Thursday, May 24, 2007

Squirrel Surprise

My cousin MJ and her husband are heading to our house for a visit. They are packing up their 35-foot long luxury motor home and will soon be heading south from their home in Arizona. She has been cleaning and purging, stocking up on food and comfort items for the trip. But before they head out, I just hope her husband checks for squirrel gifts.

They know what I mean. Every RVer knows what I mean. You get a dozen RVers in a room and they will all have at least one squirrel story.

MJ’s most harrowing happened on a trip leaving Arizona and heading to their summer home nestled in a lovely hundred-acre woods in central Ohio. The RV kept speeding along until it became a battle of wills between driver and driven. The only way MJ’s husband could keep the RV from speeding out of control was to drive with his foot on the brake.

When they came to a campground, he slowed enough for MJ to jump out and warn the man in charge that they had a runaway.

“Ask him if he can let us through to a camping spot where I can stop by killing the engine,” he yelled as the RV took off.

The man nodded agreement and he and MJ hopped on his golf cart to lead the way. Her husband tromped on the brakes narrowly missing the building at the campground entrance. He fought the RV like a cow boy breaking a bronco. His behemoth shadowed the little golf cart nearly pushing it along as the man sped down the road to a camping spot.

He pointed at one “I thought I’d give him that one…” but the big RV pushed him past.

“How about this one?” He asked pointing at a spot where her husband was already maneuvering into place before killing the engine and coming to an abrupt stop. He pulled on the emergency brakes and rested his head on the steering wheel.

As soon as he could breathe normally and the campgrounds owner calmed down enough to return to his work, MJ’s husband released the hood. His head and shoulders disappeared within the engine as he tinkered and checked for the malfunction.

A group of kids gathered to ask, “What ya doin mister?” “You sure drive like a lunatic.”

He ground his teeth and kept working. The kids stood silent, watching the stranger tinker with the steaming engine. It wasn’t long before his voice rang through the campgrounds and heads nodded in understanding: “Squirrels!”

MJ’s husband held out his hands dripping with hickory nuts. Squirrels are great little saboteurs.

MJ stored hickory nuts in their garage back home until she would find time to pick the juicy meats out and make cookies and cakes. Squirrels love hickory nuts, too, and stashed a few away for their own use. All was fine until the unsuspecting travelers started back to Ohio. The nuts worked their way down into the manifold causing Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride into the campground.

"Memories! That was one of the scariest," MJ said. "I wonder why we still do it."

Her brother-in-law's squirrel encounter came to a head when he turned the key and started the engine of his motor home. The little critters had put nuts in the engine in such a way that when he started the engine, the fan propelled the nuts right through the radiator. One new radiator later and he learned to check under the hood first.

So, if you’re reading this MJ, just remind your honey to check for squirrel surprises. Can't wait for our visit and to hear of your latest adventures.

Any RVers out there want to share your squirrel stories?

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