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Letter

I took off work on June 29, 2018, to scout for an area to go camping over the Fourth of July holiday.

After exhausting one thought, and driving for most of the day, I decided to try Ruby Creek up near the Big Hole. I turned onto the Gibbonsville Road and headed southwest. After passing the last ranch, I came across a section of the road that "looked grizzly."

Eyeing it closer, I could see where one (or more) vehicles had gone through the area which had been filled with fresh dirt, apparently the road having washed out during the spring thaw. In my infinite wisdom, I thought if someone else made it through, I should be able to make it through, and so I began.

Almost making it through, my truck mired down to the frame. In four wheel drive I was able to rock back and forth about 1-2 feet, but as I did it just seemed to go further towards China. I was stuck, and stuck "professionally" (really done well.)

Remarkably at that very spot, I had cell service, and so called my son Tim. "Can't make it for 4-5 hours Pop. I'm in a wedding rehearsal.” So much for that thought. Next I called friend Ross Carmen. I had to go through an interrogation process, Ross having known that I've prevaricated before (defined as an "extension of the truth in the absence of malice"). "Are you really stuck, or just pulling my leg?" "No Ross, I'm buried!" Realizing that I wasn't kidding, he got in his freshly washed PU, picked up my wife, some tow chains from my shop, and headed out for the Big Hole.

Situation # I.

After some .22 target practice, I reclined my seat back thinking I would just take a nap for a couple of hours. No sooner than I did this, Mark Roberts of Hamilton showed up in his new(er) PU. He got out, and we discussed my dilemma. He, at first, wanted to snake around my truck to see if he could pull me out backwards, but I was worried that he, too, might get stuck. I told him a friend was on his way, but he said that he'd stay with me until then. We shared a cool libation.

Situation # 2.

Shortly after and while visiting with Mark, Al Boling of the Hershey Ranch showed up behind

Mark. The three of us reassessed the situation, and it was decided that Mark could make it around to the side, and behind me. That thought proved successful, but my tow strap separated into two pieces in quick order. Al then retrieved a chain from his vehicle, but Mark's truck wasn't able to pull me out backwards. Al then went to get a 4x4 tractor from the Hershey line shack area.

I called friend Ross, who by this time was at Charlos Heights, and told him to pull over and wait until I called him back again.

After he returned, Al positioned himself behind my truck, hooked on the chain, and we tried again.

Situation # 3.

Even though the tractor had huge rear tires, and was on firm footing, it, too, just spun tires.

As a final thought, we hooked Mark's truck to the back of the tractor, and on the signal, all three of us went into reverse. Wha La! Out came my baby, covered in mud, but on firm ground.

Offering them both money, both Mark and Al declined. Talk about Montana chivalry. Had this happened out-of-state, I probably would have been cited for blocking the road, violating the Environmental Protection Act, or a trade tariff.

The rest of the story? Over the Fourth of July, camped at Ruby Creek, Ross wanted to see where 1 had been stuck. We took my wife's new, UTV, side-by-side and I let Ross drive. We came to the infamous spot in the road, and I cautioned him not to go in, but rather to take the route that Mark and AI had used off to the side. No sooner did we get going than the UTV slid to the bottom of the muck, and we were…almost stuck. Using 4x4 and "Diff Lock", we were able to get out on our own, and "yes", Ross and I are still friends.

— James Thompson, Corvallis

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