On Tuesday and Wednesday, Collin and Ryan continued to practice their driving skills with more and more complex driving courses they designed using all the traffic cones and flags.
Wednesday evening, though, proved to be the most fun as Conner and Brittany, two of the lads' classmates, stopped by to see how the boys practiced driving. Of course, the conversations centered how Collin and Ryan had been practicing their driving and that eventually led to the boys setting up some of the original courses for their friends. This proved to be a very funny undertaking, as their friends tried their best to navigate the cones and flags driving backwards.
Brittany decided to go first and her dad got out of the car in order to watch. Just as Collin and Ryan both did their first time through the course, Brittany, too, over steered and hit the flags and cones. When she tried it again, she got a bit further but still she couldn't get all the way through. Feeling very frustrated and not enjoying being laughed at by the boys, she challenged Conner to try. Conner's mom handed him the car keys and told him to 'have fun' and then she stepped back. Conner didn't fare any better than Brittany did but he continued to try again and again. In the meantime, Brittany had gotten out her phone and made a few calls and before long Daniel, Damon and Abbey were all there watching.
"Hey there, Conner," yelled Damon as Conner drove up to meet all the teens, "I see you're having a hard time there, driving. At that rate, you'll be a senior before you get your license." All the kids laughed at what was said but before Damon could say anything else Conner said, "If you're so good, let's see YOU do IT!"
The gauntlet had been thrown and Damon, knowing he had to do it or be teased long and hard, got into his dad's car and drove it to the top of the slalom course. The kids and adults all stared at the boy as he slowly began backing up and made it through the first pylon. As Damon got through the second flag successfully, he felt very confident he could get through them all, with ease, so he increased his speed and that was his downfall. He brushed by the third flag making it wobble and practically ran over the fourth one and by the fifth one he was so out of control and off course he completely missed it. Conceding defeat, he drove back to the waiting crowd knowing he would be razzed and took it all in good fun.
"You didn't do too much better than I did, Damon," a laughing Conner said to his friend as he patted him on the back.
"But at least I got a bit further than you did," replied Damon
Ryan then came up to the two boys and said, "Neither Collin nor I did any better than you all did the first time out, either. It wasn't until Mr. Ken gave us some pointers that we were able to get through the course and feel comfortable behind the wheel."
By then Mr. Ken, along with Chief, came outside and joined the crowd of parents and teens.
"I see everyone wants to try out the boys' driving course. I think these two (having grabbed Collin and Ryan across their shoulders) have already mastered their makeshift courses. And it is true they didn't do any better than you three did their first time out, either. I bet it took them at least a dozen tries before they could do all ten of the pylons, so don't feel too bad about it."
"Okay," began Collin, "whose next?"
First Abbey and then Daniel took turns driving the slalom course and they didn't do any better than Brittany or Conner or Damon had. All the new drivers took turns going through the flags and before long all five of them were able to get to the last one, even if they did bump or brushed by a few of them along the way.
Being February, the daylight left the sky much earlier than anyone wanted, but Mr. Ken told the gathered teens and parents they were welcomed to stop back by and try it again. Everyone thanked Mr. Thomas and Collin and Ryan for the use of the course and promised they'd be back.
By that time, Mary had come back by to retrieve her son and the four of them went out for a late dinner.
"Mr. Ken, ah Bro," started Ryan, "when are you going to start building that new restaurant and whatever else you said you were?"
"Ryan, that's not polite, young man," a slightly embarrassed Mary Taylor scolded.
"That's ok, Mary. I don't blame him for asking. I wish I had more information to give him at the moment, and you all for that matter, but the fact is I still don't own that property," answered Mr. Ken.
"It seems like it's been forever that you bought that property," said Collin.
"Well, what I did was put in an offer," began Mr. Ken, "to buy that land which was accepted by the seller. The thing is, we have to wait for the process to finish up before we go to settlement and … before I can do anything with it."
"Well, it sure is taking a long time. I can't wait until we can just go down there to eat instead of having to drive 30 or 35 minutes to go somewhere to get something,' offered Ryan.
"Little bro, even after I get title to the land it will be about another year before anything is built there, and open."
"Why will it take so long, Bro," asked Ryan.
"Well, to start with, there are permits I have to get, but even before that I have to have plans approved to show the county what I intend to build there and how. Also, there is the fact that the roads there can't handle much more traffic now. If I were to build a bunch of new restaurants and stores there, there would be a virtual traffic jam day and night," replied Mr. Ken.
"Well, Bro," started Collin, "can't you build the roads at the same time you're building the stores? You have all that money and I bet the county would let you build those new roads for them. Wouldn't they, Ryan?"
"I think that is easier said than done, Collin," said Mary.
"Why?" asked Collin. "Mr. Ken got them to allow him to widen and deepen the boat dock area and extend the 'fingers' that make up the coves and create the protected beach he built. He also got them to let him build seven foot high stone walls along his perimeter when the standard height is only six feet high. And didn't you also get them to allow you to build that beach area on the other side of the lake."
"Yes, Collin, the county commissioners allowed me to do just that, but it wasn't all that easy to begin with. For allowing me to extend the 'fingers,' as you put it, and make a better dock area and swimming beach at the Cove, along with higher fence walls, the commissioners put the thumbscrews to me to build that recreational area for them. So, you see, I got what I wanted and a few other things in exchange for the new beach, water slides, picnic areas and parking and everything else there. By the way, I am also building a new Search and Rescue building and dock that will support the entire lake from there. That way there will always be people around to help discourage any vandalism over there. The place is located in an extremely desolate area right now, so there is no telling who would go there to mess it up just to be mean."
"You paid to build all that?" exclaimed Ryan. "No wonder it looks so good! I can't wait until this summer when it finally opens and we can all go there and try it out. I bet the county got the better part of that deal didn't they, Bro?"
"Now, Ryan, you know that is none of your business. What Mr. Ken does with his money doesn't concern you one bit. I am sure it was a 'business deal' he proposed to them in exchange for what he wanted and needed to do to make Three Finger Cove the show place it is," a stern looking mother said to her son.
"But, you know, Mary, that isn't such a bad idea. You know, the idea of me making another 'business deal' with the county commissioners, again. The county master plan shows the traffic count in that area, where I am buying all that land, is high enough to warrant new roads. Since, I am going to build that entire area up; anyway, I could build the roads, too, in exchange for something. All that new construction will bring in more property tax revenue on top of all the sales tax revenue and that alone would be a good incentive for them to at least consider a proposal of something or other, I bet."
'But what would you want in exchange, Bro?" both teens asked at the same time.
"I don't know yet. I bet after I talk to my tax man and lawyers and have a luncheon or two with a few of the commissioners; I bet I could come up with something. And, you all know how desperately we need new roads and services in and around there.
"I want to thank you guys for asking those questions and getting me to think about what I can do. And guys, I don't mind you asking those kinds of questions. Sorry, Mary, we three are sort of like brothers who kid each other, as brothers tend to do and we are always giving advice, sometimes even when it is not needed, or asked for."
As soon as Mr. Ken said that, he reached over and tried to smack both boys on their heads but when they saw him move just a little bit they know what was coming so they got out of the way before he could connect. That quick movement of his caused the table and the boys chairs to move which made a lot of noise causing the other diners to look in their direction.
Mary, seeing all the people looking their way quickly thought and said, "You know how brothers will be. They don't give a mother a moment's peace, even when we go out to eat. Now, boys … straighten up or you'll all get it when we get home."
"Yes, mother," was all that was heard from the three males as they put the table and chairs back in place.
Riding home, the four all had a good laugh at how Mary got the crowd to settle down at the restaurant. They also talked more about the new recreation area and what Mr. Ken had intended to build when he finally owned that land.
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