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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Mud Bogger

This is an entry I had published in the September 1st issue of the Northern Pioneer, for my column. It focuses on my experiences at the bud bog in La Crete. Enjoy!

Well, it’s official. Mud Bogging season is well underway and I for one, has been converted.
It certainly didn’t take much for me to fall in love with mud bogging at the La Crete Mud Bog, Saturday, August 28th. What’s not to love? Mud, check. Trucks, check. ATVs, check. Sounds like a perfect afternoon, to me.
Though I’ve had my fair share of splashing through puddles and swamps in trucks and ATVs in sticks of Ontario, I had never experienced a Northern Alberta mud bog. However, what kind of reporter would I be if I simply told you what it was like to watch a mud bog? I wanted divulge myself into the thrill of mud bogging. And with the help of mud bogger Jake Wiebe, I was able to. Here I won’t tell you what it’s like to attend a mud bog, I will help you to experience what it’s like to be a competitor.
“Alright, hop in,” Jake Wiebe tells me, as he hops in the driver’s side of “Bolt,” the name of the truck, with ease. We’re third to drive through the freshly mixed up mud bog, thanks to the backhoe operator who made numerous piles of muck throughout the bog.
This task was easier said than done. The bottom of the truck nearly came to the shoulders of my five foot frame. I attempt to lift my not-so flexible leg up to my shoulders to reach the bottom of the truck. He looks at me, probably asking himself if it’s too late to go back on his promise to take me through the bog. I look around at other mud boggers in the pit laughing at me, and I can’t help but laugh along with them.
Jake Wiebe jumps out and proceeds to help me in. He makes a step with his hands together and the first thing I think is, “oh no, his hands are going to get dirty when I stand on it.” Then I realize how ironically silly this worry is.
I step into his hands, and prepare to pull myself up. Well, that wasn’t necessary. As soon as my foot was in Jake Wiebe’s hands, I was flying up into my seat. His being able to lift me into my seat by my foot definitely put me to shame.
So we’re in, buckled and have the helmets on. I think I checked my seatbelt and helmet eight times, before asking Wiebe, “is this okay?” He laughed and said yes, as we drove up to the start line. We were next.
I had a million questions going through my head and I realized I was kind of nervous. I wanted to ask Wiebe what I should do if we flipped, (though he promised me already he wouldn’t). I eyed the window opener in case we flipped and I needed to escape fast.
I think Wiebe sensed my anxiety. He looked over at me, and even though his mouth was covered, I could tell by his eyes that he was smiling. Not necessarily in a ‘this is going to be fun’ smile, but in a ‘I’ve got 5 bucks that you’re going to pee your pants’ smile.
He warned me to hold on, and the next thing I knew the engine was growling and even with my seatbelt on, my butt was no longer on the seat.
The front of the truck went down and I could feel the umpgh when the wheels hit the water and muck, squealing in protest. My heart beat fast and I let out a loud, high pitched, teenage-girl-giggle, which never quit we had reached the other side.
Without missing a beat or losing control of the Bolt, Wiebe looked over at me, giggling and bouncing in my seat like a child, and laughed along with me, though in a much more mature fashion.
On the next hard heart beat, the front of the truck was now pulled upward. I could no longer see out any of the windows. I could feel splashing on my feet and looked down to see a small puddle of mud forming on the floor. I’m not sure how the muck was coming in, nor did I care. For once, my short height was paying me a favour; my short legs were not long enough to comfortably reach the ground and were safe from most of the splashing.
My legs dangled and whipped around like fallen leaves on a windy day, this way and that. My mouth likely gained two inches in size, from smiling so wide the whole time.
I couldn’t hear a thing except for the truck’s loud engine, water and muck splashing, and myself giggling. For those 13.10 seconds, I even forgot that we were in front of an audience.
I’m not sure how Jake Wiebe got us to the other side safely. I couldn’t see a thing. Though feeling somewhat vulnerable and not knowing what to expect, the excitement and thrill was enough to make me crave more.
We got to the other side and jumped out so the next driver could use the truck. Jake Wiebe hopped out before I did (of course), laughing, and the organizers on the other side of the bog looked over at the two of us in confusion.
“I took the reporter through,” he laughed to them. “She never stopped giggling the entire time.”
The total experience of getting in Bolt, going through the bog, washing off the truck, and getting out, was less than a minute. But a minute was enough to make love it!

(September 1st issue of the Northern Pioneer, Column: Insider Reflections, Ashley Foley)

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