Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Pushing Hard and Slowing Down

Yesterday, I was attempting to back the trailer into a spot on a sandy beach. Even attempting this on this beach seemed a bit foolish. The truck was in four wheel drive, but it took almost no throttle pressure to spin the tires and potentially dig into the sand. I went forwards, but I didn't have enough space, and couldn't get the trailer straight enough behind me. 

A worker at the facility was providing useless hand signals behind me, while my buddy was offering suggestions to one side. My son, who should be outside guiding me, decided to hang out in the air conditioned truck. It was 95 degrees, after a day of temperatures that ranged up to 107. I was still rattled from driving the treacherous libre roads, the free, two lane roads through pot hole filled, small farm towns. Up until then, it was all smooth but expensive toll roads. I wasn't getting anywhere with my backing up.

"You're having trouble because you're tired." That's what I needed to hear from my friend. We discussed ahead of time the biggest fear is the growing fatigue that comes from the daily grind of travel. These rigs are big and it doesn't take much lack of concentration to really screw up. Both my hands were sore, one with a blood blister from smashing it with a hammer, trying to get my hitch aligned, while the other was bruised from attempting to deal with the tank hoses. 

The clever plastic hose connectors work fine until they expand with the heat, then they become impossible to get on or off.  I should wear gloves, but it's too damn hot. No excuse, I know. These little things, thousands of miles of driving, blistering heat and dehydration, problems with the rigs, lead to big mistakes. "You're tired" is code for slow down. It's not a negative judgment, it's permission to give yourself a break.

I turned off my brain for a moment, listened to his instructions and got the trailer parked on the sandy beach. Later, over dinner on the patio overlooking the scene, we laughed about it. The truck was left connected to the trailer at an odd angle, the rear wheels dug in right before the point of no return. We joked about whether my winch cable was long enough to reach a palm tree about fifty feet away. Would I need my new traction boards? They use them for ambulances in Canadian winters, I explained, in my usual banter. Keep them handy, but definitely use four wheel drive low and put your rear locker on. We were recovering as we discussed the recovery.

My buddy also had one of those "you are tired" moments yesterday, as his bus air conditioning had stopped working, due to a power issue. It instigated a sort of fight or flight instinct. I must fix this now or drive to cooler weather, but cooler weather is three days away at least, at our pace. Maybe we up the pace; I need to get to the mountains. Upping the pace adds risk and doesn't solve the immediate problem. We took a break in a nearby restaurant and decompressed in the air conditioning. The solution was get to a nearby safe place for the night and regroup.

Every trip like this has this point. You might call it a low point, but it's just a point, in need of recognition. You are tired. Slow down. Take a break and regroup. I tipped over my Jeep a few years ago and there were a dozen mistakes made, all of which I could have taught in a class. But the root cause was I was tired after ten days of hard driving with little sleep. In a bad ass Jeep, you can almost will your way through obstacles, the technology is that good. But eventually you run out of tech and rely on your talent, or when you're tired, lack thereof. 

As we talked about whether the truck and trailer were stuck in the sand, we realized we needed a break. The bugs began attacking in earnest, ignoring the DEET we had just slathered ourselves in. This beach was not the paradise we wanted to stay in. It had terrible bugs, nothing to do nearby, a beach dog that nips your ankles if you don't pet it, and park power with open grounds (the Watch Dog will allow it). We would prefer to drive another day to a better beach resort in a bigger town. I call this town Topalabumpa, for it's ridiculous number of topas, or speed bumps. 

We would prefer a different location, but we are tired, exhausted perhaps, dehydrated most likely. I write this with the waves crashing in the background, while the sun rises, and the air conditioning cycles on for the first time today. I'm using that crappy, open ground, park power, with Starlink connecting me to the world. We will stay another day with nothing much to do. We're going to need more days like this in the future.

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