Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Fought The Mud ...

... and the mud won.

(It was but a temporary victory.)

Have you ever had one of those days, where you seem to be on the brink of disaster all day long, but at the end you're sitting home enjoying a beer or two? That was my day today.

I woke up at  4:00 am and was on the road by 4:30.

At 4:42 I noticed the flashing red and blue lights in my rearview mirror. I pulled over to the side to let them pass. They didn't pass. 

Aw shit.

The officer walks up and I hand him my registration and insurance card. He says, "I pulled you over because you were going 54 in a 40 zone." "I clearly wasn't paying attention," I say. "Can I see your license," he says. "Oh, yeah, sorry," I blurt as I pull out my license.

"Where are yo coming from?"
"Edgewater Park."
"Is that home?"
"Where are you headed?"
"Lakehurst Naval Air Station."
"Going to work?"
"I do grassland bird surveys for the state."
"Have you been drinking?"
"Just this coffee."
"Ok, sorry I pulled you over."

Huh? "Sorry I pulled you over"? That's it? 

And the officer hands me back my documents and walks away. I'm free to go.

Maybe this will be a good day.


I meet my fellow surveyors at the local WaWa, drink some more coffee, hit the head, and then head on into Lakehurst. The survey is uneventful and rather quiet. Fewer birds at my points then usual. At the diner where we meet for breakfast I learn that several of us have had quiet days, but one has had his best day so far. I guess all the birds went to his points.

After breakfast I head out to wander in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. One of my favorite flowers, the thread leaved sundew, was blooming all about Lakehurst, so I go looking elsewhere to find and photograph it.

And I do. At several places in the Pines.

On the way home I decide to take some of the back roads, sand roads through the pygmy pine forest in Warren Grove. I've a four wheel drive vehicle that has no problem with the sand.

It does however have problems with the mud. Unfortunately, I didn't know that until today.

What was I thinking? (Shut up you!)

Unable to go forward or backward, and having nothing to put under the wheels to gain traction (the few sticks I found did nothing) I called for help.

And eventually help came.

While I was waiting I wandered about to see what else was stuck here with me. I didn't go too far, as I wanted to be near when the tow truck came.

I found these guys, stuck in the same puddle as me.

Although all they had to do was grow up to get out.

Perhaps this was one of the grownups.

Except that they were really tiny. Smaller than the tadpoles.

They were everywhere though, and I had to be careful not to step on them.

Alas, these, and a few passing birds, were my only companions. So I climbed back into the car and took a nap.

Eventually a tow truck came.

"Other than stay out of your way, what can I do." I asked has he wrapped chains about the rear axle.
"That's pretty much it."He replied.

So I watched.

"Ok, climb into the car, put it in neutral, start it up, and be ready to steer."
So I did.

Fortunately, the car had not sunk down into the clay. And he towed me out of the mud. And I was free.

We then chatted about off roading in the Pines, how if I was serious about it I should get new tires, and how the road I was headed down was pretty boring, and full of mud traps. "Go back to Beaver Dam Road, and turn left, that will take you to some interesting places. But don't do it today, as the a fleet of fire vehicles, including a bulldozer, were headed in that direction. Even if it is just an exercise they'll have the  road all blocked."

"Thanks, how much do I owe you?"
"Nothing, your auto club covered it all. And that's unusual, as this is a $300 job and most only cover the first $100."

What, I'm stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere, it takes over an hour for the tow truck to get there, and it cost me nothing? Yeah, a good day.

I turned around, took one last look at my nemesis, and headed back. And I passed over a dozen fire vehicles on my way out. Including these two.

Which were blocking the road I just came out of.

'Is there a fire?" I asked, thinking it may still be just an exercise.
"Yep, it's a fire." One of the fire police answered, "Back into Warren Grove, up Beaver Dam Road."

You can read more about the fire here. (Be sure to click on the pictures.) And I had wondered why there were so many helicopters flying about. I could hear but not see them. One doesn't usually hear so many in the Pines.


When I got home I unloaded all my gear, enjoyed a nice cold beer (ok, two), took a shower, downloaded my pictures, and then headed out to the local carwash.

And everything is all better.

And tomorrow I'm off again. Wish me luck!


The auto club that got me such a good deal on towing is the Better World Club. It provides the same services as AAA, but has an ecological conscience. I even get a discount because I drive a hybrid.  I costs $80 a year, but you get $40 in gas rebates. Today, it was the best $80 I've ever spent.


Ron a.k.a. Danudin said...

What a great story, shame you made it ALL up - "Sorry I pulled you over!!!!" indeed, who's gonna swallow that!

Chesney said...

What a day...there's always tomorrow! LOL

Susan Gets Native said...

Well then. Let's hope tomorrow is "better" for you? I think?

top5cats said...

Love your stories Steve, you are just so normal, LOL.