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And Then The Dog Threw Up…

It’s hard to describe the amount of mud on the interior of my car at the moment. Mud? Inside? And did I mention the smell?

We’re sitting in the parking lot of Beryl Gaffney Park, Janice, myself, and Toby and Ginger, our two shelties. The engine is running, and we’re toasty warm, but we’re not going anywhere. The front end of the car is deep in mud and ice, which collapsed as we drove into the lot, imprisoning car and occupants.

It all started this morning. The kids didn’t want to go skiing, so we decided to take the dogs for a walk instead. It’s been pretty warm here, so we put on running shoes, and headed down the road to the Chapman Mills boardwalk, which is a pretty riverside walk in the south of Ottawa. The boardwalk was only partly open, so we thought we’d chance Beryl Gaffney Park. “Yeah, the trail might be muddy, but it’s probably alright”, we reasoned.

You know that feeling you get when something’s about to go horribly wrong? I could tell as we drove in that we were in trouble. The car bounced through some slushy ruts and then came to a halt in the middle of the parking lot.I gave it some gas, and the tires spun… Uh oh.

Well, time to try rocking the car. Reverse, forward, reverse, forward. Nope. Just a deeper rut.

I got out, and got behind car (deep puddle, wet, cold feet) and put shoulder to the hatch as Janice gunned the engine. A wave of mud rose up, coating the front half of car in muck, and cascaded in through the open driver’s side window. But the car didn’t move. Around the front, I tried pushing as she threw it into reverse. Nothing. I had a few old copies of the Ottawa Business Journal in the back, which we sacrificed to the traction gods. The car move a scant foot before the OBJ became papier mache.

A small coupe (with snow tires, as opposed to my “all-season” radials) pulled in, and all the way out. A young guy named Tony got out. At his suggestion, we piled branches under the tires. We got behind the car, and gave it a shove while Janice gunned the engine. The smell of burning rubber, and newly macerated juniper filled the air. But, the car didn’t move.

Tony pushed, while I gunned the car in little shots. The car rocked back and forth. Gun the engine, rock forward, let go of the gas, slide back, repeat. Rock forward, slide back, rock forward, slide back. And then it happened… The dogs threw up in the back seat. Apparently the rocking motion was too much for them.

We got out and surveyed the situation. Besides, it smelled better outside. I called Sonny’s Garage in Manotick.

“I understand you have a tow truck”, I started.

“No, not right now. Sonny’s on vacation until Thursday. You need Ed’s towing.”

A call to Ed’s towing, and Ed agreed to send the truck out, with the proviso that if the ground was too soft, he’d have to go back and get his bobcat. Half an hour later the truck showed up.

“Nope. Can’t go in there. Hafta get the bobcat.”

And so we sit. We scraped the dog spew off the back seat, so it doesn’t smell quite so bad. We have Ottawa’s pathetic assortment of 1980’s era “classic rock” radio for entertainment. Wet feet, mud coated, and toasty warm. Occasionally I get out and warn away someone else pulling into the parking lot before they come in too far. At least we haven’t run out of gas (yet).

Lesson learned: we should have gone south for spring break.

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Alec March 14, 2006, 11:23 am

    We finally got out. It cost a mere $267 for Ed to tow us out with his bobcat. Safe at home now. Thinking about a beer.

  • Frank Miller March 14, 2006, 3:06 pm

    I’m sorry about your troubles, but I can’t resist:

    It could be worse, you could be at VON…

    FM

  • Ken Camp March 14, 2006, 5:24 pm

    Really sorry to hear this Alec. I know you were really looknig forward to getting some skiing in. Sounds like Howard’s probably having it far easier than you at VON doing all that hustle and bustle. Then again, remember, it’s an adventure. If nothing goes wrong, you’re not having an adventure. Hope you’re off to something real fun now that you’re unstuck!

  • Alec March 14, 2006, 6:39 pm

    It was the Ford, in fact, Phil. The mud across its white hood makes a fairly dramatic statement.

  • Alec March 14, 2006, 5:43 pm

    You know Ken, life would be boring without adventures. I’m at home, scrubbing a computer, having a beer and looking forward to the Tampa / Ottawa hockey game at 7:00.

  • Phili March 14, 2006, 10:12 pm

    A classic Alec story :) Made me smile while I was eating my super. Are you still driving the Ford?

  • Jim Courtney March 14, 2006, 11:37 pm

    Haven’t heard a good “stuck-in-the-mud” story like that since my childhood experiences of our family car being pulled through the Saskatchewan highway spring gumbo in the early ’50’s. (Except for one, they didn’t have paved highways in those days; just gravel and gumbo.) The farmers waited for the breakup and would sit at the side of the highway waiting for you to get stuck. Luckily it was prior to seeding season and well past combining season so this was their early spring income source. And you ain’t seen mud until you’ve seen Saskatchewan gumbo. Guaranteed to sink up to your knees in minutes!

    Too bad the Senators won; wanted the Bolts to keep well ahead of the Leafs!! But then again the Toronto press sublimely stuck the knife into Quinn today with stories about how well Boyes (a Leaf draft pick) was doing for Boston.

  • Alec March 15, 2006, 4:20 am

    It was a pretty tense game, Jim. Don't know if you watched it, but Alfredsson scored the winning goal with 5.2 seconds left on the clock.

  • Geoff Musgrove March 16, 2006, 4:46 pm

    Mud story sounds like a typical weeknight up in the valley (shawville area). Only difference is it doesn't cost as much for a farmer's tractor. Also more importantly, was the beer a homebrew? Took some doing but I finally managed to find you. What's new with you, Janice, and your brood?

  • Jim March 17, 2006, 10:03 pm

    Getting stuck; yuck! Good story, though,
    -Jim

  • Jim March 17, 2006, 10:20 pm

    Had no luck finding Chapman Mills boardwalk or Beryl Gaffney Park using Google Maps or Mapquest, although I was able to find a Chapman Mills Park. Could you tell me the addresses of those two locations? Thanks -Jim.

  • Alec March 18, 2006, 12:11 am

    We’re doing great Jeff. Drop me a line, and we’ll catch up!

  • Alec March 18, 2006, 12:12 am

    Hey Jim,

    You can find Beryl Gaffney at the corner of Prince of Wales Drive, and Rideau Valley Drive. Chapman Mills is a bit north on Prince of Wales — first set of lights after the old folks home.

  • Jim March 18, 2006, 6:42 pm

    They’re not marked on Google Maps or Mapquest…
    I like the ads that Google puts on this entry!

  • Alec March 19, 2006, 4:35 am

    I noticed the same. I don't know why the parks aren't there, but if you switch Google Maps to Satellite View you can clearly see the wooded areas in Beryl Gaffney, and the Boardwalk at Chapman Mills.

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