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Old 09-16-2018, 05:05 AM   #1
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Larry's Most Excellent Adventure!

Larry's Most Excellent Adventure

The spring of 1995 had been an especially wet one in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My wife and our two 12 year old girls were vacationing in a pickup with a large slide in camper. We arrived in Custer State Park early in the afternoon and found a campsite. We then decided to tour the Buffalo Pasture.

As I said before it had been a very wet spring. Puddles were common on the dirt and gravel backroads. We knew the area around French Creek was especially pretty and often was excellent for viewing wildlife. So off we set to French Creek. We soon came upon a sign that blocked the left half of the road. The sign said, "Road is Closed Ahead". Now the sign is on the left side of the road. I am driving on the right side of the road as is the custom in South Dakota. We debated whether the sign meant that the road is closed here or that the road is closed ahead and you cannot get out the other side. There had obviously been several vehicles both directions on the road. We (my wife will say I) decided that the sign meant that somewhere ahead the road was closed. Merrily, I drove past the sign and on down the road. We soon came to a large puddle in the road. I geared down and proceeded. After we came out the far side I thought, "Boy, a guy could have gotten stuck in that hole". I decided that we would proceed partly because I didn't want to try the mud hole again and partly because we were almost to French Creek. We began climbing into the hills. As we climbed, the road surface changed to decomposed granite. This surface even when wet offered excellent support and traction for the truck. This wasn't going to be so bad after all.

We rounded a bend. A small creek had developed and was running down the middle of the road. The water was 2 or 3 inches deep. Unbeknownst to me, a large spring had developed because of the wet spring. Did I mention that it had been a VERY wet spring? Now this spring was in the middle of the road. It was the source of the small stream. Once more I geared down and entered the small creek. How was I to know that an area about the size of a house had been turned into the equivalent of quick sand by the spring in the middle of the road? We sunk. We sunk to the frame. The tires had about the same traction as they would have in water. They may have worked had they been paddles. Because they were tires, we went nowhere. It was about 5 PM.

After a quick appraisal of the situation, I estimated that I could build a road under the truck in about a week of 12 hour days. Being the intrepid explorer, I assured the girls that we would be alright. We had several cans of chili and running water (running around and under the truck), I set out to build the road (the girls were highly entertained by my construction clothing consisting of a swimming suit and a pair of hunting boots. I did mention that it had been a VERY, VERY wet spring. Fortunately (or unfortunately as your perspective dictates) a ranger in an airplane spotted us and called in rangers on the ground. About 2 hours into my 84 hour project a ranger in a 4 wheel drive pickup arrived. As we talked, his attitude changed from righteous indignation (How could you ignore the road closed sign?) to resigned acceptance (stupid tourists) to good natured helpfulness (you should have seen how stuck Joe was last week, took a Cat to pull him out). He said, "We'll hook on with this chain and I will pull you out." Ha! Ha! Soon he was stuck fast. He called in reinforcements. The ranger #2 arrived in his 4 wheel drive pickup. He managed to pull #1 out of the mud. We (well maybe they) decided that with both pickups pulling, we could get it out. Ha! Ha! Ha! You guessed it, there we were, all of us stuck. After disconnecting all the chains and some digging and so on ranger #2 got out. He then pulled out ranger #1 again. They then decided that their puny little trucks were no match for my 10,000 lbs of RV. They decided to call the REINFORCEMENTS in the form of a wrecker from Custer and they left.

In July dusk falls slowly and late in the Black Hills. As twilight closed around us, we listened to the twittering of the birds as they settled in for the night. In the distance a family of coyotes serenaded us with their howling and yapping. We enjoyed the babbling of the brook, it was nearby, under the truck actually, and cooked some of that chili for supper. About 10:30, the wrecker arrived. As we talked, his attitude changed from incredulity (How did you get that thing in here? I got stuck 3 times on the way in. It HAD been a VERY, VERY, VERY wet year) to efficient worker. He hooked onto my truck, put blocks behind his wheels and promptly pulled the wrecker into the mud. Allowing as how that wasn't going to work, he then tied the front of the wrecker to a BIG rock. He almost tipped the wrecker onto its side because the wrecker wasn't in a straight line from my truck to the BIG rock. Plans again needed to be changed. Spying a VERY BIG tree ahead, he then tied the wrecker to the tree and the winch to my truck. VERY slowly an inch at a time the truck and camper came out of the hole. It is now about 12:30 AM.

The driver casually suggested that maybe I should pay him after we get back to the pavement. There is no doubt that he will have to pull us out again! Being the intrepid explorer with unerring judgement and unequaled driving skills I accepted the challenge. At 1 AM we reached the paved road without further mishap. After taking his due, the wrecker driver exited into the night.

At 1:30 AM we finally arrived at the campground. Ranger #1 stopped by to make sure that we were alright (nice folk those Custer Park Rangers). I was off to the shower (my wife wouldn't let me in the camper with my construction clothes on.) When I returned from my shower, the girls were whining that they hadn't gotten to roast marshmallows over the campfire as they had been promised. The resourceful explorer spied a campfire dying to embers in a nearby campsite. 0k girls, if you are quite we can roast your marshmallows here. Mmmmm good. If Lauren had talked quieter the nice folks whose campfire we borrowed wouldn't have been awakened in the night.

As darkness settled in the camper, the girls contently enjoyed the lingering taste of campfire marshmallows, the wife sighed and contemplated past, present and future life with the intrepid explorer. The explorer wondered, could he really have built a road under a truck with nothing but an ax and a shovel? In just 84 hours? TOO BAD, we'll never know!

May 1999
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:34 AM   #2
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Larry,

At least you were partly prepared. Not everybody understands the risks.
Where I used to live, we have to rescue city folks in their "Jeeps" all to often.

Way back when, I used to have a 1965 Jeep Gladiator. I took it lots of places I probably should have known better than to go. I had some other "Jeeper" friends that sometimes laughed because I would not go off pavement without:
Two Spare Tires
A Shovel
An Axe
A Chainfall And
A Long Lead (either chain of very heavy line)

While on one of my excursions, I did have the case where I made a (stupid) mistake and got stuck. When you stick a real good 4-wheel drive, you am STUCK Bunky.....
I did have to dig a T trench, cut a tree to be a dead man anchor for the long lead and then use the chainfall to get the truck back on the hard.
It was still a very long project.

Frank
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:06 AM   #3
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Simple question...

What is the difference between 2WD and 4WD?

With 4WD you walk a much greater distance...
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TQ60 View Post
Simple question...

What is the difference between 2WD and 4WD?

With 4WD you walk a much greater distance...
Back in the day when I used to wallow in the mud for a living, (I'm allergic to mud and gravel now) my philosophy was to keep driving in 2 wheel until you can't move then put it 4 wheel and back out.
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