Trail Blazin And Other Frontier Terminology

My grade school guidance councilor and I never did see eye to eye. Every time I entered his office I would always be confronted with the same question. “If by some heavenly miracle you make it to high school, much less graduate, have you given up on your lame-brained idea of what your career choice will be?”

Bless his heart. Though so terribly misguided, the poor soul just would not give up on me. Though the mental strain was obviously taking years off his life, he was bound and determined to one day force me into a boring forty hour a week job. And I was just as bound and determined that my career goal had a much higher calling. My future was going to be a trail blazing mountain man. I would hunt and fish for subsidence, while my full-time job would be trail blazing, finding the shortest and easiest distance between Point A to Point B. My councilor’s noticeable baldness from pulling out his hair would not deter my destiny. The only obstacle I had to overcome was, of course, my parent, and a minor mental flaw. I was, and am to this day, cursed with being directionally dyslexic. I have never known Point B from my left elbow. This was first revealed to me by a deer hunter who pulled into the convenience store I was just exiting.

“Excuse me, son, I’m looking for the Maxwell farm. Can you tell me how to get there?”

“Well,” I replied, my trail blazing knowledge oozing out, ” this is Point A, and to get to Point B, the Maxwell farm–”

“Aahh,” he politely interrupted, ” you just pointed to your left elbow.”

It was a somewhat humiliating experience, but it did not dampen my enthusiasm toward the profession. Nor did my parent’s continual tirades to discourage me. “They would be called hobos today,” my mother pleaded. “And you know how hobos live. They’re dirty and smelly because they never take a bath, and they wear the same dirty clothes day in and day out. They also drink cheap wine and eat out of cans.”

Then just about the time mom would finish pointing out some of the great benefits my thirteen year old mind never even thought of, my father would say something negative about the occupation. “All of the best trails have already been discovered.  They call them freeways. The lesser known trails are now highways and streets, and the really obscure trails are called gravelled roads, and even alleys. Now that doesn’t leave much for a trail blazer to discover, does it?”

I hated to admit it, but there was some validity to what he said. After studying a road map and taking mental notes of the million or so miles of roads that crisscross one another, I came to a conclusion. Not only were trail blazers a care-free lot, they were also down-right greedy. After seeing how they had picked over all the best trails, leaving little for a young frontiersman like myself to discover, they didn’t even leave behind any secret hunting and fishing locations in the process. The reality was depressing. But all was not lost.

Though much to the relief of my parents, not to mention my prematurely aged guidance councilor, I finally relinquished myself to graduating high school and attending college and, eventually, getting a regular job. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, I was blind-sided by a sneaky young lady who despicably coerced me into marriage. What one was thinking at the time can only be called temporary insanity, something my wife has repeatedly pointed out to me on numerous occasions. But I still held fast to my dream. That may have been why I purchased a four-wheel-drive vehicle. And not just any ole sisified four-wheel-drive vehicle, but one that could travel any terrain I put in front of it.

“You said this was going to be a family four-wheel-drive,” my wife, Maxine, said in horror when I proudly showed her my new purchase parked in the driveway. “How is anyone suppose to get up into that?”

“I have that covered,” I replied proudly. “It comes with drop-down steps.”

I couldn’t believe her reaction. She was not impressed. Finally, after a half hour of pleading my cause, she was even less impressed. I ignored her low grumblings. “Think of it, honey,” I continued with a sweep of my hand, as if painting a panoramic picture. “With this rig we can drive where no man has driven before,”

“There isn’t going to be any, we,” she growled. “I’m not riding anywhere in that thing.”

There is no two ways about it, if born two hundred years earlier I would have been a famous trail blazer. Maxine says if that had been the case I wouldn’t have been around to spoil her chances of marrying a normal human being. I don’t know how she can come up with such mirth and not crack a smile. My next step was to invite someone else to share the first trail blazing experience in my new rig. After unnecessary rude comments from a couple cronies I invited, I finally called by dependable friend, Dell Witts. Finally, I found someone who could appreciate a good adventure when he hears it.

After a few moments of looking over my all-terrain vehicle, he suddenly looked at me with narrowed eyes. “We ain’t going to get lost again, are we? I still get the shakes now and then from the exposure of our last hiking trip.”

“Just trust me,” I replied with a tired sigh.

“That’s what you said last time” he mumbled.

The following morning we were loaded up and off…..

We had only traveled a few miles down the logging road when I made a hard right. “Where are you going?” Dell gasped while grabbing for anything to hold onto. “Why are we driving off into the woods?”

“We’re getting off the beaten path,” I yelled, my frontier spirit of old growing stronger with each rutted bump. “This is where we used to hunt when we were kids. Yep, with every tree and hill it’s all coming back clearer and clearer.”

“And this trail is getting rougher and rougher,” he yelled between bangs and clanks.

“Ya see, partner, we we’re at Point A and Point B is over there–”

“You just pointed to your left elbow,” Dell replied with a forlorn sigh.

“I know where I’m going,” I snapped

“That’s what you said on our last trip,” he replied.

“Would you just forget about that trip.”

“What about the trip before that?” he continued. “We got lost—.”

“And forget about that one too! Besides I think I’ve found a new trail.”

“And you said that the last time too,” he said, his eyes getting a wild look to them.

“Would you quit your griping and just enjoy the adventure……”

“Where have you been?” my wife screamed after I pulled into the driveway and shut off the headlights. I was just about ready to call the police. And are those fresh dents?”

“All I know is I have to find another friend who can truly appreciate an outdoor adventure.” I replied with raised hands. “The excitement hardly had a chance to begin and Dell was already griping.”

“Okay,” Maxine moaned, “What did you do this time?”

“Well, I will admit, there may have been a few minor problems, but nothing to warrant Dell going berserk on me. First of all, you should know that Dell’s religious beliefs leave something to be desired. Why he thought his prayers would be heard with the Almighty plugging His ears against all the sweltering adjectives he was belting out in between, I don’t have the slightest idea. And, yes, the vehicle may have almost tipped over, but with Dell hysterically grabbing for the steering wheel, it was bound to happen. But the roll bar would have protected us. That’s, of course, if Dell wouldn’t have panicked and bailed out as we began tipping, a rather cowardly action on his part, I might add. And with Dell’s continual whining about the bumps and ruts aggravating his injuries from jumping, it was only a matter of time before I lost track of where we were. And then he had the audacity to say, how can it take twelve hours to find a road we just left an hour ago? How could he say that when, indirectly, it was his fault we got lost in the first place. I mean, how insensitive and narrow-minded can a man be? As it turned out, the damages aren’t that bad. There is a possible short in the lights, the front end is mangled a little, and there is one leak. But, as far as the doctor could tell, that is the extent of Dell’s injuries. As you can see my rig didn’t fare as well.”

After having my four-wheel-drive repaired I pulled into the driveway. “Well, I’m ready to go again.” I exclaimed to my wife with a wide smile. Her cold stare and crossed arms told me there might be a change in plans. She told me our insurance agent promised our premiums would not be raised if I got rid of my new toy. After a somewhat one-sided agreement, I returned to the same dealership I had purchased the vehicle from and traded it in for a pickup. The monitory loss, I am happy to say, did not exceed the national debt….

“Come on,” Maxine suddenly announced after putting down the Sunday newspaper ads. “We’re going to that new electronic store in town and buy you a GPS. You know where it’s at?”

“Well,” I said, “we’re here at Point A, and I think the store is here at Point B–”

“Give me the keys,” she interrupted with a tired sigh. “I’m driving.”


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