Once upon a time, my dear, departed dad was attempting to teach my dear, departed mom how to drive. It started out fine, until they got to a bridge that barely qualified to be called a bridge that spanned a spit of a lake.
My mom simply switched off the engine and got out of the car. She refused to cross the bridge. Not surprisingly, she never learned how to drive at all. She just wasn’t mechanically inclined. (Don’t get me wrong: She was a bruiser when it came to facing life’s real obstacles.)
So I wonder what she would have made of driving an All Terrain (off-road) Vehicle through the wilderness. Made by a company in Canada, where they’re used to rough terrain and harsh weather.
OK, not wilderness as in the middle of nowhere, but a state forest that rings the Road America racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
That’s where I was set to try my skill, fresh off my kayak fail. Confess I wasn’t feeling all that adventurous. Even one of my kayak buddies confessed he was a little nervous about operating an ATV. And he was a big guy.
We were instructed to wear long pants and closed shoes. Just to drive a car?
The instructors had us in for a crash course, so to speak. Turns out today’s ATVs are a lot tamer than they used to be. As in, they’re not as apt to flip over. Good to hear.
But all the talk about two and four-wheel drive, and low and high gears made my head spin. So given my track record that day, I decided to let the instructor show me the way first.
Sure, we were in the forest, but except for the occasional stray tree branch, didn’t seem like such a big deal. Biggest obstacle was brushing your leg against the hot motor.
Hey! I’m still upright! (Pix courtesy instructor’s passenger cam.)
At this point, I’m coated with dust. It’s infiltrated my nostrils and lungs. (My eyes are getting itchy at the memory.)
Really nothin’ to it. Like learning how to drive a more-intense stick shift. It was fun! Even mom would have thought so. OK, maybe not …
Miller Time. Appropriate, since we were sort of near Milwaukee.