Sunday, February 10, 2013

Getting Stuck Again

The dirt road short-cut into my little rural community gets a little muddy after a rainstorm. The base of the roadbed is mostly clay, so after it gets soaked up it becomes the kind of stuff that looks like cake mix moistened with motor oil. This stuff is so slick that my pickup doesn't care which end goes first down our old rutted road, which adds lots of driving excitement to an otherwise simple commute.

I sneaked over a few times during some post-rain greasy mud-days last week, and thought my superior dirt-road driving skill would get me safely home one more time, but I was wrong, and before long, boy-oh-boy, was I stuck. I slipped right off the road and got in the glop along the barrowpit.

I didn't want to walk the five miles home very bad, so I dug the wheels out several times to get ready. When I was finally ready, I walked home.

My neighbor and buddy, Hal [that would be Hal Cannon], offered to help me, and we pulled it out the next morning while the mud was frozen solid. Getting it on the road and going again wasn't such a big deal, except that about three hundred yards of the road still clung to my old pickup.

To tell you the truth, I could hardly recognize it. The front wheels had thrown mud all over the hood and cab, and the underside looked like something from a low budget swamp-monster movie. I am an immaculate guy at heart, and I vowed to wash it sometime soon.

It probably wasn't even a week later that I had my crud-mobile in town, and took it down to the washer-place. I was getting less compliments on my pickup than usual, plus I was sick of the little chunks of adobe hitting me in the face, driving along with my head out the side window like an engineer so I could see.

Down at the car wash, I decided to use that little wand-sprayer to wet the whole mess down first, then get the details perfect on a second pass. Well, I was out of quarters before the mud quit absorbing the water from the sprayer. Nothing dripped, but the tires got fatter and fatter. I decided not to use the foaming brush.

Ten dollars in quarters later, I gave up. Little odd-shaped things underneath kept reflecting flying mud and spray back in my face, and I couldn't see enough to know what I was washing. I had hydro-carved big globs out of the insides of the wheels, off the brakes and frame, scrubbed clear down to the glass on the windshield. It looked pretty good, I thought. My face, hat, coat and glasses were so dirty, I couldn't see to tell.

Five blocks later at twenty miles an hour, my pickup nearly wobbled itself to pieces. The tires were still out of balance from chunks of overlooked mud inside the brakes and wheels. I couldn't keep it in the road the way it was, so I went straight back to the washer-place to try again.

I had to use a different stall, someone was stuck in the one I had just left. I swear, if you want to get around in this country in the spring, you should have a four-wheel drive.

This time, with clean glasses and a joyful heart, I determined to get my pickup perfectly spotless. I sprayed the heck out of the wheels, the driveline, the trim, the headlights. I just wouldn't take "dirty" for an answer. "Mr. Impeccable" was on a roll. It might have been the last ten minutes of a Rambo movie. All the bad dirt just had to go down.

Somewhere right about then, I noticed a couple of things about my old Dodge pickup for the very first time. Like the bumper sticker for a candidate I had never heard of. Or the little "F250" sign on the fender. The Montana license plates.

If, dear reader, by chance you might have gotten stuck on the dirt road into Starr Valley, Nevada, a couple of weeks ago, walked off and left a blue Ford with Montana plates and a "Stuben for Clerk" bumper sticker, and got a white Dodge with a flat bed and squeaky brakes in exchange for it, I am willing and able to trade you back. But the Dodge had better be clean.

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