Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Thaw

That short period of time between winter's freeze and spring's awakening has got to be the least enjoyable time of year in southern Ohio. The forest trails become sloppy mud ruts that are not only impassable except for the hardiest 4x4s but are unsightly and filthy too. Hidden beneath an appearance of solid earth is an oozing slop that quickly overtakes a vehicle's tires. Should a trail rise under such conditions, the chance of successfully passing is greatly reduced, as was the case last night.

After watching the Ohio State men's basketball team fall in the NCAA tournament, the best way to put the sting of defeat out of my mind was to grab Kuma d.o.g. and head to the cabin. So late at night, a hastily assembled travel plan meant throwing on some pants and t-shirt, donning worn out,
hole-filled sneakers (absent socks) and a light sweatshirt. After all, it was late and we were just going out to enjoy a quiet night of sleep in the woods to put the game out of my head. In haste, I forgot a cell phone.

The Liberty Jeep was chosen because of its availability and past success. As I approached a decision point in the dark where alternate trails could be selected, the quickest, shortest one was picked to save time; unfortunately, it was not a good choice. As I begin ascending, traction was lost and the Jeep came to a stop with all 4 tires spinning. Even the lowest gear failed to help so I attempted to back down for another run. As luck would have it, the Jeep went sideways and over an edge in even wetter, deeper soup that resulted in being stranded about 300 yards from the cabin. No egress route from the warmth of the Jeep was without deep, pools of mud. As Kuma jumped out and sank mid-leg, I could only imagine how dirty she would be upon our arrival. We both were mud covered as I felt the intrusion of it's cold around my toes in the worn shoes.

As we finished our walk, I couldn't help but think of how significant the error of not carrying a phone was. With Easter Sunday just hours away, the chance of summoning a ride in the morning without a phone was lost. Our absence wouldn't be recognized until evening when Laura would be serving up Easter dinner for our family. Only then would she call and realize my phone was still at the house.

Now, after midnight, there was no time to worry about such minor inconveniences; stripping wet, muddy clothes off on the porch and finding wet towels to clean off a mud caked dog was a higher priority.

Fortunately, our little issue of being stranded did not prevent getting a good night's sleep; the cabin's magic still delivers even in the worst of times. A light rain on the roof was a gentle reminder that the Jeep's status wouldn't be any better in daylight.

Awakening to a pot of fresh ground coffee took my mind off our plight as Easter's morning in the woods was alive and filled with the sound of birds singing. Perhaps they too were filled with the joy of His resurrection.

A trip to the barn provides yet another opportunity for my brown companion to enjoy a run through the mud. Thankfully, a cold diesel tractor started and a tow chain was available to wrap around the Jeep's axle. The escape plan hatched over a pot of coffee was coming together. If it wasn't for having to get on the wet, sinking ground to reach a tow point, it would have been flawless. I'm getting proficient at this routine even when working alone. The 4x4 tractor had no trouble pulling the Jeep onto solid ground where it could finally make it on it's own.

Laura was quick to notice the mud on Kuma and my clothes as we finally returned home just before noon. After stripping in the laundry room and once again wiping down my dog, we were no worse for wear.

It will take the better part of a week to restore the Jeep to its pre-trip condition though due to the spring thaw.

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