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REFLECTIONS: Close calls seem to be part of my life

…Continued from last week

When I was discharged from the Air Force, I was in Spokane, Washington and it was the middle of December. I practically wore out a set of tire chains on the way home. It was in Idaho that I lost control of my car and I believe it did a 360 in the middle of the highway before crossing a shallow ditch. We had driven through some rugged mountains where such a thing could have thrown us down a mountain side where we wouldn’t have been found for months. We were able to simply drive back onto the road and continue our trek to Arkansas.

We were living in Little Rock when we made a trip to Siloam Springs to visit my in-laws. It was winter time and the roads were icy. I was rounding a curve just South of US 62 when my accelerator stuck (frozen from built-up ice and snow). Instant braking only intensified the problem. Luckily, nothing was coming toward us as I crossed and re-crossed where the center line was supposed to be.

I had some apartments which needed re-roofing. I decided to do the job myself. My ladder gave way (or something) and I fell off the roof onto the ground, cracking a rib in the process. I never told my wife, but this was the second time I had fallen. I finished the roofing job but hired someone the next time I needed a new roof.

More recently, my wife (Pat) and I made a trip to Hawaii. I flew over a volcano in a helicopter and had the opportunity to look down into its gaping mouth. Just three days later the thing blew up but I had already left the islands. The hotel where we spent one night was flooded a couple of weeks later by the tsunami.

We were in Northern New Mexico when Pat spotted a large rock formation in the distance which she wanted captured on camera. I stopped the car and carefully picked my way through snaky-looking sand and sage brush and took the picture. I wished I had been as careful on my way back to the car, because as I raised my foot, ready to put it down, I saw it. A rattler just waiting to take a bite out of my leg. I know that people can tread water, but I believe I actually treaded air as I passed over the snake and hurried my way back to safety. We were 50 (maybe 100) miles from the nearest known medical help. The snake was 50 feet long with 10 inch fangs…at least that’s how it looked to me at the time.

In our travels around the country, we have dodged tornadoes in Iowa, were passed by storm chasers in Kansas and drove through Joplin, Missouri one hour before it was virtually destroyed by a tornado.

We were scheduled to fly to Las Vegas the next week where we were to board a tour bus for a trip to 7 or 8 Western National Parks. Doctors have discovered a couple of blood clots in Pat’s leg and we have had to cancel the trip…forfeiting our hard-earned money. As bad as I hated to give up the money, I can only assume it was for our own good. Who knows? A plane crash, a bus roll-over, a rattle snake or grizzly bear, or a blood clot breaking loose a thousand miles from home? Close calls seem to be a part of my life and I just have to get used to them.

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