Monday, August 17, 2009


A couple of years ago, one of my friends who owns a backhoe dug out a small pond hole above the main pond. It was a wet year and the hole quickly filled.

Later it quickly emptied and it has stayed empty to this day. There is just enough room to drive between it and my forest's edge. I do that from time to time when I want to loop by the "pond" on the way in to the property.

Saturday, I pulled off the driveway after spending two hours driving through a swamp nearby looking for critter photos. As I pulled in the drive, I turned towards the pond to check the water level. I was going pretty slow, just enjoying the early evening calm, when ... CLUNK!

The JEEP dropped off the edge and into the mini-pond hole!

Actually it didn't drop off the edge ... the edge collapsed where some critters had excavated beneath it.

Lucky for me, this happened at home where all the goodies I needed to excavate myself were at hand. Here I am modeling the essentials:

  • rope

  • come-a-long jack ... that's what my Dad always called these hand winches, you may have a different name.

  • shovel

  • sheepish look over a goofy predicament

  • camera and tripod for blogging this later

Here's the view from the driver side.

When the side caved in, the right front wheel dropped straight down to the bottom of the hole. This caused the JEEP to wedge itself securely on it's forward frame.
The rear passenger-side wheel came up off the ground as you can see in the picture above. The JEEP was so perfectly balanced on it's frame and the edge of the hole that you could rock it with one hand.
I think I could have tipped it over with one good shove.

I didn't want to go forward as the abrupt edge of the hole might do some damage, plus it didn't really look like the JEEP could move, but I gave her a try just to see. I put her in low and gave it a shot, ... just in case, but sitting on the frame with the front driver wheel against a vertical hole wall and the passenger rear wheel up in the air ...she wasn't going anywhere.

I quickly took a few cell phone shots and sent them out to family and friends so I could get my daily dose of chiding, then I walked up the slope to gather the tools you saw in the first picture.

I needed to slope the "cliff" edge to give that front wheel an easier trip up and I needed to get that one rear wheel down to where it could get some traction.

I used the shovel to slope the vertical wall of the mini-pond and to remove dirt from around the wedged frame.

Then, I shoveled sand under the floating tire on the rear passenger side.

There's the come-a-long jack in action. The cable from the jack is going to the JEEP. The yellow rope is tied to an oak tree in line with the JEEP.

In the picture above you can see the rope/winch setup. I cranked the come-a-long jack until the JEEP inched back just a little. This brought the floating rear wheel down enough to make contact with mound of sand I had piled under it.

When the sloping, mounding, and winching was over, I hopped in the JEEP, started her up and she fairly popped out of the hole!
I love a good wench ... ahem ... w-i-n-c-h.

I have to confess, while I was uncoiling rope at the beginning of the excavation process, a guy in a truck was passing on the county road. He saw me and the cock-eyed JEEP and rolled to a stop.

"Hey Buddy! You need a hand?"

I hesitated ...
Now, you have to understand that my high school pals, Kevin, Billy, Greer, and I had a truck philosophy that basically stated:
You weren't really stuck unless you had to call for help.
(No cell phones in those days, so this usually involved a hike)
No matter how mired your Scout, Truck, or Landrover was ... even if water and mud was coming in the doors ... if you could get it out without requiring outside help, you weren't really stuck.

We usually got mired late at night far from anywhere. The fear of our fathers finding out what we had done with their vehicles motivated us to dig, jack up, pile logs under tires, and pray, until whatever vehicle we had sank was freed of it's earthly bondage.

So when this guy offered to help ... well, it was a little like me asking for help wasn't it? I reverted right back to my 17 year old self ... what would Kevin, Greer, and Billy think?

"No thanks, I'm fine. I've got my rope and this come-a-long jack. I can get it, but I really appreciate the offer."

"You sure?"

" Yes, I can get it. Thanks a lot for stopping though."

In the end, I was able to get her out and it wasn't even that hard to do. So technically, according to the rules of engagement ... I was never really stuck.

Kind of funny that after two hours of driving around in a nearby favorite swamp and taking photographs, I come home and get momentarily mired in my own front yard ...

...Not stuck though.


S N B said...

I LOVE this story!
Back to school today? I am.
Thankful to have a job.

Anonymous said...


You make me chuckle! Have a good year in school. Is Frank still there or did he graduate?



Bill said...

You weren't really stuck. See, you got out on your own. The come along was really cheating though. You know that the only tool we had was a shovel if we were lucky or a rope, (which we all carried all the time).I guess getting stuck in the woods a come along is acceptable. Totally useless on the beach since there are no trees. When you gave us the salt run view the other day I was thinking about your trusty Scout. Of course Kevin and I had the unstoppable Datsun trucks. I remember we used to see who could get the most stuck and still get out. Oh the stories we could tell. I know there is a song in there somewhere.

I really enjoyed this post.


TROLL Y2K said...

I really enjoyed this post and the message about not calling for help. Kinda surprised you were willing to hang out with somebody who drove a Landrover though!

Grrherhhahahahhahahahaha. Useless over-rated over-priced gheymobiles!

Thunder Dave said...

Little pond 1 Jeep 0, or was this technically a tie?

Hey sorry about jumping the gun on the challenge, I spent the night in the box and got my mind right now! ;-)

edifice rex said...

Oh yeah, piece o' cake! those come-a-longs are very handy. We always keep a couple of big ones on our job sites although they don't help much if you get a concrete truck stuck.

lisa said...

One thing you didn't mention was how long it took you to get out? Very clever to use the tree!!

threecollie said...

What kinda critters laid the mine field?
Oh, and good job. Lotsa ingenuity there!

Dani said...

Hahahhahaha. You guys are the strangest creatures sometimes. :)

Pablo said...

Great story, great illustrations, great solution.

I was in a similar situation on ice when I went to Roundrock on a winter day (against Libby's better judgment). Digging, throwing gravel under tires, chipping ice. Got free but didn't get any pix.

But the one unanswered question: why did you have the upper "pond" dug in the first place? Folks around here do that as a sort of silt trap so it doesn't get to the "real" pond below. Is that the case for you.

roger said...

in my own youth way back when we weren't "stuck" if dad never found out, even if we had to get a tow.

love the come-along. fabulous tool.

nfmgirl said...


Well, going by your rules, I would DEFINITELY be "stuck", because I would have been calling AAA in a flash!

Floridacracker said...

Thanks! Yes, I am!

Frank is still a student ... will be for a long while yet.

We were quite the crew. At least on the beach back then somebody would come by and jerk you out of your mess!

While new Landrovers have been turned into unrecognizable soccermomobiles, the Landrover mentioned in this story was a rugged battle tank of a vehicle. This was the 70's and the Landrover was still mostly unchanged from the WWII versions that won the African deserts.

Yes, a tie I suppose. No worries about the quick start.

They have a million and one uses don't they!

Only about 10 minutes of figuring out a plan, and then about 14 minutes of digging, winching, and driving.

I'm not sure, but I think Armadillos.

Truly we are.

It was such a wet year and the main pond was so full, I thought a nice intermittent pond next to the main one would be neat for the amphibians. It's just not worked out that way and is usually dry.

lol ... the dad factor. love the come-a-long ... what a force multiplier!

Oh, that would be just too embarrassing to bear.
For me I mean.
In a Jeep and all ...

Dan said...

Oh my, a wheel buried in sand. Does that bring back some high school memories! By the way, don't you have a vegetable garden? How do you do it in such sandy soil?

Floridacracker said...

I really didn't give it the attention sandy soil demands this year and the garden floundered. I do have some container peppers that are blossoming, and my scuppernong grapes are about to shower us with fruit.

kevin said...

You are correct, you were not stuck, only inconvenienced. I have been inconvenienced for hours. For some reason beer always seem to be involved, and when we ran out, we got out.

I'm ok with the come along too, especially if you'd had stashed in the Jeep. I might deduct a point for having to run home for it.

Don't let Billy fool you, I got a lot of late night phone calls from him being inconvenienced.

Caroline said...

You were only stuck if the Jeep is still there, which it isn't, so you weren't :o)

Miz S said...

I don't know jack about jacks, but if I HAD a jack, I would want it to be the come-along jack because that seems like it could come in handy. That is, if I were the type to drive into pond holes.

jojo said...


Cathy S. said...


Floridacracker said...

True, true. I did this in my "front yard" so the come-a-long was only a hundred yards away from the event ... still lose a point?

Miz S,
Is there a shortage of pond holes up there?

Oh yeah!

Cathy S,
Oddities of nature for sure.

Floridacracker said...

Definitely out of the hole!