Monster Truck Pull

Events keep tumbling out like numbered balls at a keno parlor. The summer ended, as the locals said it would, in one day. Friday sunny, clear and hot. Sometime on Saturday the winds shifted from east to west and I could feel wisps of cool Pacific air starting to swirl around. Sunday it rained. Monday it rained. Today, Tuesday it continued to rain. A lazy pelting most of the time, punctuated by the occasional squall.

I had ordered another load of gravel. This time a "truck and pup" from Osburn Brothers out of Seaside. A fair distance away, but what with all the more local pits closed they were cheaper than getting rock from Clatskanie. The pup is an equally sized dumping trailer at the end of a long tow bar and towed behind a the dump truck. A total of some 22 cubic yards. The driver, Warren, is from Missouri and has only been in Oregon a couple of years. He is not the regular driver and it's not their best truck.

I wanted him to back down the road and "track spread" the gravel by opening his gates as he came back up hill. He was wary and didn't like the looks of it. Despite the cobblestone sized rock that was laid down and perfectly passable a few days earlier, the two days of rain had filled the interstices with a slippery, gooey mud. I said he should just back down as far as he could keeping his wheels on the "4" minus" that had been put down Saturday. Still nervous but willing he backed this massive rig down the hill. I guess he was watching the pup as I was, and only too late did he notice that he was coming perilously close to the hill's edge of the driveway. I yelled at him to stop and he did with is wheel sunk nearly up to the axle and pressing out the side of the hill on the down hill slope. The rocks were up to his axle. He didn’t even dare try to extricate himself alone with a hook-up because he might end up, truck, pup and all, down the side of the hill.

What ensued was a frantic search for a piece of equipment big enough to haul him out. First we went over a couple of properties to the Birkenfeld's. I knew Bill Kyser was over there doing some "cat" work for them on his John Deere bulldozer. As we pulled up to the gate we could see his trailer, but no sign of Bill.

Next, back up the road the other way to Hank’s, but pulling in it was clear he was gone as his car was not parked in its usual spot. Off we went to Birkenfeld to see if we could find Bill at home. Bill has no home phone, so getting to his physical person is about the only way to get a message to him. No luck there either. I left my card on his door.

Back the way we came we went a few miles to where Jordan and Jason were putting up Lou Valera’s new barn. I thought they might know of some people with equipment. They suggested either Darren Berg or maybe Darren Wilcoxen. In fact Darren W. had a piece of forestry equipment for hauling logs called a skidder that they thought might be useful. Coincidentally he was supposed to be over at their dad’s house looking at his tractor sometime that day. However, they sounded a note of caution, Darren liked his privacy and there was a gate. Go at your own risk.

We pull up at the "Flying W" ranch, a sign I’d seen flanked by the occasional grazing buffalo next to the electric fence. The gate is closed. An animal skull is piked on one side of the gate, and conspicuous warnings about not trespassing are everywhere. I turn to Warren and say, "well if we don’t get gored by bison, we may get eaten by a pack of wild dogs."

We leave the truck to the side of the gate and walk in, announcing ourselves with loud cries of "hello." We walk only fifty yards up and a two story nondescript white house comes into view. There are several vehicles parked in the woods, and one broken down industrial flatbed of some sort rusts away in the open with its still new looking "for sale" sign in the window. Next to the house a boat sits on its trailer canted toward the sky as if breaking an eternal wave.

We hear the dog barking before we see him. We stand still and let him come to us. He’s an aging and rotund black lab with eyes that look full of cataracts. He’s done his job of alerting the rest of the pack, and now comes over for a hug.

We don’t see any movement from the house, and before we even get to the front door we decide he must be at the Zolar’s and turn to go. No sooner do we swing around than a voice comes from the direction of the house, "can I help you?" I turn to find a man leaning against the iron railing of the upper balcony. Even from a distance he looks like an advertising executive. A slightly aged but cherubic face supporting a mop of brown hair. He’s wearing a clean black Harley Davidson t-shirt and casual pants. Maybe they were even corduroy. If they weren’t they should have been.

He looks suspiciously at us. And we were a pair. I in a black cap, and a fleece with some sort of vomit-like print pattern, mud-stained jeans tucked into black mud boots that came up to my knees. Next to me Warren, the typically giant farm-boy from Missouri with his overalls and white T-shirt.

Darren posture softens considerably when I mention Jordan Zolar sent us. As I walk forward my speech is literally measured by the distance between us, as I say just enough to keep the conversation going until I can get to a more hospitable distance. I have learned to mention that I bought half the Crawford place before I say my own name.

Darren turns out to be a really nice guy. He is glad to meet me. And he is sympathetic to our plight. He is doubtful that he could help, but under different circumstances he would sure come over and take a look. Seems he’s expecting his future father-in-law to ride up the driveway any minute. In fact we hear a car at the gate and he is concerned my truck might be blocking entry. I’ve learned from my past mistakes and I assure him that I’ve pulled to the side and left the keys in the truck. It turns out that it’s Jordan come over to chat. Seems Darren has already been to his dad’s place and pronounced the problem with Paul’s tractor or bailer or mower or whatever is broken as not so serious.