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I turn to my friend Brian and say “You’re up” Tossing him the gate keys, after minutes of finding which solid brass key fit perfectly in the hole we have it. The cold metal gate swings open with an eerie sound and shackles to a pole. This is the first of two checkpoints, in which very few have had the privilege of entering. Cool, fresh, wild air kindly greets our group and guides us to the assortment of locks of locks constraining the entrance of this remote getaway. “Last one” I say to my shot gun friend with his gedding smile and excitement rearing up.

I turn back to my friends Amanda, and Sarah telling them that maybe Brian our truck driving, lawn mowing, guy guy should drive there blue 4×4 explorer down this traverse as so we don’t have an problem sliding or freak outs. Putting the truck in drive the road disappears as we approach and then we find our self on a 50 degree inclined hill going straight down it. Praying to god the brakes don’t go out as for we would become very good friends with a 30’ oak tree at the bottom of the bend.

After completing our journey down the hill he hit our last and finally gate, where stands a large red Marlboro sign staring us in the face and an old sign say “beware cattle thief’s cattle are branded. ” Thinking to myself even you wanted to you couldn’t get more then one cow back up that hill. Deep in the Mark Twain National Forest in Current River we find out home away from home of this spring break. Pulling in over the hill cascades a picture from Monet with a giant lake and a porched two story house.

We pull into the house with a sigh of relief we have finally made it those boring two hours of back roads from Cape Girardeau to our destination. We all get out of our vehicles with a quick stretch and begin unpacking our inventory of essentials and fun. We walking into see two deer heads and fly rods mounted on the wall, lying on the couch, unsettled dust rises and floats to a new home. Below the mounted heads is a schmorgasbored of Marlboro pictures each of which tell a different story.

We get some of those bug infested logs and start a fire and wait for the night to die away and the day to come so we could play. The grumbling of the coffee pot wakes up the red head Amanda first and with her goofy attitude says “Let’s go fishing” Knowing she doesn’t want to do anything but lay by the river I laugh. I wake up the deep sleeper Mike and Brian telling them “Lets get to catching dinner”. After much shaking and persuading with pancakes they get up and put on their gear. We go to the shed to pull out our 10ft long stainless steel canoe and start the competition.

After loading up the steaming hot canoe with tackle boxes, paddles, and yes a small cooler. The sun beaming down on us unbearable. So I decide to shake things up with a little rocking of the canoe, which didn’t start off to funny. From the waves getting larger and larger and the laughter getting less and less the canoe capsizes and we all get a taste of the dark dirty lake and finding it was the same temperature as an ice cube. I submerge to see two very unhappy faces and two distant laughter’s from the shore.

After paddling back to shore we empty the water out of the canoe and went down to the river in search of some warmer water. Hopping back into the trucks we ride down a dirt trail across a swap infested creek and through a field of four foot tall grass only to come to another rusty old gate. After opening the creaking thing we find our self facing a 2 foot deep creek filled with dirty water and dangerous traps for our trucks to get caught in, putting it in second gear I gun it and hope for the best, as a wall of water arises we find our self on the trail to the river bank.

We bump through some more tall grass and end up coming out on our sand bar and an excitement as kid at six flags gets. We park only to get out and have our feet dip into the sand and bring back memories of Florida and vacation. Mike takes a quick sprint to the river and jumps in screaming as he hits the water with a sigh of relief from the sun and his last encounter of water still haunting him. Another amazing time that I had down in Marlboro was my first time hunt. “And where do you think you’re going, Daddy? ” I asked. “Deer hunting, would you like to go? ” he replied.

My older brother Ross was ready to go unpacking his camouflage clothes and stainless steel rifle. He usually went hunting solo but would have loved to teach me how but he was just waiting until I got old enough. I had never been hunting before. I went to a shooting range and shot at Marlboro with him several times and loved shooting guns. “I wanna go with you dad,” I responded. Instantly, my dad’s eyes lit up. Ready to teach me the ropes. “Well go get some boots on and lets get ready to go son were gonna leave first thing in the morning I’m just gonna sight in these guns”

I truly wanted to go and show him that I could do it this time. So after running inside of the house I picked out some big brown boots, a camouflage jacket and pants and hat and through it on my bed ready to get up first thing in the morning. “BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ. ” I awoke to my screaming alarm clock at 5:00 a. m. I quickly threw on my long underwear and began to suit up. The over-sized camouflage jacket added an extra ten pounds of extra weight. I walked out to the living room and helped my dad pack up the truck. I hopped in the ront seat beside my dad and picked up the guns of the picnic tables, and all the shells, and camouflage gear and we started up that white suburban and head down what we call the rain forest road. My brother said “Good luck, don’t come back until you got something to show for it, I am hungry for a big dinner tonight” “Ha ha very funny I bet you I get one twice as big as yours” I said He said deal and set off on my grandfathers four wheeler to the lower fields. As my dad turned off the engine, I took a deep breath in. We were here…in the middle of nowhere. The deafening silence was breathtaking. Everything was still.