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We stare blankly at each other as our worst fears are realized. We're miles from anywhere, on a spur road off an unimproved dirt road, at the edge of an abandoned lake the size of Lake Tahoe and the camper appears to be stuck in the soft mineral sand that we both mistook for a passable roadway. No need to spin the tires. Its evident from the motion of the vehicle and the effort of the engine that this dog just won't hunt. I turn off the engine and we both get out to inspect the damage and to brainstorm a solution. Already, my mind is racing ahead to scenarios - how far we'll need to hike before we can flag down some fisherman's truck that can take us miles down the dirt track to a pay phone where we can try to call a tow truck that is far away to begin with and suitably rugged to not get stuck themselves while winching us out of our mired condition. I think about our self contained bag of tricks. Diane starts rifling through the bench compartments for our folding shovel, but I know digging won't solve the problem. We're already well dug in. Whose idea was it anyway to venture this far afield at this crazy hour in hopes of getting a photo of the amazing sunset colors on a far off set of rocks perched at the remote end of the lake - oh yeah... mine.
Then it hits me - thinking of those desert island airstrips built in the far flung pacific islands - I need some sort of grating to put under the wheels, and then we can slowing roll onto it and piece by piece work our way back to solid dirt. Diane catches onto the idea quickly and stops looking for the shovel, now considering the various pieces of carpeting we have scattered near the seats at our feet. I dig into the "garage" our back door's storage compartment and pull out 10 pieces of plastic lego block we use to level the car on uneven campsites. I sink a few behind each wheel after pushing the powdery sand away from the mud flaps with my arms, jump back into the cockpit, and slowly backup. Perfect. The truck climbs happily onto solid footing - as if it too, was nervous about the floating that was happening in the powdery mineral pit. Now, I lined up a few in front of the rear wheels, and rolled forward 8 inches. Everything held. We were moving albeit slowly forward. So, that's how we crawled out of that dead end spur - Diane outside in the sage and sand slowly advancing the plastic lego panels in front of the wheels as I drove painstakingly forward. We'd drive onto a set, and then Diane would take the previous foothold and move it in front of the wheels for another 8" of forward motion. In no time, we were free and full of giggles, the smelly nervous sweat already evaporating from our clothes.
For the balance of our journey on this Paiute Indian reservation, Diane led out in front by foot when we got to questionable sections, scraping her feet on the ground to see if it puffed away in a powdery wisps, or if it held firm. Go girl!!