I must confess I am getting addicted to one of those internet sites where one can make contact with other folks out there in this world of ours.  Every once in a while, I get bored and watch a video or two of some of their actions. I sit here and shake my head at such numb actions some of them go through. I then begin to wonder, was I ever such as that.

I remember being 4 and 5 years of age trying different things to smoke. My parents always told the older kids they could smoke as long as they bought their own cigarettes. I didn’t have a job, but I had imagination.  The grapevine burned my tongue, and the corn silk probably should have been dried. Or maybe it was the old pipe, cousin sort of found. I just chalked that up as a learning process us kids went through.

I then move on to the time I bought my first mode of transportation. I managed to scrounge up enough money to buy a bicycle for ten dollars. It did have a little problem with the brakes. But I could always drag my feet to slow down. I was fifteen years of age and full of the need for freedom to move around. Living on the farm for so long was almost like being closed in a box.  It was a huge farm and there was much freedom but it was different. With my new ten-dollar bicycle, it was like someone opened the pasture gate and let me loose.  One day cousin and I was doubling up on this precious bike and just riding around. As we went down Pleasant Street, we discovered the need to slow down rather quickly. I just put one sneaker against the front tire and guess what?  We slowed down alright. The bike stopped, but we didn’t.  Head over tea kettle to kiss the pavement we went. This event, I would chalk up to a learning process. Kinda like, don’t do that again. Take the time to fix the brakes first.

For some reason, my folks considered me quite trustworthy to come back home one day or another as I journeyed on my bicycle.  I would always give them a notice I was off on a trip again. I did have relatives all over Franklin County. So, they could always contact someone if they saw me in the area. I was never one to do anything a young 15-year-old really should not do.  I was just a traveler who went to explore. On one of those journeys, I decided to peddle down to Strong to visit my brother who lived on Church Hill. He lived at the lower end of Church Hill. This was almost like going back home. We used to live way on the upper end in my very younger days. That is where I tried that nasty tasting corn silk and grapevine event. This would be quite a trip down memory lane for me. There were some things we did that I will not tell about and they were sweet memories. Probably because we didn’t get caught. So, there was still that inner smile. A bit of mischief we got away with. Even today, those events bring about a silly smile. And, you know what, I was not even an eight-year-old year old in those days. But on this trip, I was a roving young fella. Free like the bird to go explore. I went back to the old home and discovered what happens when you take that walk. Things look so very much different. I discovered, best leave those memories alone. Discovering the changes and reality now just tarnishes those pleasant times. So, I made the decision to peddle back up to Rangeley. Here I was to discover two things that never occurred to me. One does indeed peddle down to Strong and UP to Rangeley.  What made the travel back up was a small problem with the front rim on my bicycle. You see, as I was coasting down Church Hill, I spied another fella coming across the flat near the Church. When he spied me, he immediately moved to the yellow middle line. This was a challenge indeed. As a Rangeley boy, I was not going to let a Strong boy call me a chicken. I knew I had the advantage because I was coasting down the hill. So, I steered right to that yellow center line. I was determined, I was not the chicken. Well, now you can just guess what happened next. Yes, we met. Both of us and our bike’s head on collision. Bicycle tires, handlebars, and foreheads all came together in an instant. As we lay in the middle of the road, we voiced our opinions about the other. We agreed it was great, neither was a chicken, but the other should have turned out. My front tire was no longer a nice round circle. I had to carry the bike back to brothers to fix for my journey back home.  I took the rim all apart and made it close to a nice round circle again. It was not perfect, but good nuff to travel home. This was when I discovered it was UP to Rangeley. So away we went, my bicycle and I, back up the mountain. Now, that challenge event could probably be listed as not quite smart. I am sure there are others, I could put on that list. On the way back home going up the mountain roads, I had to make another decision. We had made it, bike and I, just above the AT trail. I spied a moose that had decided to take the road down the mountain. He was on my side of the road. There was going to be a decision soon. Do we jump over the guard rails or turn and go back down the road. Could I travel faster than the moose?  There was a part of me that was determined not to go back down the hill I just came up. Especially with that crazy front tire. As the moose got closer, so did the decision. I was not going back down the mountain. Could this be another of those chicken challenges? I knew I would not win this one. Boy, I sure hated even the thought of turning around. About time, I was to make the decision to jump over the guard rail or peddle back down, an outer state car came around the corner.  The moose decided it would now be the loser and decided to just run right buy me instead. I will say here, I have met moose in the woods who just dropped their head and shook those big horns at me. This was not the case today and I just waved a “C’ya” to the moose and the car as they went on by. I have had many challenges in my journeys and the majority of them were tainted with a tad bit of stubbornness attached to them. But, this is one quality, I refuse to give up. It is not that I have to be the winner, just that I refuse to be the loser. My victories may be small compared to the challenge, but if I was to be the loser, then so shall the challenger sit in that chair beside me.  Stubbornness at its finest.  Ken White COB mountainman

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