Saved by the smell

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snowy road in woods
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

We were on our fourth day camping in Southern Utah, and the weather had been cold all four days. With a winter storm coming, we decided to load up the horses, throw in the camp gear and head for home.

The Ford F-550 got us out of the campsite, and onto the freeway, in short order. The driver set the speed at 80 mph which would insure us to be home in seven hours.

The seven hours of driving time wasn’t the issue. We had pulled our horse trailers to Southern Utah so many times the trucks could probably drive themselves. The issue was during the four days of camping and riding, no one took a bath.

Bathing usually consisted of pouring water over your head, soaping down and rinsing off with the rest of the water. But, everyone was too chicken to get wet in the cold weather.

After a few miles down the road, Galen, riding shotgun leaned over and cranked the heat up to three notches above high. It didn’t take long with the combination of the truck heater, blasting hot air, and four days of unshowered bodies, to make the cab of the truck smell like something had crawled inside and died. My eyes were even watering.

I attempted to roll down the window, but snow and sleet flew in with a vengeance. Back up went the window and once again a pungent body odor smell in the cab. Even the hungriest of grizzly bears would be holding his nose and shaking his head. We continued driving down the road with a challenge of who can hold their breath the longest.

Now mind you, we left camp hell-bent for leather to beat the winter storm. In the rush, two coolers were not roped down but covered with a tarp and hastily secured.

While sitting in the seat, holding my nose and breathing through my mouth, I heard a flapping noise coming from the back of the truck. Sure enough, the tarp came loose and was whipping in the wind.

There was an empty spot where the coolers used to be, and to make matters worse, blue lights were flashing, at the rear of the horse trailer, coming from a Utah State patrol car. In panic, we immediately made our own exit to the side of the road and waited anxiously for bad news to come to the window.

The highway patrolman stood back a few feet then said, “I clocked you at 91 mph. You in a hurry?” For a moment no one said a word expecting him to ask about the two coolers stuck in his windshield. Our driver got his wits about him and told the officer we were on our way home from a snowed-out camping trip.

The patrolman stepped up to the window, attempting to look in, and immediately recoiled back with a pained look on his face. I’m sure I heard him gag or choke a little. He added, “How long were you cowboys out there without a bath?” We then answered, “Only four days.” I swear he shook his head in disbelief.

Then he said, “Today is your lucky day. Get this ripe-smelling rig back on the road and please drive the speed limit!”

He was right. It was our lucky day. We got on the road before any mention of the missing coolers.

Furthermore, I believe the smell in our cab stopped him from stepping any closer and prevented us from getting a healthy speeding ticket. About the coolers, that’s a mystery.

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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.

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