I’m going to apologize in advance for the length of this post. Some friends of mine recently went on a camping weekend break and had quite the adventure. I have anonymized the story but I think it’s still compelling enough to get you to read to the end. Both my friend and my husband will tell the story, I mark where each of us is narrating.
We like to camp. We’ve already planned out camping trips all summer long- at least one a month. The first one was supposed to be the weekend before Memorial Day weekend- but we got rained out. When it looked like Memorial Day weekend was going to be mostly beautiful we decided to take advantage of it and head to Topaz Mountain. We hadn’t been in exactly 3 years.
It’s one of our favorite places to camp. But it’s usually rocks and dirt. There will be an occasional flower, but not often. This time when we went to Topaz it was covered in knee high grass and wildflowers because it’s been so wet everywhere. The first evening of camp was beautiful. Pitched tents, started a fire, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, sat under a sky full of billions of stars… It was perfect. Put the kids to bed in their tent and both of us headed to bed in our tent shortly after.
The next morning we got up and went on a mountain bike ride with the girls. We pulled over by a meadow of grass and wildflowers where the girls made ‘nests’ in the grass and we made flower wreaths for their hair. We played for an hour or so before heading back to camp for lunch and to go to a reservoir that was relatively close by.
This is an important point to remember- we spent the afternoon playing on the beach and the water. We cleaned up as it started to get a little chilly and make the hour drive into the middle of no where back to camp. As we drove it started to rain and rain and rain some more.
By the time we got back to camp the rain was freezing cold. We’d started a movie in the car so my husband jumped out and started a charcoal fire for our tin foil dinners and jumped back in to warm up while they cooked. We fed the kids quickly under the easy up (pulled halfway down to protect a little from the freezing rain and wind blowing it sideways) and made hot chocolate to drink in the car while we finished the movie. By this point we’d been running the car to keep warm for a while and decided to just go to bed for the night.
We have three tents. One really nice one that my husband and I sleep in, one not so nice one that that girls were all going to squish in this trip and then our ‘old’ big family tent that the zipper on the door busted at scout camp last summer. We decided to put all three up and use the one with the crappy zipper as a ‘changing room’ for the girls so their tent would only have sleeping stuff in it. When we told the girls to go to bed and they went to get jammies on they discovered that anything not in suitcases was wet. We figured it out and my daughter crawled into the sleeping tent. She immediately started to cry-anything that had been touching the edge of the tent was wet. So in the pouring rain I started running all bedding from the girl’s tent to my tent – and then my husband started running the girls from the changing tent to our tent so their jammies would stay dry.
We stood in the tent trying not to get any wetter, or get anything dry wet and the girls were done. They were wet and cold and it was late. We sorted out what was wet from what was dry (we were down several sleeping bags and blankets and a whole stack of clothes) and my husband started running all that stuff to the car to lay it out flat over night. I told the girls about the time as as camping when I was little and we were trying to put up tents and it was so windy they just kept blowing away, and the time we drove across the country and slept in a rest stop and my dad and brother laid out on picnic tables to sleep and got woken up by sprinklers turning on at 5:30 in the morning. They started to chill a little and giggle and not feel quite so upset at the situation.
We decided to just make one giant bed so we could maximize blanket and sleeping bag usage so my husband slept on one side, I slept on the other and all four girls slept in between. This meant that not only did my husband and I sleep closest to the sides of the tent (where it’s coldest) but we also had the least amount of blanket coverage. I told the girls some more stories (how my husband and I met, our first kiss, naughty things we did as kids etc) and then when everyone had finally calmed down and was happy we tried to sleep.
The girls seemed to sleep just fine, my husband and I however, did not. I was freezing cold all night, as was my husband. At first light he started getting out of the tent and I asked him if he was going to go start the fire/make some hot chocolate. He said he was going to the car to turn on the heater and sleep some more. This sounded heavenly, but then he told me every seat but the driver’s seat was covered in suitcases. I tried to sleep some more but was only successful for about 30 minutes.
I’d noticed that the wall of the tent next to where my husband was sleeping was dark- like it was fully saturated with water- which isn’t supposed to happen with our heavy canvas tent. When I got out of the tent 30 minutes later (when I had to pee badly enough to go from a little chilly to really cold) I realized that the tent was dark because the wind had been blowing that direction all night and the side of the tent was frozen with ice and SNOW! (Remember that we were SWIMMING the day before!)
The saddest looking tent in that picture was the ‘dressing room’, it didn’t make it through the night and has now been cannibalized for parts…
I got in the car and went back to sleep with my husband and the heater running for another couple of hours. Eventually the girls woke up and we fed them and decided to go see some stuff that my husband had looked up to do if we got caught in the ‘chance of rain’ that we were supposed to get on Sunday.
We started out at Fish Springs wildlife refuge. It’s a wetlands in the west desert of Utah. We drove about an hour and a half over bumpy, windy dirt mountain roads through absolutely no civilization to get there. Once there we drove around and saw a lot of cool birds and even something that looking through binoculars looked like either a small wolf or a large coyote. There was not another soul at the wildlife refuge. Even the rangers were gone.
When we were done my husband had one more thing that he wanted to see out there- window rock arch. But as we finished at Fish Springs he commented that we were low on gas. We could probably *just* make it back to Delta to get gas but it would be cutting it close. But if we were to see the arch then we wouldn’t have enough gas to get back for sure. Looking on the maps that we had we saw that there were some towns just past the arch- so we decided we’d go see the arch and then drive to one of those towns for gas and then head back.
We drove another 15 miles to a fork in the road. If we went straight we’d hit a ‘town’ called Callao. We turned left down a road that would take us to the turn for the arch. We drove 1.5 miles to the turn off and then onto another dirt road that took us up around a mountain to where the arch was supposed to be. That road was also dirt, although it was still raining- as it had been all day and all night the night before (unless of course it was snowing). But the road seemed pretty good. We’d hit a little wet spot- but then we’d hit a dry spot and it seemed like there were more dry spots than wet spots.
We were supposed to go 2.8 miles to see the arch, by 3 miles we’d seen nothing even close to the pictures we’d found online when the car hit a muddy spot and we slid into the mud bank of the road. We tried to get out to no avail to drive the car out so my husband and I got out to see what we could do. It was slick, thick clay type mud. We thought maybe if we put some rocks under the wheels of the car that would give it enough traction to get up onto the dry part of the road again- we spent a while in the rain doing that and it did no good. We tried to use the jack to put rocks directly under the tires but the jack just sunk lower and lower into the mud.
Nothing seemed to help. We realized at this point that we were literally at the end of the road. A couple hundred feet in front of us was a fenced off cow pasture. No one would be coming up here for a very long time.
These pictures are from the next morning…
End of the road
Miles from anywhere
Evaluating the situation this is what we had with us in the car: my husband, me, our four girls ages 12, 8, 7 and 6 (in two days). We had a small lunch cooler with melting ice, sandwich meat, cheese, peppers, pickles, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, four capri suns and 4 water bottles full of water. We had our ‘dry food box’ with bread, peanut butter, crackers, marshmallows, chocolate and some other misc foods. All of our suitcases were in the car since we were drying out clothing, there were two dry swimming towels, a small blanket and a random twin sheet. We had 71 miles until empty worth of gas. It was still raining and now my husband and I were covered in mud and wet. The water and gas situation seemed most urgent.
We decided that he’d walk for help and the girls and I would wait in the car. Our best bet was that he would hopefully not have to walk far before being able to flag down a car for help. In our drive from Fish Springs to our current resting place stuck in the mud behind a mountain we’d seen one other car. That was hours and hours ago. We had a vague map with no mileage info on it but it showed two “towns,” one in each direction. We past a road sign on the main road, but couldn’t remember which was the closer town. The choice was between Calleo and Trout Creek and Trout Creek was on the path to a ‘main’ road- so we decided that he’d better go left toward that town when he got to the bottom of the hill in hopes of running into a car. I handed him a sandwich and a bottle of water and some candies and he started walking down the road in the rain and mud. It was 4:00. I thought that it might be the last time I saw him. There are so many stories that end badly that start with someone walking off into the desert to get help… never to be seen again. I was struggling to emotionally hold it together for the girls. I didn’t want them to be scared and if I broke down sobbing that would certainly be a reason to be scared.
Luckily my girls have rather good imaginations and managed to entertain themselves pretty well in the car. We did do some reading and read the first 90 pages of Alice in Wonderland (thank you Nook for having a library to choose from at my fingertips). We had dinner of sandwiches and tried to stay warm. I found that if I turned the car on for 15 minutes it was long enough to warm it up really good and used 3 miles worth of gas. I tried to only start it every 90 minutes when it got really cold. About 8:30 it was starting to get dark so I had the girls get ready for bed. We sorted through suitcases and put on every article of clothing we could to stay warm. The night before it had been cold enough to snow. The car temp was at about 44 degrees most of the night. We were getting settled in places to sleep when Annika said, ‘I see Daddy!’ It was 9:00 and dark and there had been no headlights. Sure enough my husband was standing outside the car, dripping wet and exhausted. I was a combination of relieved to see him and disappointed that he’d not brought help. I was so happy I didn’t have to spend all night worried about him. (It didn’t occur to me until later that maybe we should have weathered the night and then sent someone out for help…)
Backing up a minute for the husband’s turn:
It started raining the night before and continued to rain though out the day. It was not a hard rain, just a constant drizzle. We were driving around on the dirt roads, all the roads were dirt, and there was no pavement for 100 miles, looking for the arch rock formation we had read about online. We tried to follow the directions we had and turned off the main dirt road hoping to we picked the correct turn to find the arch. The road was a little slick in a few places, but it always seemed to be solid after just a second or two.
Then after about 2 miles, around the time when we should have been able to see the arch, the road started getting very muddy and slippery and I was getting a bit nervous and thought about turning around. But we were almost there and the ground became solid again, so we kept going another 300 yards or so, when it became really slippery again and suddenly we were sliding from one side of the road to the other and then stopped going forward.
I quickly threw the car in reverse to try to get out before got stuck and were able to go about 4 or 5 yards and got stuck again, so I put it back in drive an tried going forward again, and nothing. I tried going forward and backward a couple more times, but it was no use, we were stuck. When I realized how stuck we really were my first thought was that someone was going to end up taking a long walk.
My second thought, which occurred only a split second after the first is that person is going to be me. With these thoughts running through my head, I wanted to start cussing, but held my composure. I was nervous because we had not seen but 3 or 4 cars the whole day we were out and the likelihood of seeing any more were very slim as it was a Sunday afternoon leaning toward evening as well as being Memorial day weekend, so any people that may live in the area would likely be having dinner and enjoying a quiet Sunday evening at home or might be visiting family or friends some where else.
We finally decided the rain was not going to stop so my wife and I decided not to wait any longer and got out in the rain to assess the situation.
The road dirt was a grayish beige and with all the rain was the consistency of wet clay or play dough. The road was carved down about a half foot from the rest of the landscape and the dirt near the road was also had a squishy clay like feel especially where there were no rocks or vegetation, although not a squishy as the road.
When we stepped out onto the road, our feet sank in an inch or two and the clay would stick to our shoes making me feel like I was wearing elevator shoes, slippery elevator shoes. We decided that we would try to find rocks to put under the tires to see if we could get some traction. We spent about an hour finding rocks and placing rocks under the tires and under the car in a row to have a place to drive on. I asked my wife if the vehicle was front wheel or rear wheel drive and we decided it was front wheel drive, so that is where we placed most of the rocks. Once we were good and wet and muddy, we decided it was time to test our work. There was no good way to clean off the mud so we just climbed in, muddy shoes and all. The carpet on the floor of the car quickly turned gray. I turned the engine on and put it in gear and nothing. The wheels just spun. I decided I would get out and let my wife try and I would watch from outside to see what the car was doing and what we needed to fix. That’s when we discovered that the vehicle is rear wheel drive and then spend another half hour to 45 minutes moving the rocks to the rear tires. I am not sure why we did not realize before that it was rear wheel drive as that is where the tires were dug into the dirt the most.
Rain continued to come down and began to puddle in the spots where the car had made grooves and divots in the dirt which made it all that much more difficult. It was now somewhere between 2:30 to 3:00 pm. I again started the car and attempted to drive out and again the tires just spun. At this point I was a little scared and very frustrated and tired.
My wife was talking about one of us needing to start walking to go for help. We had a short conversation about what we should do next and then I asked, her “when you say one of is going to need to start walking to try to find another car to get help, is what you are really trying to say that I need to start walking and you stay will the kids in the car?” We both agreed that is what she really meant and that I would need to start walking soon. I really didn’t like that idea, and so had one last idea to try. I got the jack out of the back and started jacking up the tire in hopes that I could get it high enough to put some rocks under the tire. Well after about 20 minutes of that the tire was off the ground but was not exactly up very high. The tires had dug into the dirt at least 5 inches and so even when jacked up, they were not above ground level.
Well, I tried my best to dig it our a little wedge rocks under the tires in hopes that I would not have to start walking, but needless to say, my hopes were not very high at this point. Well guess what, it didn’t work. This wouldn’t be much of a story if it had. The tires again just spun or didn’t move at all. It was now sometime around 3:30 or later and this whole time the rain had not stopped coming down.
We got back into the car and I just sat there with my head hung low knowing what was coming next. We looked over and reviewed our resources. We had brought our food box with us so that critters would not get into it back at camp, but had only brought enough water for driving around with.
We did not plan for getting stuck or for taking a hike. We only had 4 or 5 water bottles and the ice in the cooler that could be drunk when melted. While I had made the attempt to jack up the tire, the kids had already made sandwiches and had eaten. While I sat there with my head down my wife made a sandwich for me and handed me a bottle of water to take with me. We looked at the vague map we had gotten from the fish/bird refuge and decided that I would go left at the bottom of the road toward the “town” of Fish Creek.
We wanted to have a plan of the direction I was headed in case they were rescued while I was gone, or in case I got lost so they would know which direction to look for me although we did not discuss this second part, but I think my wife and I both thought it. Sandwich in hand and water bottle in my pocket, I put my jacket on and began walking in the rain, mud, and clay. I walked slowly in the beginning for the first 10 minutes or so, as I was also eating the sandwich, for which I was grateful as I don’t think I would have the energy for what came next with out it. As soon as I finished eating, I began to walk much quicker. In my mind I pretended I was in a speed walking competition.
Even so, I was unable to go very fast as the ground was so slippery and the mud kept sticking to my shoes and I was really trying to avoid falling. In the few patches when the ground seemed more solid, I attempted jogging to go a little faster, but I didn’t do that very much as I didn’t want to waste all my energy.
We had clocked it when turned on to this road and so we knew it was a 3 mile walk back to the next road. I timed myself so I could know how fast I was going and how long it would take me to get where I was going once I found a sign that could tell me how far away anything was. The map we had did not have mileage distance on it. It took me 1 hour to walk the first 3 miles, so I used that as my gauge.
Once I got down to the turn off, I felt like I should go right rather than left like we had discussed, but I thought it would be better to have my wife know which direction I was headed, so I went left. I had a hat on with a brim all the was around so it kept the rain off my face, head and neck and as I was walking I even started to get a little warm even though it was rainy and windy and the temperature was probably in the 50s. Up ahead I could see telephone poles that looked like they intersected with the road, so I set a goal to reach the first telephone pole before I took any breaks or even looked at my watch.
I didn’t want to keep looking at the watch for fear it would make time feel like it was going even slower that it already felt. As I was walking along the road, I felt like I was hearing a car and hearing voices, audible voices, not just in my head, and I would look up ahead and back and see nothing but desert. This would happen every time a breeze would blow past my ears and happened more that a few times. (He told me this when he got back and I thought he was going crazy!)
Well I finally reached the telephone pole and looked at my watch and it had been another hour, so I figured I had gone about another 3 miles.
I thought about taking a short break, but there was no where to sit down, the dirt was all mud and there were no rocks large enough to sit on, so I decided to just keep going.
I had only taking a few sips of water, but did not feel overly thirsty, but that may be because I was soaking wet from the rain. My shirt was damp and my pants were completely wet from the knee down, my socks were totally water logged and my shoes were wet inside and out. I could feel my socks bunching up on the bottom of my foot and I tried to pull them up, but they were so wet they wouldn’t move and I knew for sure that I was going to end up getting blisters, but I didn’t want to think about it or it would slow me down.
I continued to walk as fast as I could, but I could feel my self slowing down a bit. My legs were starting to ache from walking full speed for the last 2 hours, but I continued on. I walked past a couple of random road cones marking areas where the road was starting to wash out and was a little excited to see signed of any type of civilization, but there was still no town or anything else in sight. I walked over a cattle grate in the road and never realized how far apart the bars are. It was difficult to walk over and I had to be careful not to slip and hurt my leg or ankle.
Off in the distance to the south a couple of miles I could see some small lakes or ponds and began to fear that the Fish Creek on the map was not a town at all, but was just the ponds and creek that I could see. It seemed like I walked forever before I finally past the ponds and finally came to a cross road and there was a large road sign.
I was really excited at this point and wanted to run there to read what it said, but I was too tired, so I just continued to walk at the same pace I had been. When I reached the sign, I looked at my watch again and realized that what seemed like forever had only been one more hour and so I estimated that I had now walked about 8 ½ to 9 miles. Well what came next was very disheartening. The sign had arrows going in all 4 directions and the closets town was still another 12 miles away.
It was 10 minutes to 7 pm and I had already been walking for 3 hours and at best, while I was still in good condition and not completely exhausted had come maybe 9 miles. I just wanted to cry. I had not sat down, taken any kind of break or stopped walking for 3 hours and I was just spent.
I then realized that if I had listened to the feelings I had when I came to the first turn and when right I would only be 5 or so mile away from the closest town and could easily muster up the strength to walk that much farther, but 12 miles at this point seemed like an insurmountable journey. The sun was starting to go down and I knew I only had another hour, maybe 2 of day light and I needed to decide which direction to go next.
Knowing that I would not be able to go the same speed I had for the first 3 hours, I estimated that I would not reach anywhere listed on the road sign until some time around midnight or later, so I decided my best option would be to head back to the car. I also decided that I wanted to try to get back to the car before it was completely dark as I was not sure what animals were in the area, but I know earlier in the day while still driving in the area we had seen a large coyote and the day before we had seen a rather large fox.
But I knew I was tired and was going to be slower that before, and that it would definitely be dark within 2 hours or less, so I decided that rather than walk on the road back, I would follow the telephone poles. I knew they would take me to the road the car was on because I had passed them when walking down the first time. I began to gain some courage as I followed the telephone wire line and could see the road getting further away. I was hoping to save at least ½ an hour and maybe even an hour off of my walk back.
Walking through the desert was very different that walking on the road. Even though the road was rough and slippery with the mud, the desert area was harder. It was not a slippery but still just as muddy and the ground was not as flat and would go up and down in parts, not like over any hills, but just though small desert creeks and little rises and the ground was more rocky.
After a while I noticed that I had been looking more at the ground to see where I was going and had not been paying very close attention to the telephone poles and had wondered quite a way north of the poles. I could still see them, but they were at least a half straight to the south, but I figured as long as I could still see them I was ok.
Well I had been walking for at least an hour and I could see an out cropping of rock and I was north of it and thought for sure I would find the road before then as I didn’t remember passing it on my walk there, but I been walking the road on the way there. The sun had gone down by this time but there was still a little bit of light left in the sky and I thought for sure I would reach the road soon.
As I got closer and closer to the rocks and hill I realized I had gone too far north and I would need to go around the rocks, taking more time. At this point I was again getting a little scared and I don’t know if my eyes and mind were playing trick on me or if I was actually seeing things move, but I decided that I would pick up a couple of rocks just so I had something to throw if I needed to.
Up in the rocks I could see quite a few holes and small caves and though surely there were some kind of animals in them, so I walked even further out of the way so I didn’t get to close. I didn’t have a flash light with me, but the moon was out and even though there was still cloud cover and it was still raining, it managed to shed enough light so that I could still see the ground.
About 9 pm I finally reached the road the car was on and I was never so relieved. It was still another mile or so to the car from that point and I was so tired, I could hardly move. I walked as swift as I was able, which was not very fast, and was actually quite slow. The mud on the road was worse than the mud in the desert and it began sticking to my shoes again making it even harder to walk.
It was about 9:30 when I reached the car and I was cold, sore and tired. I had not sat in so long and I felt so stiff I was not sure my body was going to bend that way. I just stood there out side the car for a minute. It was dark inside the car but I could hear voices talking. Then I heard my 7 year old scream out, “Hey there’s Daddy” and my wife say, “No, Daddy went to get help” and then my 7 year old say “No, he is right there.” I then reach out and opened the car door and slowly climbed inside to driver seat. I still had about a fourth of the water bottle left and asked my wife if it was ok if I took another drink and proceed to finish the bottle.
Now that I was sitting and not moving I could feel the blisters that had formed on my feet. Taking of my shoes was painful. I stripped completely down and my wife handed me a fresh set of clothing. We were also blessed to have left our clothing bags in the car, so I could put on dry clothes and we all put on additional clothing to help keep warm for the night as we only had one blanket in the car which on of the kids used, and we also had a towel that some else used as a blanket.
We folded down the middle seats and I attempted to lay down as flat as I could to sleep. I say flat as I could because there was a space between the seats so it was very uncomfortable to lay any part of my back over that area and as kids were squished into the seats surrounding me the would periodically stretch out and I would be kicked in the face or elbowed in the side, etc. Also as it became chilly through out the night, my wife and I would wake up and one of us would turn the car on for about 15 minutes, just long enough to warm up again and then we would turn it back off and fall back asleep.
We didn’t want to leave the car on too long as we were quickly running out of gas to add to our problems. Sometime in the night it finally stopped raining and when morning came the ground began to dry out. By 10 am the clay in the road had begun to get hard, it was still soft under the surface, but was becoming more solid, which gave us hope. As we ate granola bars for breakfast, I began to realize that my left foot was hurting and not just from blisters. I didn’t twist or sprain my ankle or anything, but I thing it was bruised from the walk through the desert.
When we got out to reassess our situation I notice that I was having a hard time walking on it and would not be able to walk very fast that day.
We thought that now with the rain gone and the ground drying out, we might be able to just drive out, but the ground under the tires was not drying out and was still very slick and our tires just continued to spin. I had an idea to put the jack up on a rock so that it would start higher and we could jack to tires up high enough to actually reach under and put rock under the tires.
We managed to get the left side up and get rocks under and then get the right side up and put rocks under, but when I tried to let the jack down it got stuck and would not whined back down, so now the right tire us stuck up in the air. It definitely was not going move in that position. my wife and I tried to just rock the car back and forth to get the car to just slip off the jack and eventually the kids joined in, because it looked like fun to them, so we rocked the car back an forth while I hit the rocks the jack was on as well as hit the jack with the tire iron and we eventually knocked it off the jack, Hallelujah.
We got in the car thinking that for sure this time it would work. We had fully put rocks underneath the base of tire and the ground around was drying out, there was no way this was not going to work, and there was no way I was going to be able to walk to the nearest town. Well guess what. I put the car in gear and tried to go and the rocks we put under the tire just shot out like bullets and the wheels just continued to spin. At this point we could not even make a 2ndattempt as the jack no longer worked. We were getting desperate and decided to try to just rock the car back and forth and put our 12 year old in the driver seat with instructions to step on the gas peddle when I said go. That of course did not work either. So with my inability to walk very well, it was now my wife’s turn to walk to try to get help.
We decided that our 12 year old should go with her and the two of them made themselves some a sandwich, grabbed one bottle of water to share and began walking. They left around 1 pm and this time we decided the were going to go right at the bottom of the road as it was about 10 miles closer according to the road sign. I was a little freaked out about sending my wife and oldest daughter out in the wilderness to find help.
When the last attempt didn’t work I knew that it was my turn to walk next. I started making some sandwiches for my daughterand I and putting some stuff in the backpack to take with us. We put on sunscreen and I gave my husband a hug goodbye. I started to cry a little then- I’d done really well at holding it together and putting on a brave face- even though I was feeling quite scared, but now I was actually walking away. I knew that I was our last chance. My daughter and I had to walk until we found someone or someone found us. We were down to two bottles of water. We took one and left the other for my husband and the little girls.
The road had dried quite a bit but was still rather hard to walk on. The top had crusted but as soon as you stepped down it would break through to the muddy underpart and your foot would slip. I was afraid that one of us was going to twist an ankle pretty badly. It took us a little over an hour to get to the bottom of the hill. We decided that every hour we’d take a little drink of water to try and make it last. It wasn’t long before we were hearing the same voices and sounds of distant cars that my husband had heard the night before. Turns out he wasn’t as delirious as I thought!
We were walking towards the fork in the road when we saw a truck slow down at the fork. I thought ‘this is it! They’ll save us!’ We were about a 1/2 mile or so from the fork so we started jumping up and down and screaming and waving our arms- but they must not have seen us and after slowing down to read the sign continued going straight. We were pretty disappointed but kept going. When we reached the fork we heard gunshots in the distance and realized that whomever was in the truck was target shooting in the desert. We could see a dark spot in the distance on the road and realized it was their truck. We started walking as fast as we could- but the road was so muddy at spots that we walked in the ditch next to the road because there was at least plants to walk on. There were also gnats that were everywhere. They were constantly flying in our faces and biting us. My daughter had one fly in her ear at one point. We saw movement at the car and realized that they were getting in. We were further away this time than last time but tried screaming and jumping up and down… but we didn’t get their attention and they continued to drive away.
By this time we’d been walking three hours without a break and were pretty exhausted. We sat down and rested for a few minutes on the side of the road in a relatively dry spot. We had slowed down considerably by then also and seeing that truck drive away about crushed our hopes. We got up and started walking again and were playing 20 questions for about another hour when I saw a car coming towards us in the distance! I was so excited! I pointed it out to my daughter and she asked, ‘what if they don’t stop?’ The road we were on was a 1 1/2 lane dirt road. I told her we were going to stand in the middle of the road and their choices were going to be to stop and help us or to run us over.
We stood in the road and waved them down. It was a giant old beater Suburban from the 80’s. The driver rolled down his window and I walked over and started sobbing, barely getting out the words, ‘we need help.’ He looked at me with an astonished look on his face and said, ‘honey, where are you walking to?’ I told him we were out of gas and stuck in the mud and we were trying to get help in Calleo. He answered, ‘Oh hun, there’s nothing in Calleo, just a couple ranches’. I sobbed harder. ‘Get in!’ he told us. His teenage daughters jumped in the very back seat to make room for My daughter and I. His wife immediately asked if we needed a drink, they had a cooler full of water bottles, soda and a box of snacks. I was so thirsty I just wanted water. He asked where we were walking from, I told him ‘the top of that mountain’ and he asked how long we’d been walking, which by that point was about 4 1/2 hours. He told me to tell him where to go and he’d get us out.
There was no hesitation on his part or the part of his family. We needed help and they were going to do everything in their power to help us. I was expecting to have to hire a tow truck and pay some big money to get out of the situation we were in. But they pulled up and pulled us out like it was no big deal. They gave us more water, more gas than they had to give and restored my faith in humanity in a big way.
Meanwhile back at the car still waiting…
I made lunch for the other 3 kids. They complained about being thirsty, but they understood there was not a lot of water. They were playing happily, so I decided I would try to take a nap to calm down and stop freaking out. I dozed for about 45 minutes, but did not sleep very well. I told the kids to climb the small hill right next to where we were stuck and I slowly followed after them. I was bored and trying to keep occupied so I wouldn’t worry. It was now about 4 pm and I was tired of waiting, so the kids and I slowly walked down the road. I just wanted to get far enough to be able to try with our binoculars to see the bottom of the road. We walked very slowly for about ½ an hour when I decided it was time to go back to the car. We still couldn’t see the end of the road and I was not feeling like walking any further and my feet were getting sore again.
We had only walked for about 15 minutes, about half way back to the car when I heard a noise like a car engine and wheels on dirt, but thought it was just the wind again playing tricks on my mind. But then I though, who cares and looked back anyway, and it really was a car. An old 4 wheel drive Suburban and in the back was my wife and our 12 year old. I was never so happy to see a stranger in my life and even more so, to see that my wife and daughter were safe and ok. They were the nicest people. They were able to pull us out of the mud and even gave us some gas. The followed us a little while and when we stopped, they gave us some water. I don’t remember their names, but I do remember their faces and that they were from Tooele, UT, and the most kind people.
We still didn’t have enough gas to make it back to Delta the way we’d come- and knew that there was nothing between where we were and Delta that had any hope of having gas. But after talking with our new friends from Tooele it turns out they’d been in a similar situation out here before. They assured us that they’d stopped and asked for gas and most of the ranches in the area between where we were and Hwy 6 had gas available and were kind and helpful people. We parted ways and started heading towards Hwy 6 and the town of Border where there was gas for sure. We were cruising along feeling pretty good about being on our way but pretty apprehensive about the gas situation when we passed what looked like a school with some mobile homes next to it, and then came to a fork in the road again. The fork appeared unmarked (turns out it was marked but we’d missed the sign) and my husband just went right. I insisted we go back to the school and see if someone there could give us directions and/or gas.
We pulled onto the property and were immediately greeted by dogs. my husband and I walked up to the first home that had cars by it and knocked, from inside a man called, ‘come on in!’ We stood there until he came to the door. When he opened it he realized he didn’t know us and immediately said, ‘come on in!’ Remember we’d both spent the better part of two days laying in the mud, digging in the mud with our hands, walking in the rain etc. We were quite a sight. We explained our situation and although they didn’t have gas they started calling neighbors to see who did. There was a toddler asleep on the couch and his wife came out with a tiny little baby. She asked if we had kids in the car and said to bring them in. They got us more water and the kids all used the bathroom. Turns out that he is ‘The’ elementary school teacher. That became evident when he talked to our kids. They found a neighbor with gas who gave us 5 gallons, filled our water bottles and sent us in the right direction.
We made it to Border, NV an hour later- which wasn’t really a town either. It was a gas station/convenience store/ snack bar/motel/casino/bar/restaurant/arcade all in a relatively small building. We were just thrilled for real food. After filling up the car and trying to wash up in their bathroom we ate dinner in the restaurant- best food I’ve ever had, at least it seemed like it. We let the kids play a couple arcade games and then made the trek back to Delta for a quick stop to pick up some more pull ups right before the grocery store closed and then pulled in back at camp at 11:30 pm Monday night. The girls were all asleep and so we left them in the car, turned on the brights and picked up camp and packed up for home.
We made it home at 5:30 am on Tuesday and were so tired we didn’t even bother showering the camp smell off before crawling into bed. We were just glad to be home and safe.
The next day a neighbor asked what had happened after Megan had kind of told her about it. I told her the whole story and she said Megan had told her she wasn’t scared at all, ‘it was just some mud’.
Yes Megan, nothing to be scared of at all.
I asked the other girls what they thought about the whole situation and if they were scared and these are the responses of the other three.
Daughter – “At first I thought Daddy was just joking, that we weren’t really stuck. When you guys got out in the mud and the rain I knew that you weren’t joking. Then I was scared because I thought that there wouldn’t be anyone to help us.”
Daughter number 2 – “I wasn’t really scared, there wasn’t that much animals that came out and we got to stay in the car when it rained. We just saw butterflies in the morning and flowers and walked around.”
Daughter number 3 – “I wasn’t scared. There weren’t any scary animals, just cows, and cows aren’t scary.”
Hope you enjoyed it.