Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way.

Before this tale begins, a few things need to be made known. First: Indiana Jones is awesome! Always has been, always will be. Second: The second law of the universe is, ‘Nothing is Impossible’. Believe it. Third: It had long been established by a few of us that if there was blood, it was no longer just a fun activity. It was an adventure!

It didn’t take long to get good with my whip. It did take a few years to perfect a few of the tricks I would come to use regularly. Like being able to grab something and hold onto it so I could swing, like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In those movies Harrison Ford used a 10’ bullwhip. My whip was 22’ long and maneuvering that thing could take some serious work. I once split myself open with it, but that’s another story. Anyway, I had figured out how to get the end of the whip to wrap around an object and grip the object if I flicked my wrist at just the right moment and then kept the tension. As soon as I would relax the tension, the whip would let go. This trick came in handy on more than one occasion.

As teenagers when Erich and I would go hiking sometimes I would put on my fedora, don my whip and satchel and prepare for whatever was to come. People would stare as we would walk to the mountains that lined one side of our city, but I didn’t care. I was going to have some fun! And I always did. This particular summer afternoon was no different.

On this trip we had aligned ourselves with the main stream that would flow into town for irrigation purposes. More often than not we would walk in/up the stream to build endurance, or to cool off, or just to play in the water. In most areas the stream was easily accessible with gradually sloping sides and wide open banks. There were, however, a few locations where the sides were steep and the bottom was far below. It was at one of those spots that fortune—or folly, depending on how you look at it—found us.

We had had high hopes of fun and adventure but all we had had so far was fun, and some lunch. No adventure. Then we found it! A log! Now I know what you’re thinking, “Oooo. A log. Big deal.” Well it was you see, because this was a particularly high bank area that we could not climb down or back up. Everytime we came across it we would have to walk a long ways around. But during the past winter a smaller tree had been felled and made a bridge across. Things were looking up!

Erich was about to cross our new log bridge when a brilliant idea came to me. “Why not swing down?”

“What?” Erich asked.

“Yeah. Let’s swing down! I could use my whip to grab the log and we could swing down. Then we could walk upstream, climb out at a lower point along the bank and then on our way home cross the bridge from the other side.” I suggested.

“Sounds good to me.” Came Erich’s reply.

I unfastened my whip and Erich backed up a little to give me some room. I got the whip moving to make sure it wouldn’t tangle and then began to swing my arm to give that leather python some momentum. Then with a quick forward, then backward jerk, followed by the flick of my wrist I let my whip fly. I watched as the end wrapped around the log and take hold. First try!

I had figured that if I just jumped straight out (not up), over the stream, gravity would allow me to swing down into the water and I would just have to be careful of my footing when I landed. And it would have worked if I had remembered just one thing. In all the excitement, at the last second, right as I jumped I allowed slack to occur in the whip. So as I jumped out, parallel to the ground, my whip came loose and I dropped like a stone into the rushing stream, and onto the sharp rocks hidden underneath. I just laid there for a moment letting the icy waters wash away my anger and embarrassment. But when I finally lifted my head all I could hear was laughter. Erich’s laughter. At me. I deserved it. After all, I laughed at him when he was catapulted out of the tree.

Sharp rocks at the bottom

“Well,” I began. “It’s an adventure now.” My nose was bleeding.

Halloween, 6th Grade. Me on the left and Miles Buechler on the right.
What I wear now.

Somethings never change.

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