Potato Guns, Whiskey, and Regret – Camping In My Hometown

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The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

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I love to go camping. When I was young my parents used to take us to a 2 week long family reunion up in the mountain forest a couple of hours from my house. We’d spend the week playing in rivers and lakes, rafting, and cooking amazing food over an open fire pit.

Other times my Dad would just get a wild hair up his backside and decide that it seemed like a good weekend to take the camp trailer up into the woods and explore for a while. He’d call up several other families, and in a matter of minutes we’d be in our Chevy Blazer on the way to the market for ice, beer and hot dogs — an entire caravan of jacked up vehicles towing camp trailers behind us.

As an adult, I don’t get to camp as often as I do. We don’t have a camp trailer, and my wife isn’t fond of tent camping, so we just haven’t found a way to make it all click.

However on rare occasions, I travel back to my hometown and camp with old high school buddies. It’s usually two or three nights packed with games of horseshoe, music, and FAR TOO MUCH drinking.

One such trip resulted in a story that I will never forget…

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While I’ve long since traded in my redneck days in exchange for climate controlled corporate America, I still get super-excited by redneck “things,” and my buddies back home have no shortage of such things.

On this occasion a good friend of mine brought his potato gun up into the mountains for a weekend of camping. I had no real clue what a potato gun was when he started talking to us about it, but my other friends who still live near him acted as though he might have just as easily been talking about a pair of shoes or a baseball.

I felt quite silly for having never heard of such a thing that seemed so blatantly common to all of them. Especially when I saw the giant sack of potatoes.

So let me explain what a potato gun is for those of you unaware like I was. A potato gun is a long piece of white plastic PVC piping. At one end is a chamber made of a slightly wider piece of piping that is capped. It almost looks like a small leaf blower of sorts. A potato is crammed down into the open end of the pipe, and the chamber is then filled with propane. A spark igniter on the top of the chamber is pressed, which ignites the fuel and sends the potato flying.

How far does the potato fly you ask? Well I’ve since seen smaller versions that will send a spud about 100 yards. This one I was introduced to first turned out to be a monster, but I had no frame of reference to know this. It could shoot a potato clear over a neighboring hill, at least a quarter of a mile away. I’m terrible with judging distance, so that could be far too short or far too long of an estimate. The point was that he could fire a potato so far that I really couldn’t see it any longer.

So we shot through the entire bag, giggling like adolescent school children the entire time, and when the bag was empty he returned the potato gun to the bed of his pickup.

That night after an incredible amount of beer and whiskey had been consumed, this friend decided it would be a fantastic idea to get the potato gun back out of his pickup and grab the “backup bag” of potatoes he had brought with him.

At first he was firing them off into the distance much as he had done during the day. However somewhere along the way, the Jack Daniels and Coors Light got the best of him, and he began firing spuds AT HIS CAMP TRAILER.

It was quite dark, so all we would hear was a squishy-wet “thunk” as the potatoes hit the trailer. Occasionally we’d hear something inside the trailer clang against the floor, and we assumed it was from the forceful impact of Idaho’s finest ramming into his camper’s exterior.

Come morning we began to stir, heads aching, and eyes blurry. I remember lying in my sleeping bag, wondering why I ever even drink at all, staring up at the blue sky of the morning through the top mesh of my tent, when suddenly I heard, “WHAT IN THE HELL?!?!? WHAT IN THE F*CK HAPPENED?!?!? WHO SHOT UP MY TRAILER?!?!?”

It was the potato gun friend. We quickly came to learn that he was so incredibly inebriated that he didn’t even remember firing the potato gun. We also learned just as quickly that the spuds weren’t simply splattering against the side of his camper. The gun was powerful enough that it was shooting them THROUGH his camper. Large, potato-sized holes filled one side, each with their own slightly smaller sister hole on the opposite side of the trailer, making the entire camper look like a piece of redneck swiss cheese.

Not all of the potatoes had made it through though. Some hit and dented the stove in the camper, some shattered windows on the opposite side, some ricocheted off random pots and pans. The inside of the camper was covered in potato guts, and smelled like a food truck.

After he calmed down and we had explained what had happened, he laughed the whole thing off and said he had planned to get rid of the camper anyway, so he wasn’t too bummed by it. We stayed another two nights up in the hills on that trip, and he slept in his newly-air-conditioned trailer all 3 nights.

We made the best out of the situation by salvaging as many potatoes as we could, washing them, and making hash browns out of them for breakfast that morning.

The Morale of the Story?

“When life hands you potatoes, you shoot them through your camp trailer in a drunken haze, wake up in the morning, and make hash browns.”

Look for that on t-shirts and bumper stickers very soon!

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Like what you read in the Thursday Think Tanks? Have you built your own potato gun? Got a crazy redneck story you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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