We have all had them, moments when we are so overjoyed to be motorhome owners and those other moments, the ones where you take a deep breath and ask yourself: "Why did I ever buy this big blasted thing?"
A few years ago, when Diane and I were still Bounder owners, we spent Christmas with my parents and my daughter Christine's family. We took the rig down to their home in Lexington, N.C., and parked it in their backyard. It was not a bad place to camp. Dad provided power and water and he told us we could dump our gray tank down the side of the hill that we were parked on.
We had room to set up our patio, and a nice lighted path through the woods led up to the house. Behind us was a shuffleboard court. It was a fun holiday. I roasted a turkey, we played games and other members of our extended family showed up to see the coach and join in the festivities.
The first couple of days the weather was a bit chilly, then on Christmas Eve it warmed up and started to rain hard. It poured all night and most of the next day. The day after Christmas, our last day, it was nice again, not warm but comfortable. We played a lot of shuffleboard, ate leftovers and enjoyed ourselves a lot. That night Diane and I started packing up the rig to leave the next morning.
The morning of our departure it was really warm. It hit the seventies in the sun and everyone was outside to say goodbye to us. I had to back the rig down the driveway past the shuffleboard court to a downhill point off Dad's driveway where I would then pull forward and make a right turn to exit. So with Diane guiding me I backed up, but a bit too far to the left and backed off the road onto the spot where my Dad's vegetable garden used to be.
Now, before I started to back up Dad warned me I needed to keep to the right, close to his grape arbor so that when I left the driveway I would be on hard ground rather than on top of his old garden, which was now a lot of mud. While backing up I heard his grape vine scraping along the side of the coach. Worried about a damaged gel coat, I eased over to the left, which turned out to be a big mistake.
The passenger side of the coach missed hard ground; the driver's side was on rock. The passenger side started to sink; the driver's side didn't.
My heart dropped to my shoes as the coach listed to starboard. I jumped up from my seat and tried to go out the door. My steps wouldn't open because the ground was in the way.
Dad was standing on his driveway, that place I longed to be, just looking at my muddy predicament.
"I guess you didn't hear me tell you that you were too far to the left?"
"No, all I could hear was your vines dragging down the side of the coach!" I said with some emphasis. "Now what do we do? It looks like it's about to roll over!"
"We can get it out," Dad said. "I'll be right back."
He took off at a fast walk for his workshop. Diane, Mom and I just stood there looking at my mud-covered coach, the steps stuck open. I was thinking very big expensive tow truck, if one would even come out this far, and I doubted that would help anyway.
"A tow truck can't pull it out of that hole," Dad said.
He was standing there with an armload of boards while reading my thoughts.
"Here's what we are going to do," he said. "We put some boards under the jacks, lift the coach and then dig the mud out under the wheels and put boards down. One rear wheel is on rock so we should be able to move it, once we get it upright."
We gave it a gallant effort. The jacks lifted the rig, we dug and put down boards, but as soon as we raised the jacks the coach pushed the boards back into the mud and couldn't make it out.
Now I was starting to panic.
"Don't panic." This time it was Diane reading my thoughts.
"I'm not panicking," I lied. "I just don't know what we are going to do."
"Yes, you are. Just take a deep breath. We will figure out something."
I think this is the point where I took a deep breath and asked myself, "Why did I buy this big blasted thing"
We all know the answer to that: Because I wanted to.
I heard Dad talking on his cell. He hung up.
"Well, I just talked to Marion and he is sending help."
Marion was my cousin who owned a construction company in the area. He said he would be over and not to worry because if he couldn't get it out no one could.
That didn't make me stop worrying.
While waiting for Marion and his solution, whatever that was, we leveled the coach again. Just as we finished I heard a loud vehicle coming down the driveway from the road. Marion was heading our way with a bulldozer.
He told me his plan of attack. I told everyone that I only wanted directions relayed from Diane, because I knew everyone would want to help and I was scared and confused enough already.
I got in the coach and pulled up the jacks. Marion, with a chain connected under the coach and attached to the dozer, yelled, "Ready!" and started to back up. He dragged the coach until the front wheels were on solid ground and then yelled "Hit it!"
I punched the gas pedal and with the roar of the motor and mud flying everywhere, and to the sound of cheers from my family, she came loose. Up on the driveway she went.
A good motorcoach moment: Coming out of the mud.