Sometimes you set out on a trip with a destination in mind, and you expect the destination to provide the adventure you're looking for. Sometimes you set out on a trip with a destination in mind, and the trip itself becomes the adventure. Of the many sports I've tried my hand at over the years, the one that remains constant, and the one that my passion for has never waned, is snowboarding. Snowboarding has been the destination for so many trips in my life; I couldn't tell you the number.
I start to tremble with excitement when I think of boarding outofbounds in Idaho, or through the old growth forests of Montana, and I still can't believe the view from the top of the continental divide of Banff Canada. I could go on, but I would be negligent to heart of this story, because snowboarding, though it was the destination, did not provide the adventure on this trip.
I have been blessed enough to experience the mountains of the west, but most of my time on the snow has been right here in the Appalachians. Sugar and Beech have been my playground ever since Tim left me at the top of the mountain and called it a lesson. At Montreat, the fellas and I tried to get away from campus as often as we could to head up to the ski slopes, and here begins the story of my time with an unsecured forklift.
There were four of us in the Astrovan that night heading back to school from another glorious night on the slopes. Due to the curvy roads the trip usually took about an hour and fortyfive minutes. We were driving on some dark mountain road, and it seemed like we were in the only automobile on that stretch of pavement. Finally, another pair of headlights broke out of the darkness and toward us. I was in the passenger seat, my friend Jeff was driving, and Tarbell and Drew were in the back. We couldn't really see much in any direction as there were no street lights and we were walled in by a thick forest on both sides of us. Suddenly, the oncoming headlights briefly outlined something in our lane. It was such a brief glimpse that I was the only one that saw it, and I wasn't even sure if I saw it. I remember saying something along the lines of "Jeff! Look out!", but if the others were to tell you this story they would say I only managed an odd squeak. Either way, my warning was too late and the Astrovan smashed through the object.
Jeff was, of course, startled, as we all were, and he was definitely worried if the object caused any damage to his van. When we came to a stop we all hopped out to discover a flat tire and a piece of a truck bed liner lodged in the wheel well. Apparently, some good ole boy didn't take the time to secure the liner to his truck, and when it flew out, it landed directly in our path. While I ran back to get the remains of the liner out of the road, the others took to putting on the spare. It turned out that the spare was flat too, so we had no option but to find somewhere to park for the night and call for help.
For a college dorm it was surprising how few guys would answer their phone, although it was closing in on midnight by this time. Finally, we got ahold of Silas, who not only answered his phone, but also agreed to drive an hour down the road to come get us. Now, all we had to do was wait. We couldn't have chosen a better place. We had pulled into a parking lot of an auto parts store in some small town, and we happened to have a frisbee. So, we tossed the disc for a while, and it wasn't long until Drew over through me. The frisbee landed underneath a forklift, and low and behold, this forklift had a key.
I'm not one to get overly excited, but this was an amazing opportunity and I couldn't help but do a little jig. I grabbed the key and ran over to Tarbell, and said "LOOK!" We both ran back and promptly tried to get it started.... nothing happened, it wouldn't start. Luckily, we had happened on what looked like a forklift salvage store, and there were other forklifts. We spread out and looked over the other machines. Only two others had keys, and one of those was boxed in by various engine parts and other heavy stuff. All four of us gathered around our last hope, each of us eyeing the others to figure out who would have the privledge of starting the beast. I was the oldest, and so I climbed on and turned the key. With all the excitement I ended up flooding it, and lost my chance at driving the forklift. A few minutes passes and Drew climbed on, took his bearings and then cranked it alive.
As you can imagine, the next few minutes were amazing. Drew flew around the parking lot picking up random things, and doing doughnuts. If you're wondering, an Astrovan can be easily lifted off the ground by an appropriately sized forklift. We each took our turn terrorizing the adjoing parking lots and riding up and down on the hydraulic lifts of the machine. When we had our fill with the forklift we parked it in the same spot we found it, only facing the opposite direction. We thought this maneuver would be hilarious when the owner realized that wasn't how he left it.
Oddly enough, about five minutes after we had returned the machine a cop pulled into the auto store parking lot, and called us over. Did he come to investigate the noise, or worse, arrest a bunch of vandalizing college kids? We didn't know, so we tried to feel it out. It turned out he just wanted to know what we were doing there in the middle of the night. He didn't seem to have any idea of our prior antics on the forklife. So, we told him about the van, and he left.
Twenty minutes later, Silas showed up right before the tow truck arrived. It wasn't until we pulled away we noticed the tire store right on the other side of the auto store, but the tow truck had already hitched up the van and left. Ah well.