the unstuckening

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At some point in the recent-ish past — look, time is fake, okay — I decided to pack up the boys & spend the afternoon down by the lake.

Things … did not go as planned. As witness.

The right rear tire, which is pretty much up to the axle in mud.

After about an hour of attempting to get the van unstuck, I gave up & headed home. With three leashcats. On foot.

Fortunately we were only about a mile from home. Unfortunately that was almost all uphill. Fortunately I had the stroller with me. Unfortunately even Hades didn’t want to ride for long when there was so much to smell. It took five thousand years to get the lot of us home & I was exhausted. I got home, crawled into bed, & decided to wait until the next day. But I gotta say, the fact that getting us all home was even possible is entirely, totally due to the awesomeness of my cats.

The next day — after sleeping a LOT — I stuck a couple of spare boards & my two jack stands into the back basket & headed back down to the lake. Along the way I kept an eye out — I was hoping to find Tom’s leash & harness, which he’d managed to shed somewhere the day before.


A teal leash stretched across the ground; one end is stuck on a board, & the other end holds a barely-visible cat harness.

There’s an old abandoned hogan at about the halfway mark. It’s got enough wall standing to cut the wind a bit, so I stopped there for a break & a drink of water. I found treasure, too:

A small cooking pot, enameled in white with an orange flower & brown leaves painted on the side. Very 70s.

It’s too beat up to cook in, alas, but I might use it to hold apples or something.

Once I got down to the van & surveyed the scene, I decided to try digging out the opposite, less dug-in tire. I’d tried jacking the van up to pull the tires out of the mud the day before, but the jack just sank into the mud, even when I stuck a rock under it. The board worked a lot better but even then it sunk a bunch.

A tire jack, sitting on a board to hold it out of the mud & wound nearly all the way up. The board has sunk about two inches into the mud but it's lifting the van a little bit.

I got the van up high enough to be worth putting a jack stand under, though, which was nice, because the day before, if I had to reposition the jack at all, I was basically starting over.

A jack stand sits on another board, which is also sunk about two inches into the mud, but it's holding the van up. More or less.

I took a lot of breaks, too, because: ow. Also because it looks like this.

The sky is cloudier, the hills are lower, the lake is closer.

I mean a day by the lake would have been VERY pleasant, if I’d actually managed it.

There's more blue sky in this one, with thin clouds curving over the crest of the hill on the other side of the lake. The water is more grey than blue & lightly wind-ruffled. The near shore is pretty much mud, with just a bit of dried grass to hold it in place. Hence the entire problem.

this MUD tho, I am SO glad I saved up for these Good Boots

The view straight down at my good boots. They're solid, sturdy, come most of the way up to my knee, have really nice Indigenous designs on them, & are muddy as hell.

I used the back basket to haul back a bunch of rocks from maybe a couple hundred yards away, & it’s a good thing they were there, because I needed them.

This time the board holding up the jack is perched on a bunch of rocks, which are successfully keeping it up out of the mud, even under the weight of the van. Progress!

Eventually, by winding the jack as high up as it would go, adjusting the jack stand to hold the van where it was, winding the jack all the way back down, putting more stuff under it, & winding it all the way the hell back up, I got the tire unstuck, & some rocks under it.

BTW using a stack of boards & rocks like this to jack something up is Not Recommended, it’s just the least bad option I had at the time.

The stack, from bottom to top: mud, a bunch of rocks, a board, another board, a big rock about four inches high, a thinner rock only about an inch high, & then the jack, which is, at this height, actually holding the tire out of the mud.

I was JUST starting on jacking up the other side of the van to get the other rear tire out — & probably within half an hour of being able to get the van out, after probably three hours of work — when Norm showed up in his old, beat-up pickup, without even a license plate but with about a hundred feet of various tow chains, & pulled my ass out of the mud.

I freely admit I was punchy enough I greeted him with ‘But I was almost out!’ (I DID thank him profusely though) but I am very grateful that he showed up, & only slightly cranky that he hadn’t done it two hours previously. It was a lot of work, but now I know exactly how to use a jack & a bunch of boards to get my van out of the mud, & also I finally purchased a hydraulic jack & a tow strap, because if you think this is the last time I’m ever gonna get my van stuck in the mud, I have a bridge to sell you. It goes right over Bluewater Lake.

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