When my siblings and cousins get together we tell stories about those idyllic days 40 years ago when we frolicked and dodged death and dismemberment at The Cabin. Even our in-laws tell the stories — and they weren’t even there.

The Cabin was a tiny A-frame that sheltered six adults and 10 kids at a time. No running water, refrigeration or flush toilets. An amusement park of stinging nettles, tamed chipmunks, rainbow trout, mud chutes, abandoned kittens and rusty nails.

My cousin Jerry is trying to create a similar amusement park for our kids, in the badlands of western Colorado, almost to Utah. No running water, refrigeration or flush toilets (yet). An ATV endurance course, scorpions, ¬†coyotes and rusty nails. The kids already love it and we don’t have the shooting range in yet.

I and sister Teri pack dirt into old tires for Earth ShipLast weekend Jerry took me on a quad tour of his property, a high-desert oasis broken by washes that are either dry or torrents. Jerry pointed to lots of attractions — nearly all of them started. Here’s the party area, there’s the “sacred teepee,” over yonder the pee-pee teepee, and the secret tunnel he dug with a rental tractor (taking the precaution to carry a 15-foot bamboo pole to breathe through in case of cave-in). It was like Dr. John Hammond revealing his cloned dinosaurs through the windows of the Jurassic Park tourist van.

So all of us who once packed into the attic of the A-frame got together last weekend to pack desert dirt into old tires, helping Jerry build his Earth Ship, an off-the-grid, rainwater recycling, earthen insulated house. After the sun goes down, it’s story time. Jerry was getting lots of laughs about the time he drove his truck so far up Leon Creek that even the local sheepherders were impressed. I remembered I had a topper.

Willys Jeep photoGrandpa had an old Willys Jeep (grandpa had lots of toys, but they were strictly blue collar brands). He once packed the adults and half a dozen kids into the Jeep for a fishing trip up Leon Creek. He bogged down in a muddy field, miles from the nearest AAA and beyond winch-cable reach of the closest tree. He and Dad wrapped the winch cable around huge boulders, but succeeded only in ripping them out of the ground. Grandpa made us all get out and walk while he gunned the lightened Jeep through the mud track. The car bounced and fishtailed through the muck, and in the rear window we saw the blonde bouncing head of my forgotten 2-year-old brother, Ken. Our parents were as bad at counting kids as they were at counting days.

Large bruise on the back of my kneeTelling the story 40 years later, I could still see the bouncing blonde head and I had to help my cousins (and Ken) see it too. So I bobbed up and down, backed over a bench and tumbled into the dust that is Jerry’s future front yard. I could see “did he break his hip?” concern in my family’s faces, so I popped back up and did an “I’m-OK-just-need-to-walk-it-off” thing. The back of my knee hurt like hell, though.

So since I tell stories for a living, should I report this to OSHA?

There is 1 comment so far

  • Teresa
    9 years ago

    Not only were telling a great story, but you created one for the next generation. you should get double time workmens comp.

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