Monday, July 4, 2016

Lessons from a Talking Rock

It was my idea to take a ride yesterday. Susan had been planning on doing some work in the basement and I was cutting grass. It was already getting hot and we’d both been under some pressure lately, I thought it would be a good idea to take a ride. I had just bought a 2008 Z71 and filled it up with gas on Saturday.

“Hey,” I said, “I like driving this truck, it’s full of gas and we need a break. Let’s go up to Talking Rock and see the land.”

Susan has a lot in The Talking Rock Creek Resort. We like to go up there and dream about building a cabin there one day. The lot is high on a hill, in a curve, on Mayfield Rd. The first time we went there, it was not really as high and it wasn’t in the curve; she was actually mistaken about the lot she had purchased. For several years, she had been going there, walking around on the wrong property.
When we got to the road that leads to the back gate, I said, “Hey, it’s about noon. You want to grab something to eat before we go back in there?” That turned out to be a good idea. We were both kind of hungry and had we not eaten first, it may have been hours before we did. We turned around there and went on in to Chatsworth. After a quick bite, we headed back to the property. This is where things started going wrong. As we pulled out onto the main drag, the truck tried to stall. The check-engine light came on. A little traction-control light came on too. Little messages started scrolling across the bottom of the cluster; “Check Stability Control”, “Engine Power Reduced”, “Don’t go up a mountain”, and several others.

I saw an Auto Zone and pulled in. I borrowed a diagnostic reader and the onboard diagnostics in the truck would not give me a code. I had seen this before; that time, it was the BCM (body control module) and if that was my problem, I knew I could reset it by disconnecting the battery and letting it sit a few minutes. I bought a couple of wrenches and took one cable off and we waited. By now, it was hot. The humidity was high and there was no breeze. We sat there and baked in the parking lot of Auto Zone for ten minutes. No big deal. I hooked the cable back up and started the truck and as I had hoped, all was well. No lights were on and it ran like new. We debated on skipping the real excursion and just heading home. “Well,” Susan said, “You know what it is now and you have the tools. Let’s just go on in and, if it does that again, you can reset it again.”
That seemed reasonable. We drove on back to the gate and swiped the card and went in. we parked near the property and started walking. It was breathtakingly hot. The leaves were dry; walking through them sounded like walking on potato chips.

Let me back up a little and tell you about the conversation we had on the way up to Chatsworth. “You know what’s bothering me?” I said, “I don’t have a lot of faith.”
I worry a lot. Anyone who knows me, knows this about me. We’ve been doing a few big projects lately, I have some big decisions to make at work and I was telling Susan how I felt as if I had to control situations. She has a totally different attitude about life’s “big deals”. She has been through her share of them. I marvel at her ability to take whatever comes without missing a beat. “How do you do that?” I asked her a while back. “Well,” she said, “When Tom was dying, I had gotten to the end of my rope. We had gone to doctors and the doctors had done all they could do. We had our daughter and it looked like her father was not going to make it. I didn’t know how I would make it. One day, I realized I couldn’t do anything else so I prayed. ‘God,’ I said, ‘you know I can’t do anything else. I give up. It’s in your hands.’ And that’s when I just felt a peace like you wouldn’t believe. It just came over me all at once and it hasn’t left me since.”

I have never been there. On the drive up to the property, I actually said, “There are some things I don’t trust God with. I can’t help it. Like building a house or working on a car; I figure God hasn’t had a lot of experience with things like that, so I feel like I have to do those things myself.”
Susan just smiled. I swear, it was as if she knew I would be taught a lesson.

Back on the mountain, we surveyed the hill, sat on a log and pretended it was our front porch. Finally, we decided to head back. We got back to the truck and sure enough, the same lights came on and it crippled its fool self again. No big deal, I could get it up to ten miles an hour. I drove to the bottom of the hill and disconnected the battery again. We waited and hooked it back up and we were off. Within a mile, we got on some slippery gravel and, as soon as the back tires spun, the traction control system tried to engage and completely freaked out. The truck stalled on a small hill and we had lots of hills to go. After about the third or fourth reset, it was apparent that we were not going to make it home in the truck. Our new goal was to get to the gate where we could get a tow. Without getting to the gate, we weren’t sure how a wrecker could get in. “Let’s head to the front gate,” Susan said, “It will be easier for a wrecker-driver to find and it will be easier to load the truck there.”

About halfway to the front gate, the old mule of a truck decided it was not going to move another foot. In The Talking Rock Creek Resort, with five thousand acres, half way is a long way. I asked Siri how far it was to the entrance and she said it was nine miles. I don’t know how hot it was at that time, but I’m pretty sure my boots began to melt as I walked up to the top of the hill to get a signal. I called my buddy with a wrecker and he headed out from Dallas. I told him we’d figure out how to get him in the gate by the time he got there. I can’t believe we actually talked about walking all the way to the gate.
A group of locals came first. They were on their ATV’s, riding through the resort and having a nice day. They all pulled over. We told them we were just waiting on the truck to reboot again and we were going to try to get to the front gate. I could tell by everyone’s expression that they doubted the truck more than I did. “You guys will burn up out here.” Seemed to be the common reaction.
They all promised to come back and check on us and then they cranked their dependable four-wheelers and sped off. I would have given anything for one of those ATV’s. When they left, the silence was numbing. There was no breeze. The birds had even stopped singing. We were on a hill, in the middle of nowhere, with no water or anything.

Susan grabbed her folding chair out of the truck and sat it under a shade tree and got as comfortable as she could. I just paced. After a few minutes, I heard a car coming. It seemed like ten minutes passed before it got to where we were. A decorated soldier pulled up in a red sedan. “You guys need some help?” He asked.

“I think we will be okay,” I said, “We have a tow truck coming and we are going to make another run for the gate in a few minutes.”

“You guys will burn up out here.” He said.

I watched his tail lights go down the hill, around the curve at the bottom and then out of sight.
We tried to move again, but this time, the truck would not budge. We needed a plan “B”.
Finally, a couple comes crawling up the hill in a newer Jeep. “Need help?” asked the driver.

“Well,” I said, “Are you guys heading to the front?”

“Yes.” They said

“I may have you open the front gate for the wrecker.”

“Let me pull you to the front gate.” Said the husband.

“No,” I said, “It’s too far and it might not be good for your Jeep.”

Tammy, the wife, reached in the console and pulled out a bottled water. “Take this.”

I got their number so I could call them whenever Brian made it in the wrecker. Alone again, we shared the water and started laughing about the situation.

“I’m sorry.” I said to Susan. “You wanted to get some things done and it was my bright idea to go riding. Now we are stuck on a desolate mountain in 100 degree weather.”

“Call me crazy,” she said, “But I think it’s fun.”

Yes, I did call her crazy.

“It will be a memory.” She said.

Another car came  over the hill and stopped. It was a lady driving alone. “Hey,” She said, “That guy that stopped earlier, the soldier, he’s with me. I am going to the house and getting water and we’ll be back. You guys will burn up out here.”

In a few minutes, the lady and the soldier did come back. They had brought several bottles of ice cold water. While we were yet thanking them for the water, a red Cadillac topped the hill. We had a traffic jam. Out stepped one of the first guys who had stopped to check on us earlier. “Hey,” he said, “Mike and I got to talking and we parked our Mules. It’s too hot out here. You two need to come with us. My place is at the front gate and it’s cool.”

After very little debate, we climbed into the back of the cool Cadillac and headed to the front gate. We went over hills and around curves for a long way. I was glad we hadn’t tried to walk it. In that heat, it would have been rough. Sure enough, David’s place was at the front gate. He and his wife, Elaina, took us into their home and insisted we sit on the bigger, more comfortable chairs. We sat there and talked for an hour. Needless to say, they were just great people.

Finally, my phone rang. Brian was at the gate. We walked down to meet him and rode with him back into the community where the truck was. On the way up there, we told him about our adventure and when we got to the truck, Brian said, “I’m surprised you guys didn’t burn up out here.”

Of course we laughed. It was a long ride back to Hiram, but the wrecker was air conditioned and we weren’t complaining.

We finally made it home after several hours. And what did Susan say? “Thank you for today. I really enjoyed that.”

I knew she was serious. It really was kind of fun. We met so many people. I didn’t mention all of the offers we had to get off that hill. Meeting David and Elaina was great.

“Don’t forget this.” Susan said.

“Forget today?”

“No,” she said, “That lesson. See, you were telling me, on the way up there, how you had to be in control. You weren’t in control on that mountain. There was nothing you could do to get us out of there. You tried. You took those wrenches and you checked everything you knew to check and you couldn’t get that truck going. We had to have a little faith to get out of that one. Other people came along and you had to let them help. God didn’t fix the truck, but he got us out of there another way. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes. You may not get the answer you want. But you’ll make it.”

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully written post. I admire how Suzy deals with all she's been through. I struggle daily with turning everything over to God. It's difficult to let go of worry. Our love to both of you.