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Writer’s note: This is the second part of a two-part story on a recent extreme outdoor adventure camp that my 15-year-old daughter, Jenny, and I took with “Ranger Randy.”
The adventure began.
We awoke at the crack of dawn.
Actually, everybody except Ranger Randy awoke at the crack of dawn. We shook Ranger Randy violently, thinking he had died, until he finally sat up and stared for a moment at the sun rising. “Well I’ll be. So that’s what the crack-of-dawn looks like.” Then he fell over sideways and slept for another hour before getting up.
I asked Jenny if she had used the outhouse during the night.
“Heck no! I’m not going over there where all those snakes and poison ivy are. I’m going to wait until we get home to use the bathroom.”
“But Jenny,” I said, “that won’t be for four days.”
“What’s your point?” she replied.
Later, when Ranger Randy got up, he noticed the derogatory remarks everyone was making about the bathroom facilities. He said, “You bunch of candies don’t have to worry about the poisonous snakes over near the outhouse. If you get bit by a snake, then I’ll just suck the venom out with my mouth. No one’s going to die from a snake bite while I’m here.”
At that very moment, Camper Chuck — a middle-aged, overweight, bald man — came running from the direction of the outhouse, while holding up his pants with both hands. He was screaming “Ranger Randy, Ranger Randy, a snake just bit me!”
“Don’t worry Camper Chuck,” I said. “Ranger Randy just assured us he would suck out the venom if anyone got bit.”
Ranger Randy calmly looked at Camper Chuck through his mirrored sunglasses and said, “Where did he bite you?”
“On the butt!”
Ranger Randy paused for a few seconds and looked at Camper Chuck to take in the situation. He then grabbed his backpack and said “All right everybody, Camper Chuck is going to die. Everybody else follow me to the rappelling and rock climbing site.”
Camper Chuck did not die, but his left rear buttocks swelled up to three times its normal size and you could balance a coffee mug on it, which Ranger Randy did when he would pause on the way through the woods.
Ranger Randy never got “lost,” but was “confused” once for three hours as we backpacked through the heavy growth forest.
We made it to the cliff where we were going to rappel off its side with ropes, as guided by our trusty rappel master, Ranger Randy.
Camper Jessie watched Ranger Randy and asked curiously, “Where did you learn to be a rappel master,” as he was being hooked up for the descent down the cliff.
“A YouTube video I watched a few days ago.” said Ranger Randy.
“A YouTube video?”
At that point, Camper Jessie made a mad scramble back toward the rest of us with his feet running so fast in midair that he looked like something from one of those old Road Runner cartoons.
It was at that point that Ranger Randy decided to administer a sedative to Camper Jessie to calm his nerves. He pulled a large rubber mallet from his belt and smacked Camper Jessie in the middle of the forehead with a resounding “thump.” Camper Jessie quit all movement and then dropped from view down the cliff as Ranger Randy lowered him. Then Ranger Randy said “Next.”
Jenny loves high places and went down with no problem.
I went down giving what I like to call my “warrior yell” and others call “screaming like a little girl.” Thank goodness for Ranger Randy’s sedatives or I’d have never made it down the cliff.
We finished the rappelling with no more injuries, other than some headaches and ugly bruises on our foreheads. We had rappelled down the face of a cliff into the mouth of a cave.
Ranger Randy then said, “All right, you bunch of candy fannies, it’s time to go caving. Now get out your flashlights and follow me.”
The cave was large and we had gone no further than a couple of hundred feet when Ranger Randy had a perplexed look on his face and said, “Gather ‘round you bunch of candies. You see all that rock fall?”
We looked and saw about 10 tons of massive chunks of rock that had fallen from the ceiling.
“That’s new rock fall. It wasn’t in here when I last came in and it‘s blocking the entrance of the cave chamber that I was going to take you through. So, I’m guessing you know what we need to do?”
I volunteered “Get the bleep out of here!”
Ranger Randy responded, “I should‘ve known a big candy like you, Camper Ken, would say that. Boy, you must have a really good life back home, the way you’re always worried about dying and all. No, I see another hole behind you. Let’s all try that one.”
Suddenly everyone but me followed Ranger Randy. I figured someone had to go for help and file the insurance claims if there was a cave-in.
Later in the cave, Camper Jessie took a wrong step and slid to the edge of a deep crevice near an underground waterfall. He was hanging on for dear life when Ranger Randy looked down at him with these words of encouragement: “Camper Jessie, if you drop down that big hole, then we’ll have to take a stick and spoon to pick up what’s left of you when you hit the bottom.”
Camper Jessie made it up, and after ten more minutes in the cave, everyone made it out alive. Ranger Randy then said, “All right everybody. I think I’ve had enough adventure for one day. I need to get back to the campsite and change my underwear.”
That night at camp, after everyone changed their underwear, Jenny and I had a long talk about life and questions we always wanted to ask each other. I don’t think we had ever done that before.
It was only in Ranger Randy’s land of no cell phone coverage, no Internet, no bathrooms and no near towns or stores for distractions that we got to get to know each other again.
The next day that girly girl of mine went climbing up the face of a cliff. She climbed four times with nothing but a rope around her waist. The day after, she zip-lined five times across Red River Gorge itself; five times at heights of over 300 feet.
We had a good time.
I got to know my kid again.
I was proud of her.
Writer’s note: We did go on a heck of an adventure weekend and the entire article is true, except for the parts I exaggerated, misled, created from thin air and outright lied about, which included 99 percent of the column. But Jenny and I did spend four days in the woods caving, rappelling, rock climbing and zip-lining with a reputable outdoor adventure company. What I said she did in the column, she did. I was so proud of her.