Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


IS THIS karma or what?? Just when the Boy Scouts of America are entangled, honorably I’m sure, in alternative facts, I go and uncover a Boy Scout of America neckerchief slide while I was looking for something else entirely.

This scout paraphernalia was a gift to Wife Dottie and me in celebration of our being rescued near the Butterfield Stage Station in California’s Anza-Borrego Desert back in the late 1980s.

Oh, I should mention that what needed rescuing at the time was our rented Ferrari.

This adventure appeared in a Road & Track Specials publication not to be found in my bound-volume collection. With no original source, I must wing it here on a few details, whereas others are as clear as though the trip happened last week.

An agency in Hollywood specialized in renting exoticars. We signed up and drove south in a bright red Ferrari, our destination being the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Ferrari 308. Image from

The Ferrari could have been a 308, Maranello’s mid-engine V-8 of the era. In any case, and because this was only a weekend rental, we traveled light.

The 150-mile trip down to Anza-Borrego was uneventful. On the other hand, once there we discovered that a Ferrari isn’t the most practical car for desert exploration.

A sign for the Butterfield Stage Station pointing down a graded trail was too tempting to ignore. The side road was sandy, smooth and a bit twisty.

Butterfield Stage Station, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

What a great photo op for the Ferrari!

Um, no. After the first hundred yards or so, the Ferrari high-centered itself in the sand. I got out and Wife Dottie coaxed the car gently off the rise.

Unfortunately, though, the high-centering had dislodged a corner of the mid-engine’s mesh cover. This looked like a perforated cookie sheet, employed, I conjecture, to prevent tools from falling through to the garage floor or muskrats from crawling up into a warm place to sleep.

Once the mesh cooled down (a relative term, what with Anza-Borrego being a desert and all), I crawled under the rear of the Ferrari and inspected matters. The mesh could be nudged back into place. In fact, it had already been secured with a short piece of wire, evidently in a previous roadside fix.

“Have you got a coat hanger?” I asked Wife Dottie. Recalling how frugally she had packed for the weekend, she gave me that look.

I needed a way to twist that short piece of wire. It was hot. The Ferrari was dripping sand into my eyes. Then, like in one of those desert flicks, over the sand dune came our rescuer.

“Can I help you?” he said cheerfully and, I’m sure, courteously and loyally. (He was decked out in full Boy Scout garb.) “The boys and I are camping just over that hill.”

“I need a pair of pliers,” I said, “to twist this wire.”

“Use this,” he said, and pulled off the official Wolf slide holding his kerchief in place. “Grasp the wire tips with it, and use it to increase your leverage,” our hero said.

Sure enough, it worked.

We told him of our adventure and offered him a donation for the troop. He said, “No, you keep the slide. And I’ll have a great story to tell the boys.”

With that, and a Boy Scout salute, he strode off over the sand.

This Culp Valley Trail reminds me of our locale.

That’s my Boy Scout of America story. Wife Dottie confirms it. And we still have the official Wolf slide. Thanks, BSA. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2017


  1. Michael Rubin
    August 5, 2017

    A few years ago we rented a Jeep station wagon to drive around the back side of Maui from Hana, at the time full of pothole chicanes, the frequent large rock, and little pavement. Others took their regular rental cars, though specifically forbidden on all the contracts, and I wanted to be cautious and enjoy the scenery. One of the well known stops is an old church on a small peninsula in the middle of nothing else. The ruts were so deep on the track down to the church from the road, plus rocks, we decided to walk the couple of hundred yards. When we strolled around a bend we found a bright yellow Dodge Viper parked in front of the small church. Never figured out how they got there, or back out. We shook our heads all the way back to the condo.

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