Today is a not-so-cute blog post. But it’s part of my summer experience, and it needs to be shared.
TWO WHEEL DRIVE DOESN’T WORK ON WET CLAY
This seems like it might not be such a big deal, right? Just use the paved roads. Or drive on the grass around the clay-mud-pits. Except street tires on old 2wd trucks also don’t work on wet grass. And pavement isn’t an option.
So here’s the scoop: DNR has graciously lent us two of their old (I suppose decommissioned) 4wd trucks, but the boys (Josh and Hooker) are driving those. Casey and I are driving two UGA F-250 super duty 2wd trucks. Sure, they’re super: they have big engines and big beds, but they don’t have mud tires or the ability to stay straight on slimy clay.
Mostly, we can drive smart. We don’t go on Albert Jenkins Road when it’s raining (I’ll have to take pictures of it sometime so you can see what I mean). We avoid the north end of West Lake Road ALL the time. We stay on the gravel. We don’t hesitate when we see a slick spot, don’t press the brakes. We steer into the fishtailing, hoping traction catches before landing us in a wallowed out ditch (thanks, hicks, for ruining the “shoulder” of the road). Sometimes that’s enough. On a sunny day, or after the dew has gone, it’s not a problem. We drive methodically and patiently, and everything is alright.
After a rain, however, everything goes–quite literally–downhill. The roads become reminiscent of the surface of an inexperienced potter’s wheel: slick, malleable, unforgiving. If I were a potter, I’d love this situation. The artist in my wishes I had a wheel in my truck, so when I got stuck, I could just make stuff until someone came and bailed me out.
I’m not a potter, though, I’m a driver. I gots places to be, man, and mud doesn’t help.
Here’s where my blog title comes in: We had rain on Sunday. Monday was sunny, humid, and buggy. I was nearing the end of my day, baiting hair snares that were near paved or graveled roads. My last hair site was a little bit off the beaten track, but it was still on a gravel road, so I went for it. I baited the site, went to turn around, and started spinning.
I was about 5 feet from the top of a hill, so I thought: maybe if I back down the hill a little, I can get momentum that will carry me up and over. So I backed down the hill a little…spun…backed down some more…spun…went all the way to the bottom, did a U-turn…spun. I did this for a solid 20 minutes, trying to rock the truck out of the ruts I’d made. IN GRAVEL. What I mean by rocking is switching between reverse and drive in quick succession in hopes that the tires catch and get up and over the rut. no dice.
I had to call Josh and get hauled to the top of the hill. Then we undid the chains, went to leave, and I was still spinning…ten minutes later I felt a little like a puppy on a leash, following Josh all the way back to the main road, ears drooping and tail between my legs.
Sometimes Mondays just suck.
Flash forward to Tuesday, a whole 24 hours later. I was on Albert Jenkins (okay, listen, it was dry. It wasn’t rutted or slick or puddle-y or anything. It had been baking in the sun for two days!) and came upon a surprise puddle (GIANT). So, naturally, I went around it. As soon as I got to the side of it, my truck and my heart sank.
Rule number one of clay-road driving: If you’re driving on a moderate-to-heavily-trafficked road, stay in the middle, even if it’s flooded. The dirt is hard-packed, unlike the soft, churned edges.
Yes, that rule also came from Hooker. It’s one that I’ll listen to, though, because that sinking feeling–I know you know how it goes, when your heart sinks into your knees–is one of the worst. He came and bailed me out, but was kind about it, thankfully. Because this time it’s something I could have avoided by smarter driving.
You live and you learn. I conquered that puddle later that day just to make sure I could.
We got more rain on Wednesday. Thursday morning Casey and I got stuck in her truck while checking traps. It was grassy. Awful. Casey gave it a good go, waiting to call for help until we had the tires smoking. Randy, a DNR employee, came and bailed us out (and led us on the tow-chain-leash back to the gravel), cracking lots of jokes and taking lots of pictures.
Here’s my rule number one for mud-driving: don’t be embarrassed.
At least it makes for entertaining stories, and crazy pictures.