He dashes through the woods on a four-wheeler, his passengers being tossed to and fro like rag dolls. He conquers the hilly terrain like a seasoned pro, expertly maneuvering his vehicle as it fishtails in the slippery mud. He whips up hills and down dales at lightning speeds, stopping only to survey his acreage, his deer stands and of course, his magnificent home on the hill. He is Captain Fun. And this is his Wild Ride.
My husband, Captain Fun is a busy bee when we’re on our farm property. There’s walking the dog, toting the garbage to the bin, staring at the horses, trees, and hillsides, the stroking of the beard. And, when we have guests, there’s the task of taking them on The Ride. And it’s epic.
“Hey, who wants to go for a little ride?” he asks. Everyone jumps up enthusiastically, anxious to get a look at our beautiful surroundings. Our guests enter the four-wheeler, a very capable little tank of a four-wheel drive, open-air vehicle, naively expecting a quick little tour of the property. It begins innocently enough … “there’s the horses, most of them are pregnant … there’s the neighbor’s property and their cows … there’s more cows, more horses.” Then it gets interesting. Like a flash, Captain Fun switches the vehicle into 4-wheel drive and we dart up into the woods.
He loves this part because our guests never see it coming. Up, up, up we climb, into the woods. In the winter, it’s a white wonderland of sparkly, ice-covered branches. The sun beams down through the barren canopy turning the woods into a magical scene from the movie, Frozen. In the middle of the summer, the undergrowth and brush are thick as a rainforest. Birds are squawking, winging out of our way. Squirrels, deer, foxes and such run for cover. Captain Fun navigates up the path, vines, brambles, and branches whipping the legs and arms of those sitting on the outside edges of the vehicle. There are screams from the back seat. “Whoa! What the …?” It’s like a more thrilling version of a ride in Frontier Town at Cedar Point, without the hokey animated cowboys and Indians. “Argh!” they laugh/scream. “Is this safe?”
We come across a rocky stream. Will Captain Fun be daunted? Hell no. He charges headlong through the stream, water splattering us all, that amazing vehicle grinding through the muck. Sometimes we slow down, our Captain easing us over a bolder or a fallen tree. And just when you think, “Damn, I shouldn’t have worn slippers for this ride. It looks like we’re hoofing it through the mud back to the house,” he expertly pulls us all through the hazard like a seasoned African safari guide.
For a hot second, we emerge from the woods out into a field of corn, or soybeans or timothy (that’s a kind of grass that’s especially nutritious for farm animals. Who knew?). The Captain will take the Kubota out into the field, crunching down the edges of whatever is growing there under our wheels as we whiz into the woods again, careening down slippery slopes, our guests shrieking in the back seat, “Oh my gaawwwd!” which only makes The Captain press down the pedal harder. We will stop for a moment as The Captain will hop out of the vehicle and check on his “critter cam,” a motion-activated camera he and his buddy set up in the woods to keep an eye out for … I’m not exactly sure what. Then he hops back behind the wheel and we’re off again.
Finally, finally, we are spit out onto the level ground of the gravel driveway and head back to the house. “Hahahahah!” we hear from the back seat. “Holy crap! What was that?!” There’s relief in their voices, as if they just went through the looking glass to some Other World and are glad to be back in Civilization. But they love it, after it’s over.
Captain Fun loves it, too. Sure he’s energized by their screams of terror and delight, but he also just loves showing off his farm and the beauty it holds. He loves sharing stories of all that he’s learned, of how this farm seemed to just drop down from heaven into his lap. OK, and he loves showing off his four-wheeler skills.
After Captain Fun’s Wild Ride, we usually end up in front of the fireplace in the winter, out on the deck in the summer, reliving the ride, laughing hysterically at each other’s reactions to the unexpected brushes with death (not really, but it felt like it at the time). The Captain will pop the “critter cam” drive into his laptop and we’ll all gather around to see what secrets it holds. “Yep, there’s a squirrel … there’s another. Oh, wait, there’s a deer … there’s another.” It’s riveting stuff.
“Oh, look! What’s that blurry image caught whizzing by?” It’s none other than Captain Fun himself, caught on his own critter cam, on another ride with other unsuspecting guests, gripping the edges of their seats with looks of terror in their eyes.
We pick thorns and pricklers out of each other’s hair and clothes, sometimes put bandages on some bloody scratches on legs or forearms. And then, we toast the farm, toast life and, much to his delight, we turn and toast Captain Fun. Salud!