So sit back now and read a little...  

At the end of the steep slope the trick was to maneuver a sharp turn at the bottom. First there was a
leveling off, and then about a hundred yards down was a creek that cut right across the trail.  All the
successful driver needed to do to make it, was to hang a hard right at the end which would take him
down over the frozen creek to a sandy embankment before it then cut left. The boy apparently didn’t
realize it, or because of his speed, missed the turn. He flew right off the edge of the creek, his Flexible
Flyer jamming deep into the dirt of the far creek wall and so did the kid, face first. It took hours for
help to arrive. The blood splatters froze all down the wall onto the frozen water of the creek. Bobby
was a dreamer and had always had problems paying attention. He continued to stare off into space
until Timmy reached out and shook him. “Hey. Pay attention!”

Their leader had decided the Mansion was just too far to do in a day. It was going to take an overnight
trip, not a rarity for this group. They were bound and determined this time.  Timmy had given it
plenty of thought. He pulled out a map from his fur lined tan suede jacket. Over the years he had
mapped the Woodland Forest showing every landmark and every trail. Down on their knees the boys
gazed in awe at the map. It was the first time Bobby had seen something like this. He had seen maps
before of course and had even wanted to be a cartographer once until he learned how much math was
involved, but this was their own private world laid out before them. As a car pulled up to the stop sign
and the renegades hid their map and started whistling as if they had a secret to protect. With each new
discovery, Timmy had updated his secret project. There was a circle almost dead center where he knew
to be a hill top. “Here!” Timmy said as he pointed hard to the ground, right where it said in plain
letters, Old Mansion. The plan was simple enough. Pack bags, start early and once and for all find this
place they had always only gazed at from afar.

It was decided right then who would make the trip. Timmy and his brother Albert, Ralph Collins and
his brother Kid,   Douglas and Larry Villa, Robert Burns, and Bobby Lee were all on the manifest. The
Old Mansion beckoned them. Was anyone still living there? Was it even possible?  Upon arrival what
were they going to actually find? “Ok then. Tomorrow we meet in my backyard, 8 am,” Timmy
ordered his troop. “Bring food, flashlights and Coke or water. I have two small tents. Bring blankets
too.”  Ralph spoke up right away because he knew his Mom would not let him and Kid stay overnight
in the woods. Ralph had dark brown hair, a large nose, and was somewhat geeky. Consequently, he
was the target of what seemed like harmless harassment from most of the kids, though not from Bobby
Lee who understood harassment oh so well and rarely dished it out. He got enough at home from his
drunken mother.  

Ralph, and Kid were close friends of Bobby and he frequently stayed over their place for sleepovers.
He had experienced his first shower there together with Kid who showed him the ropes. The Curtis
family home had only one bathroom with a tub and no shower. To add insult to injury, Ralph had
braces and was just a plain looking child. His brother Kid on the other hand, almost eleven years old,
was pretty for a boy. He was little heavy, curious, and had light brown hair and green eyes. Kid knew
how to be wild, courageous and funny. Ralph did not. He was always scared, doubtful and yet always
watchful over his little brother. Timmy looked at the Collins brothers, “Come with us. It will be fun
but we’ll be staying out all night. You’re on your own walking back. Cool?”  Timmy was determined,
Bobby Lee could see that. This was getting exciting, seemed very secretive, and yet was still a whole
day away. “Don’t tell anyone where we’re going,” Timmy instructed they obeyed.

I stopped my story right there. I needed to take a bathroom break from all the iced tea and wine I had
drunk at dinner, and I asked my fellow Amtrak travelers to excuse him. The steady rocking of the train,
as it roared north leaving paradise behind me, made it near impossible to hold it any longer.
Only $ 12
A great adventure story for
anyone who loves nature. It
seemed like a simplier time.