’Tis the season for road trips.
As temperatures rise and the school year comes to a close, roads fill up with vehicles journeying across the state, or even the country, for their spring or summer adventure. In some cases, you can get a full adventure in only 24 hours!
Of course not every road trip goes according to plan. Many times, unexpected twists and turns occur along the way that can throw quite the wrench into the plans. Though the unforeseen road bumps can seem chaotic in the moment, they create memories and great stories that last a lifetime.
No one wants to hear a story about a smooth and painless road trip, so we asked fellow co-workers to share their craziest, wackiest or most dangerous cross-country journeys with us. To get it started, I’m going with a story of my own that ended with a Ram truck coming to my rescue.
The perfect time to travel …
As seen in the photo above, this didn’t quite take place during warm-weather months. In fact, my experience occurred on New Year’s Eve – and it would be one of the longest days of my life.
At that time, I had packed my bags to make a multi-state move, caravanning with some friends from the Lone Star State to the Rocky Mountains of Denver, Colorado. The above photo was taken somewhere in the panhandle of Texas with temperatures below freezing. What you also may notice is a lack of buildings, gas stations or really any civilization for a few dozen miles.
An empty stretch of highway, plus temperatures somewhere in the 20-degree range, equates to driving on a road with a sheet of ice layered on top.
Our caravan had already slowed due to the conditions, but we pumped the brakes even more. It was a situation where you thought the slightest instance of turning the wheel too quickly or tapping the brakes too fast could throw your car into a tailspin.
While I gradually slowed down, I noticed my friend’s car in front of me start to slide. For a split second, the rear drifted left before quickly straightening back out. What made it concerning was my friend’s car that I just saw almost slide off had four-wheel capabilities. My car did not. About the same time I noticed my friend’s car slide, I felt a sort of weightlessness in the steering wheel.
I knew right then and there that I had no control of my vehicle.
What lasted for a few seconds felt like hours as I spun and witnessed my car veer off-road. In the moment, I just sat back and braced myself hoping for a safe landing – wherever that would be.
The car twisted and turned before sliding its way into a snow-filled ditch. A part of me started believing I may get out of this unscathed. That is until I realized a drainage tunnel sat in that same ditch, providing a perfect launch ramp for my little ole sedan.
My car flew in a manner that would make a stuntman proud and then plowed into the middle of the ditch. Fortunately, no airbags deployed and nothing seemed destroyed at that point. But I was still stuck in the snow with no way of getting pulled back on the road.
Ram truck to the rescue
It was one of the most surreal sights of my life. As my friends and I stood in the snow thinking of what to do, we watched a multitude of cars and trucks sliding off the road, suffering the same fate as me. One moment I’ll never forget is watching an 18-wheeler skid into a ditch, thankfully avoiding any other vehicle.
My friends and I didn’t have the means to pull my car out, and the next town wasn’t for another several miles. Things did not look promising to say the least.
Until a beautiful Ram truck pulled up.
I cannot remember the model year of the Ram truck, but I’ll never forget how my heart lifted when a man pulled up and rolled down his window saying that he was a game warden and asked if we needed any help. It just so happened he had all the towing tools needed to get me out and was kind of enough to risk his own truck to help us out.
Before I knew it, my car was out of the ditch. A catastrophe averted. If that Ram doesn’t pull over for us, my car may have still been in that ditch today!
What followed was the longest drive of my life. Essentially until we crossed into New Mexico, I had to coast on the highway at about 15-20 miles per hour to avoid another incident. Eventually though, and an infinite amount of hours later, we arrived at our destination.
Moral of the story, do not drive in harsh driving conditions if you can help it.
Of course, odds are likely that drivers won’t be encountering icy roads this spring and summer, but inclement weather could still impact your road trip. Before you make your trek, remember helpful steps you can take to drive safely.
For any drivers traveling long distances these spring and summer seasons, we wish you all a safe and memorable road trip!