I’m assuming that most of you remember the movie “Deliverance”. You know, the one starring Burt Reynolds on a wild river run through the Georgia Mountains with three of his friends. My wife Sharon and myself had our own “Deliverance II” experience here in southern Ohio a couple of years ago, although it was thankfully free of crossbows, Bowie knives, and “purdy mouth” comments.
We had eaten an early dinner at a the Velvet Ice Cream visitor center in Utica, OH, and decided to skip around on some dirt roads while heading home on my Honda Transalp. It was an absolutely beautiful fall day, with cloudless blue skies and temperatures in the mid-sixties. We passed an abandoned house at the side of the road with a brilliant yellow maple tree in the yard, and decided to stop for a short break. The property was free of “No Trespassing” signs, and there were no other houses in sight so we thought we were safe.
Although the house was obviously abandoned, the lawn had been mowed, which I noted and commented to Sharon about. We parked the bike in the drive, wandered the property, peered through the windows at a piano which had nearly completed its goal of dragging the floor into the basement, and took a couple of pictures. We were preparing to don our jackets and head out when a four-wheeler pulled into the driveway, piloted by a camo-clad rider with a serious looking pistol in his shoulder holster.
The rider fixed a hard stare squarely on me as he rolled to a stop. It was an awkward moment as I struggled to find appropriate words. I finally chose “Is this the family farm?” to break the ice. The ice was not to be broken, however, and his cold reply was a barely controlled “yes.” He was so mad he was shaking. Or perhaps it was me who was shaking; in any case he was a bit blurry. Sharon then tried to ply him with her considerable female charms. I sensed that he was quickly losing his tenuous grasp on self-control, and silenced her with a “No” movement of my head. He glared at me and spat out the words “Leave….NOW!”
Thankfully, he then fired up his four-wheeler and departed for the “back forty” portion of his property to search for other trespassers, or perhaps to check on his secret cash crop nestled in a clearing somewhere. Fighting the urge to stop at the nearest store and purchase him some “NO TRESPASSING” signs, we headed home with the “perfect autumn day” spell broken and our nerves a bit rattled.
The moral of the story is this: when in rural areas, the scenery is best enjoyed from a road. Although stepping onto non-posted property is technically legal according to a friend of mine who works in law enforcement, it’s best not to push your luck in areas where most security systems are made by Smith and Wesson. Stare into the eyes of an armed, angry property owner once and you’ll understand exactly what I mean. Chalk up one lesson learned the hard way.