An Independence Day Tradition
By John A. Dodds
It hardly seems that long ago, but on July 4th, 2001, Russ, Gary, and I ran the
first Independence Day Browntown Loop Run (IDBLR) - pronounced "I-dibbler." The three of
us ran it the next year as
well, but we decided to dispense with the foray into Browntown itself. Last year, Russ was left
on his own to organize this event, and without me or Gary present, the number of participants
skyrocketed. Which should tell you something. Some of you may be thinking that the first
IDBLR was run by Michele, Joe, Gary and Chris but not so - they ran on May
26th so that doesn't count.
Snake Charmer. The highlight of the
run this year had to be when Gary caught a snake to show off to the group. Others might say the
highlight was when, in a combined effort, Bob, Vicki and I locked
ourselves out of Vicki's van, but that occurred before the run (more about this later). Although it
might take you a while to figure this out, the snake in the photograph to the right is that black
thing. When Sophie came over to look at it, Gary asked her if she wanted to stroke it. She said
no, and then he asked her, "Then how about the snake?"
Old Hat. Frankly, I don't see what the
big deal is about Gary catching a snake. He does it all the time. Here's a photo I took of Gary in
the summer of 2002 when Gary took me and my kids on a canoe
ride. The photograph to the left is the famous one-eyed snake I wrote about back then. So when
I say "old hat" I'm not talking about Gary's hat (which admittedly has seen better days), I'm
about him being experienced in catching snakes. And let's not forget the snake Gary caught while
we were running The Ring a couple years ago soon after we came down from Kennedy Peak. I
some of you may be thinking that Kennedy Peak is not technically part of The Ring, which is true.
But Gary didn't tell me that at the time when he said I just had to go to the top of Kennedy Peak
I hadn't been there before). I was so impressed with the "tower" that I haven't been back.
Snake Slayer. I always wondered what
happened to the snake that Gary caught and turned loose on our run last weekend. And I have
sad news to report. It seems that it slithered its way farther south
near Blackstone, VA and was raiding eggs from some family's hen house. That's when a little
7-year old girl got her daddy's .22 calibre revolver and shot it several times. This sad episode was
up in the Washington Times on July 7th. The headline reads: "Sharpshooter, 7,
makes short work of 6-foot snake." When asked why she shot the snake, she said "I was mad"
because the snake was
stealing eggs. Her father was very proud when he said: "She got it in the head with the first shot,
but she shot it a couple of more times just for practice." I believe it was Jim Croce who said you
want to mess around with Jim; if he were alive today, he'd also say you don't want to mess around
with this little girl either.
Vicki's Van. Let me just begin this
section by saying that it wasn't my fault. Vicki drove her van from Massie's Corner to the
trailhead carrying Bob, Chris and me. Everybody got ready, and Vicki
gave me the van key to carry, so I put it in my Camelbak. Bob and Chris walked toward the rest
of the group. Vicki locked the doors, but left the back door open as I said I had to go to the
I then walked down the road into the woods; I left my Camelbak in the back of the van. When I
came back, everybody was gone, and the back door was closed - and locked. Apparently, Bob
back and closed the back door. I quickly ran up the trail a short ways where the group was
assembled getting their final instructions from Anstr. With a borrowed water bottle and a
resupply at the store
in Browntown, I was able to do the run.
Getting into Vicki's van after the run took a little while; actually, it took a long while. Monika
said her husband had tools to get into the van. Since cell phones didn't work from the trailhead,
and I drove to Massie's Corner and called her husband. He wasn't home as suspected since a
neighbor was having an early afternoon July 4th buffet. So, we drove to her
house and walked to the
neighbor's, first grabbing a piece of carrot cake and a coke on our way. At the neighbor's, they
offered food which I had to take because I didn't want to be rude. But it was light fare: salmon,
squash casserole, green beans, baked beans, salad and cheesecake (with fresh berries from
Monika's garden). When Monika, Pete (her husband) and I got back, Bob, Chris and Vicki
(everybody else was
gone) wondered what took so long. I told them that Pete couldn't find his tools. Actually, I did
tell them that we grabbed a quick bite to eat; in fact, I brought back canteloupe and watermelon
It took a while, but Pete finally got the driver's door open - with the second tool. The first tool
got stuck down in the door, and Vicki had to take the van into the shop the next day to have the
interior door panel removed to get it out.
Just before we were ready to leave the trailhead, I asked Bob: "Bob, did you or did you not
close the back door of the van?" Yes, he said, but he thought somebody had forgotten to close it.
I said, "I
don't want to know why, I just want to know did you or did you not close the back door of the
van?" He said yes. I said, "Okay, I'm just going to say that you were the one who closed the
Vicki starts ragging on me all the way back to Arlington; you can defend yourself later on."
Actually, Vicky called it a "comedy of errors" which had me wondering because you usually smile
during a comedy.
As you can see, never a dull moment on a VHTRC outing. Russ, see what you missed by
going to Hardrock?
See you all next year at the IDBLR?