Between a rock and hard place and on the side of the road is where my good friend Chuck Larson found himself recently. Actually, the rock was between Chuck’s boat trailer and the pavement. Let me explain.
Chuck got off the freeway at the correct exit but turned right when he should have turned left, so instead of heading for the Kwik Trip, he was motoring into the bucolic countryside of southern Wisconsin. Now stranded but in motion on two-lane county road MM, Chuck drove farther and farther from the diesel pump and the doughnuts at Kwik Trip. As he crested each hill and rounded each curve, he hoped a handy spot would present itself, a pullout a man could use to turn around a long truck and a longer trailer, for Chuck was intent on obeying a primary rule of boat towing: always avoid backing up.
After 8 miles on MM, Chuck’s frustration was mounting and his low-fuel light was glowing when he spied the convenience store with two driveways. He wheeled into the first entrance and, without stopping, turned sharply to his right to pull back onto MM in the other direction, and that’s when he felt something was amiss. There was a lurch, and in his right-side mirror, Chuck could see sod churning up in front of the trailer wheel, and he should have stopped, but now the truck itself was across both lanes and traffic was coming. So he floored it and unleashed 910 foot-pounds of turbo-diesel torque and got his rig headed down the road, but something was still not quite right. In the rear-view mirror, Chuck could see his boat and trailer were high to starboard.
The boulder, a piece of smooth, egg-shaped granite about the size of a nice coffee table, was set in the earth at the verge of the driveway to keep cars from cutting across the grass. The trailer straddled the rock, which snagged on the first axle and wedged itself under the frame before Chuck tore it from the earth and pulled it down the road about 400 yards and into the first available driveway, which happened to belong to an excavating contractor. I swear I am not making this up.
It was the perfect landing because the crew had a big jack to raise the trailer, and a long chain and a Bobcat to pull out the boulder, and then they even rolled the rock into the bucket and put it back from whence it came.
Chuck limped back down county road MM, ego shattered and trailer tweaked, and when he finally got to the Kwik Trip, it was out of doughnuts anyway. But he didn’t have to back up.