“It’s not all beans and bacon.”

We can’t live our lives with regret and “what ifs” but when we’ve gotten our RV stuck in the mud, it’s hard to not go back and reconstruct the events and decisions that led to our little version of a “disaster.”  To reconstruct what happened, I’ll use one of our favorite TV shows as the format for this post.  Seconds from Disaster on the National Geographic channel investigates historically relevant man-made and natural disasters. Each episode explains a disaster by analyzing the causes and circumstances that ultimately led to the disaster.  The show analyzes natural disasters, acts of terrorism, air and train wrecks, structure collapses, etc.

Timm with Darby and Shadow, waiting for the mud to dry.  Notice the RV tire that sank into the mud in the background.

Granted, our little mishap is hardly a disaster, just a little delay, a small bump in the road of our 5,000 mile travels to date.  Yet, it’s still interesting (at least to us) to think through, “How exactly DID we get ourselves stuck in this mud?”

To make it like the Seconds from Disaster show, read with a dire, deep tone.

Timeline of Events: On Tuesday, May 1st at 3:00 p.m., Theresa and Timm park their RV 1/3rd of a mile down a dirt road in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in South Dakota.  They intend to camp there for 4 nights so they can hike the Badlands National Park, 4 miles away.

On Friday, May 5th  at 5:00 p.m., Timm checks the weather forecast which indicates a 20% chance of rain.  He checks it again at 10:00 p.m. and sees that the forecast has not changed and there is no rain on the radar.

On Saturday, May 5th at 3:00 a.m., Theresa and Timm wake up to hear the first sounds of rain and hail pelting the RV.  The rain continues for the next 4 hours, waking them up periodically.

At  9:00 a.m., Theresa and Timm prepare to leave the grasslands.  They survey the area close to the RV and decide to try to drive out.


The RV cut deep groves into the rain-soaked soil.

At 9:05 a.m., 100 yards from their camping spot, the RV sinks 4 inches into the mud, completely stuck and unable to move forward.

On Sunday, May 6th at 11:00 a.m., Theresa and Timm are waiting for the mud to dry so they can exit the grasslands.  Their projected departure is the morning of Monday, May 7th.

(Are you still reading in a dire, disaster-like tone? Smile

Let’s reconstruct the events that led up to Theresa and Timm’s RV getting stuck in the mud.  What happened to cause this unfortunate chain of events?  What decisions did these two relatively experienced RVers make that contributed to the RV getting stuck in the mud?  Could this situation have been avoided? Let’s look more closely at what was in the minds of our RV team, Theresa and Timm.

There were 3 key actions that could have avoided this mini-disaster.  First, the weather forecast had been predicting a 20% chance of rain all 3 days leading up to the disaster.  However, not a drop of rain fell on Theresa and Timm, though storms passed by in the distance.  Therefore, Theresa and Timm were lulled into thinking that it would not rain on the 4th day either.  Theresa recalls, “I thought to myself, yeah, but BECAUSE it hasn’t rained in 3 days, doesn’t that increase the odds that it WILL rain tonight?”  But, she did not voice this thought to Timm and took no action.

In addition, BOTH Theresa and Timm thought to themselves, “Hmmm, 20% chance of rain tonight and we’re leaving tomorrow.  Maybe we should drive the RV to the entrance of our dirt road, just so we can be sure we can get out in the morning."  But NEITHER Theresa nor Timm said anything to the other person.  Neither wanted to leave their nice quiet spot and move closer to the road.  Plus, it hadn’t rained the prior 3 days.  So, they both just enjoyed the evening in the middle of the grassland.

Then, when it started to rain in the middle of the night, BOTH Theresa and Timm woke to the sound and thought “Maybe we should get up now and move the RV to the entrance of our dirt road.”  But BOTH Theresa and Timm thought, “It’s warm in this bed and it’ll probably stop.  I’m going back to sleep.”  Four hours later, if finally did stop raining.

When Theresa and Timm woke at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, they walked around outside in the vicinity of the RV and saw it was wet. One of them said, “Maybe we should test the road with the car  to see how bad it is before we try it with the RV.”  The other person said, “Na, let’s just give it a try in the RV.”  The RV got about 100 yards before it sank 4 inches into the mud and would go no further.


Timm models mud gear: a camp shovel and work gloves.

Theresa and Timm spent the next 3 hours digging the RV tires out of the mud and are at the time of this writing, waiting for the mud road to dry.

We dug the mud out from around all 4 of the RV tires.


In the words of Ted (T.J.) Perez “It’s not all beans and bacon.” The unplanned, unfortunate events will happen.  Yet especially when things don’t go as planned, there are lessons to be learned. Nature is unpredictable.  Weather forecasts are not accurate.  Listen to your instincts.  Share your ideas with each other.  Plan ahead for the “just in case” situations. 

Darby shows us all how to ride out a little mishap.  With a nap in the sun, of course!

Finally, when you get stuck in the mud and have to wait for it to dry, do what the dogs do.  Relax, take a nap and enjoy the warm sun.

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