The River

So a couple years back I got a little over-confident in the off-roading capabilities of my aging Honda minivan.

See, I’d just moved to Colorado from New York and, needing a car again, borrowed the old family Odyssey for a bit. Excited to be back out west, I’d ventured off into the mountains by myself for a roughly-planned road trip and photo excursion. Seeing what looked like an interesting detour on my map, and not being in any hurry, I decided to give it a shot. Now, I knew from the turnoff that this was an unpaved road, but even a minivan should be able to handle a little gravel...

 Otis the Minivan

Otis the Minivan

And for the first half of the 6-mile track, it wasn’t too bad. Some bumps and rocks to maneuver around, but nothing I couldn’t handle if I drove carefully. But slowly, incrementally, the rocks got bigger, the path narrower, and the road sandier. Not all at once, so I didn’t really think much of it, but at some point I looked back at a sandy hill I’d just creeped down and realized that 1) I wasn’t sure I could make it back up that again if I needed to turn around, and 2) come to think of it, I hadn’t seen anyone else on the road since those dirt bikes a couple miles back and they sure seemed surprised to see a minivan out there...

So forward it was. Another hour of sweaty driving and I’d made it three more miles, scraping the bottom a double handful of times, but finally, if my boy scout skills served, the map showed the town to be just around the bend. I just had to... wait, was that a river?

Okay, a creek is probably more accurate if we’re being pedantic, but it was still a couple feet deep and standing between me and glorious pavement.

Hmm. Through the river? Back up the 6 miles of sandy, rocky, definitely-not-for-minivans road that I’d just spent 2 hours crawling through? Hug a tree and wait for help?

I put the car in park for a minute, but pretty quickly decided that forward was the only way, and besides, the water wasn’t really THAT deep.

And it wasn’t. And I got across just fine. And then I hit the steep river bank on the opposite side. And my wheels hit the wet sand and they just spun.

Shit.

So my back wheels are hanging in the creek, front wheels sinking deeper and deeper into wet sand and I’m most definitely stuck.

I tried digging myself out with my mini shovel to no avail, and was midway through putting on my snow chains (maybe that’d help?) when an old Land Cruiser comes around the bend to find a white minivan stuck in a river and blocking their path.

 Unexpected, to say the least.

Unexpected, to say the least.

Well they didn’t have a tow strap, nor I a tow hitch (being a minivan and all), but they did have a slack line and maybe we could tie that to my front axle and hope for the best? Not knowing much about cars, and not being in any position to argue, I agreed. Sure enough, with lots of spinning and cursing, followed by grateful “thank you”s and “don’t mention it”s, I was out of the river and they no longer had a drowning minivan in their way. Fortunately one of the other guys was smart enough to take some pictures and a video of the whole thing (“you’ll want these some day”)!

I made it home, but yeah, I don’t drive a minivan anymore...