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Stepping Out

"My group of wannabe orienteers wasn't moving, or even starting to. Meanwhile, I watched my wife, Jeanette, march her group to one checkpoint and begin on another. We hadn't even decided where to start. I didnt want to be pushy. Choose one, any one, darn it! I said sweetly. This bearing is supposed to start at the wooden spool, one person replied. Thats true, I said, but which wooden spool? There were three. Choose one, any one, darn it! he yelled. Gee, he certainly was perturbed easily - a process of elimination would be simple. After studying the chart carefully, I pointed. Its that one. How do you know? asked Mr. Edgy. Because our checkpoint is fifty meters in that direction, and fifty meters from the others lands us in the creek. I paced out the 50 meters. Evidently, my stride had shortened, so I took 10 more paces. I looked back towards the others, who were enthusiastically doing the wave. They threw their hands in the air and leaned to the left, repeatedly. They seemed to be having a lot of fun, shouting and carrying on. Growing annoyed - Jeanette's crew wouldnt be wasting precious time - I started walking back. To the left, to the left! they cried. Oh!Next checkpoint. I looked up a steep bank into the bushes, and spotted an orange flag. No compass necessary! I charged up the bank while the others stared at the map. It's a good thing I wasn't waiting for them. As I closed in on the flag - wait! Where did it go? The leaves on the trees were a little orange Time for the compass, I thought. After 10 minutes of stumbling around, I found the flag, hidden behind a stump. A member of another team saw me bending over, and walked up to where I was standing. Was he a member of Jeanette's team? Why that dirty, cheatin' ...OK, so now it was a race. I didn't wait for my team; they were sauntering along the path, lollygagging and having a good ol' time. I quickstepped to the next two checkpoints, and had the punches done before they even got near the sites. Don't worry, I already got that one, I said, intercepting them. Oh, great!There was one more checkpoint, near a road that sat atop a steep bank. The starting point was below, at the corner of one of the picnic area buildings. We were on the road now, and I hoped to take a back bearing to the building and avoid climbing the slope. Within 10 meters of the road, the map said. I started looking 10 meters beyond the road. Time was ticking. You started at the wrong building, Mr. Edgy said. I walked until I was in line with the other building. Still, no flag. Wait - it could be on either side of the road! I broke into a trot. Soon, I was at the flag, but a member from Jeanette's team was in my way. I had to wait for him to punch first. I plunged down the bank, only falling twice. I managed to tie Jeanette's team member back to the building, but the rest of my group was still above. Jeanette was talking to her teammates. My daughter, Karen, is into orienteering, she said. Karen is real competitive. One of the ladies was quick to reply. I can't imagine wear she got that from, she said, turning to me in disgust. Your wife had us marching!Yeah, she gets like that, I said."

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