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If The Good Lord Is Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise

August 1, 2017

The most surprising thing was the lack of panic. I was facedown in a creek. At least my car was. The creek was obviously not too deep, but my car was at such a steep angle, I wasn't sure if it might not just tip over into the stream. Plus, I'd hit some small trees on my way in. There was no telling how unstable the hillside might be.

Last week I taught a group of Boy Scouts what to do in the event of an emergency.

  1. Stop
  2. Check for injuries
  3. Seek shelter
  4. Build a fire
  5. Signal for help
  6. Get water
  7. Don't worry about food

I started going over the list in my head.

1. Stop

Well, that one was definitely taken care of.

2. Check for injuries

Amazingly the airbag didn't go off. My slide down the hill had been almost in slow motion. I didn't appear to be injured. I'd been wearing a seat belt. I found that the seat belt wasn't pressing too hard on my chest because I was literally standing on the brakes trying to keep from falling forward.

3. Seek shelter

That would be back at camp. Time to get myself out of the car. I turned off the engine. My first impulse was to open my door. Four inches from my driver's side window was a 24" diameter cottonwood. The implication didn't hit me until later. I missed connecting with that tree by less than the length of my arm.

Still standing on the brakes, I undid my seat belt and gathered my things. I slipped a couple of CDs into my bag, I grabbed my son's binder that he was using to track his eagle project. I glanced around the car. Nothing else that seemed super important. I realized that I was going to have to climb out the back seat. I slid my seat forward to get some room to climb around the front seat. It reminded me of the Mission Impossible movie where characters were climbing up the inside of a car. I grabbed my bag and managed to get the back door open.

Placing my feet against the door frame, I grabbed at the tree limbs around me. The ground, not surprisingly was soft and very, very muddy. I managed to get out of the car and started to scramble up the embankment. The car, fortunately, seemed pretty secure. Leveraging against the rear panel and using the trees, I finally managed to reach the relative safety of the road. It was at that point I realized I'd left the lights on.

Do I really want to climb back down there just to turn off the lights?

Yes. The engine was running when I got out. There was a good chance (okay, maybe not exactly "good", but still a chance) that the car would be drivable. I didn't want a dead battery. Getting back into the car was easier than getting out had been. Lights out. Now what?

I took stock. I had food in my bag. I had plenty of bottles of water in the trunk. Shelter. Right, time to start that hike to camp. But, before I left I did one more thing. I quickly wrote a note on a sheet of paper and tucked into a waterproof beef jerky bag and stuck into the trunk where someone would see it. I didn't want anyone to try to climb down just to find that the car was empty.

But, the most remarkable thing was the utter calm I felt.

Well, now I have this to deal with.

Honestly, that was my thought. I turned up the road and started back for the camp. I felt in great shape, but I popped a few Advil just in case. Aren't you supposed to feel something after a car accident? Was it really an accident, or simply a slide off? Could I have died? I suppose. But, I could be attacked by a bear, or struck by lightening, or any number of other threats.

Maybe I'm in shock. Maybe it will hit later and I'll process it differently. I didn't feel like I was in shock. But, would I know? Maybe I was in denial. Would you know if you were in denial?

As I trudged up the road, the sticky mud turned my shoes to the size of snowshoes. They also weighed a ton. And then it started to rain.

Well, I can honestly say, "It could definitely be worse."

This is the second in a series of posts about my misadventures at scout camp. Yesterday I described the events leading up to the accident. Tomorrow I'll talk about what happens to my car.

Here are the other parts of the story

I'm Okay. I'm Okay. . .I'm Not Okay (Sliding off the road)

If The Good Lord is Willing And the Creek Don't Rise (Yup, it ended up in the creek)

It's What We Do (Okay, NOW what do I do? I figure out how to get out of it)

Maxim 32: Anything is Amphibious If You Can Get It Back Out Of The Water (a hat tip to my friend Howard Tayler, who wrote the headline)
That Doesn't Go There – The Long Delayed Picture Essay

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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