Lessons In The Sand

Does not look like it, but left hole is 18″ deep, and the right one about 12″ deep.

In my youth, I would often deny accountability or blame other factors when something went wrong. Not always, but typically unless it was too obvious to deny!

I took this photo shortly after getting towed out of being stuck, deeply enough that the bottom of the engine touched the ground. Despite efforts to dig out, layering rocks under the tires, and try my recovery boards for traction, I kept going deeper. Luckily, a good samaritan Canadian RVer camped next to me has a big pickup and carries tow chains and straps. He got me out of this jam in a matter of seconds.

But the story does not end there. Because, as hinted, above, there was no blame avoidance: just gratitude for getting stuck where there was help and remorse over not getting out of the van once I felt the front tires digging down instead of continuing to power-out of the dilemma. And yet, the positive upside is I am now more aware of my van’s limitations, whereas before this I was getting a little too cocky about where I could take VanGeist without a problem. But this was also my first long-term time in sandy areas, and sand is its own sneaky beast that eats vehicles. A front-wheel-drive, 7,200 pound vehicle is not a four-wheel-drive jeep (although I have gotten stuck in those in my youth, too, but are far easier to unstuck).

I spent the rest of the day thinking about what I could have, should have done differently, and by the end of the day appreciated the ”safe” lesson learned and now possessing new knowledge that could come in handy down the road (or, off the road more likely). Yes, it bothered me at first, but not until after getting free. During the time I worked at getting out via powering the wheels and the time spent digging and under-rocking and trying the recovery boards, I was calm and analytical about solving the problem. It reached the point where I realized there was nothing else I could do, so put out the call for the calvary to arrive and save the day.

I love where I am staying, feeling much like a retreat with a lot of introvert time, but this was a life lesson in sometimes we all need help. Self-reliance is fine much of the time, but there are those other times where one’s own effort and abilities are not enough. Will it change where I take the van? Probably not, but it will change HOW I take the van places and gave me better insights on how to see the terrain ahead. Also reinforced that the correct step is STOP on first evidence of an issue (e.g., when I first felt the tires digging down), get out, and assess the situation. Wait to take any action until remembering all you know about remedies for the situation. Here I completely forgot about the airing down tires trick to get out of loose sand. Might have worked, especially if I did that when the front tires were just 3-4″ in the sand.

I did laugh out loud later when out of the blue one of my favorite Tolkien quotes came to mind: ”All who wander are not lost.” Yea, I thought, but some who wander may simply be stuck!