Getting Lost is Half the Fun

Women claim that men get lost because they won't stop and ask directions. I get lost because I usually find the opportunity for adventure far greater than had I stuck with the originally planned route. I will have to admit that it was on one such deviation where the adventure manifested itself in the form of a pit bull that decided to take a taste of my leg.

I enter T-shirt rides fairly often, but don't always follow the mapped route. I pick up my shirt and freebee water bottle along with the rest of the people, but if I spot a road leading to some place more appealing than what's on the map, I may well head off in that direction. I saw a sign announcing a farm auction while stopped at a rest station, and when I left, it was in the direction indicated by the sign. About a mile or so down the road, a guy came roaring up from behind in his pickup truck, blowing his horn and flashing his lights. He shouted that I was going the wrong way.

I told him that I had decided to visit the farm auction and knew where I was going. He wasn't sure that since I had registered for the ride, I was allowed to go elsewhere. He got on the radio and did a lot of talking before he finally told me I could go where I wanted.

I helped myself to the snack table while listening to the chant of the auctioneer as he sold everything from tarps to tractors and pigs to plows. Didn't buy anything but enjoyed a great free lunch.

Speaking of lunches, I actually missed a turn on a ride and became lost, or misdirected as the airlines put it about luggage, and found myself at an Amish Gathering. I needed water so I stopped at this farm with lots of buggies parked around it and people carrying covered dishes of food. At first I feared that I might be intruding on a wedding or funeral until one of the men came up, extended his hand and said, "Welcome to our gathering, friend."

While boys clad in identical suits and all wearing black hats admired my bicycle, I admired the spread of food. Never been treated so well by a group of strangers in all my life. I suppose they felt my riding a bicycle fit with their belief of avoiding mechanical objects.

I had registered for the Alfalfa Bill ride out of Tishomingo, Oklahoma but when I saw a poster for the annual Sand Bass Festival and Renaissance Fair at Madill, it sounded a lot more interesting than what the ride had to offer. When the peleton turned north, I headed out in the opposite direction on a shortcut past the airport and through the National Wildlife Refuge.

I arrived in beautiful downtown Madill just in time to latch onto the end of the parade through town and was given a ribbon for arriving on a bicycle. I think it was a special award created on the spot because it sounded like a bigger deal than the ones they were handing out for the youngest, oldest and family with the most kids. I think the award should have been for my bicycle handling abilities because I had to dodge all those road apples left by the horses.

When some fellow club members noticed that my pickup was still in the parking lot after most everyone else had finished the ride, and realized that none of them had seen me on the route, they became concerned about what had happened to me. When they reached me via my cell phone, I invited them to join me for a lot more fun than they'd found on the ride.

In addition to the community fish fry, they had food booths for funnel cakes, smoked turkey legs, roasted corn, Indian Tacos, corn dogs and cinnamon rolls. The opportunities for gastric overload were endless. But the activity which drew the most attention was Bovine Bingo. An enclosed 60 by 60 foot area of grass had been fenced off in the park and divided into 400 three-foot numbered squares. You buy a square by paying your five bucks and writing your name by its number on a poster. When all the squares had been sold, they turned a cow inside to munch on the grass until she felt inclined to do her dooty. The owner of the square where she deposited her plop would win $2,000. The other two grand went to the Chamber of Commerce to help support the festival. As the cow wandered about sampling which was the tastiest grass, people around the sides of the enclosure were shouting, "Here cow, Here cow" or "Now! Now!" She calmly ignored all the shouts and urgings until Mother Nature called her name so to speak. She missed my square by a mile.

My friends arrived just in time for the big re-enactment of some sort of famous battle that had taken place there at some unknown time. The show began with a runaway wagon careening down main street with canvas flapping, women screaming and cowboys trying to bring it under control. Next came an antique fire truck coughing and gasping along at a walking pace in a cloud of oil smoke with its siren yowling like a cat caught in the fan belt. This was followed by a Bonnie and Clyde car chase in 1930s vintage Fords. Lots of people leaning out windows or standing on the running boards blazing away at one another with blanks.

Seems the whole town had turned out in a period costume for the big battle. In addition to the Indians in full dress, there were cowboys, sheriffs and gunfighters, both union and confederate soldiers, Mexican Vaqueros, a knight in a suit of armor and an Ernest Hemmingway look-alike carrying a deep sea fishing rod with a reel the size of a three pound coffee can. Seems the only ones missing was the Klan in bed sheets and a pegleg pirate with an eyepatch and parrot on his shoulder.

The battle began with much smoke and noise. Men shouting, Indians whooping, lots of swords clanking on shields, bugles blowing, bagpipes squealing, guns firing into the air, men falling down only to jump up to fight again. It was all choreographed to provide the greatest amount of noise, action and drama with no one being injured; sort of like professional wrestling. The show ended after about half an hour with a quick draw shootout in the middle of Main Street with the loser grossly overacting his death.

Now who says getting lost isn't at least half the fun, especially if you can manage to get lost in a small town during some sort of local festival, then it's the most fun of all.

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Copyright 2000 by Jim Foreman