** We had a fun filled weekend with loads of stories. In order to share them all, I’m going to post them in a three part series. Keep an eye on the blog to get the whole story!
When you can’t take vacation because work on the ranch is true crazy, you find a way to take a working vacation. For us, something like that looks like a weekend in Locomotive to camp out while keeping an eye on the cows. Work on vacation, sounds like win to me!
In past years, the only time that we have camped out with the cows in Locomotive is when they needed extra looking out for. Those times are rare and only happen when it’s so cold and so snowy that we have gathered in the herd to feed and watch the calves through the cold nights. I always felt bad admitting it, but I loved it when we would head down and camp with the cows. I didn’t want to hope or wish that we have some time down there camping because that would be wishing for the cold, lots of snow or poor calving and I couldn’t wish that upon The Rancher.
But this year, somehow, someone saw the light and realized that things do have to be so bad down there for us to go camp out for a few days!
Our story of weekend adventures camping in Locomotive starts on the trip down. Adventure lies not only in the destination but in the journey too, right? In this instance, it’s a resounding YES. Let me set the scene so you can fully grasp the exhausting-ness of this night.
We had already spent the day at the Carter Cattle Co. bull sale in Pinegree, Idaho. And while we hurried to eat some lunch, buy our bulls, settle up, load up, do a little PR with the different ranchers and bankers and such, it was a long day. I had intended to have done some packing and prep work in the camp trailer the day before but that just hadn’t worked out. That meant as soon as we got home we had to scurry to get everything ready. When I say we, I mean me, of course, because The Rancher had chores to do outside as well as to hook up to the camp trailer, load up the gator, and hook that to the camp trailer.
Can you imagine the long list of things that we needed to check off before we could head out? And of course we had to get it all done NOW because we had to stop to get propane at the truck stop before it was too late.
Now, let’s add to the frenzy of getting ready, the kids hyped up for the adventurous weekend ahead of them. They were so pumped and jazzed about the whole thing that they were just bouncing off the walls and begging to take the most random things in the camp trailer (all while forgetting the important things, like underwear and socks…). There came a point they were just too much and I kicked them out to go find their bikes (… still trying to decide if that was a good mom moment or not). To top off the chaos and tension you could feel from all the excitement and stress, the baby was running a fever and all he wanted was to be held. To be more specific, he just wanted his dad to hold him.
I’ll admit that is was stressful getting ready to go- packing bags for everyone, packing food, getting enough bedding, grabbing towels and cooking supplies… and, of course, I forgot stuff. I do every time I go somewhere, I swear… (Ask my sister-in-law, she is always shipping me something after I have been to visit their family!)
But we got on the road.
The sun was setting and it was dark before we even got 10 miles down the road. Not biggie, we thought. Sure it will make things a little more challenging, but we could handle it. We made it to the truck stop, figuring it would only take a few minutes to top the tanks off and get back on the road. But we were wrong… so wrong… It seemed everything we tried to do went wrong or took more time that it should have.
As we pull to the back of the station we saw a truck and flatbed trailer parked in the middle of the truck parking lot. There was enough room to move around him, but not enough room to move around easily. Of course he was right in front of the propane tanks, making it especially hard for us to get where we needed to go. With his mad truck driver skills, The Rancher managed to sneak us in to get filled up. After three trips into the store to get everything right, we were filled up and ready to go, except for the truck in the way. He had bottlenecked everything and there was a line of semi’s we had to wait to get where they needed to be before we were finally able to make our wait out.
So now we are stressed, sick, excited, and anxious, with lingering feelings of frustration but on our way.
Then I realized I forgot the hot dogs and the roasting sticks. Curses. (I had plenty of food packed so we didn’t starve, we just didn’t get to have our roast out… bummer)
The trip was uneventful as we pulled our haul down the squishy, gravel road to our corrals in Locomotive. We were getting close to our turn off and I was thinking that things were all settling down when something on the road looked off. It was just after the cattle guard and I couldn’t quite tell what it was until eyes started shining back at us.
Cows! Black cows, all over the road, lingering and meandering SLOWLY in the middle of the dark night. The Rancher hit the brakes and I silently prayed that the bump wouldn’t be too bad and that we could keep going. Ya, I didn’t even think we would manage to avoid smashing into a cow. You can imagine how a truck towing a 30(ish) foot camp trailer and another 16 foot trailer with a gator on it would be hard to stop or maneuver through cows dotted across the road. By the grace of heaven, a loud horn and good trailer brakes, The Rancher got us stopped and the cows scooted off the road.
Curses! Heart racing, breath holding curses! And then, phew… We refer to those moments as butt-pucker-moments, if ya know what I mean!
I’m starting to think that getting to where we are going can’t happen soon enough but I know that in reality, the hard part was still ahead of us. We had no idea what the road to the corrals was like. It could be fine, but it could also be laden with slimy, greasy, squishy mud and that we would have to park it for the night somewhere else.
We turned off the road and I held my breath to find that the road was surprisingly ok. Not great, but not enough to stop us from going on. We made it through the first gates just fine and continued down the road until the road started to look more like one huge puddle than a road. The Rancher figured that driving along side of the road instead of on it would be a better option at this point and we began off- roading. It really was a good idea because there weren’t any puddles or greasy mud and the grass helped us have a little traction as we made our way across the range.
Our progress was slow but steady and then suddenly The Rancher said, “Uh, oh…” and gunned it. It didn’t take a genius to recognize that we were about to be in trouble. And just like that we sank. When I say sank, I mean sank clear up to our axles. We sank so deep we didn’t even attempt to get out. We sank so deep that when The Rancher stepped down out of the truck there was no down part of it.
Curses… again …
I started convincing myself that we would be fine to camp out here for the night and just deal with it in the morning. I was figuring that my attitude was a good-take-things-as-they-were type of attitude but in retrospect, I was probably just ready to be done with the night. The Rancher, the great problem solver that he is, jumped into action and made up a plan.
To our benefit, and ultimate salvation, the backhoe was at the corrals and we had the gator hooked on to the back of the camp trailer. So The Rancher could jump in the gator, drive up to the back hoe, drive it back down, and finally pull us out of the mud hole that swallowed us. With this being the only real plan we had, he took off down the road leaving the kids and I in the truck waiting. Now, being the God-fearing, religious woman that I am, I didn’t let this moment escape without gathering my babies close and offering up a prayer that everything would work out to our benefit.
It seemed to take FOR-EV-ER (channel your inner “Sandlot” as you read that) but soon enough we saw the lights of the back hoe approach. Yahoo! He made it.
But now, to get pulled out.
I was dreading this moment because I would either have to be in the back hoe yanking on the trailer to pull it out or in the truck feathering it just right as I attempted to steer the truck out of the mud and avoid getting deeper in trouble all while in the dark when I couldn’t see anything except from the lights of the back hoe.
My lot landed in the truck (which was honestly my preference of the two undesirable choices…). My only instructions were to wait until I could feel the jerk of the back hoe and then give it just enough to drive out, without spinning my wheels deeper in the mud. I put the truck in reverse and waited for the jerk. As it came, I began to let off the clutch and slowly push on the gas. To my immediate relief and total surprise, we were moving! I had figured there would be some finagling to get out, but before we knew it, we were out!
The Rancher looked at me and said, “It should NOT have been that easy!” We will take it! And by it, I totally mean the blessings of answered prayers. We loaded back into the truck and made our way to the corrals, following the tracks the back hoe had left as The Rancher made his way back to us earlier.
The rest of the night seemed ordinary after so many other high emotional moments. We made it to the corrals, got cozy in the camp trailer, and managed to warm up some dinner (leftovers never tasted so good!). The beds seemed a little cozier and sleep came quickly after such an eventful night and we were ready for an exciting day come morning.