Browntown Loop
An Independence Day Tradition

By John A. Dodds

It hardly seems that long ago, but on July 4th, 2001, Russ, Gary, and I ran the first Independence Day Browntown Loop Run (IDBLR) - pronounced "I-dibbler." The three of us ran it the next year as well, but we decided to dispense with the foray into Browntown itself. Last year, Russ was left on his own to organize this event, and without me or Gary present, the number of participants skyrocketed. Which should tell you something. Some of you may be thinking that the first IDBLR was run by Michele, Joe, Gary and Chris but not so - they ran on May 26th so that doesn't count.

Gary fondling snakeSnake Charmer. The highlight of the run this year had to be when Gary caught a snake to show off to the group. Others might say the highlight was when, in a combined effort, Bob, Vicki and I locked ourselves out of Vicki's van, but that occurred before the run (more about this later). Although it might take you a while to figure this out, the snake in the photograph to the right is that black skinny thing. When Sophie came over to look at it, Gary asked her if she wanted to stroke it. She said no, and then he asked her, "Then how about the snake?"

Old Hat. Frankly, I don't see what the big deal is about Gary catching a snake. He does it all the time. Here's a photo I took of Gary in the summer of 2002 when Gary took me and my kids on a canoe ride. Gary fondling another snakeThe photograph to the left is the famous one-eyed snake I wrote about back then. So when I say "old hat" I'm not talking about Gary's hat (which admittedly has seen better days), I'm talking about him being experienced in catching snakes. And let's not forget the snake Gary caught while we were running The Ring a couple years ago soon after we came down from Kennedy Peak. I know some of you may be thinking that Kennedy Peak is not technically part of The Ring, which is true. But Gary didn't tell me that at the time when he said I just had to go to the top of Kennedy Peak (since I hadn't been there before). I was so impressed with the "tower" that I haven't been back.

Snake Slayer. I always wondered what happened to the snake that Gary caught and turned loose on our run last weekend. And I have sad news to report. It seems that it slithered its way farther south near Blackstone, VA and was raiding eggs from some family's hen house. That's when a little 7-year old girl got her daddy's .22 calibre revolver and shot it several times. This sad episode was written up in the Washington Times on July 7th. The headline reads: "Sharpshooter, 7, makes short work of 6-foot snake." When asked why she shot the snake, she said "I was mad" because the snake was stealing eggs. Her father was very proud when he said: "She got it in the head with the first shot, but she shot it a couple of more times just for practice." Cute little girl with very dead snakeI believe it was Jim Croce who said you don't want to mess around with Jim; if he were alive today, he'd also say you don't want to mess around with this little girl either.

Vicki's Van. Let me just begin this section by saying that it wasn't my fault. Vicki drove her van from Massie's Corner to the trailhead carrying Bob, Chris and me. Everybody got ready, and Vicki gave me the van key to carry, so I put it in my Camelbak. Bob and Chris walked toward the rest of the group. Vicki locked the doors, but left the back door open as I said I had to go to the bathroom. I then walked down the road into the woods; I left my Camelbak in the back of the van. When I came back, everybody was gone, and the back door was closed - and locked. Apparently, Bob had snuck back and closed the back door. I quickly ran up the trail a short ways where the group was assembled getting their final instructions from Anstr. With a borrowed water bottle and a resupply at the store in Browntown, I was able to do the run.

Getting into Vicki's van after the run took a little while; actually, it took a long while. Monika said her husband had tools to get into the van. Since cell phones didn't work from the trailhead, Monika and I drove to Massie's Corner and called her husband. He wasn't home as suspected since a neighbor was having an early afternoon July 4th buffet. So, we drove to her house and walked to the neighbor's, first grabbing a piece of carrot cake and a coke on our way. At the neighbor's, they offered food which I had to take because I didn't want to be rude. But it was light fare: salmon, chicken, squash casserole, green beans, baked beans, salad and cheesecake (with fresh berries from Monika's garden). When Monika, Pete (her husband) and I got back, Bob, Chris and Vicki (everybody else was gone) wondered what took so long. I told them that Pete couldn't find his tools. Actually, I did tell them that we grabbed a quick bite to eat; in fact, I brought back canteloupe and watermelon for them. It took a while, but Pete finally got the driver's door open - with the second tool. The first tool got stuck down in the door, and Vicki had to take the van into the shop the next day to have the entire interior door panel removed to get it out.

John Dodds -- Obviously not on the IDBLRJust before we were ready to leave the trailhead, I asked Bob: "Bob, did you or did you not close the back door of the van?" Yes, he said, but he thought somebody had forgotten to close it. I said, "I don't want to know why, I just want to know did you or did you not close the back door of the van?" He said yes. I said, "Okay, I'm just going to say that you were the one who closed the door when Vicki starts ragging on me all the way back to Arlington; you can defend yourself later on." Actually, Vicky called it a "comedy of errors" which had me wondering because you usually smile and laugh during a comedy.

As you can see, never a dull moment on a VHTRC outing. Russ, see what you missed by going to Hardrock?

See you all next year at the IDBLR?