ATVs and PTSD

Just things, Travel

Yesterday was both fun and interesting.

Wednesday night Dave and I headed out for a 4+ hour drive to Portland, OR for certification on ATVs. The government requires certification for various things to make sure you know what you are doing, do not get hurt, and equipment does not get torn up. Chain saw operation requires the training and certification or you cannot operate one – even if you were a lumberjack for 20 years. Use of ATVS is the same, and in my position I need to use ATVs and UTVs.

We stopped for wood-fired pizza at one of his favorite places in Olympia, WA on the way. Farelli’s knows how to make a mighty good pizza, and the wood-fired ovens really add something to the taste (as well as the roasted garlic cloves on the top). I always wanted to try a wood-fired pizza and I now know what I was missing. I would recommend it as a great place – from one foodie to another! We got done and headed to Portland to our hotel. Portland sure looks beautiful at night.

Thursday morning we got up, got ready, and went to the training site. It was a rainy morning, and the forecast was for this all the live long day. We had some class work to do indoors, and then it was off to do some riding!

We had a Polaris UTV (much like my trusty Mule), a Honda 400 ATV manual, and a Polaris 500 ATV with an auto (my favorite one). The three of us students took turns with all three of them, doing various maneuvers, turns, and obstacles. We went over many things about these vehicles. It was a good course and I learned some things that I did not know.

We finished up with the outdoors part and then had to take a written test. Aced it! WOOT! WOOT!

After a late lunch we left to come back home. We were fat and happy and ready to spend the 4+ hours to get back.

We get back and I was getting settled in for a relaxing evening. The cabin phone rang about 8:00, and I thought “Now who in the hell is calling me THIS late?”. It was Dave. He had just gotten home, and not two minutes went by and he had gotten a call that there was someone on the Spit at the lighthouse with a dog with some story. He calls me up and says “Hey Shawn… ready to go back to work?”. He told me what was going on, so I said “Let’s go!” and the night was suddenly not relaxing.

This guy had said he was kicked out of his house and had no place to go so he was going to camp on the Spit for now. Well, that wasn’t going to happen since it is not allowed. Fast forward a bit…

Dave showed up and we utilized our new ATV training. He got on an ATV and said to give him 20 minutes then come down after him. It was a bit weird not really knowing what was going to happen, and I was a little on edge about it. It is dark, you do not know what mental state the guy is in, if he has anything on him, etc. Dave is Law Enforcement so I trust his judgement completely and just do what he says I do so I should be fine.

I went to the lower overlook on the trail and looked out over the Spit to see if I see anything. The brake lights on the ATV light up and I did not know what was going on – perhaps he was stuck. I went and grabbed some rope just in case, hopped in the Mule, and went down the trail to the beach without any headlights on. The moon was lighting things up just enough to see and the tide was out. Plenty of beach!

I got out there, and it was this skinny kid with a dog. Turns out he was about 29 years old, had gotten kicked out of his house, and had a dog that was a Pit Bull/Boxer mix that was given to him to help him with PTSD. I asked him if he was hungry and he said he sure was. I had quickly thought to put two Snickers bars in my coat in case he needed something to eat since I knew a bit about the situation before we left, plus I thought it might help relieve any tensions if there were any. I gave him the candy and he thanked me a lot and ate one down fast. Dave asked if I would take him up to the front gate and he would follow us. I said “sure” so we got his stuff and his dog in the back and he hopped up front.

This kid was really a nice guy but down on his luck as can happen to us all from time to time. He was cold, tired of walking (it is 10 miles round trip to the lighthouse), and seemed a bit freaked out by all that had happened. He does have a job so he has that going for him. I tried to encourage him best I could.

We got to the front gate. I told him to eat that other Snickers to get some fuel for the furnace to keep him warm while he slept… wherever that would be. Dave then remembered some chips and Coke leftover from our trip so he got those and gave them to him. He was grateful and we parted ways. I hope he can get his ducks in a row and get back to a more normal life – well, at least more normal for him.

I sincerely wish you the best, Josh.

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