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Way to Go, Grace!

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Way to Go, Grace!

Jinx finds a partner in her unique brand of 'adventure.'

I grew up thinking my name was Grace. Not necessarily grace in a good way. More like grace-LESS. It was a family joke. Drop a dish? My family would laugh, “Way to go, Grace.” Fall UP the stairs? “Way to go, Grace.” Laugh until milk comes through your nose? ”Way to go, Grace.” Accidentally get your dress caught in your panty hose above your bum after leaving the rest room when you have to walk all the way up to the front of the church to play the piano with the entire congregation snickering while the whole time you are trying to figure out WHY? “Way to go, Grace.” Family is ruthless.

I will admit that clumsy has always been a way of life for me and if you read very many of my stories, you will know the truth of the whole clumsy thing. If I can fall off of it, up it, into it, over it or under it, then I probably have. In my mind, every time my clumsiness comes into play I can hear my family: ‘Way to go, Grace.”

 My daughter Jamie is the proud mommie of my third granddaughter, five-year-old Gracie. I think I might have forgotten to tell Jamie the whole “Grace” story. Either that or she just seriously “jinxed” her child!
Because I am such a bumbling person, I  have tried to surround myself with people who are more agile than I am, but I have noticed it hasn’t worked much. Because I am so prone to spontaneous decisions that sometimes confound people, I try to surround myself with people with more common sense than I have, too. That hasn’t exactly worked out for me, either!

To prove my point, last week, my friend Joy Harris and I decided to see how far we could get up Lightning Creek Road since it had been raining all week. (Lightning Creek Road is my very favorite road to play on!) The last time I had been up the road I hadn’t been able to even cross the wash out, but a bridge had been built since then and I was anxious to see how far we could make our way up. I thought we would take MY truck up the road, as I am not afraid of scratches or dents, but Joy insisted on taking HER nice rig up. The one that doesn’t have any dings or pings. That should have been my first clue that Joy was as lacking in the common sense department as I am.

Joy hadn’t been up this particular road and I was excited for her to see some things that I had “found.”  First, I showed her a cave that is about four miles up. I have been inside on a few occasions, but not very far in because I freely admit to being afraid of the dark. What  I didn’t expect was for Joy to lunge out of the car and practically race up to the cave to disappear inside. My left knee still isn’t in tip top condition and uneven ground isn’t a great venture for me yet. Joy, however, with no flashlight, head lamp or even a rock in her hand as a weapon for Pete’s sake, just dashed inside a pitch black opening in the side of a big mountain. That should have easily been my second clue.

Joy burst back into the light, laughing in delight. “ I cant wait to send my husband and son in there!”  I learned a long time ago from Bob Hays that it isn’t really even a cave, it is an old mine and probably not the safest place to be goofing around in. I had already forewarned Joy of this, so for just one minute I was wondering how she really felt about her family. Then I remembered taking Stacey to it when I first found it. And I just laughed at Joy, knowing she didn’t have a death wish for her kin, but was just “wowed” by the sight of the cave.

Onward up Lightning Creek Road we went. No matter what time of year it is, I always manage to find rocks to pick up along the way. Unfortunately, because of my knee, I am unable to actually get them, so I had to assign Joy the task. Of course, the rock was half way up the mountain side and Joy slipped and slid up and down to get the rock for me. This should have been my third clue that common sense was not running rampant in our moment. I did however, get my rock and it was an awesome rock.

On the way down from the mountainside, Joy glimpsed a campsite she felt we needed to investigate, to decide whether or not it was a place we might want to camp later on. We turned into the camp’s drive and there was a good-sized mud puddle in our way. “Do you think we can make it?” she asked me. I looked around to see if she might be asking someone else in the vehicle, because no one ever asks me if I think we should make it through a puddle.

Joy gunned the SUV, I held on for dear life and lickity split we literally crashed our way through the mud puddle. “Oh yeah,” Joy giggled. “I forgot we don’t have 4-wheel-drive. Here we are just a “tweeling” along.”
I  must have looked dumbfounded, so she explained tweeling to me. It’s driving up a road on 2-wheel-drive that seriously needs to be driven with 4-wheel-drive. Tweelin’. Did I mention she is from Texas?
The fourth clue should have reached out and slapped me. Common sense? What a unique idea! I just shook my head as we both got out to look at the mess behind us.

“That was a little deeper than I thought it was,” Joy announced. I was just looking at her, still stunned that she had asked my opinion about our ability to get to the other side of a mud puddle which was almost the size of an Olympic pool without 4-wheel-drive once we got out to view it. I turned my head for just one second, just as Joy asked, “I wonder how deep it really is?” I looked back as she picked up a stick and leaned over to “measure” how deep it was. I mean, really? Even I knew that was a bad idea.( Fifth clue!) But as I was about to voice my thoughts, she hit the edge of the puddle and tried to stop herself. At this point, I admit it, I laughed and I laughed really hard. The occasion seldom comes along that it is not me falling butt end first into mud the consistency of a Sonic slushy!

“Ugh!” I heard her groan, between my peels of laughter. I could actually hear her body slurp out of the mud. I didn’t really know what to do to help her. It’s not something I experience much, to have someone else on the end of the clumsy stick. Joy jumped and looked at herself, then at me, put her hands on her muddy hips and said, “ MY STARS!” Which started another stage of chuckles from me

Then, Joy turned and headed for the river. My breath caught in my mouth. What was she about to do? It was like watching a piece of film from my own life. Joy took in a deep breath and literally threw her sticky body into the river. At some point I quit counting clues. You would think I would catch on to the fact that I obviously need supervision in the friend department!

Joy’s little body was floundering in the river. She was gasping and grasping for the rocks.  I don’t believe I have ever heard a shriek quite so shrill and loud from a human mouth. Her skin immediately turned a blistering pink, and I knew it had to be as cold as a glacier in that river. I could hear her yelping and yipping and I couldn’t quite figure out why she wasn’t climbing back up the rocks toward the warmth of the car. Then I realized what had happened. Joy has been losing a lot of weight. The comfortable pants she had worn were so big they were falling off of her legs in the frigid water. I got as close to the edge of the river as possible, safely. I didn’t want to ask her if she needed help—what was I going to do? My knee was still unstable and all I could do was watch. Joy sputtered, and spit, and squealed, finally pulling her pants off and crawling up the slippery rocks to safety. Standing on the edge of the river, her wet pants in her hand, panties dripping off her legs, Joy looked at me and said, “that was a bit nippy.” I tried not to laugh, really I did, but she stood there, the campsite not really far off the road, shaking like a pissed off banty hen, looking at her pants like they were a foreign object. I could see her wheels turning, wondering how she was going to get her soaked pants back on.  I climbed back into her rig, and listened to her pulling and tugging, trying to inch those pants up her legs. Okay, and I snickered a bit. (I snickered a lot!) After a brief fight with her pants she did manage to wrestle them back on. Joy climbed back into the car and chirped, “ I don’t think I want to do that again!”

Joy backed out of the campsite with such speed I barely had time to hold onto the side of the door. We splashed through the muddy flood waters backward onto the main road. While I thoroughly expected her to turn right towards home, Joy made a left, looked at me and smiled. “No reason to let a frozen rear end and sopping pride stop us from exploring.” Wow, it was like talking to myself. I grinned from ear to ear, I couldn’t help myself.

With much glee I spoke what I had been trained to hear my whole life. “Way to go, Grace!”

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Author info

Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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Jinxed, Joy Harris, mountain driving

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