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Thursday, June 2, 2016

In Memoriam: Lessons from Ray

The reason Chaplain Tim and I swapped days this week is that my good friend Ray Carter passed away over the weekend and I wasn't really in a good mental state to write. Tim also gave me some inspiration for this post, asking if there was anything Ray had taught me that I could share. Ray taught me plenty, but not much by way of prepping. We did have a pretty funny misadventure that drives home some valuable lessons, though.

Every year at Boomershoot, somebody gets a flat tire.
It's been that way for as long as we can remember, and has become something we just expect. A couple years back, it was our turn. Keep in mind that cell signal is virtually non-existent in this area, so AAA and the like are out of the question. 

Normally, a flat tire is nothing big for me; Ray wasn't exactly the macho type, but he had his own skill set that proved useful in other ways. I started poking around his rental Suburban, looking for the tools to change the tire.

When we popped open the obvious compartment that should have held tire tools, it was stone empty. This was disheartening, but another friend in a truck rolled up, and he got his tools out. We jacked up the Suburban and pulled the tire.

At this point, things went sideways. On late-model Suburbans, it's impossible to lower the spare without the jack handle that comes with the truck. After we wrestled around and cursed the Suburban for about 20 minutes, the truck driver's wife asked the question none of us had thought of: "Have you checked the manual?"

Five minutes later, we found the tire tools --  they were tucked in a ludicrous location, but they were in the truck.

Once we got the spare off the truck and on the hub, we were back on our way. It took us about four times as long as it should have, and the old tire was utterly shot, but we got off the hill. We also learned some valuable lessons in the process:
  • Check the rig. Whether it's your own vehicle or a rental, know where your tools are. With modern vehicles, tools are often specific for that manufacturer, and sometimes for that model. When you're going on an extended trip or into questionable territory, check your tires and do the rest of your pre-trip prep.
  • Convoy if you can. Having a second rig and friends handy can be a lifesaver. If the option is available, traveling with someone is always the best idea.
  • Know the communication situation. If you're traveling away from your home area, ask any locals you know if there are cell/data issues. In the Boomershoot location, Verizon is the only cell provider with signal, and even that is pretty spotty. Knowing that ahead of time allows to you make arrangements, such as a prepaid phone on a carrier that works.
  • Check your ego. This is probably the most important thing we learned. I know how to change a tire; after all, I've done it dozens of times. And yet, I let that get in the way of doing something as simple as reading the owner's manual! If I'd swallowed my pride and read the instructions, we'd have been off the hill in about half the time we actually spent.
As it was, things went well, we made it to dinner on time and with minimal ill effects. Had everything happened an hour later, or our friend in the truck not shown up, we would have been in a world of preventable hurt. 

Sometimes we have to learn the hard way, but those lessons get taken to heart.

Lokidude

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