Social Intimacy Nearly Suffocates Intrepid Survivor
Last Gasp News Service
Reported from the field (Corky’s Pub)
FLASH! Brian Woodruff was finally forced to reveal the grim details of his near-death experience in the winter of ’08. Due to the increasing demands of his adoring public (both of them), his publicist finally gave the go ahead after a few last minute negotiations (read blackmail) and some creative suggestions concerning the “donation” of a stipend for cooperation and where Woodruff could put it.
Undaunted by the shiner he was sporting, Woodruff began the interview in good humor, cracking jokes while cracking a beer. Alice Petty, a veteran reporter with a degree in Journalism from J.C. Penney’s began the interview in a truly professional manner.
With some salty comments to the crowd of three loggers who were staring open-mouthed at Petty’s overly-endowed upper torso, she cleared her throat and turned on the recorder.
Petty: Mr. Woodruff, thank you for finally agreeing to tell your story. You realize , of course, that this will be quite a feather in our cap at Last Gasp News?
Woodruff: No, I didn’t know that. If I had, I would have held out for more.
Petty: Hmm,,,Well, it will be. Now, suppose you start in your own words and if I have a question, I’ll turn off the recorder and ask, okay?
“It was a nice, crisp November afternoon when Bubba and I took off to clean up a log deck about 4 or 5 miles from home. Knowing there wasn’t a lot of work involved in the dozen or so logs left at the landing, we got kind of a late start, about 1 o’clock. It was nice and sunny, though cold, as any late autumn day can be in Idaho.
Bubba rode in the back on the way to the landing, in fine spirits, enjoying the beautiful day. Normally I wouldn’t have let him ride back there when there’s ice on the road, too much chance of him falling out if I slid, or something, you know?
In all reality, when Bubba wants something, he knows how to get it, so I let him ride back there and was a little more cautious driving. Slipping and sliding the last 100 yards or so before the turn-off, I looked back to see how he was doing and all appeared fine.
Bumping down the cleared logging road took a lot of my attention and just before pulling into the designated parking spot I felt the familiar bounce of the truck bed as Bubba bailed out. Since this was nothing out of the ordinary, I finished parking while contacting the loader on my CB radio.
I was surprised when the loader, an old friend and shirt-tail relation through marriage, came back with, “Yeah, already seen Bubba, he’s chasing Bullwinkle, better call him back before he’s hurt.” I rogered and went looking for Bubba.
Bubba was not hard to find at all, as a matter-of-fact, I heard him way before I saw what he was up to. The frenzy of barking stopped only when I came into view. One whistle brought Bubba to my side while the bull moose nonchalantly went on his way, seemingly undisturbed by the big brown dog.
I only have guesses why Bubba is so intent on harassing the local moose population. He doesn’t chase deer or elk and is somewhat cautious around horses while pretty much ignoring cattle. It doesn’t seem to be the size of the animal, but rather the fact that of all the larger-than-him animals, only moose ignore him. Most moose, excepting perhaps cows with mooselets find no threat in the brown dog’s intimidation routine.
While we walked back to the truck, I tried my best to soothe my big brown buddy’s ego, hiding my concern over his safety. Moose are not quick tempered by any means. They are however, very large, maybe 10 times Bubba’s 160 lbs. One well-placed kick or even a graze by one of those dinner-plate sized hooves would break bones, at the very least.
The loader was there with my truck about half loaded with the 8 foot posts. The rest would have to be wrestled in by hand, but not that big of a deal when positioned by loader to roll into the bed. The last log rolled in about 3:30 and it was already getting dark and starting to snow when Bub and I got in the truck and started home.
This time of the year it gets dark early and being in the mountains even earlier. The headlights were showing an increasingly solid curtain of white as we wound through the mountains of snow piled off road by the big plows loggers prefer. Even with the trees breaking the force of the wind it was getting difficult to see anything more than about 20 feet ahead of us.
We were just negotiating the last corner and the somewhat difficult transition from logging road to county highway when a huge brown shape suddenly appeared in the headlights! Bullwinkle was back and Bubba saw him too. Moose have no fear of vehicles and this one showed his courage by walking straight towards us.
Knowing that a collision with this monstrous beast would probably damage my truck beyond repair, I did the only thing I could think of in that frozen second of time. While Bubba excitedly told the moose to move, I yanked the wheel over and stepped on the gas hoping to swerve around Bullwinkle, relying on the icy road and the weight of the logs for a controlled skid and slide.
Hey, I’d seen it done on TV and the movies a hundred times, it always worked. Well, it worked this time too, only I didn’t count on the unneeded help from Bubba who tried to keep Bullwinkle in view as we slid around him. With Bubba’s big brown butt in my face, I lost control of the skid and started spinning.
We were past the moose and doing 360’s on the icy county road when by some trick of gravity or perhaps a dry spot on the highway, the truck shot off the road, literally air-born, flying over the guard rail and into a stand of red firs.
Thanks to the chains holding the logs in place, we didn’t lose our load, although if we had , there probably wouldn’t have been enough momentum to go through those trees and sail into the muffled white silence of a monster snow drift.
Spinning galaxies of light filled my vision then cleared as I opened my eyes and fumbled for my snot rag to wipe the blood out of them, coming from the gash opened by the steering wheel in my conveniently placed forehead. Looking over I saw Bubba shaking his head, looking confused.
With a quick and deft touch, I checked him for breaks or contusions, then belatedly checked myself. Although bleeding freely, the cut on my forehead wasn’t deep and probably would have taken only 4 or 5 stitches to suture. Otherwise, neither of us had any breaks that were apparent, the only noticeable damage was the cut that stopped bleeding in a few minutes.
With a couple words of encouragement to Bubba I tried to open the door. No luck! It was jammed solid and there was nothing to see but solid white. Looking around, I saw the same wall of solid white in all the windows. What was amazing was that the windows and windshield were miraculously unbroken.
Taking a moment to collect my thoughts and consider possible options helped the peril of our situation sink in. The truck had stalled at impact so I turned off the ignition. It was then that I realized the headlights were still on, but were not working. The only illumination we had was the dome light, but with the reflective quality of the pure white snow surrounding us, was very adequate to see by.
Here we were, stuck in a snowbank about 5 miles from home. It was a winter night with the temperature expected to drop into the teens and with what might be a blizzard building up outside.
Hey! Not a problem! With a flash of insight and audible sigh of relief I picked up the mike for the CB radio on the dashboard. Expecting an instant comeback by one of the locals or a passing trucker, I was disappointed with no sound at all coming from the speaker. Using my lighter as a makeshift flashlight, the discovery of ripped-out wires leading to the unit quashed any ideas of radioing for help.
Apparently, one of us had accidentally torn the wires loose sometime while flying into the snowbank. Or, I thought with a look at my buddy, Bubba, someone tore the wires loose while pushing his butt into my face and precipitating our present situation.
Well there wasn’t anything to do now but see if we could get out of our predicament. Trying both doors proved futile and only the slider in the rear window opened, letting in a small avalanche of half-packed snow.
“Well Bub, ” I said out loud. “Looks like we’re spending the night here, what are you cooking for dinner?” For an answer I received a slobbery lick that left a rivulet of drool coursing down the side of my neck. “Aaarrgh!” The disgust was lost on Bubba who thought this was some kind of game, one that he could win in the confines of the truck cab.
The resulting tussle opened up the gash on my forehead and sent a new avalanche of snow through the rear sliding window. The obvious victor, Bubba looked at me with that expression I’ve come to associate with, “I’m done playing, what’s for dinner?”
Now, I’m one of those people who thinks ahead and prepares for situations just like this. Most people might find some moldy fries or empty pop cans under the seat, not me. I reached under my side of the bench seat and pulled out my 9mm Beretta, holstered with 2 magazines..
Next, I snagged the corner of an old wool Army blanket and jerked it free of the seat springs.
By the time we had searched under and behind the seat there was a virtual mountain of supplies piled between us. This search wasn’t entirely a mutual or easy exercise. Bubba thought it was a new game and was as intent on winning as he had been earlier. Once again, by the time he had settled down (only after I cried “Uncle!”) the pile of supplies was liberally splashed with blood, my own.
We did have the makings for dinner, though. 3 cans of Spam, although loaded with deadly nitrites and questionable meat by-products, were welcomed by both of us as were the 2 cans of sauerkraut
and the big bag of animal crackers.
We passed on some undeniably well-aged and moldy peanuts as well as some unidentifiable liquid in a thermos bottle. There was an old G.I. steel canteen that although empty, could be held to service for melting snow, thus quenching my mounting thirst.
The big score was 4 cans of Buckhorn beer and a pouch of Top tobacco that were immediately put to use. Opening a can of Spam and splitting it with Bubba, I looked over the rest of our treasure.
- First aid kit with a good dressing for my forehead
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- 2 -16 hour “emergency” candles, one of which I lit, then turned off the dome light, saving the truck battery for getting out in the morning.
- 2 “Space Blankets” in their small compact containers
- A roll of duct tape, black
- 3 highway flares
- What looked like about 50 feet of military para-cord, brown
- A flattened, but serviceable roll of toilet paper
- An old hunting knife with sheath and sharpener
- A pair of socks, G.I. wool, green
- Pint of “Spring Tonic” home made herbal blood fortifier
- Hatchet, wooden handle
- Some odd wrenches and screwdrivers and spare light bulbs made up the remainder.
There were more tools and a shovel in the toolbox behind the cab, but I decided to wait for daylight to attempt squeezing through the rear slider. Besides, it was downright cozy in the cab. Our body heat, trapped by the Space Blankets and the wool Army blanket, as well as the insulation of the snow around us kept the small area of the truck cab quite comfortable.
So we settled down for some serious chow, finding that animal crackers were definitely complementary to Spam. Although Bubba was somewhat skeptical of the sauerkraut at first, watching me eat it proved more than his doubts could handle and soon I had to open the other can.
The truck cab was warm enough to melt the snow in the canteen and soon Bubba had a drink of water while I concentrated on the Buckhorn beer. I drew the line at opening the last can of Spam, though. I explained to my buddy that there should be something for breakfast and later I would be glad I did.
End of Part 1, stay tuned for Part 2, “Will He Make It?”
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