Every once in awhile, as I scroll through social media posts on various platforms, I encounter a pick up truck stuck in mud or a buddy mobbing through mud having some fun.
Several of my outdoorsy friends like to play in the mud with their All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) Before, during and after, there’s drinking beer, perhaps shooting rifles, and at the very least merrymaking. A catch-phrase I’ve been overusing recently is “FULL SEND” ( a la Larry the Enticer, YouTube famous for jumping, but mostly crashing his snow mobile)
The activity is simply summarized as muddin’.
FAM To Jamaica
November 2008 – I was cordially invited to another business inspection trip to Jamaica while working for Costco Travel. Otherwise it was known as a Familiarization Trip, or FAM for short. Needless to say, I was amped. I had no illusions about this trip as a “free vacation” or “working vacation”.
It was work, and nothing less. Costco Travel paid good money for me to work for them in Jamaica. That said, all work and no play will make Los a dull boy. Each day was the same: woke up, group breakfast (sometimes on your own), loaded up in the van with my co-workers, inspected various resorts / hotels until lunch time. After a hosted group lunch it was more hotel inspections until dinner. After a hosted group dinner, you were cut loose until the next morning.
In essence, you’re programmed the entire time to ensure that Costco Travel got their money’s worth. IF the Buyer of that destination was progressive thinking, they also program in some of activities members would buy while on vacation. The Caribbean Buyer was a progressive thinker.
The adage is still: You sell what you know.
One of the activities we participated in was driving a buggy on a dirt track. Prior to the trip, we were advised to bring clothes we were willing to get muddy on the last day.
Here’s Mud In Your Eye
It was the last day. The tour operator greeted us. After waivers were signed, and brain buckets selected (helmets) we were further divided into team of 4. Kathy, Cat, Mary, and I were partnered up. They nominated me to drive, so that was reassuring.
This was a controlled environment as possible for an outdoor setting.
A lead buggy, nose-to-tail tourist buggies and finally a chase vehicle (ATV) Thankfully, there was no rain at the beginning of the tour, but I definitely committed to memory the route, plotting all the dips and pot holes.
Our group leader pulled over to warn us about the hill that was treacherous with or without rain. Then it started to rain so the dirt quickly turned into mud. The lead vehicle successfully made it to the top. Then one by one the dune buggies slid down the hill backwards in defeat, eventually resting cock-eyed off the trail.
The girl hyped me up with the chants: “You’ve got this, Los!” and “C’mon Los, kick some ass!”
I closed my eyes for clarity. I breathed in deep, exhaled and eased into the throttle. I felt the tires take a bit into the somewhat dry dirt underneath the mud kicked up. As I drove us up the hill, I kept thinking, “C’mon, just a grip gas. That’s it!” I was 75% in the throttle and the buggy stepped out on me.
Fine, I breathed.
Silently, I counter-steered while accelerating up the hill. The girls were hollering for me; cheering me on. As we approached the final stretch of the hill, I buried the throttle into the floor board – a FULL SEND before the term would even born.
The engine surged, the steering wheel dancing lightly in my hands, yet we were still ascending the hill. The engine was in full song, the mud was rooster-tailing off the tires, and I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
WE MADE IT TO THE TOP!
By the end of the tour, the rain was torrential. My helmet visor was constantly fogging up, but it didn’t matter because visibility was 3 meters. I locked my eyes on the brake lights of the buggy in front of me like a train car. I could up ahead there was a small berm in front of a ginormous mud puddle on the trail.
Or as I viewed it: an invitation to jump it!
I slowed to stop on the trail – citing I couldn’t see out my visor. Honestly, I was creating space for a landing zone. After a few beats, I smashed the gas suddenly sending all of us back into our seats.
The engine wailed with the girls, “DAMNIT CAAAAARRRRRLOS!!”
I started laughing manically as I launched the buggy off the make-shift ramp, Dukes of Hazzard style into the air. This wasn’t the General Lee, though. The nose lurched forward and slammed into the Earth creating a wave of muddy water that engulfed us. It filled the crew area with an inch of water at least.
The girls were as pissed as they were drenched from the rain and muddy water … all the while I was cackling with laughter from the chaos I created. They were still complaining by the time we rolled back to the finish. Speaking of finishes, that’s how you end a muddin’ session.