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Gary Johnson and I were the beneficiaries of aid from a Good Samaritan on 
Wednesday afternoon. In retrospect, the situation from which he rescued us 
could have had very serious -- possibly fatal -- consequences for me.

We were at the extreme west end of the Schell Osage CA. There is a parking 
lot there, which adjoins a field on the other side of which I have sometimes 
heard Sedge Wrens at this time of year. The field was bare of vegetation 
Wednesday.  Tire tracks led along the west side of it on what appeared to be 
firm ground. There was no sign prohibiting access. We drove in along the 
tire tracks without depressing the ground significantly. We assumed that the 
rest of the field was also firm ground. Instead of backing out, we turned 
around by driving forward into the field, then turning. The maneuver worked 
fine for a while. We got completely turned around and began to head out. 
Then we got stuck.

Although we had 4-wheel drive, it is useless when all four wheels are 
spinning. We soon began to dig ourselves in. We definitely were hopelessly 
stuck.

Gary called AARP on his cell phone. AARP evidently has a motorist service. 
Whoever answered the phone said she could do nothing without the names of 
intersecting streets or a GPS coordinate. All I knew was that we had come in 
from the west on County RA (which stands for "Refuge Access."). I knew that 
Schell Osage CA is partly in Vernon County and partly in St. Clair County. I 
thought we were probably in Vernon County, but I wasn't sure. We had no idea 
how to give the AARP lady the kind of directions upon which she was 
insisting.

At this point, Gary asked me, "How far are we from the headquarters?"

"About a mile," I replied. We later learned it was about three miles. My 
cardiologist has advised that I not walk significant distances outside 
unless the temperature is above forty degrees and below eighty degrees. It 
was 2:00 p.m. and in the nineties. The road was unshaded. Nevertheless, I 
grabbed a plastic bottle with about 3 ounces of  water in it, and we started 
out.

Gary went ahead, and I followed at my usual slow pace. After he had gone 
about a quarter of a mile, I noticed a red pickup truck  coming toward us. 
Gary waved. The truck stopped and appeared to be turning around to leave. 
Gary kept waving, as did I from the greater distance. Finally, the truck 
came toward us.

The driver, dressed in dark blue overalls,  was Roy Schlud, a retired 
Claycomo auto worker, who lives in Schell City and runs 25 head of cattle on 
some acreage that he owns. He drove us to the headquarters.

We arrived at the headquarters just as a young MDC employee was also 
arriving on a tractor. I said, "Just what we need to pull us out!"

"We're no allowed to pull anyone out," the young man replied. " It's a 
safety issue. You're on your own." (For those who are familiar with the 
parable of the Good Samaritan, the AARP representative and MDC employee 
played the roles of the Priest and the Levite in this story. As to the 
safety issue, MDC has evidently determined that it is safer to let dumb 
birders like me collapse in the hot sun than it is to pull their vehicles 
out of the mud).

We considered throwing ourselves on the mercy of the refuge manager, but Roy 
said it would be futile. "He'll just give you a ticket," Roy advised. "You'd 
best come home with me, and we'll find someone to pull you out."

Roy then drove us to his home in Schell City, and his wife gave each of us 
tall glasses of ice water. I called AAA, and they put us in touch with 
wrecker in Nevada. He said he had someone else to pull out first, but he'd 
be along in about an hour.

Roy continued to offer us his hospitality.  He showed us his Blue and Gold 
Macaw and his five dogs.  He told us about his 22 cows and three bulls and 
that he was going to sell two of the bulls because the calves they sired 
were so large he needed to pay the vet to deliver them. He described the two 
ponds on his acreage, which he has stocked with fish. We also learned why he 
was at Schell Osage CA that afternoon. Some years ago, some hogs had escaped 
near the refuge and become feral. Roy was looking for signs of them. 
Apparently, it is lawful to shoot the hogs at any time of year, and folks 
like Roy have been keeping the wild population down by hunting them. 
Eventually, it got to be about 3:30 p.m.; and I had not eaten more than a 
few nuts and raisins since breakfast. Roy drove us to a place in Schell 
City, where I got a sandwich. Then he took us back to his home again.

Finally, the tow truck arrived at downtown Schell City (if it can be called 
that) and phoned. Roy drove us to meet him. He then drove us back to 
Schell-Osage CA and led the tow truck to the parking lot where are car was 
mired. The tow truck driver wisely refused to leave the parking area with 
his tow truck. Therefore, he attempted to run a cable from his truck to our 
car. The cable would not reach. Pretty soon, there was Roy, getting chains 
out of his truck. The tow truck also had chains, which were attached to the 
cable, then to the car. Finally, the tow truck pulled us out. There was no 
way we would have been extracted without a tow truck!

Thinking back on the experience, had Roy not come along and offered to help 
it could have been very serious for me. I not only have a heart condition 
but my mobility is considerably hampered by Post Polio Syndrome. I can no 
longer walk the whole bicycle loop at Weston Bend. Indeed, when I walked to 
the yellow bench (a little less than a mile) and back during morning hours 
this May, I was totally exhausted by the time I made it back to my car. And 
that was on a day when the temperature was in the seventies; the path was 
mostly shaded; I was well fed beforehand, and I had plenty of water with me. 
I shudder to think what might have happened had I tried to walk three miles 
in the sun when the temperature was in the nineties; I had only 3 ounces of 
water and I had not eaten since breakfast! Nor would Gary have been there to 
tell me to sit in the shade until he brought help. He went on ahead thinking 
he had only a mile to go. It would have been at least two hours before he 
might have returned with help. And what if the refuge manager had told him 
to get a tow truck from Nevada? The more I think about it, the more I 
shudder.

I told Roy that after he died, if St. Peter gave him any trouble, he should 
tell him what he did for us!

(BTW, if you have been thinking how dumb we are as you read the foregoing, 
please be assured that the same thought has already occurred to both of us 
many times.)

There is a saying that God is kind to drunks and little children. I can 
attest that He is also kind to some dumb birders, and He sometimes uses 
angels like Roy Schlud to do it.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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