My dad had just purchased a mid-sized SUV with four wheel drive. He and I were out running some errands, and we got to talking about how it would be neat to go off-roading now that we had a four-wheel drive vehicle. I didn't think my dad would ever do anything like that, especially not in his new-used car, so you can imagine my surprise when all of a sudden my dad hit the brakes.
"What do you think?" he asked, pointing to a trail he had spotted just off the road. It seemed like the perfect place to try off-roading. It wasn't too steep, not too rocky, and from our vantage point it didn't look too dangerous.
"I dunno," I said. "It looks pretty decent."
"Want to give it a try?"
I looked at the trail again, and then back at him, surprised. "Sure!"
He needed no convincing. He engaged the four-wheel drive, and we pulled off the road and onto the trail.
We bounced along down the trail, rolling our windows down and turning the music up. The trail got more steep and the rocks got bigger, but my dad didn't seem to notice. We were about a mile down the trail now, and could no longer see the beginning of the trail behind us. The road had narrowed, and the brush on the side of the trail brushed lightly against the side of the car as we continued forward. I watched the needle of the RPM gauge pushed higher and higher, and we finally reached the crest of the hill. It was fun and exciting, but here is where things took a turn for the worst.
My dad, who was a little distracted by something on the side of the trail, failed to see two important things: he didn't realize that we had reached the top of the hill, thus not requiring strong pressure on the gas pedal, and that the trail on the backside of the hill was covered in large, jagged rocks. With his foot heavy on the accelerator, the engine roared as we passed over the top of the hill and plummeted down.
The jagged rocks scraped and banged against the underside of the car and we bounced around savagely, hitting every bump and pothole. My dad tried to slow us down, standing up on the brake pedal. The brakes locked up and dragged in the dirt, and we were almost as the bottom of the hill when we started to slow down. We finally came to a stop at the bottom of the hill, jerking to a halt a few yards away from where a small stream washed out the rest of the trail.
My dad and I sat there in silence, catching our breath. He switched off the radio, cutting off the blaring classic rock. The insects buzzed in the tall grass around us, and the cloud of dust kicked up by our violent descent blew past in the breeze.
Without any discussion it was clear that we weren't going to go any further down the trail, but there was no room to turn around on the narrow trail. He put the transmission into reverse, and we began to back up the hill. We hit all the same rocks and potholes as we did on the way down, and the grimace on my dad's face deepened with each impact. We drove very slowly, but eventually made it up to the top of the hill.
The rest of our reverse trip went relatively smooth, and we were soon off the trail. When we reached the shoulder of the main road, my dad put the car in Park and shut off the engine. We both sat there, staring out the windshield.
"That was fun, eh?" my dad asked, sarcastic.
"Um... yeah. That was interesting," I said. My voice sounded thick, and I was suddenly very thirsty. We sat there for a couple of minutes before he started the car back up again, and we headed for home.
"Hey, Mike?" my dad asked just before we pulled into our driveway.
"Not a word of this to your mother."