After a breathtaking day of sailing for speed in brisk winds, the skies darkened with clouds and we wound up sailing for serenity on calm seas. As the wind picked up slowly the conversation picked up quickly.
Bobby Joe and Nan Nay operate a cattle farm in Panguith, 8,000 feet high in the mountains of Utah. “We have 25 cows,” Joe explained. “They’re not for milking but for beef. It’s a rare French breed. We slaughter and package and wrap it ourselves for sale to the public. Some people drive 500 miles.”
Steven sailed before on his sister’s Beneteau and his father’s boat, but he yielded the helm to Joe, who had never sailed before. In calm winds rising to 5 and 7 mph, he did fine.
The Nays were on the fourth leg of a four-week vacation that sent them as far west as San Diego and east to Williamsburg. Nan plans the trips but sometimes they’re spontaneous. Joe said, “We’ve been known to get to the end of the driveway and turn right or left and keep on going. That’s why my license plat reads WER2NOW.”
By November it’s already snowed where they live. “We’ve had our first equalizer freeze,” Joe said. “It’s called that because crops grow at different rates at different times of the year, but the first fall freeze kills everything and makes it equal for everyone to start over.”
As luck would have it, the other couple on board were big beef eaters. We spent a few minutes trashing vegans as spoiled brats.
Beth and Steven Smith were from York, Pennsylvania, where she’s a massage therapist at a hospital and he’s a gun manufacturer’s rep. She was an FAA controller in the tower for ten years. “You’d think that would be stressful, and it was. Being a massage therapist should be stress-free, but it isn’t. The health care system in America is terrible to navigate.”
Getting a gun
Beth is thinking about getting a gun, since Steven spends a lot of time on the road in North Carolina. “Where we live in Pennsylvania, people come right in your house. I turned around one day in my kitchen and there was a guy stealing my purse off the kitchen table. I chased him but he got away. I was wearing flip flops.”
Steven said, “You have to leave your garage door down and locked. If you leave it open they’ll go right in and steal what they can off the garage floor. It’s for money for drugs.”
Since Joe is in the meat business, he also dresses and skins deer for visiting hunters. “One season we had so many carcasses left over that we started charging $5 to skin them and give the skin to the hunters. It got so they would bet on how fast my brother and I could do it. They would bet $20 or $30 that we couldn’t do it in five minutes. It takes us 20 seconds. There are certain points where you cut the carcass and the skin comes right off. Heck, it was worth it to them to pay $30 just to see it done so fast.” Steven said his father used to do that—by attaching the carcass to a car bumper and driving away.
Let’s go sail
As we cruised past an osprey nest with the parents still there after their fledgling flew away, I was explaining to Ed Hollin and the others about how they migrate to South America. That reminded Ed of his home state of Indiana.
“I have a buddy who hunts with ospreys. They go out in the field and find squirrels and rabbits. His osprey is trained to fly out there and attack the prey quickly. If he can, the osprey will often bring it back. My buddy cuts off a piece and feeds it to the bird as a reward.”
Does he train the osprey to do that? “Oh no. He buys the bird from a trainer.”
How does he get the osprey? “He sneaks up on the nest and takes it once it’s born.”
That’s kidnapping! “Happens all the time,” Ed shrugged. “We gotta hunt.”
Let’s Go Sail
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On a beautiful, breezy afternoon we took two couples sailing on the York River. Bethany and Daniel Prazuch of Wisconsin were on their honeymoon, while Eric and Trina Smith of Oklahoma were on their second marriage. Eric and Trina have done a lot of domestic traveling. On this trip they went to Nashville and Washington before Williamsburg.
Eric said, “The tour guide in Washington said that the Smithsonian is so big that if you spent only a minute each on all the items in the collection it would take 250 years to see it all. “I asked if they ever encountered a bad trip.
“Well, there was Vegas and the Mercedes,” Eric said cautiously and Trina picked up the story. “I had a wreck there. I was turning off the highway and accidentally hit a Mercedes. It was banged up, and it took the fender off my front wheel. No one was hurt and we exchanged insurance information. The fellow’s name looked familiar and he was drop dead gorgeous. He couldn’t have been nicer about the whole thing. ‘It happens all the time at this section,’ he said.
Who was he?
“But I couldn’t place his face. Later Eric and I went shopping at the mall and I had him take a picture of me in front of Prada, with a giant poster of the man I had just hit. It was Jason Craig of ‘NCIS Los Angeles.’” Now I was embarrassed that I didn’t know that at the time.”
I cheered her up by saying, “I once had someone in the supermarket stop me and say, ‘Didn’t you used to be somebody?”
Back to Vegas, “My poor little Jeep was only two weeks old.” Eric said, “I went to Home Depot for white duct tape and plastic ties to do what I could to put the fender back on. It wound up with one headlight drooping like an eye out of its socket.”
Eric encouraged the Prazuchs to tour the historic plantations along Route 5, between Williamsburg and Richmond. I explained that the James River and York River were the routes of war during the American Revolution, so the front door faced the river instead of the road.
“Thomas Jefferson came to Berkeley Plantation by road on a carriage. They told us he came for the weekend but wound up staying for two weeks because of bad weather. He had them redecorate the parlor and another room for him. Can you believe that?”
“They told us that General Benedict Arnold burned all the houses up and down the James River on his raids to Richmond. But he spared Berkeley because he had his eye on staying there after the war. He burned all the furniture in the house except one bed, presumably for him some day.”
We got to talking about hunting, and it turned out Trina is an accomplished archer. “She won third in the state,” Eric bragged.
Under questioning, she said, “I’m good with the long bow to 25 yards and 20 with a traditional bow. I grew up hunting. I’ve been in tournaments covering four states. One time the completion got down to me and three guys, and they couldn’t have that. So a women’s division was formed. Today it’s like a family with wives and children joining in on the road trip. I was sitting with my girlfriend after a shoot when my son saw a mole pop up out of the ground and said ‘I bet you can’t hit that.” It popped up again and I got him.
It was fascinating to listen to them, but also their deep drawl in contrast to the broad accent of the newlyweds. “Yeah,” Eric said, “Sometimes people come up to me and ask, ‘You from Texas?’ ‘Why?’ I say. ‘Do I look like an asshole?” You could hear the laughter ripple across the water.