entry I mentioned that we didn't get 4WD again because we didn't use it much on the
previous truck. The diesel Ram has
just as much power as the Ford to pull our 5th-wheel camper, so
we figured we'd save money on fuel (less weight) and the initial cost of the
truck by getting a regular old 2WD truck.
In hindsight, that might have been a mistake!
One of the things that 4WD feature apparently is good for is
getting the camper out of our back yard when we're ready to leave
on a trip -- at least when the ground is saturated and the rear
wheels literally can't get a grip.
We never noticed the ever-so-slight
downhill slant of that parking spot before . . . You
can't even tell from the angle of this photo taken last April:
Originally we had motel reservations for the Umstead 100 this
weekend but a couple days ago we decided yes, it's worth the effort to take the camper
down to Raleigh for only two nights. It's more convenient to be
able to stay closer to the race site and Cody could stay in the
camper while Jim was running and I was volunteering in the
timing tent Saturday morning. The temperature was predicted to
be too warm to keep a dog in our truck or van for eight hours.
Fortunately, Jim decided to pull the camper onto our paved
driveway a few days before the race so he could work on the
brakes and determine if we should get new tires this spring.
That was a good decision.
Unfortunately, we've gotten a lot of rain (much needed) since we
got back to our house a month ago and the formerly-plowed
"garden" area where we park the camper was soft mud under the
weeds, not firm like the established lawn between it and the
When Jim tried to pull the camper onto the driveway Tuesday it
wouldn't budge. The rear truck wheels simply spun and spun,
digging deeper and deeper into the mud. He could back it up a
little each time to try to get better traction, but soon he was
getting close to the woods and couldn't go back any farther.
The next logical step was reducing the weight in the camper.
After each trip we take most of the food, clothing, running
gear, files, books, and other items out of the camper, so it was
already at a lighter weight than when we're traveling. Jim
emptied all the water from the tanks; that didn't
help. We decided it was too much work to carry out the sofa bed
or desk, the heaviest furniture inside. Jim's got chronic back problems
and I've got more recent shoulder problems (more about that in
I came up with the brilliant idea of gathering up all of our
outside door mats and sticking them under the rear wheels for
traction. Jim didn't think it'd work but he was out of ideas.
He'd already tried boards and mulch under the tires, to no
avail. The mats were no better -- they went flying when Jim
tried to pull forward. Worse, they were now caked in mud and
required hosing off.
It was also getting dark. Back to the drawing board . . .
We really didn't want to pay for a tow truck to come extricate
both the truck and camper from the back yard. We could get the
truck out but not with the camper attached. We're
talking about approximately 12,000 pounds for the fairly empty trailer
plus however many tons the truck weighs.
My next idea was better, although we had to swallow our pride:
we called one of our neighbors, Wayne, who has lots of big
equipment stored in his barn for his construction business, including a tractor, dump truck,
and front-end loader. He agreed to come out the next morning to
try to pull the truck and camper onto the driveway.
I figured he'd use a winch and the dump truck. He came tooling
down our little road with his front-end loader and a big rope.
Shows how much I know about stuff like that! His method worked
just fine in only a few minutes.
You can see the moisture from the weeds/grass spraying up from
the tires as Jim tries to get some traction while
the front-end loader slowly backs up:
Wayne graciously refused the money we offered him, encouraging
us to "pay it forward" by doing a favor for someone else. We'll
be looking for an opportunity to do that!
Guess where the camper will sit until we leave again in May:
on the paved driveway! We have just enough room to squeeze the
truck and van past it and into the garage:
Although we had no trouble getting the camper up a greater rise when we
left our slanted, DRY grassy site at the MS 50 race a month ago, we'll
have to be very careful from now on how we park the rig when
The truck had plenty of oomph to easily climb
long hills on our way back to Virginia but now we know that
traction is a major factor to consider if we have to stop
on an upslope. That could mean
loose gravel, wet grass, and snow as
well as mud.
Camping is just one adventure after another!
the Umstead 100-mile race
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil