A Story of Dumbassery
There is no other way to describe it. I was a dumbass and that fact I will have to live with for many years. This story is set on a rainy Oklahoma night in November. The weather had been bad for a few weeks. The rain had been coming down for 4 or 5 days. One and a half inches a day. In Oklahoma that makes the normally hard clay ground the consistancy of cake batter.
My wife and I had been building a new house. We had been visiting that house each day to check on the progress and see what new things had been done. Each day we visited or had taken friends by to see our new house we brought back to our current house mud. Lots of mud. Lots of red mud. And as it happens our carpet in our current house which we are trying to sell was getting quite dirty. My carpet scrubber was getting quite a workout as well.
So on this day I decided that I would "drive" back behind the house and see how the deep the drainage pond behind the house got. If this pond was ever to fill up this was the kind of weather that would fill it. Slow, steady, rain. This would accomplish, in my mind, two goals. First I would not get wet. And second I would not have any mud on my feet to track in on the carpet I had cleaned just the day before. Sound reasoning, I'm sure you will agree.
Sound right up to the point I decided to drive behind my house. Up on the curb I went. Right up the incline of my future neighbor's yard. Right up on to the burm behind our new house. I was fairly proud of myself at this point. I surveyed the pond and the rain draining from the pond. All while I was warm and dry in my Rover.
This is the point where normally my friends would say something along the lines of, "he had sucked down at least 10 beers" or "he had been drinking all night". Mostly because in the past I had a habit of doing stupid things when I had been drinking. I buried my 1973 Dodge pickup in a 2 foot deep puddle near Lake Draper, during a snow storm, without a coat, after a twelve pack of Michelobs. I called JagGuy at 4am asking him to come get me. After a good ass chewing he asked me where we were. "On a curvy road, on the east side of a lake and you can see the radio towers are nearly straight across from us." Most amazing of all was he actually drove right to us! All this and I managed to loose a passenger on a quick turn around when the passenger side door failed. He damaged his head and beer in the process. His black eye was still evident 2 weeks later. There are other incidents my friends tell me about from time to time but this one is most relevent to my current stupidity.
But this night I was stone cold sober. I had finished looking at the pond and decided it was time to get home. I looked to the left and decided I would drive out making a U-turn going down that slight slope and up the other side. What fun this would be I thought. Boy was I wrong.
As I turned I started sliding down the hill latterly. Not at all what I had expected. And then I hit the foot deep mud at the bottom. I stopped instictively to prevent further sinking and to assess the problem. I had been stuck before and knew I needed to know what the situation was. I buried a 6x6 M54 military truck to the axles twice in the same day when I was in the Marine Corps. No small fete mind you. And I will defend my self in so much as I was ordered to drive down there, both times.
This time I didn't have a tracked vehicle to pull me out this time so I needed to see how bad, "bad" was. I tried to put the Rover into low range and as I moved the shifter I remembered I had trouble with this just a week before. So no low range. I had only that same morning told my wife I would need to replace my tires with in a month as they were getting bald.
So with bald tires and high range begging me on, I attempted to drive out. I drove forward another 10 feet. Making slow progress. Then all my progress ended. I was not sure at this time why but I was now going down and not forward. I tried a few more minutes and then gave up. I didn't want to burn up a transmission or worse break something underneath. I found out later that I had hit a computer-sized rock buried just below the surface with the front passenger tire.
I swallowed my pride and called my wife. I started the conversation with, "I did something stupid." Then I had her give me the tow truck number and I called them. The first truck showed up with a land doll. He was experienced and noted the fact he knew he had the wrong equipment. "I knew this wasn't a land doll job when I heard it was a Land Rover," he said. He then called a winch truck. A little while longer and he arrived. They chatted a bit and then I told him what I thought would be the solution. Drive back there keeping yourself on the grass above the truck and winch me out. He attempted to get his huge, heavy truck over the curb and proceeded to start slipping right away. They apologized and wished me luck as they drove off.
I then decided that the Evil German Dude and all his amazing resourcefulness was my only hope if I was to recover the Rover tonight. He was busy but he would come as soon as he could. I waited, in the rain, for punishment. The colder and wetter I got the more I would remember this and maybe, perhaps, I would not pull this kind of stunt again. An hour and a half later he arrived with a big Ford F-250 4x4 he borrowed from a friend named "Tiny" or "Bubba" I can't remember which.
We looked at the situation and I decided this was not to be. We would have to get the Ford way too far down the embankment with our limited tow strap options. The last thing I wanted was to get both of us stuck. Darkness fell upon us and I decided we needed more tow strap and off to O'reilly's we went.
I bought all of the strap they had and as we were checking out EGD asked the fellow next to us if that was his tow truck in the parking lot. He told us it was and I inquired as to his status and if he was busy. He said no problem and I asked him how much winch line he had. "One hundred and thirty feet," he said. I thought that just ought to be enough. So I rode with him back to the site.
He told me he used to have a Rover and that he had never been stuck in it. I surmised that he had not done too much mud bogging in it and left it at that, assuring him that they were not invincible and I had seen plenty of pictures of Rovers well stuck. He said, "If you have it stuck, then it must be very stuck."
We unreeled his cable and attached our straps and they weren't even close to touching. He fished 4 fifteen foot sections of chain out of his rig and we put these in the middle. My thinking on this was that if the straps broke the the chain would prevent the cable from flying back and killing him. He said if the cable breaks, "You will see one fat man hauling ass." The story my father told me of the cable breaking while he was in the Navy came to mind. A cable snapped on his ship and the line flew across the ship and cut a man clean in half, while they watched. I did not want this to happen. (By the way: Mythbusters says this is impossible.)
With everything in place he started winching. I'm guessing a lot of slack was taken up the first few minutes as the Rover did not move at all. EGD told me to start it up and put it in reverse. Which I did, careful not to spin the tires. A few minutes later we were moving slowly but surely. My wife arrived and I told them to stay in the car as I was afraid of the cable snapping. I told EGD to stay well back but he had already moved to a safe distance.
Thirty minutes of winching later and we were nearly at the top of the burm. I felt the tires grab and I was under my own power. The big man with a little moxey, and a crap load of cable had retrieved me from the muddy retension pond. The water in the pond had risen to within ten feet of the Rover when I reached the burm. It was dark and it had turned cold but we were out. The rain fell a little harder as I handed him my credit card and paid the $65 bill. All that for sixty five bucks. I expected a hundred dollar bill and was happy for the price.
The tow truck driver bid us a pleasant evening and we drove back to the house. EGD took it upon himself to do a donut in the slick field before he put his friend's truck on the pavement.
Did I learn anything from this episode?
Well sure. I learned that an improperly equipped truck should not be driven where the prospects for being stuck are high.
I learned there is safety in numbers and whenever possible you should 4-wheel with friends, preferably friends with recovery equipment.
I learned that when something breaks or malfunctions I should get it looked at sooner, rather than later.
I learned that if you call your friend to help you get out you have to expect him to call all your other friends and tell them how stupid you are.
And most importantly, I learned that a good friend will come to your aid even if he is busy. He will come and get nasty muddy, wet and cold, and expect nothing from you in return. I owe EGD big-time and I hope he knows I would do the same for him no matter what the circumstances.
Thanks for reading, stay out of the mud and Happy Rovering.