Posted on May 17, 2023

Road Testing the Pickup - Gebo's

As an avid outdoor photographer who has proven over the years that I am completely capable of setting up a tent at midnight with a flashlight in my mouth, I decided a few years ago that I was getting too old for that and should get a small travel trailer that didn’t have to be pulled out of a stuff bag. I could be cool in the summer and dry in the winter and have a place to work my photos during the afternoon when the light was bad.

However, sense my only vehicle at the time was a Subaru that wasn’t powerful enough to pull my trailer, I decided I needed to find an inexpensive pickup with which to do the job.

As it turned out, I quickly found an old Ford F-150 that I could afford and happily addressed my problem. While the pickup seemed to be just fine as I trundled around town in it, I decided one morning that I should take it out for a road test. To accomplish what I felt I needed to learn about the old dog, I figured the best place to bounce it around and see if anything fell off was a dirt road that makes up one of the boundaries of Caprock Canyons State Park, outside of Quitaque, Texas. It was rough and rugged but also beautiful and I might even be able to get some photos while I was out.

With that thought in mind, I finished breakfast and headed to the canyons. It was a clear, warm morning and as I turned off the highway and started up the dirt road, I met some hunters who were visiting a friend who owned a ranch in the area. They had the rancher’s young son with them and were out looking for game.

This particular road bumps down to a creek bed and then back up and at different points can really rattle your teeth. As I drove down to the creek and then crossed, sure enough I saw a photo opportunity. I bounced to a stop, turned off the engine, hopped out, took my photos, and loaded back up with the intention of driving up out of the creek and on to the north end of the road.

Ah the best made plans of mice and men . . . .

I turned the key in the ignition, and . . . nothing. I tired it again. Still nothing (not even the clicking sound you get from a dead battery).

This was a bad thing, because that spot on that road, literally, was “the middle of nowhere.” In the creek bed, there wasn’t even cell reception. It appeared that my only hope was to start walking toward town in hopes of getting some help. Fortunately, though, as I climbed out of the creek bottom, I realized I had a single bar of reception so I called the sheriff’s office in Silverton and asked if they had someone who could come and help me get going again. The sheriff said he would come a far as he could but that he didn’t really have a vehicle with ground clearance to get to where I was. He did have a portable booster, though, and he would see what he could do. 

With that, I headed back down to my pickup to wait and low-and-behold, I saw the pickup with the hunters coming toward me. They pulled up and asked if I needed help. I told them I needed a boost, but the only problem was I was blocking the road. They put their pickup in four-wheel drive and started to try and maneuver up beside me. We soon determined that wasn’t going to work, though, so they shifted into reverse and tried to back down the road. The only problem was their pickup didn’t move. Something had gone wrong with their transmission, and they were now stuck, as well.

At about that time, the sheriff showed up and carried his booster across from the other side of the creek. As we began to hook it up, the local game warden – who was out checking hunters – pulled up from the opposite direction. However, again, I had the road blocked, so he had to stop. We hooked up the sheriff’s booster, but it didn’t do anything. As the sheriff explained that it must have lost all of its charge, the game warden pulled out his jumper cables and hooked them up. I tried my pickup again but still, nothing. 

This was beginning to look really serious, and I was calculating how much I was going to have to pay somebody to tow me back to civilization when suddenly my hood light flickered. The crowd at the front of the vehicle had been repositioning the jumper cables when I suddenly got some power. I turned the key, and it fired right up.

As it turned out, the battery cables on my pickup were old and rusty and one of them had started to break. I figured that now that I knew the problem, I could limp the pickup back home and fix it there. I apologized for all of the problems and confusion, thanked everybody for their help and headed home. With me out of the way, the game warden went on about his work and the sheriff loaded the little boy up in his vehicle and headed to the ranch house to get help for the hunters.

For the record, I fixed the wire and have since taken several trips with my pickup and trailer, so all’s well that ends well.

By: Richard Porter

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