It’s been a not-so-quiet week here in Mystery Campground…

I re-injured my right hand. After two weeks with my wrist immobilized but my left thumb free to move, I’ve now got two months in a thumb-immobilizing splint, with the wrist free to move. The possibility of surgery exists; however, if I cancel the follow-up appointment and never return to the doc’s office, the possibility of surgery reduces to zero.

Let’s see, what else… Oh! Yesterday, I drove my truck into a swamp. Or marsh. Or very wet and muddy farmland. The result is the same. I was on the way to a friend’s house to take care of her two Jack Russell terriers. I got within a few miles of her house, I remembered that I’d forgotten her keys.

My backpack was in its usual spot: in the passenger seat. I drove with my good hand, and fumbled in the backpack with my hand with the non-opposable thumb. I glanced over long enough to verify that my poor excuse for a grip had pulled out only what felt like keys. Just then, I felt my right front tire drop off the pavement.

Of all the areas I could have run off the road, this was a flooded section on the drainage side of a large farm field. It had rained for two solid days and there was no shoulder. The right side of the truck dropped into about 2 feet of water and mud.

The immediate reaction of a lesser driver would be to jerk the wheel hard left, inducing a right roll and possible death from an inverted drowning. Instead, this talented driver allowed the truck do what it wanted to do: become a swamp buggy.

My truck sloshed through the marsh, throwing up grass and mud chucks onto my hood, and driving deeper and deeper into the mire. My plan was to throw it into 4WD low, and keep plowing mud until my tires hit something solid, at which time I would simply steer hard left until the tires jumped back onto asphalt. Then I’d act like I’d planned the whole thing.

The first part of my plan worked. I forced the gears into 4WDL. Then all forward motion abruptly stopped. I literally climbed out the driver door as the right side sank deeper into mud. The mud dam my truck created by plowing for 20 yards had left the steam with no path except to flow over the hood of my truck. The right side began to sink deeper.

Strangely, as I climbed (literally) out of the truck, I saw in my imagination the ice-blue eyed, white-haired mystery man from the campground. I saw him standing in the middle of his yard, dressed in a white shirt, black slacks and black shoes. His long hair pulled into a tight pony tail. He was staring at a white plastic bucket upside down in the middle of his yard. He held his chin with one hand as he contemplated the upturned bucket, or what was under it.

In my vision, he looked up at me and said, “Land of pleasant living”. Then he entered his trailer, leaving the upside down bucket in the middle of his yard, and leaving me to wonder (1) what did he mean, (2) why would I think such a thing at a time like this, and (3) do I dare mention any of this in the next installment of Mapping The Edge?

I stood in the rain for three hours waiting on the tow truck driver scheduled by my roadside assistance service. He was promised to be there, “within 45 minutes or less”. Turns out he was coming from (for some unknown reason) almost an hour away. The driver called. He could barely speak English and he wanted directions. I think. Apparently, his GPS couldn’t find my rural address. I had no clue what town I was close to. I could only tell him the ones I was not close to.

Two hours into the wait, I received an automated message confirming that the driver would be here in, “20 to 25 minutes”. Right after that, the diver said in broken English that he was driving toward my general direction, and would start blowing his horn for the rest of the trip. When I heard the horn, I was to call him back to say that he was getting close. After another hour of silently his blowing his horn, through the hiss of the rain, I heard a faint horn in the distance. It grew louder!

After 30 minutes towing and pulling and re-hooking and re-trying, with me in the truck (which still ran by the way) in 4WDL, gunning it for all my engine was worth, we finally made progress. The left side of the truck lifted out of the marsh. When I knew we were almost out, I took a quick mobile photo to document either the final pull to safety, or the roll into the marsh. So that’s why he made me sign that damage waiver!  Surprisingly, no roll over occurred. Before long, all four muddy and grass-filled wheels were back on asphalt.

Almost out

And the engine compartment barely shows signs of the incident!

Engine Compartment

I was so soaked, even the bills in my wallet had to be individually dried. My truck runs and almost still steers correctly.

At the friend’s house were two Jack Russells who were peacefully asleep, after having peed and pooped only three times inside her house. I couldn’t help but think about that phrase, “Land of pleasant living”.

When we first moved to this area over 20 years ago, an often-heard local commercial called this place, “The Land of Pleasant Living”. Today, even the graffiti above the campground urinal provides customers with a pleasant message:


Or is that gangster code? I need a refresher on the latest street lingo. Pronto!

When I get the weeds and grass and mud out of my struts and steering column, and dry out a bit, I’m going back to the campground, turn over that bucket in his yard, and report my findings!