, smoke billowing from the open windows of their mud-red rover.  As they departed, Rick, the Bishop and I waved goodbye. 

Never being one to miss an opportunity to speak from the soapbox or neglect a chance to share an obvious moral metaphor, the thoughtful Bishop called after the departing youth, “Four Corners Towing and the Colorado recovery professionals would like to thank the recreational marijuana industry for making this opportunity possible and their careers much more secure.”

“Amen,” Rick and I said in unison.

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