Monday, April 14, 2014

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 4: The Power of Prayer

The Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, PART 4: The Power of Prayer

When the alarms rang Tuesday morning, we popped out of bed, eager to get our truck recovery on. Speaking of truck recovery, Drew mentioned on Monday that since I had already named the whole disaster the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse, that we needed a name for our rescue efforts. I thought for a while and tossed around several simple, boring names, and then . . . it hit me. This would be “Operation Brucectomy.” BOOM. Clever, right? Drew loved it, I loved it, Izak loved it. We were ready to roll.

Izak arrived around 8am and I greeted him with coffee (I don’t know what we would have done without his help that day!). After packing up some snacks, gathering water bottles, and picking out some tools, we set out for the Home Depot. Again. This time we were in the market for a wheelbarrow and plywood. We hoped the plywood would serve as a wide track to spread out the weight of the truck over the mud as we guided it out of the pit. Thanks to the brilliant folks at the Home Depot, we were able to rent a truck to bring everything out to the pit. We left our supplies unattended, drove back to the H. D., and drove Ella back out. She did great on the much drier dirt road, which we felt was a great sign of imminent success. There was a brisk breeze, the sun was shining, and there was hardly a cloud in the sky – WE. FELT. GOOD!

The men took the wheelbarrow and headed out to find rocks and gravel that they could use to fill the space underneath Bruce’s wheels. Since I am useless for lifting heavy rocks and dragging a wheelbarrow through the mud, I stayed back at the car. Earlier that morning, in an effort to mentally prepare myself for the day, I had looked through all of my holy cards (imagine baseball cards for Catholic kids, but much cooler) and if there was a prayer on the back of the card, I prayed it. Saint Joseph, Saint Anthony, Saint Michael, Saint Raphael, Saint George, The Immaculate Heart of Mary – I shamelessly solicited the intercession of everyone to pray for the recovery of our stuck truck. Sitting in the car at the top of the pit with the Mudpocalypse just out of view, I decided to top off my pleas for divine intervention with a Rosary.

When I finished up my prayers, I had a photo shoot with some ladybugs I noticed wandering around, and then I decided to check on Drew and Izak. I started carefully making my way down the hill. That should have been my first sign that things weren’t going so well. The literal downhill turned into a realization that the men had not appeared to make much progress other than getting very muddy.

The problem was that, although much of the ground around and in the pit had dried a lot, the truck was in the bottom of it all and the mud and water ran deep. Drew was finding it nearly impossible to create a level, stable base for the high-lift jack. Every time he raised the jack another notch, it pushed the rocks and wood he used as a base down into the mud as well as back and away from the truck. CLICK. SQUSIH. SCOOT. Give up. Try again. CLICK. SQUISH. SCOOT. Sigh. Toss high-lift jack aside. Grab more rocks. CLICK. SQUISH. SCOOT. Rinse. Repeat.

I could see the wheels turning in Izak’s engineering mind; he knew our strategy was not working well, and Drew’s body language clearly broadcast extreme frustration. Daring to speak the truth, I stated the obvious, “Maybe we need to wait for the mud to dry up a little bit more.”

“No. This truck needs to get out today. The longer it stays here, the more likely it is going to get vandalized and the more likely it will stay stuck.” Drew had a point.

Izak pointed out one of the most important things about the situation. That mud literally sucked. The huge rocks that Drew was using to give the jack any sort of leverage had only sunk deeper into the ground. And according to Izak, the watery mud/clay was not showing any signs of bottoming out. Admittedly, it has been kind of fun to type the phrase “stuck truck” over and over again these past few days, but let me tell you that if we were the cursing types, I guarantee that all three of us would have found another word to add to the “stuck truck” poem. At that moment we felt very defeated.

When the going gets tough, the tough take a lunch break.  As we were heading up the hill we saw a Ford Explorer sitting near my car. It was the first sign of human activity we had seen in the area since the day Bruce entrenched himself in mud. Nobody got out of the vehicle and it didn’t drive away. Upon approaching my car I heard the driver say into his cell phone, “No, but he’s walking towards me now.” Great, these guys are talking about us. That could be either fabulous or terrible. Drew went over to the driver’s window and explained himself: The truck down there was his and he hadn’t come out here to mess around like so many local hooligans do. As it turns out, one of the men in the Explorer is the steward of the undeveloped land that will someday become part of the neighborhood that is under construction in the area. His appearance on the scene had, indeed, been a blessing. He told us one of his guys who had access to some equipment might be able to help us and he would come out and take a look at things. It pays to be nice, honest, and friendly when you are desperate for help.

Back within the wind–free safety of Ella we divvied out sandwiches, MREs, carrots, and water bottles for our lunch. The food served as a good distraction from our predicament and before we even had time to really consider devising a plan B, I saw a truck approaching on the dirt road. We put away our food and got out of the car, hoping this was the guy sent to help us. Lo and behold, it was our Knight in Shining Armor!

As Drew described it, the Knight in Shining Armor, named Cody, moved like a mountain goat down into the pit towards the truck. Upon examining the situation and pondering his options, he decided that our best bet would be a bulldozer. That’s right – A BULLDOZER. The very thing we had joked and dreamed and PRAYED about having available to us! Drew and Izak left to help Cody retrieve the buldozer, and since Drew left his keys to the truck at home, I had to go get them. I was glad to have something to do, since I had felt rather useless so far, and I appreciated the opportunity to use a restroom after a couple of hours in the middle of nowhere.

When I returned to the pit, the only things there were our abandoned supplies and a white SUV (Drew didn’t see it and since I know squat about cars, I can’t tell you exactly what kind it was). I called Drew, who confirmed that they were on their way with the bulldozer (I still didn’t really believe it at this point). The white car drove over to me and I had a conversation with a nice man who may or may not own/run/be high up in one of the companies that is developing the area. He wished us luck and drove off down the dirt road. You know, the amazing thing about all of this is how nice every single person we encountered was. I think their curiosity about the stuck truck partially motivated them to see it get unstuck. Whatever their reasons, they were all true examples of kindness, patience, and graciousness.

I was getting tired of eagerly waiting for Drew and Izak to return when a couple of guys on a cart-like vehicle drove up. They knew what was going on and I think they wanted to see the show. Not long after that, I looked down the dirt road and could see a growing cloud of dirt. Closer to me was Cody’s truck, being driven by Drew and Izak, and behind it was the most beautiful sight I beheld in all the days of the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse. 

I. Love. This. Photo.
It was huge and yellow and dirty and AWESOME. MAGNIFICENT. THE BEST THING EVER. The font sizes in the editor of this blog do not get large enough to illustrate how utterly stupendous that bulldozer was and will always be to me.

So much beautiful, heavy, strong, construction equipment. :)
The bulldozer has to travel on tires in order to not break the concrete. Drew and Izak got to do a lot of manual labor moving the tires around to get it on its way!
And let me tell you, that bulldozer just scooted down into the pit like it was climbing into a child’s sandbox. It dwarfed the sunken truck and we all knew we were about to witness the kind of thing that you only see in YouTube videos but never in real life. Drew and one of the guys from the cart hooked up the bulldozer’s winch to the tow hitch on Bruce’s backside, and then we waited with baited breath, cell phones and cameras in hand like any decent modern-day American, to document what would happen next.
Winch it! Winch it good!
Standing by with recovery straps, just in case, but more worried about the camera and not falling in the mud.
We learned Saturday night that the yank-the-truck-out-of-the-mud-as-harshly-as-possible method is both painfully loud and destructive to the vehicles, so watching the bulldozer work was refreshing. Cody pulled the winch taught and then slowly but surely began to inch forward. Drew was standing closest to Bruce and says that except for one moment right when the truck first moved, there was no sound from Bruce (which, based by Drew's amazement, I assume was a good thing). As the rear tires gradually made their way out of the mud I could not help but cry tears of joy and relief. Something that had been impossible for many men to achieve Saturday night, and would continue to be impossible for us to do on our own, was happening right before my eyes. Bruce was coming free!


That bulldozer cut across the mud like a hot knife through butter, and it brought the truck (along with a lot of mud) with it. The ride was so smooth that a water bottle stayed upright on top of the tailgate for most of the journey out of the pit. Since we were apparently going to be successful and I knew I'd be able to blog about all of this, I raced to the top so that I could take pictures of the bulldozer and Bruce emerging from the mud like butterflies from a cocoon. It was quite a run up the soft mud, and I was breathless at the end of my sprint, but I got the pictures I wanted. You’re welcome.

I walked over to Drew, threw my arms around him, and as you have probably guessed by now – cried. A weight had been lifted off our shoulders. Well, the weight had actually been lifted out of the mud pit, but at least now we could move it around ourselves. Brucectomy success!

Proud truck owner and Bruce.
Someone needs a b-a-t-h.
We couldn’t say enough “thank yous” to our Knight in Shining Armor, but he insisted that it was no big deal. I mean, in the grand scheme of building houses day in and day out, the Brucectomy HAD to be a lot more fun and exciting, right? To us, Cody was exactly what we had prayed for: someone with a large enough vehicle that had a winch on it who would find our situation a challenge worth tackling. When I had exhausted my prayer cards and said the Rosary that morning, I felt like I was praying for a miracle, and since we literally got what we prayed for, I'd say that we got one. Some people may argue that this was fate, or a set of circumstances that would have happened anyway, but once I pray, coincidence gets thrown out the window. It ceases to exist. God answered our prayers with a resounding “Yes!” that happened to be shaped like a bulldozer and I won't ever be convinced otherwise.

We eventually packed everything into Drew’s truck (Because it was out of the mud! Woot! Woot!), returned some unused supplies to Home Depot, and went home to plan our victory celebration. Drew and I invited Izak and Kris to join us for dinner at P.F. Chang’s to celebrate Bruce’s freedom. It also happened to be our ten month wedding anniversary and we decided, that since two reasons to celebrate weren’t enough, we would treat dinner as a pre-house-closing congratulatory dinner. THAT’S RIGHT - after four days of truck-stuckness, we hardly remembered that we were days away from purchasing our first home! Well, as of this past Friday, it is ours! And, lucky you, I am sure you’ll be hearing about it a lot on here. We move in about six weeks!

Thanks for the photo, Kris! You and Izak are the best. :)
Anyway, we couldn’t have had better company with whom to celebrate than Kris and Izak; they were there to encourage and sympathize with us the whole way through the Mudpocalypse. We are blessed in so many ways – with great friends, a muddy but functional truck, and a house just waiting for us to live in it! Thanks for “sticking” with me through the Mother Trucking Mudpocalypse story telling.

If you learned nothing else from these four posts, allow me to leave you with this lesson: As one of the guys said to us Saturday night, “Four wheel drive is good for one thing – getting you stuck.” And if you do decide to get yourself stuck, do make sure you are very nearby a paved road or a construction site being developed by sympathetic people. 

DO NOT go into the mud unless this is your vehicle.

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