Saturday, January 7, 2012

THE Trip, Big Butt Gets Stuck, Tana is Shoehorned, And Its Hotter Than - -

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

On June 29th 2011 we got up quite early for this "I don't do mornings" gal and got rolling.  Master plan, drive from Buffalo Wyoming to Custer South Dakota a distance of about 185 miles before it got H*O*T.  Our route would be I 90 east to 16, which runs southeast to Custer. We were able to snag a campsite that was reasonable (as in not so expensive that we would need to sell the gold fillings out of our eye teeth) and we could stay there for 7 nights.  Note this will be over the 4th of July weekend, near Mount Rushmore and in the Black Hills, very busy and a favorite tourist area for the 4th.

The scenery was different than what we had been seeing, the Black Hills, are just that, big hills, almost black in hue due to the pines that grow there.  I would love to show you photos, but, well, they are horrible.  Seems we had a LOT of dead critters on the windshield, and even though I took a few photos, the photos ended up being of dead bugs splattered instead of pretty green/black hills.

That said, the real story of the day was getting into our campsite.  Did I tell you that we managed to snag the LAST campsite in a reasonably priced campground for the 4th of July week??  That translates to, it was this campsite or none, do whatever you MUST to get Tana in there.  The campground could not offer us any other campsite, period.

Here are the other circumstances:

Big Butt is not 4 wheel drive, I'll just bet you are starting to figure out where this is going, right??  Yep.

Our campsite was the at the top of a short but sorta steep hill. NOT a pull through site.  To get into it, you had to back in, on what Man so lovingly calls the blind side.  That means he will have to put Tana into the campsite by backing her in and the back end will be turning right.  At times it is pretty danged impossible to see where Tana is going.  I am not describing this well, but, our RVing buds will get it.  When backing in on the blind side Man really depends on me (I am running around out side during this process, by the way) to watch carefully, watching that he does not hit a tree or limbs, or rocks, or poles or any other number of obstructions that seem to jump up and do damage while units back in on the blind side.  He also needs me to be "visible" by staying where he can see me in the side view mirrors on Big Butt.  It is not as easy as it sounds.

So, with me standing behind, in the campsite, Man pulls the unit into position on the short hilly, gravel -- Ohhh, did I tell you the campsite AND the road were all gravel, loose sandy gravel?? Ohhh, I didn't??  Well they were, even though at that very moment we did not realize just how soft the campsite was, it did not look soft - -   Anyway, Man starts backing UP the gravel steep road and turning Tana's back end into the sandy loose graveled campsite.  Of course, just to add some spice there was the issue of a lot of trees, close to the road and  lining the campsite (we will be very thankful for these trees and the protection they offer later in the week during a hail storm).

Man backs up, gets out a time or two to check out where things (Tana) are going, and jumps back in to continue backing up.

Then, it happened, we were moving (err, backing up) slowly, and all of a sudden we were not backing up at all, Big Butt was not pushing Tana backwards, he was spinning those 4 tires on the back axles, spinning, spinning, spitting sand and gravel, sinking in, sunk, stopped.

We were STUCK!  OHHHH NO!!!

Here is a lookie see, note how close Big Butt is to that pine tree.  Also note that the side view mirror is pushed to the rear.  Side rear mirrors do that, and now, we know why.  When pushed in they give you a few extra inches of clearance when backing in blind sided and up hill and into soft sandy gravel campsites that are lined by trees.  More on that later.  (By the way, Man is looking for a shovel, which he could not find. SIGH)

And, below, here is the hole we dig with those tires.  Yes, there was a hole on both sides of the truck, rather 2 holes on both sides of the truck, one for each of the 4 tires.  This set of holes was somewhere between 10 and 12 inches deep.  I know the photo is not the bestest, but, I think you can get the idea.

After we filled the holes in by scuffing the dirt back in with our feet (shovel still has not been found as far as I know more than 6 months later), Man pulled forward, onto the street again, and next he said, "Stand back, I am gonna run 'er in."  I am weak kneed by now, as I see us ripping off that side view mirror, or hitting Tana on that tree (could have scrapped the entire outside at the top, we were SOOOO close, inches between us and a long nasty snarly scrape).  And, Man hit the gas, charging backwards up the hill, turning back into the campsite, misses the tree and rammed past that filled in hole.  All the time he is watching me so that he does not back up and push Tana off the back end of the campsite, which had a 3 to 4 foot sharp drop off.  When he stopped we were pretty much perfectly parked.  No kidding.  It only took some minor adjustments after that to have Tana just where she needed to be, leaving enough room on both the left and right to open the opposing slides, not hitting any trees with the slides.

Below:  A look at Tana's back.  This is the kitchen slide area.  That slide must come out 24 inches and NOT hit that tree.  This is what we call "shoehorning" a unit into a campsite.  It is rather nerve wracking with normal conditions, the loose gravel upped the ante a bit.  You can also see that the campsite falls off back there.  It falls off all around the "pad" of the campsite, we are, after all, in the hills!  Hills = NOT flat!

Shoehorn procedure complete!  Successfully even!  Oh, did I mention, that it was close to noon local time and it was 98 degrees?  Ya, hotter than - -

A few days later, when Man had settled down a bit, I begged another set of photos, showing just how close we were to that back tree:

See he is even smiling a bit by now:

I posted on Facebook and chatted with friends via email telling them we were really shoehorned into this site. I can hear them, ya, ya, Carol.  But, later in the week MOC friends Mina and Bob came by to visit, and the first thing she said, was, something like, "Wow, you REALLY are shoehorned in."  Yep, we were Mina!

And, what I cannot show you, is how when we were backing in, Tana was actually listing seriously to the right, tipping in further at the top than at the bottom.  So, that photo with the side view mirrors pushed in, that is not a true representation of how close Tana and that tree were.  Even Man does not know how close it really was.  Let me tell you, if he had seen it from where I saw it, he might never have rammed Big Butt back up that hill shoehorning Tana into our campsite.  I am gonna guess, it was less than 4 inches clearance.

But, we were in, and we had 7 nights and days to explore the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.  It would be a time of awe, wonder, friends and sadness as we lost our Miss Tilly here this week to kidney failure.  Oh, and those soft spots from the 4 tires, would come back to irritate us once again, next time it would be my turn to ram Big Butt through them, only I had to do so and not run Big Butt into Tana's nose.  But, that would be days away - - in the meantime - - we have sights to see - -



my Heritage Happens said...

Wow, what an ordeal! I know you saw beautiful country here though, looking forward to more! I was there in 2001, great country!

Phil and Rudee said...

takes teamwork to park these big old buggies. Good job on that shoe horn!

Karen said...

Now, that's a nerve-wracking situation! With a happy ending, and that's the main thing. :)

Lynne Carothers said...

The nightmares shall now commence! Walt and I have only had a few trips so far with our "WhlEst8" and all of those have used pull-throughs. Do you and Al give lessons?

Carol said...

my Heritage Happens, yes, it was a bit of an ordeal, and yes, it was beautiful country. Worth the shoehorn experience!

Phil and Rudee, teamwork for sure, thank you.

Karen, nerve-wracking, yea, that is a sweet way of describing it. I do believe it was followed up by an adult beverage or two! LOL

Lynne, lessons, nope, suggestions, yes. Keep your insurance paid in full! Have good insurance policy. Don't rush, even though Man in this instance did a ram up the hill at considerable speed, it is not something we advise for normal operating procedures. Learn to stand where Walt can see you in those side view mirrors. Learn good sign language and once you find something that works for you, DO NOT change those signs. Use of cell phones or walkie talkies is highly recommended. During back up, always get out, always stand behind and watch and look up too! Trees are lovely, but, they rip roofs!

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Wow...totally "get it" Carol! In fact, I felt my stomach tightening up as I read it. Man and Mike sound so much alike in their skill and daring confidence. It would probably take a lot more miles under my belt to relax, even a little, in these situations. Good story telling!

Barbara Poole said...

Close shave...I would've had my eyes closed saying prayers. Sure love the shot with the tape measurer, shows you are prepared. So glad you can laugh about it now!

Susan Clark said...

So, so impressed - and depressed as well. That's not something we could ever do - my double vision/depth perception issues make this an absolute no go. Kudos to you both!!!!

Carol said...

Lisa, I figured you would "get it". Yes, the boys do tend to be more brave about these types of issues. SIGH

Barbara, yes, a close shave. The tape measure by the way, is Man's father's and Man always carries it.

Susan, YES you can do it, you just come up with alternatives to handling situations. First would be, ahh, hemmm, better planning than we tend to do, call ahead earlier for reservations and ask for pull throughs. There are a lot of RVers that won't go into a campground unless there are pull throughs. That is fine. We have even seen the staff or other campers back in a unit for someone that cannot.

No matter what adjustments must be made, just get out there and do it. We see people in wheel chairs, on oxygen, with all kids of disabilities, and they are traveling and seeing the US and Canada, living their dream. You can too!