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May 21, 2007

Five In Ten

There's a 10-20 knot wind blowing and thunder is rolling through the hills as I open the valves to the boomless sprayer. These are not exactly ideal conditions for spraying, but I have to fly out tonight, so I'm a-sprayin' - come hell or high water.

I'm riding the 4-wheeler up a steep hill, pumping Curtail out at 40 PSI spraying a 30 foot swath. Leaning over the handlebars to keep it from turning over backwards. It doesn't handle well with an additional 500 pounds on the back end. Go figure. After I've been spraying for about an hour when the ATV dies. It dies and it won't start and it won't change gears. The ATV has failed to proceed.

It's stuck in 2nd gear and it has an electric shift and it won't change gears and I'm rocking it and then all the lights go off. It won't start and it won't change gears and I'm basically dead in the water at this point and I think "this sucks". Like...it's impossible to keep everything working right. I've got my new 25 gallon sprayer on the ATV and I just want to lay down some Curtail before I fly out and the ATV is dead as a doornail and it's not going anywhere stuck in 2nd gear.

I open the little tool box in the back of the ATV and there's nothing in there but a tire gauge. Thank God I'm not up on the continental divide in a torrential rainstorm. Thank God I'm only on the back corner of my 4 acres and I can walk back to the house.

So I hike back through the woods and jump maybe a dozen mule deer. All does as best I can tell but that one buck there in velvet with nine inch antlers. I turn so as not to disturb them any more than necessary and head up to the house and they lie back down after I pass and watch me fade into the house.

I drive Jennifer's ATV back down to my ATV, which is ridiculous. It's this tiny little thing. A gas powered toy for rich kids, basically, and I weigh about a hundred eighty pounds but in first gear, I can usually make it anywhere I need to go on her little ATV so I head back down to fix my ATV on her little ATV. I have lots of vehicles. Not many of them run, mind you, but I have lots of toys.

The problem with an electric shift ATV is that you can't change gears manually. Not without a10mm socket wrench anyway. So I dig through my tools until I finally locate enough pieces that I think I'll be able to get it in neutral and I ride back to the 4 wheeler and get it in neutral with some difficulty, and I get it rolling downhill.

So, I want to push-start it, or roll-start it, but I only have one chance, so I'm rolling downhill and the socket wrench comes off the shift peg and I can't get it to go into gear and it rolls to a stop. The momentum fades and I go get my neighbor Adolf to tow me home behind my truck.

I think about how natural it is for things to break. Things fall apart. Things tend to go from a state of order to dis-order. This is true in everything you buy, from clocks to computers to Tahoes to Seadoo's to milk. Somehow, all things on Earth tend to go from a useful state to a useless state.

This is probably the strongest case against evolution you could ever make. That somehow, we're supposed to believe that things went from disorder to order. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but at a bare minimum, it's counter-inutitive.

I would say something to Adolf, but he's up there in the truck, pulling me down the highway on the 4 wheeler down with a steel chain and it occurs to me that I'm not wearing a helmet.

It's a weird feeling to be towed on a 4-wheeler with a steel chain down a two-lane black-top road behind a truck with no helmet. He's towing me now and suddenly I remember the last time I was towed like this...towed down the Tennessee River behind a bass boat to Stevinson, Alabama.

It seems like I'm getting towed a lot these days. And part of me wants to go home and sell everything I own, and the other part of me thinks that everything could be fixed with just a nominal amount of effort. So I go home and put the ATV in the garage and hook up the charger and the ATV is alive again. I feel them both up with gas as the thunder echoes through the valley and I think how glad I am that it is summer and I have five out of ten vehicles running.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 21, 2007 at 2:33 PM


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