Hopefully you remember our government issued truck that we fondly named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I think I told you that the brakes totally went out on it and fortunately we were at the shop when this happened.
Since it was going to be traded in, we were already issued a different truck that we would get the next day. The next truck was a Dodge. I can’t remember if I told you about that truck or not, but it was a fussy starter. You had to have the ignition and the steering wheel (which would NOT lock) JUST right or you could NOT start it. And it had some other minor issues too….aside from having roll down windows and doors that had to be unlocked from the outside, and no cruise control.
THEN a couple of weeks ago, we were issued another Ford which came complete with a flat tire on a rim in the bed of the truck and wipers that were wearing a groove into the windshield. I told Dan it had a funny engine noise, but he couldn’t hear it and I was “being paranoid”.
My paranoia came to a rolling halt on the Virginia Dare Bridge, less than one mile from Roanoke Island and the Roanoke Visitor’s Center. And to top it off, it was very foggy when my paranoia came to a halt. I think the bridge is about 5 miles long and my paranoia was on the downside of the hill….which helped my paranoia coast a bit further before totally coming to a halt.
We left the shop Saturday morning about 7:30 a.m. in the rain and the fog in this truck with no name (we hadn’t had it long enough to name it). The day before we had used it to go do more repairs on the boardwalk. Dan and I had switched driving so he could get out and unlock the gate so we could go in from the back way. I noticed that the battery light was on, so he had me stay with the truck and keep it running while he did the repair work. When we returned to the shop, he checked the battery out the best he could, shut the truck off and started it back up again. At this point it wasn’t making the noise that only I could hear.
So, back to leaving Saturday morning…as we were starting up the bridge, Dan informed me that the ABS light had come on and now HE could finally hear the noise. I suggested that as soon as we could, we needed to turn around and go back…which meant we had to get to the other side of the bridge. Then he told me the air bag light had just come on. I suggested to him that he was just being paranoid…everything was fine. As he was getting ready to give me a snappy comeback, I was looking towards the dash and all the gauges were registering HIGH. According to the speedometer, we were going 100 MPH, then all the gauges just plain died.
By now my paranoia kicked into high blower…and we were just trying to make it up the hill of the bridge. I kept suggesting that he slow down (even though the speedometer said a big fat ZERO) in case he lost total power in this rain and fog and then lost the steering.
Fortunately, he knows more about these things than I do. He was able to maintain speed and start down the other side of the hill before we lost power. By this time, the truck had slowed down on its own so Dan was able to steer it over to the side of the road…which there isn’t much of a side. This is a 4 lane BUSY bridge,(WITH A BIG BUFFER/MEDIAN IN THE MIDDLE) with a speed limit of 55 but people go faster than that.
Here we are in the rain and fog with a dead truck. Dan turned the 4 ways on hoping they worked.
It wasn’t long till someone was knocking on the driver’s window and it was a man telling us that he could barely see us (white truck) and the 4 ways were very dim. This nice man parked HIS vehicle behind us with all of his lights on while I proceeded to use my paranoia to send out distress signals. Then I decided I’d have better luck if I used the cell phone.
I first called 911 and they said they would dispatch a trooper immediately (this was NOT a good situation to be in), then I started calling our contact people at the refuge. Long story short, the Trooper had to come from the Roanoke Island side, which meant HE had to go 5 or 6 miles headed west on this bridge in order to turn around and come back to us another 4 miles or so UP the east side of the bridge. He was NOT a happy person and was very gruff with us. I explained to him that we were doing our best to get in touch with “refuge people” and that someone was on their way. One of the refuge people called back and said to call Pughes Towing so the Trooper said he would take care of that for us.
In the meantime, Bruce, the head of the “shop” (don’t know his official title) arrived. And by this time the man who had stopped to help (thank you Mike) was able to leave (at the Trooper’s request basically…no sense all of us sitting on the bridge in the rain and fog).
Pughes Towing arrived so Dan and I got into Bruce’s vehicle. Bruce was taking us to the Manteo office where we could pick up a different government vehicle and continue on to Pea Island to work. He has a key to the office building so could go in and get the key to the other vehicle.
Bruce is a wonderful fella; very quiet with a quiet sense of humor. I told him when we got to the Manteo office I needed to use the restroom. He said, with his southern drawl, “Did ya’ll have a bit of a traumatic mornin’”? With my best southern twang, I said “I guess ya’ll could put it that way.”
We got the “new” truck and headed off to work. We both were still a bit on the upset side, but we got to laughing about Bruce and his comment. We figured I could say that I suffer from PTTD…Post Traumatic Truck Disorder (and no neither one of us think PTSD is a laughing matter, so don’t think I’m being insensitive)
Since the truck we used Saturday is actually issued to one of the officers, we really don’t have a vehicle to use. I have NO clue what kind of a vehicle we will get next; a horse and buggy is beginning to look good to me. Currently we aren’t scheduled to work again till Thursday, which is totally fine. Maybe by then we’ll feel like driving someone else’s vehicle again.
Yesterday, we FINALLY took off for Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke! And there will be more on that in a day or two!! And of course, photos!! I’m not really satisfied with how most of them turned out. Most of the day was overcast and at times you couldn’t tell where the ocean left off and the horizon began.
- Cathy Clementz
- A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!