"Hey, next time can we just sleep in, and show up at 7?" I asked Charlie.
"Well, you know how it goes," he replied, "you tell people we're leaving at 7:30, and people don't come straggling in until ten. So you tell people 5:30, and we're on the road before eight."
I squinted at him accusingly. "Well, if you knew that, why couldn't we sleep in this morning?" I yelled.
He shot me a grin. "Because sometimes, you really do leave at 5:30. It really depends on the group and how hard-core they want to be."
Great. Just great. I rolled my eyes, and decided that this was one of those "things" that could not be explained by logic, and resolved to just go with it.
The other Jeeps (and one stock Nissan Frontier) rolled down the highway toward the small town of Gardnerville, where we would gas up before continuing on to Topaz Lake. Chatter came over the CB regularly, with various others in the group throwing random thoughts out over the airwaves.
"That's not a cow, that's a bull," said Charlie into the mike as we passed a herd of cows.
Immediately came the response from someone else in the group, "That explains why the milk tastes funny!"
"See," Charlie exclaimed, laughing, "no matter what, there's always somebody who gets that stuff! Is that wrong?"
I looked at him for a minute, grinning. "You don't really want me to answer that, do you?"
When Charlie first told me a few years back that he was going to get a CB radio, first I thought he was joking. Then, when it became apparent that he was not, I thought he must be on some kind of crazy 80's nostalgia kick. You know, all those "B.J and the Bandit" and "Smokey and the Bear" movies. Or do I have those mixed up somehow? Anyway, I just kept picturing Charlie racing down the road, yelling "Ten-four good buddy!" and "Smokey's got your tail, you read?" while guys in eighteen-wheel long-haul trucks shook their heads thinking, "Newbie."
"No, this will be great," Charlie explained. "See, when we're out in the woods, then we can be in contact with other people in the group and so if someone gets lost, we can find them. Plus, it's fun to hear the chatter with the other off-road guys. You have to have a CB if you're going to do these trips."
Then, he pulled out his ace-in-the-hole. "It's really a safety thing," he said, giving me a sidelong glance. "You don't want to get left behind or lost or something, and with one of these you can make sure you stay with the group, or if you get stuck you can radio someone to help pull you out. It can save you a lot of walking."
Okay, that did it. I remember a time when Charlie went out to the woods, and got his truck stuck in the mud by a lake. He had to hike out about 8 miles to the road, then called on his cell for a pickup. A friend of mine, one of the other network admins, had a four-wheel-drive truck, and so he graciously offered to drive out there and see if he could pull Charlie's vehicle out.
To make a long story short, we got HIS truck stuck as well, and the three of us had to hike out back to the road so we could call a third friend, another of our network admins, to come out and get us. He offered to try to get the trucks out of the mud, but we decided that having the entire network staff stuck in the woods would probably not be a good idea, so instead, he drove us all back home.
The next day, the first friend's father brought out HIS four-wheel-drive truck, and after much pointing and laughing and good natured ribbing, we managed to get all the vehicles out of the mud and onto the road.
All in all, I would rather avoid this sort of experience, and if a CB radio would help with that, well, who was I to say it nay?
The rest of the drive was more or less uneventful, filled with goofy chatter and jokes on the CB, until we got to Gardnerville. Here, we hit a bit of a snag. The leader of our informal expedition (read "the guy with the maps and the GPS") had left us and taken off ahead up the road to meet with the rest of the people in Topaz. This wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that none of us seemed to know whether we were supposed to follow him, or whether he'd be returning here.
After gassing up the vehicles, we all hung out by the side of the AM-PM discussing the situation.
"I heard him say he was coming back here," I said. This was the last broadcast he'd made on the CB.
"Well, I thought we were just going to go on up to Topaz," said someone else.
"I thought we were supposed to go on, and he'd catch up with us halfway there," said another.
Everyone had a different version of the story. There were five of us, and I couldn't even get best two out of three! At one point, I wondered if we were just going to be stuck in AM-PM limbo forever, waffling over whether to go or stay!
[to be continued]