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It’s What We Do

August 2, 2017

Okay, maybe I was feeling a little sorry for myself, trudging along a muddy mountain road as a light rain fell. I didn't fail to acknowledge that I was unhurt. I couldn't say the same about my car which was a half mile behind me, nose down in Bennion Creek. You know when they say how wonderful it would be to get away from it all? Go on vacation somewhere out of cell phone range? Yeah, that's great until you find yourself in a situation where you need a cell phone.

I honestly didn't know what I was going to do. I had a vague plan to hike back to scout camp and catch a ride down to the highway rest stop. You know, the one that used to be a railroad turnaround station back in the 1800's. I say "vague" because I really wasn't sure what to do after that. What's the protocol for getting your car out of a creek? Is there some 1 800-HELPME number for that?

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of an oncoming car. Someone was headed down the canyon. I stepped off the road as a black pickup came into view. Of course, he had a truck. Everyone on this road should be driving a truck today. My front wheel drive Honda Civic was evidence of that. The truck slowed as I waved him to a stop. He was obviously from our camp, although from a different troop. I was wearing my scout shirt, mud and all.

Are you headed down to the highway?

Yeah. What happened to you?

My car slid off the road back there a ways. If you wouldn't mind, I could use a lift to out to where I can cell reception.

Sure, hop in. I have some work I need to do this morning. I was on my way to the rest area to use my phone. I should warn you, I'm probably going to be down there for several hours.

No worries. You're saving me a long hike.

We shared the things that two adult men wearing Boy Scout shirts do. We slowed as we passed my car. Its taillights and a little of the read panels all that was visible.

Wow, that's in there pretty good. Are you okay?

Yeah, it was going pretty slowly when it headed down the bank.

His four wheel drive truck handled beautifully through the mud and the rain. As we arrived at the rest area the rain let up. I thanked him and pulled out my phone. The first call had to be home.

Yeah, I had some minor car trouble. The car slid off the road.

No, I'm fine, but it's going to take a tow truck to get the car out.

I think it's probably fine. It was running when I slid off. Can you look up some tow truck companies in Spanish Fork?

Really, I'm fine.

Okay, maybe I downplayed the accident just a little. There was nothing my lovely wife could do about it at this point and I really didn't want to worry her. She gave me a couple phone numbers and I called the first one.

I slid off the road up by Bennion Creek off Highway 6. Do you guys do those tows?

No. We don't really do that sort of thing, but let me give you Andy's number. He can help you.

One phone call later and Andy agreed to come out and tow my car. He agreed he'd pick me up at the rest stop. . The one that used to be a railroad turn around. I thanked Chris, the other scout leader who gave me a ride and collected my bags.

Andy arrived in a four wheel drive truck with a winch on the front. I climbed in and we headed back toward Bennion Creek. As we slid through the mud up the road, my car was in the exact same place it was when I left.

I don't like to bring my big wrecker up these roads, but I might be forced to on this one.

What do you mean?

Well, at the angle your car is facing I'm not sure my winch will be strong enough. We'll see.

Andy tried multiple configurations. Most of which involved more and more chains. At one point, he said, "Don't stand there. . .you're in the kill zone." Eventually, he anchored his truck to a tree. He used a come-along anchored to two other trees and using the come-along he literally pulled the car out by hand. The winch eventually burned out. The cottonwood tree the chain was attache to moved several inches. Fortunately, it didn't fall over.

As my car slowly inched its way back onto the road, I noticed the hold in the front bumper. Peeking inside the engine compartment it was obvious the AC condenser was shot. It's pretty soft aluminum. The condenser pushed back into the radiator, also soft aluminum. That in turn pressed back against the fan, pinning the blades. It might run, but it wasn't going to run for long with a compromised cooling system.

I pointed it downhill as the rain started up again. Andy agreed we'd meet at the highway. I took off to beat the rain while he packed up his chains. I arrived at the highway without too much trouble, but then I hadn't had a problem going down the mountain. Andy agreed to give me a lift back to camp.

Do you do regular towing as well?

Sure do.

How much to tow it back to Pleasant Grove?

Well, it would normally be $250, but since you're already paying me for the earlier job, I'll cut you a break on both tows. Call it $300 for getting it out of the creek and $200 for the tow back to Pleasant Grove.

What could I say? It needed to be done. And I realized that often a "plan" is simply deciding what you do next. I returned to camp and tried to put aside thoughts of my car. There was nothing I could do until I got home on Saturday, so why worry?

It almost worked.

This is part of an ongoing series of posts about my misadventures at scout camp last week. Tomorrow, we'll find out what the damage was and how much it would take to get back up and running.

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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