A few weeks ago, I was hired by a Bethlehem lawyer over a dispute this mountain man is having with his new neighbors. After moving here from Jersey, they immediately proceeded to block off one of his roads. In doing so, they also made it impossible for him to get to some of his other land, at least by conventional means.
My job was to look through the chains of title to see if there is some reference to these roads, which would create an implied easement. My problem was that this guy owns a gazillion acres with just as many roads, so I needed to see the one being blocked. The lawyer contacted his client so I'd be able to come up and look without getting shot. The mountain man agreed and up I came.
As a title searcher, I do myself no favors when I have to call someone and tell him I can't find his property, especially when he owns a gazillion acres. So I made sure to install a GPS into my iPhone so I wouldn't get lost and look like an idiot.
But after driving up and down several dirt roads and going through "Do Not Enter" signs, I was completely bewildered. What made matters worse were the ponds that came right up to the edges of these roads. I finally surrendered, and called the mountain man. He came out on a four-wheeler and led me back to his place through what looked to me like numerous deer trails.
Once I got out of my car, I was met by a dog that was about 18' tall, growling, and sizing me up for dinner. The mountain man barked some commands to the dog, who decided against eating me.
For the moment.
Then Fess Parker took me to the blocked road, but on his ATV. He sped off the moment I had one leg on. He had to stop periodically because I bounced out about three times. After showing me the blocked road, he just had to show me the lands he can no longer access by ordinary means. We flew over marshes and bogs. I fell out of his ATV again.
After showing me a barn that he's been unable to finish, he was ready to go back. But I told him there was no frickin' way I was going to go through that marsh again, and said we should just use the goddamn road.
"But wouldn't that be trespassing?" the mountain man asked.
"Look, they're from Jersey. I doubt they even own a gun. But even if they start shooting, I'd still be safer than on that hellride."
He smiled at the thought of being shot at, and off we plowed through the blocked off road. We went through pretty quickly, with the 18' dog following us and barking away.
Nobody shot us.
Right by this guy's house is yet another gigantic, stream-fed pond, full of catfish and trout. While I waited for everything to stop circling, he reached into a bucket in which he had chunks of either deer meat or the last title searcher to run into his dog. He threw them into the pond. Up came catfish bigger than Moby Dick, chomping away on venison.
Now I have a Vietnamese friend who loves catfish. Actually, all fish. I took her up there yesterday. She and the mountain man hit it off. He pulled two giants out of the water, each of which weighed 15 pounds, and gave them to her. He even provided a big plastic tub to cart them in on the bouncy ride home.
She was so happy I thought she was going to cry.
She called me last night to say it's the first time she's had fresh catfish since coming to this country from Vietnam in '85. She claimed it was delicious.