Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Case of the Missing Mudder - Part 2

Note: You can read my wife's version of this story here.

It was a fine Monday afternoon. I was working away. I had just got the payroll done for the pay period, and had started working one another project for the police department.

At about 4:00 my cell phone rang. I looked on the caller ID, and I could tell it was from a strange phone number. I answered, and it was Bryan. He told me that mama had gotten the car stuck over by the horses and that I needed to call a tow truck to get her out! I asked Bryan again where they were, but the best he could tell me was that they were over by the horses! I was told that mama was barefoot, and that she and the dog (Strider) would be staying in the car. I asked him how deep the mud was. Bryan answered by saying that the car was in deep, but that he and Amy were light enough that they could walk across the top of it without sinking in. I asked if she had her cell phone with her. But no such luck!

I gave my boss a quick call, and explained that I would need to take the rest of the day off to take care of the situation. I got my things together, and headed for home.

A few minutes later Amy called me again on my cell phone. I asked her to get mama’s tennis shoes and a pair of socks and put them by the front door of the house. I asked here what mama was wearing, but neither she nor Bryan could remember what she was wearing. For all I knew, she was wearing her house coat. I made a mental note to get some clothes for her as well, because if we did end up needing a tow truck, she probably would not want to have the tow truck driver see her in her house coat.

Now calling a tow truck presented a problem. I didn’t know the exact location of where they were. All I knew was that it was somewhere West of our house, by the “horses”. The truth is, there are several homes with ½ acre and 5-acre lots who have horses. I had no idea which one it was. I would not be able to call for a tow truck, until I knew exactly where the car was located. Moreover, since mama didn’t have her cell phone with her, I couldn’t call her to find out the exact location, or even let her know that I was on my way. Mama, Mama, wherefore art thou cell phone Mama! (Apologies to Shakespeare!).

Mama would just have to sit at wait for us to come to her rescue.

As I was driving home, I remembered the old logging chain that I had rescued from Grandpa Hatch’s shed before his home was sold last spring. It now resides in our shed. I talked to Bryan on my cell phone, and asked him to get the log chain, out of the shed, along with our shovel. I started thinking of all the tricks we used to do on grandpa’s ranch, when we had to pull vehicles out of the mud. The only tool that I lacked, was a Handyman Jack.

I arrived home, and gathered up the shoes and socks for mama. Then I got some clean clothes for her also. I through in a set of yellow pages as well, in case we ended up needing a tow truck.

Outside, I loaded the log chain and shovel into truck, and then I got some pieces of wood to place in the path of the car tires, to give it something solid to gain traction upon.

We headed West from our house and up the hill. Near the top of the hill was a little temporary corral with 4 horses in it. Way off (about ¼ mile) from the top of the hill, down onto the edge of a cultivated hill was a small red car. The care was up to its nose in mud!. There was a little two-track trail that led down to where the car was. I put the truck into 4 wheel drive, and headed down the hill. I couldn’t help wondering why she had gone so far down the trail? Why hadn’t she just backed the car up from where the horses were (maybe 40 feet) back over to the paved road? (The truth is, she really hates going backward. When we are out 4-wheeling, if we get into a spot where we have to back up, she would rather get out of the vehicle, than go backwards. Also, from the height of the truck, you could see several good places to turn around, but from the lower perspective of the car, it just looked like a mass of tall weeds, which obscured the view.)

As I got closer to the end of the trail, and nearer to the car, the trail got more and more muddy. The cultivated ground, which the car was stuck in, didn’t look particularly muddy. The top layer of the soil and dried somewhat in the few sunny days we have recently experienced. However underneath, it was a mud bog. When Dawn Ann drove on the cultivated ground, she quickly sunk down to the depth the soil had been plowed.

I grabbed the shoes, socks and clothes, and trudged over to the car. I started sinking I pretty deep myself. She rolled down the window, and there they were! The long lost mudder (mother) and the yapping dog. He recognized me quickly, and quieted down. She did have regular clothes on, so I handed her the shoes and socks, and tossed the other clothes into the back seat of the car. She was glad to see us!

I dug the mud out from behind the two front tires (front-wheel drive car). Then I placed the boards up next to the tires, hoping they would gain some traction, and buoyancy. Then I went around to the front of the car, and told her to try to rock the car, and I would try pushing her out. Bryan had tried this earlier, but since he weighs less than 80 pounds, I knew that he couldn’t have been able to push too hard. As I tried, I found that my feet slipped so much in the mud, that I couldn’t be of much use pushing either, especially since I had to push uphill.
After several attempts pushing the car by hand, it was time to put the truck to work! I had Bryan get me the log chain. I hooked one end of the chain to the car, and the other end to the towing hook on the truck. I put the truck in 4WD low-range. Then I gently backed up taking the slack out of the chain. I waved my arm to Dawn Ann to signal that it was time to put the car in reverse and start backing out. The truck pulled the car right out, lickety-split. At one point as I was pulling her back, Dawn Ann took her foot off the gas pedal, and I just kept right on pulling her out. The truck hardly even broke a sweat.

I said "Thank you Grandpa Hatch", for the use of the log chain. I also gave thanks to the good Lord as well. I determined that we needed to have a towing strap to be kept in the truck, preferably a little longer than the logging chain.

Finally she was free! Neither mama nor the car were any worse for the wear. And, we had saved ourselves the cost of a tow truck as well:) We gathered up the chain and shovel and put them back in the truck . Everybody had muddy feet, that is – except for mama! (There's something unfair about about all this -- I mean mama, the one who got stuck, ended up being the only one who never did get muddy through all of this! Sometimes there is just no justice in this world!) I made the kids ride home in the back of the truck. Maybe I should have made mama ride back there as well!

I resisted the urge to tease Dawn Ann about getting stuck. I really didn’t want to rub it in. I figured that she had already been through enough. I remembered a time some 15-20 years ago, when I got my car stuck in the middle of a stream (small river actually). I had been trying to ford the stream, and the exhaust pipe of the car went under water, and although the wheels were not stuck in the bottom of the stream bed, the engine killed because of the inability to relieve itself of its exhaust. There I was, 20 miles from the nearest town, in the middle of the San Raphael Desert! I ended up having to walk all night long, over some some 15 miles (let me tell out about the blisters on my feet sometime!) until I was eventually able to get a ride into town. The Sheriff’s search and rescue had to pull me out! I’m afraid I had Dawn Ann beaten for stuck car experiences.

So instead of teasing her, and rubbing it in, I joked with her that “At least you weren’t 20 miles away from civilization!”

Well we all made it home safely. We parked our muddy vehicles in the garage, just as it was getting dark. Bryan and I had to strip off our muddy clothes and put them directly into the washing machine as we entered the house. We now had a row of muddy shoes lined up on the front porch.

All was well, and all were safe. And the adventure came to a close.

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