Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stuck in the muck

I live 3 hours from our land but I've made the short trip the past 3 weekends in a row. It's a short 3 hours as the drive through the mountains, partially though Glacier National Park, is a very scenic tour.

This past weekend we went with some friends to play around in the Great White North. I wanted to show Barnabas (names have been changed to protect the innocent) our land as I've been bragging how many white tail deer take residence in our riverbottom and Barnabas is an avid hunter.

I use the term hunter kind of loosely. He's actually a civil engineer by day, outdoorsman by weekend. I guess my opinion of his hunting abilities is kind of skewed as in the last 4 years that I've know him, I haven't heard of any successful shots although many great tales of the big one that got away have been discussed. I digress.

We had about 2 hours in the morning to kill (pun intended) and I was itching to take him over to the happy hunting grounds. I was going to borrow my father-in-laws truck but after saying "who wants to come" our two man show ended up being 5 kids and 3 adults. Barnabas's wife "Betty" thought she'd tag along to make sure we behaved ourselves. As you will see, her being there didn't produce the desired effect.

So no worries, Barnabas has a 4 wheel drive Yukon that is really an off road monster truck in disguise. "Hop in and lets tour this town."

A few things to mention before I get too far into this tale:
  1. It had rained and snowed all last week (8 inches of water) and it was pretty muddy on the land.
  2. The pretended monster truck is a good all round vehicle that won't get stuck in the snow on paved roads in the middle of Kalispell
  3. The tires on the aforementioned monster truck would probably be good for burning up Daytona, not a mud pit
  4. When you put 2 guys together in a vehicle around mud only dirty things can happen
I offer to drive down to our place so we don't get lost on the metropolis freeways. I am hoping we see a few deer so I don't look too silly. We pull up to the spot where we will most likely build a house and peek just over the hill. Up pop 9 whitetail deer and away they bound. We see a few more below in the valley hopping around so I feel relieved and justified in all my audacious acclamations.
Down we head into river bottom country. My brother-in-law (Maddox from here on out) has some tree forts (ha, hunting perches) around the place so I take the crew toward one of them. I stop up short as there is a fine mud bog in the way. I say to Barnabas "I'm not driving through that". He calls me a wuss then takes over driving duties. I could have probably made it but I wasn't going to drive someone else's nice city ride through a mud bog. He shifts down into 4-low and breezes through without too much trouble. That was the easy way in.
Coming back is a different story. The way out is a little uphill and he hit the wrong side of a water hole. I could feel the tires digging in. I laugh at him and have him stop so I can see the damage. It's not that bad. He goes forward and back a few times and as he breaks loose the whole front bumper comes peeling off in the mud. I exaggerate. It's only most of the front right bumper along with the fog light. I'm pretty glad at this point I'm not the cause of temporal damage. He gets out and unclips the light then takes another run at it and peels out through the muck.
Great. Glad we didn't get stuck. We have to be somewhere in an hour. Betty is being pretty supportive and even laughs a bit. My daughter is in the back saying "I shouldn't have come" over and over. It's her third birthday today and I think she is wishing she's home with mom playing with her new toys.
I take them around the south side of the place along the fence line. I'm thinking I need to show them the river and there is a Maddox made trail around that side of the land. We head down the trail and come to a backwash/gully of sorts and stop. I figure we are at an end to our adventures as there is no way we are going through the water, up the bank, without some heavenly intervention.
I suggest we park and walk the rest of the way. Barnabas is meditating. I say, "I wouldn't do it. I know you're tempted but I wouldn't do it."
He did it. Well, attempted to do it. Through the water, partially up the bank then.....into the drink. We were stuck. I could tell right away. The back and forth method of getting out is only digging us deeper and deeper in trouble. I get out and Betty joins me. Her one comment through this all is "Well, if you're going to do it you might as well do it right." Bless her good spirit.
I'm pushing, digging with tree branches, praying at this point. My daughter is now yelling "I shouldn't have come." All the kids are begging to get out of the vehicle to join in the fun. Barnabas is rocking and gritting his teeth. I get out the cell phone that costs $4 a min in Canada and attempt to reach my wife. I'm ready to run over to the north part of the land to get the tractor but out of the quite, serene morning, I hear a truck rumbling down the trail.
Saved. We left two fences open and Maddox was tearing around to see who let his horses out. In my defense, I thought we'd only be a few minutes and the horses were munching on grass contentedly in the middle of the pasture. It turns out sometimes being lazy is a good thing.
Maddox looks us up and down and almost cracks a grin. "Looks like you took the old trail. The new trail is a little less steep."
Out comes the tow rope and after a few jerks we are unstuck. The damage on the back end of the Yukon only resulted in the hitch assembly to be hanging loose. Betty asks Barnabas to stop so we can take pictures of the cavernous hole he tried to attack but he high tails it out so we don't have photographic proof.
Up the hills and out the gate with 20 Minutes before we have to be to town 30 minutes away.
Moral of the story:
  1. Don't drive anyone else's rig through the mud
  2. Having a responsible adult (wife) along brings no guarantees of proper behavior