His two friends eyed him with nervous eyes. He eased the old cream-colored Plymouth Valiant forward. And through the gate they went where the county road ended.
"You sure we should do this?" one of his friends queried.
"We won't know until we do". He pressed the gas petal and they moved through the gate and up the logging road past the big sign. This sign proclaimed in large black and yellow letters an ominous message. "Only 4 wheel drive vehicles beyond this point".
For the next two miles they went up the logging road that narrowed and widened in accord with no mapped pattern. At times one of his friends would have to get down and guide him through ruts in the road. Some of these mini-grand-canyon slices in the road would have spelled death to the Valiant.
Gradually the road widened to a track with a wall of rock and gravel on the right and a one hundred foot drop on the left. The view from this bit of road was fantastic. Up and Up they went and his friends seemed to calm down a bit.
They rounded the next turn and before them a Jeep came to a stop, the occupants clearly surprised. He stopped the Valiant and looked back behind. It was to dangerous to undertake backing up. On the incline above, the driver of the jeep looked down at them with disbelief on his face.
Then his expression changed and he got down from the jeep and came forward. His gate was slightly unbalance from the large Gallo jug in his hand. He held up his hand with a clear sign for those in the Valiant to stay where they were. He took a long swig from the jug and got back into the jeep. His companion began laugh and pound the dashboard.
He saw the fear in the faces of his two friends and he looked on with wonder. It was clear that there was no way back and that the driver of the jeep was not going to back up.
The driver of the jeep gunned his vehicle and he was off! Charging down the logging road, increasing his speed. He looked at the driver of the jeep that swayed in his seat to the Gallo-jug waltz. The other passenger keeping up a rhythmed beat on the dashboard. The jeep came closer and closer and he could hear the blaring of the music Sweet home Alabama....
His two friends made themselves small in their seats with their eyes closed in fear. He looked at the oncoming jeep with fascination and one phrase flowed through his mind: "This might be it!".
He toyed with the words that would become part of him time and time again in the future. On a zip line in Costa Rica; on dark and lonely streets in Sevilla and Madrid; near collisions on highway 101; a battle with cancer. These words would flow through his consciousness, reminding him. Reminding him that he had no more fear of death than the dreamless sleep that came upon him each night. Due to his upbringing this is how he saw death - a sleep with the opportunity of awakening.
This view might not have been the best to have as a 17 year old. It made it easy to take risks but also added to the adventure of life. These thoughts raced through him as he watched the oncoming Jeep.
Just as the Jeep was about to impact, the driver threw the steering wheel hard to the left and the jeep began to climb. Up on to the hill facing with a shower of gravel that rained down on the Valiant. The driver pushed the Jeep into low gear. He watch as the Jeep passed to the left side and his heart beat with excitement. The Jeep was on the rock face at such an angle that the American Eagle painted on the roof came into view and raced by.
The Jeep began to slide down off the face toward the Valiant. The driver shifted again and the tires bit into the face and speed increased. The Jeep clutched the hillside. Then at the last second the driver threw the steering wheel to the right. The Jeep sped down the hill to the logging road behind the Valiant. Barely missing the back bumper, the Jeep came to a skidding halt behind his car.
The driver of the Jeep got down, nearly falling in the process. He raised his jug in a salute. He took a swig, got back up in the Jeep and he and his companion whipped down the track in spray of dust, rock music and laughter.
All was quiet.
His two friends, little by little opened their eyes.
"What happened!?! - where did the Jeep go?"
He smiled and looked at them.
"It was something! As it happened, the only thing I could think was: This might be it!"