Out Tanked

By Rachel Turner

 

I

live in a house of all boys, and in a house of all boys, there are things with which I’ve had to come to terms. The usual suspects like dirty socks everywhere and nonstop wrestling on the TV, but other things as well, like the mom and dad pecking order as seen through the eyes of the kids.

While my boys love me dearly and want my hugs, my concern, my permission slips, and my lemon chicken pasta, they crave the attention and camaraderie of their dad. I can physically feel the decline of my own cool points when my husband walks in the room. That’s okay by me. I love that my boys love their dad.

My nine year old, especially, makes no bones about the fact that dad is funnier and more of an expert on everything than I am. I have bombed many a joke trying to get him to admit that I’m just as funny. My son says I’m not. It’s fine, I’ve dealt with it. I’m not at all bitter. Let’s just see what he thinks after he opens his half-heartedly packed lunchbox tomorrow.

I adore that my husband and I each have our own special relationships with our kids, but it sometimes presents with a preference of dad over mom. So I have to admit that it felt kind of great to walk into the house the other day and announce to my boys that my next assignment was to drive a tank. Checkmate, Mr. Turner. Not feeling so funny now are you, eh? I love how mature you become when you hit your forties.

So my son heard Tank Town USA and mom’s reputation was suddenly catapulted from the lowly position of boo-boo kisser and pasta-maker to a status I had never known before. I don’t want to say too much, but there was begging. I tell you all of that so that I can state, for the record, that I am now the coolest parent. I win forever.

Several years ago, Tank Town USA’s owner, Todd, was doing some reading on the internet and came across an article about a man making money by letting people drive his tanks. It occurred to him that this would be something he’d be really good at.

Born in the world of upper class Buckhead, Todd’s family moved to Blairsville when he was a teenager. His free-spirited nature took him all over the world exploring and eventually brought him back to settle in North Georgia.

After the birth of his first child in 2010, he made Tank Town USA a reality. Located ten miles outside of scenery-rich Blue Ridge, Tank Town sits conspicuously on the highway and has enticed more than its fair share of passers-by with its collection of army vehicles and Drive Tanks, Crush Cars sign.

When my son and I arrived, we walked through a museum of vintage cars and vehicles both military and nonmilitary on our way to get checked in. As a woman, and a mom, the first thing that struck me was how dangerous it all looked.

It was a giant dirt/mud pit with crushed cars, twisted metal and broken glass. There were giant military and construction vehicles that were not roped off, nor were they weighed down with “keep off” signs. It was my Gen X mom brain on overload. It occurred to me that I couldn’t safety proof the next 20 years of my son’s life (not like I haven’t tried) and that at some point, he was going to have to learn his own caution.

So I have to admit that it felt kind of great to walk into the house the other day and announce to my boys that my next assignment was to drive a tank.

We spent the first 45 minutes just exploring the grounds, which I found interesting and fun, though was still nervous about. We were allowed to climb in the vehicles, walk around, and look anywhere. We even watched another customer crush a minivan in a tank.

I have to admit, the evil suburban carpool mom in me enjoyed watching a minivan getting destroyed. There’s been a time or two in the real carpool line when I… Oh, never mind.

As the minivan got demolished, I made my son hide with me behind a bulldozer so we wouldn’t get hit with flying debris or get in the path of the tank, which the owner found amusing as we were not nearly close enough to have our lives threatened in anyway. I liked Todd’s easy going personality in this arena of car crushing death. I decided I could use a little more chill, like Todd.

Now I should mention in full disclosure that these vehicles are actually Armored Personnel Carriers (APC). Some of you are like, huh? Which was my reaction when it was explained. The vehicles that we were driving were used mainly to transport people and not used in battle. As the owner, Todd so perfectly nailed it, APC Town USA does NOT have the same ring to it as Tank Town USA. I would like to add that regardless, this experience is unlike any other.

After the exploration, it was time to drive a tank. The vehicle we drove was an FV432 developed and used in Great Britain in the 1960’s. The first lap around the course, I was the passenger. I thought passenger was going to be like riding shotgun. I’d be sitting close to the driver in comfy seats, a little air conditioning, maybe looking through a periscope. I was wrong.

We spent the first 45 minutes just exploring the grounds, which I found interesting and fun, though was still nervous about. We were allowed to climb in the vehicles, walk around, and look anywhere. We even watched another customer crush a minivan in a tank.

I have to admit, the evil suburban carpool mom in me enjoyed watching a minivan getting destroyed. There’s been a time or two in the real carpool line when I… Oh, never mind.

As the minivan got demolished, I made my son hide with me behind a bulldozer so we wouldn’t get hit with flying debris or get in the path of the tank, which the owner found amusing as we were not nearly close enough to have our lives threatened in anyway. I liked Todd’s easy going personality in this arena of car crushing death. I decided I could use a little more chill, like Todd.

Now I should mention in full disclosure that these vehicles are actually Armored Personnel Carriers (APC). Some of you are like, huh? Which was my reaction when it was explained. The vehicles that we were driving were used mainly to transport people and not used in battle. As the owner, Todd so perfectly nailed it, APC Town USA does NOT have the same ring to it as Tank Town USA. I would like to add that regardless, this experience is unlike any other.

After the exploration, it was time to drive a tank. The vehicle we drove was an FV432 developed and used in Great Britain in the 1960’s. The first lap around the course, I was the passenger. I thought passenger was going to be like riding shotgun. I’d be sitting close to the driver in comfy seats, a little air conditioning, maybe looking through a periscope. I was wrong.

A passenger in Tank Town is someone who rides strapped into a chair that is fastened to the top of the tank. You might as well have asked me to wing walk because that is how people who are afraid of heights and afraid of going fast and afraid of death view it. Plus, the driver was a guy named Daniel who had driven up five minutes earlier having found this place on the internet.

Nice to meet you Daniel, I will be affixed to the top of this tank whilst you are driving it for the first time in your life after two minutes of instruction, please don’t roll the tank. M’kay? Thanks.

Now, I don’t say this often when danger is involved, but being a passenger on the tank turned out to be so much fun. Surprisingly, it’s in fact nothing like wing walking because, you know, you’re not flying and all, and it’s more like an amazing ATV ride. I loved it!

We even watched another customer crush a minivan in a tank.

Driving the tank was a bit more terrifying for me. I climbed into the driver’s seat and tried really hard to enjoy the ride as I aimed to return the favor of not rolling my passenger. It was intimidating to be in control of such a heavy piece of machinery and also try to picture war time scenarios when this equipment would be covered in soldiers and potentially heading into danger rather than doing laps around a dirt track.

I enjoyed this excursion way more than I thought I would. As the current reigning coolest parent in my house, I recommend that you stop what you are doing right now and visit the website, tanktownusa.com and book a drive.

I enjoyed this excursion way more than I thought I would. As the current reigning coolest parent in my house, I recommend that you stop what you are doing right now and visit the website, tanktownusa.com and book a drive.

Rachel Turner is a freelance writer and humor blogger. She also runs a traveling murder mystery party business called Make it a Mystery. Georgia born and raised she lives in Woodstock with her husband and two sons. Drop by her blog, www.rachelshumor.com or email her at justpeachy1123@gmail.com.

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