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DAVIS: The return of the ‘Accidental Tourist’

June 24, 2011

History has proven that any member of the Davis clan who goes on vacation is destined to become involved in a mishap of one sort or another.
The curse is well known and can be documented well into previous decades. Regular readers of this column may remember the “Big Bird” incident.
I had the good fortune of traveling to Costa Rica for a five-day fishing trip with my employer at the time. It was an all-expense paid trip to a fishing lodge in the jungle. At least that is how it was advertised. Turns out the lodge was a collection of grass huts on poles set high enough so that the river along which they were built would not wash them away in a flood.
The stomach bug I contracted was killed with a drop from a small glass vial — a concoction of which those within the boundaries of the good old USA cannot purchase.
Despite the jungle-hopper plane carrying my luggage to the “lodge” crashing upon takeoff and bursting into flames while taking my one source of clothing with it, the trip was a blast! Upon arriving at the airport in Little Rock on the return trip home, I ran along the sidewalk outside the baggage claim area, waving at my wife in the bright yellow rain-suit with hood given to me by the lodge owner. I don’t recall seeing the bench I fell over while in mid-wave, but I am sure nonetheless that the security cameras still have this clip on file.
We have found that traveling in a Davis pack seems to lessen the chances for accidents to occur. This past month, four confirmed Davises and one future daughter-in-law set out to brave a 2,500-mile round trip vacation to Ohio. Along the way, we knew we would experience big-city traffic, ride roller-coasters, travel across Lake Erie on a ferry and eat items of food not normally present in our daily diet here in Arkansas.
The odds of something bad happening were high, but we crossed our fingers and headed out.
The trip to our final destination went without a hitch. Hotels were great. Reservations were perfect. Traffic not nearly as bad as expected. Perhaps this was the trip that finally broke the curse.
We drove our car onto the ferry and rode across the water to South Bass Island to the town of Put-in-Bay, Ohio. This very small town on a not-much-larger island is the childhood home of my mother-in-law, Marge Johoske. The island is about one mile wide at its widest and three miles long. You don’t drive your car around the island. You rent golf carts instead. We have visited the island many times and have driven those carts to almost every corner possible without running into the water.
Seeing that the vacation had gone accident free thus far, we decided to tempt fate and rent four mopeds rather than our customary golf cart excursion. We did rent one golf cart for my youngest son, Paul, who has not reached the age required to ride the mini-motorcycles.
The booth attendant at the rental place was a young college student from Russia. Her accent was somewhat thick, but we got the basics of how to start the engine and, most importantly, how to stop it. As it turns out, I must have walked away with my “No. 6” and didn’t get the last little piece of information. This would become my undoing.
We all did as told and walked our machines down to the street instead of firing them up in the attendant’s lot. This should have been our first clue of things to come. So there we stood, next to our mopeds on the street that ran along a row of tourist shops and bars. Using the superior leverage of my long legs, I was first to ignite the beast while the others struggled. I seized the moment, flung my leg over the seat and headed down the street at full throttle. As I passed my family, I turned and grinned one of those “eating” grins while the noxious fumes of my exhaust covered them like a fog.
Secure in my ability, I continued my full-throttle scream into the tourist section of town as the only one on the road. I was king of the highway.
Then I felt a bump against my right ankle. I looked down at the pedal and saw the motor cover on that side had come off and was now flapping in the considerable breeze being created by the screaming power of my No. 6 moped. Still flying down the street, I attempted to kick the plate back into place without success. I glanced up in semi-panic as I approached the small white picket fence surrounding an open-air chicken eatery.
Fortunately, there were no customers at the tables as my machine crashed broadside into the pickets, sending the top pointed apex of one board flying to the ground. With my leg pinned between the left foot pedal and the fence, I searched for onlookers. Only the cooks at the chicken grill were seen. “My bad! I’m OK!” I exclaimed and headed down the side road my now hobbled moped was facing. I still have the bruise on my leg and also upon my pride.
I would like to report that this was an isolated incident but, sadly, it was not. We won’t get into the speeding ticket and booking the wrong night at a hotel in Van Wert, Ohio, that had eight utility workers standing outside drinking beer from six-packs being carried around by toddlers. But all-in-all, it was a typical Davis vacation and the return of the Accidental Tourist.

The Saline Courier Editor-in-chief Brent Davis is a lifelong resident of Benton and Saline County. The Courier has been part of his life for as long as he can remember. He is a graduate of Benton High School. His Sunday column appears at least twice a week: on Fridays and Sundays on the Opinion Page and on www.bentoncourier.com.

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