I never should have sold that EZ-Go golf cart. A good friend bought it and it will do him and his wife for years, but the Polaris Ranger TM is no substitute for a golf cart. It’s too cumbersome. It has to be started and put into gear. I can’t do a quick U turn in the driveway with it. Sure, it’s great off the road and it carries a huge load and it’s much better for passengers, but the best use of a golf cart is to make a series of lightning dashes between the barn and the garage, back to the house, then over to a tractor in the field with a wrench or a can of gas.

Now I walk. No, this is not good for me because I have to walk back, usually carrying something heavy. There’s no way a hundred yard walk with a five gallon can of gas is good for the spine. Without the cart, I now park outside the barn and walk in, rather than blasting through with the EZ-Go and grabbing a tool off the bench on the way by. Now I have to think twice about starting the Ranger up because it uses a lot more fuel than the golf cart.

What’s more, I figured out a year or so ago that it’s way cheaper to drive a golf cart than to walk. A pair of hiking boots is good for about two hundred miles, by the makers’ estimates. Even on eBay, these boots will cost about $100. That’s fifty cents a mile for shoe leather. A set of tires for the golf cart? Forget it. They don’t wear out. Chances are a golf cart will run on twenty-five cents per mile, total cost. And that doesn’t count wasted time walking. I don’t know what the cost of the Ranger will be, but it uses more gas than a golf cart.

Mind you, my walnut production has increased to fit the capacity of my new vehicle. Each trip to the woods brings back three to four times the load the golf cart carried. The Ranger also tows utility trailers without strain or complaint. On the road it really motors, with twice the speed of a cart. For any distance over 100 yards it has a significant advantage over the cart. The four-wheel brakes are also great for dignified descents of hills, especially when towing.

People react differently to the Polaris than to the cart. Many visitors and family members have had a lot of fun with the golf cart, but they saw it as a weak but sturdy toy, something to be bullied and ridiculed, though with a grudging affection, like the time Charlie and Shiva pushed and drove the thing through a foot of snow back to the woodlot, just to say that they had done it.

The Ranger gets more respect. It’s bigger than most visitors, so they look up to it and approve. They also like the way things they load into the back have a trick of staying there, not falling out, as was often the case with gear and the EZ-Go.

I’ll conclude this update with a harrowing anecdote, the last, I hope, in which the Ranger figures: I put a .22 rifle aboard and headed back to the woods to meet with a visitor looking for squirrels. Normally with the EZ-Go I put the muzzle of the unloaded bolt action rifle in the glove compartment on the passenger side, then let the stock sit on the bench seat. Worked fine. This time I unwisely tried laying the rifle, butt toward my thigh, on the broad bench seat. Nothing untoward happened until I blundered onto a new trail cut through tall maple saplings. I was just picking my way through a narrow gap when suddenly the rifle took off, cartwheeling like a Mossberg frizbie out the passenger side of the Ranger and skidding to a halt, butt-first, under the leaves about thirty feet from the seat. That’s when I noticed the maple sapling rubbing against the passenger side of the Ranger. It bore a scar where the front sight had dug in. The seat and the belt retractor had compressed as the tree tried to shear off the barrel against the roll bar, and then the gun found the path of least resistance, cartwheeling wildly to the right off the bench seat.

The laser scope was forcibly dismantled, though I found all of the pieces, put it back together, and it still shoots all right. It might have been a different story had I left a clip in the gun with one up the spout. The clear rule here is never leave a firearm (or any protruding object) on the seat of a utility vehicle while under way.

You can hardly blame the Ranger for this. The problem was the absent-minded geezer at the wheel.

They’re both fine vehicles, but I had underestimated the value of golf-cart-convenience when I made the decision to sell.

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