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  • Writer's pictureKandy Thietten

Axle Deep

Updated: May 4, 2021

Wednesday we left Junction, TX, driving all day, from morning until after dark. It was an interminable day of looking at the freeway. We did start seeing wildflowers along the sides of the road, and eventually got to a spot where I was able to stop and pick a cheerful bouquet to brighten the RV. We finally stopped for the night when we got to LaBonte Park about 45 miles from the San Padre Island beach. We woke up at 5:00 a.m. so we could get to the beach early enough to see how far in the high tide came. Abe had read several reviews on our Campendium App (an app that shows dump stations, camping spots, etc.) that said camping was wonderful right on the beach, and I looked on Google Maps and zoomed in until I could see RVs parked right next to the water. There was plenty of room for an RV between the dunes on one side and the water on the other, so Abe drove on to the beach.

As soon as we were set up, we took the dogs out to explore. Our dogs are so different from each other! Marley, in her usual manner, was a spaz. She was exuberant as she went with Abe into the waves, jumping around and play bighting him. He took her off the leash so she could really explore, and she went nuts! She went into the water, and as soon as a wave splashed her stomach, she bounded like a deer until she got to the shore, then ran in circles, behind the RV, back to the water. There is nothing quite like a huge Great Dane, with its long, gangly legs and clumsy body, being out of control with excitement. Truffle waded into the water easily, and turned around to briskly walk back to shore when it hit his belly. He was pretty unperturbed by the whole thing.

Abe has spent a lot of time on the beach. He's lived on a sailboat, lived in Hawaii, and travelled to Mexico. Other than a few trips to the cold waters of the west coast, the only times I've been to the beach have been a trip with my dad as a teenager when we stopped briefly at the ocean in Louisiana - I walked about 100 yards out and it was still only up to my knees, the water felt like a warm bath, and there were thousands of hermit crabs. I've always wanted to go back. - and when Abe took me to Cancun, Mexico and later to Plascencia, Belize. We both love warm water beaches. They are a little piece of Heaven. We walked around, playing with the little clams that would quickly bury themselves when the water washed the sand off of them, looking at pieces of barnacle covered refuse littering the sand, and examining the bright blue Portuguese man o' wars that had been left behind by the tide, carefully avoiding stepping on any part of them. Pretty soon the wind picked up, chilling us in our wet clothes so we went back to the warmth of the RV, until I got bored and went for a short walk while Abe talked on the phone with his cousin. When I came back, I watched as a wave pushed up near our RV, nearly touching the large mat we had laid out in front of the door.

The high tide had been at 6:30 in the morning, but this was further up than the high tide, and the wind blowing and arriving storm had me concerned that the water would move further than expected up the shore. I was ready to move, afraid that the water would wash up to our tires while we were sleeping and we'd get stuck. We were warned by a really kind park ranger that if you get stuck, they charge a minimum of $2,000 to pull you out, and he'd seen one man who was very stuck get stuck again with a $40,000 bill. Abe reluctantly agreed to find somewhere else, so we packed everything up. Abe put the RV in reverse, and hit the gas (gently). We moved a tiny bit, then stopped. The RV stopped, but the tires didn't. They spun, kicking up sand and dropping us lower. He tried a couple more times, and a couple more times the tires spun. When we got out and looked, we saw we weren't going anywhere. A jeep with a family of mother, father, and son drove by and, seeing our situation, stopped, but they didn't have any way to help us. Desperate, Abe went to the motor home we'd driven past to get to our spot right after we turned off the paved road leading to the beach. After some scratching of the heads, the man pulled out a couple of 2 x 6 boards to put under the tires for traction. We put jack pads under the rear jacks and lowered them, raised the tires off the ground, put boards, some more jack pads, and some lids off of two storage bins under the tires, raised the jacks back up, and drove. The tires spun and we went nowhere except further down. Abe and the man dug out sand from behind the tires, and this time I lowered and raised the jacks, repeating the process. I don't know how many times we tried, the tires spinning and the RV sinking lower every time, before another man showed up in a Chevy Tahoe and offered to hook up his tow strap and try to pull us out. We tried, and I started praying hard. I found out later that so was Abe. God's taken care of us on this crazy journey so far. He sure seems to want us doing this, so "Please, please, please get us out of here! Let this work, or send someone to help. Please do something." It didn't work. We all dug, laid down things for traction, and racked our brains to figure out how to get out. By now, we were axle deep in the sand.

Then a man showed up in a pickup. "Don't worry. We'll get you out," he told Abe, and for some reason his words worked to calm Abe's anxiety and reassure him. That man had a thick bungee tow strap that he'd already used to pull two other vehicles out of the sand. He showed us the yellow dent running top to bottom on his tailgate where the tow strap had snapped back on the last motorhome he'd helped, and the bumper that was bent down two inches from where it should have been. That lady was in a class A diesel pusher, just like us, and her trailer hitch had come clean off, but she got out. Because of the damage his pickup had already suffered and needed to go to the shop for, he and the man in the Tahoe agreed that the Tahoe should do the pulling. Shortly after the first man in a pick up showed up, another one arrived and brought over a shovel for us to use for digging. We have a shovel, but thought it would have been more work to find it and pull it out, along with whatever we would have needed to pull out to get to it, than to dig with our hands. The men dug some more, this time with hands and a shovel, and repeated the process of raising the RV to put things under the tires for traction. The man in the Tahoe hit the gas, then the man from the other RV, who was standing by my window, yelled for us to gun it, and WE MOVED! Abe kept his foot on the gas for a few feet before we stopped moving and started spinning again. We did it again and got a little closer. Again, and we were almost there. One more time, and we kept moving, backing up until we got back on firm ground. Hooray! Everyone was cheering, and after about two hours of working, there were a few hugs, and a lot of thank yous. While we were backing up, I heard the men behind us yelling at someone to stop. When I got out, I saw another motor home. I don't know if they had been saying stop because we were backing up and needed room, or to keep them from driving onto the beach, but I went by and was sure to tell them to NOT drive out there. They turned around and went somewhere else.

We decided to go to the campground we'd passed earlier but didn't want to pay $14 a night for, and we paid for two weeks. Now $14 a night was looking pretty good. Cheaper than gas to drive around, and WAY cheaper than a tow off the beach if we had to pay for it. The motorhome we'd parked next to? They're here, too. After seeing our little fiasco, the wife was ready to get off the beach. And the jeep that drove past us and was unable to help is in the spot right next to us. We have to walk over a small dune to get to the beach now, but we know we can leave when it's time, and we'll sleep good tonight knowing that we'll be fine come morning. We've still made trips to walk on the beach, and after it got dark, we walked around to see the ugly-cute little off-white crabs skittering around. Tomorrow, we'll drive to town to get fishing licenses and poles. It's going to be a fun two weeks.

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