Operation Shore Patrol Sep 2014

Operation Shore Patrol – The Triumphant Return….

There are Shore Patrols that stand out in memory.  Some for negative reasons (like “That was the crappiest, rainiest, coldest” or “I can’t believe how poorly my rig ran”) or like this one – for the best of reasons.  Because this was a good group of Tamers at the right time and place on one of the nicest coastal days of recent memory.
While 1 contingent left Lynnwood 4 Wheel Parts in the early afternoon and endured a 6 hour traffic battle of epic proportions, Mary and I and the children (heathen dogs Lola and Kona) left town early in the morning and had an easy drive to the coast.  I had my misgivings about the weather coming through Aberdeen as the windshield wipers had to be turned from occasional delay to full on low speed to cut through the drizzle.  Oh no – not another one of those “hopes dashed” of good weather everywhere but the coast.  And I had decided to leave my rain coat behind.  I was considering the one more good use of a trash bag as moisture protection.  But at the last turn into the camp at the RV place – the drizzle tapered off, and blue sky started to become evident between the thinning clouds.
Mary and had gotten our WTC (white trash compound) set up, when our friends Jake and Wei-Ying pulled in with a friend’s Jeep they intended to sort out a bit.  Brian (who showed up later) had gotten a free Jeep – a 70’s or 80’s vintage CJ-7 with a Ford 351 under the hood and a few other tricks.  Anyone who has wheeled an older Jeep knows how this happens – you take it out, and the same damn thing you haven’t figured out in the last few times you’ve taken it out pisses you off and screws up your plans – and it sits in the yard.  A month.  6 months.  A year.  4 years.  And finally – “Heck – you want this?  It’s been sitting in my yard for 4 years.  It was running when I parked it.  Well – kind of.  I just got tired of it.  Here – ts yours.”
It was rough – but it got itself off the trailer, and had a nice V-8 rumble going for it – so – okay – new life was being breathed back into an old dog.  Camp having been set up and the sun coming out – seemed like a good time to take in a little sand and surf.
The shorthand was that we had been on the beach about 30 seconds when Jake/Brian’s Jeep had a flame out – stopped running.  Not much gas in the clean fuel filter, and the fuel line was attached to what looked like a pretty new fuel pump.  That led me to believe someone had been trying to cure a fuel problem.  Jake was looking for a loose wire – although with the DUI high energy ignition on the distributor, the historically poor ignition setup of that vintage of Jeep was addressed.  I pushed what seemed to be a few loose wires back into place on the DUI module and told Jake to give it a try.  Oh – add a starter to the shopping list, it was being so balky to turn over.  It really thought hard about turning over, then begrudgingly did so, then the engine fired.  Okay – we’re off again!  For another 200 feet. Ann-n-nd – nothing.  So this time – fuel filter still looking a little dry.  Sediment filter up in the Holley carb (yeah – gotta put something different there on the shopping list too) seems to be open enough.  Cranking over the starter – and the fuel coming out of the pump looks a little limp.  Okay – next trick – maybe we should put some gas in it.  So – we introduced Jake to the joys of a shaky siphon, and proceeded to put only about a gallon into the tank before it was full.  So – shouldn’t be an empty tank problem.  So – third trick – grab an air line off Mary’s Jeep, fire up the York, and blow some air back through the line into the tank.  Pretty quickly we had a spray of fuel out the filler neck, put everything back together, and the Jeep fired and ran – most convincingly!  Jake romped the throttle a little, and it seems that maybe a new gas tank goes on the shopping list too.  Or at least pull the tank and see how much crap is rattling around in the bottom of it.
So – a running rig showed up the next challenge – which was a little overheating problem.  We didn’t get that totally solved, but suffice to say – there were more than a few more stops in the afternoon with the nose of the CJ into the wind, and me running to the store to get 4 gallons of water to throw into the radiator, plus tuning up the electric fans, plus trying out radiator caps of varying pressures we found in the Jeep.  Yep – I think we were finding all of the things that had been pissing off the former owner.
It had gotten close to 6 PM, and with the sun hanging low in the otherwise blue but darkening sky – it seemed like a good time to head back to camp – while we weren’t too far from town and the CJ still moving under its own steam (and I do mean to state that both figuratively AND literally.)  Not too long after we got into camp, the rest of the Tamers also pulled in.  Casey and Gary with Miss Creant, Mike and Jill and Beaker, Evan (with trailer full of packing crate and pallet firewood) and Zach.  Rock and Jeanne were already in camp up in the RV section, while we had set up camp in the tenting area like a bunch of the unwashed rabble we were to become.  Oh – Mary is saying I should speak for myself – perhaps I was the only one unwashed.  Maybe that explains why folks stood farther and farther away from me as the weekend went on – hmmmmm……
Zach got to tell the tale of some driveline problems on the way in – or actually – fastener problems.  His driveline was fine – but it became unhappy when it started spitting out most of the bolts connecting it to the transmission and the rear end.  (Details, details…) A quick stop by the side of the road and some wrenching put that back to right.  Camps got set up and camp fires burning, and all was right with the world.
Saturday morning showed a continuation of a superlatively stunning day shaping up for us.  Now – for those who recall the glory days of OSP’s gone by – with a few hundred rigs jammed cheek-to-jowl in the campgrounds taking up every square inch of space – this wasn’t that Shore Patrol.  We are in what would be known as a “rebuilding phase.”  Sometimes you have to let go of what was, and totally embrace the goodness of what you have.  And we had about 40 willing wheelers ready to hit the beach and do some cleaning up.
The Tamer contingent went out the Ocean City Beach access (we were staying just north in south Copalis Beach) and headed north.
Mary stayed in camp with Kona, working on her bitchin’ baked beans for the evening potluck, and Wei-Ying rode out with me.  She remarked that the beach was pretty clean to begin with (it actually was) and how in China – people don’t even think about cleaning up after themselves.  They just drop stuff and leave it behind, and beaches just look bad and dirty all over.  With that incenting her – I think Wei-Ying probably bagged more stuff than any other 2 or 3 folks combined.  She was a cleaning machine on the beach.
Time on the beach, and the many years I’ve been coming to Shore Patrol, gave me a little time and space to think.  (Yeah – dangerous when that starts happening.)
Thinking about silly songs….. (to the tune, That’s Amore)
“Picking Trash from the sand  and an eel bites your hand – that’s a moray…….”
Thinking about the fact that the beach indeed was cleaner than some years.  Or – maybe the trash has changed a bit.  Less beer cans and plastic and glass bottles – but more plastics in the way of bags and packaging – and more insidious than that – smaller pieces of plastic.  Must be a firewoks ban now – NO fireworks debris.  Okay – I’ll take that.
Thinking about human nature – “Here I am all ready to pick up trash and I’m upset there isn’t any big, unusual, exciting trash to pick up.  Trash you could write home about, trash you need 2 or 3 rigs to take it to the dumpster.”  (Really?  Your complaint is things might be getting better?)
Thinking about being on the beach with friends and rigs with warm sun on your head and shoulders and an easy breeze blowing freshness into your nostrils.
Thinking about the Shore Patrol irony – that there is always that one flattened plastic bottle that it seems every single rig have driven over and ignored.  (We must have our traditions somehow…)
Oooooo – thinking about that piece of kelp over there on the beach.  One particular pastime I enjoy is cutting the end of the air bladder off the kelp and trimming the leafy weed leaves off the top, and making a type of “kelp-o-lantern” out of it.  You carve 2 eyes and a jagged mouth in it – it’s just like a mini-pumpkin – only beachified – and it appeals to me to have a type of beach made shrunken head, complete with what appear to be dreadlocks adorning the Jeep.  Getting to know Casey, I thought she’d like one too.  So – a 2nd kelp goes under the knife – and a run back down the beach to Miss Creant – and – “Casey – I got something for ya!”  I think “Li’l Kelpy” was a hit, as it continued to appear in various spots on Casey’s truck until it finally landed skewered through the antenna.
We found a few unusual things.  Part of a shower enclosure.  Top and bottom refrigerator doors – not together.  Also what appeared to a rack for a fridge – also not with the other 2 pieces.  A couple of tires.  When someone had a bag full enough, Evan came over with his trailer and helped them off load.
The one thing I did see a lot more of than ANY other year –  was the quiet menagerie of departed sea creatures whose souls have gone into hopefully cleaner waters of the spiritual cosmos – but whose remains stay behind on the beach to remind us of their presence.
An immense sea lion had recently floated in on the tide – on his back, but still sporting his fur.  Some other far more naturally processed dead thing was providing breakfast for scads of seagulls down near the surf.  Some kind of creature with a large flat tail that may have been used as a stand in for the Animal Planet “Mermaids” series looked folded over on another part of the beach.  And – almost near the beach grass, I thought I was about to drive up on a stump.  Instead, it was the far decomposed head of a whale, with the immense backbone of vertebrae not too far away.  Its baleen plates were littered over the beach, looking a lot like browning palm fronds having fallen in a more tropical arena.
This didn’t actually all make us think of lunch – but it was about noon, and there were hot dogs and chili waiting on the stove for us.
After lunch – it was play time!  Someone said there were cars stuck all over the beach south of town, and that just sounded recreational if nothing else for us to go do a little showing off while being helpful.  Search & Rescue Ken had shown up with his son in the meantime – and off we went to the Ocean City beach access again – heading south this time.
Being a sunny day – there was quite the beachfront traffic jam going on in Ocean Shores.  We elected not to stop at the first car we saw being feverishly dug out, since the local OS “Mobi-Patrol” (an older 4WD Suburban) tow company was already standing by to make a few bucks off his client.  And so we slowly continued on through the crowd.
And then – through the mist looking down south on the beach where the sand gets soft – I began to see it.  Like gaining a slow awareness of first coming upon the pyramids of Egypt seeing them for the first time from a distance.  Or contemplating the first thought that you might want to climb a mountain the first time you see it, being almost overcome by its presence, its beauty, its terrible size – could it be?  Slowly being revealed out of the mist appears to be the prized catch of the day – a monstrous Class A diesel pusher motorhome sunk up to its axle a few hundred yards away from the beach access – with the tide washing perilously close to its western side.
A quick radio conference with my fellow Tamers (Hey – let’s go see if we can pull this guy off the beach!) and with enthusiastic assents – we head to the prize – the first ones on the scene.
The owner was actually in remarkably good cheer for having a 15 ton probably $400,000 or so bit of his mobile living room stuck on the beach.  I said to him, “Would you like some help?  I think we can get you back to the beach approach.”  He smiled and said he’d done this drive last July with no problems, and was a little surprised it had turned out this way this time.
Now – from a distance – it seemed totally doable.  While I didn’t voice my concerns to my fellow Tamers, a nagging thought of doubt crept into my mind while I registered standing right next to the rig, “My God – this thing is HUGE!!!!!”  But we were committed to give it a try – and besides now – the Mobi-Patrol guy was handing his card to the owner saying, “Call me when they can’t get you out.”  That’s just it.  We have the technology and the willpower – and at least 6 rigs right here right now.  We are Tamers – and WE GOT THIS!
Yeah – 15 tons vs. 2-1/2 tons per rig at best.  I think we’ll need a lot of wheels on the ground.  And split the load on a number of straps.  Where to hook on?  Laying under the massive maw of the UAV (Urban Assault Vehicle) no tow points were immediately apparent.  But then a plan began to form.  There was a massive front axle supported on huge leaf springs – and at the points where the axle bolted to the springs, there was a space big enough in the attachment point to slip a tree-saver.  So we got a tree saver through the attachment on each side, with the eyes in a clevis.  Then – like harnessing up some Clydesdales to the Budweiser Beer wagon – the first 2 straps connected to these clevis’s and crossed in front of the UAV to the first 2 tow vehicles sitting side by side – Moose on the left and Casey on the right.  Then – hooked via strap to 2 more vehicles in front – Ken on the left in front of Moose, and Evan in front of Casey on the right.  And then – we slowly took the slack out of each strap, with Gary and Mike spotting, and Jill taking video of the proceedings.  A final instruction to the owner to help out but drive really slow when he got traction, we got set.  Low range. Lockers on – a-nn-nnd – YAH MULE!  That 15 tons of sunken whale was no match for 10 tons of 16 wheel drive putting traction to the ground in a slow, steady, yet determined and thoughtful manner.  With barely the slightest protest – the RV started moving right away.  We had garnished quite the crowd of onlookers by now, and all seemed pretty amazed and pleased that we were able to get this thing moving and back on terra far more firma.  Not in the least the owner.  He asked what he owed us, and I told him about our tow fee structure. That one tow fee is generally a buck, but being that we had used 4 vehicles to yank him, that he was probably on the hook more for $4.  After we got all the straps pulled out and wrapped up, and the local newspaper had taken pictures and notes, and we were shaking hands and basking in the afterglow of our triumph – the owner slipped me a more material token of his appreciation as we shook hands – which will go back to the club.
WHAT FUN!  Pretty pleased with ourselves – we continued south to see what other adventures lay in store for us.  And indeed – we did end up helping another 4 stuck folks.  Ken was in his glory, having all kinds of little “Oh – I’ve got a gadget for that” things to make assisting folks a little more civilized.  For the new sunk Tahoe that actually had tow hooks – Ken had a “non-scratch” nylon web attachment for the tow hook.  For a sunk Lexus (with plates from Texas) it was a little chain toggle attachment to go through his rear tie down that kept us from cutting any straps.  If you need a gadget – Ken is your source.
Farther down the beach we found a wrecked blue paddle boat carelessly tossed at the base of a dune, pretty well filed with sand.  I recall I had seen this the previous November – and being by myself that time, wasn’t really set up to do much about it.  But now – with an RV-pulling bunch of Tamers, the paddle boat seemed like child’s play to pull out.  It did not come easily without a fight.  First there was the shoveling of sand out of it.  Then a strap onto it – and being mainly Fiberglas and foam – that pretty much tore it in half.  As we loaded the bits and pieces of the first half of the boat into Evan’s handy trailer, someone remarked, “Wow – so we really now know what it is to be trailer trash…..”  (Can I have a rimshot please?  Don’t forget to tip your waitress folks – I’ll be here through Thursday.)  Finally – the last half of the boat gave it up, and Ken towed it down the beach to the jetty, hoping to knock more sand out of it.
Closing in on dinner, and the afternoon going long – we headed back to the state park to unload our finds in the dumpster, and got ready for a meal and the raffle and telling tales around the fire.  Later with Gary, Casey, Mike and Jill – having spent now A THIRD (even I can’t believe it) of my life with the Tamers we sat around the fire with me taking on the role of historian.  I’ve been in the club long enough to see the cycles of how the club grows and ebbs through different folks in different circles in and out of the club, with different rigs and different life situations.  Tamers are a community of folks that can breathe in and out together – and I think this weekend felt to me like another deep breathe in on the next iteration of our life together.  I was glad to tell the history of times gone past, and also glad to continue to be part of the next breath to come.
Sunday made us all appreciate what we’d had Saturday – as it was a more typical cool, windy, gray Ocean Shores type of day.  We all packed up camp, and took one more run down the beach.  With the departing sun, there were few folks on the beach and no rescues needed.  There were some very large piles of sand at the beach access south of town, and we enjoyed doing a little honest-to-goodness wheeling getting up and over them.  South of town, we did find a few more tires on the beach, and grabbed them to toss into a dumpster.  And with that – Shore Patrol 2014 quietly closed.  Warmed in our weekend together – we look forward to new adventures ahead.

Thanks for Readin’
And Keep On Wheelin’!