With a Big Help from Our Friends

By , January 17, 2016

Our recent trip to reunite with family (see A New Year Far From Home) began quite badly. It could have been far worse, if not for the help of friends.

It began with a growler. To get to Baranof Warm Springs, we planned to spend a night with friends in Sitka, then fly out to the springs the next morning. The last time we saw these friends, they gave us a growler of beer from Sitka’s Baranof Brewery. We, of course, wanted to return the gift with a sample from our own, beloved Haines Brewery.

We went to town twice that day. We went in the morning to run as many pre-trip errands as we could before the midday high tide. We got everything on our list accomplished except buying the growler. Since the brewery’s excellent new tap room opens noon–7:00 p.m. most days, we needed to leave the homestead after the evening crossing tide, around 5:00 p.m. to purchase the beer.

We crossed the bay around 6:00 p.m. in a rainstorm that polished the road’s accumulated snow and ice. We realized just how bad conditions had become when I turned around for the drive to town. As I completed my 3-point turn, our Jeep slid sideways and jammed into the roadside snow berm.

On the other side of the berm, a drop of some five feet led to the beach below. My immediate thought, as we jolted to a halt, was: “That’s it for the growler.”

I’d had the Jeep in 4-wheel drive for the turn, but I shifted into low to back us out of the berm. I revved the engine, but nothing happened. Were the rear tires in the air? Michelle got out to check.

In my excitement, I’d failed to fully engage the 4-wheel drive. I adjusted my shifting, and prepared to rock the car out of the snow, when help arrived.

In the form of our neighbor, Kelly. In her Prius.

She grabbed a snow shovel, and joined Michelle digging snow out from around the impacted tire. I didn’t dare move from the driver’s seat, in case the car slid farther off the road. When they gave the signal, I began rocking the car out of the snow.

I heard Michelle comment that one more try ought to do it, when the rock forward broke through the berm, leaving the Jeep teetering on the edge of the road with one rear tire off the ground.

At that point, Kelly offered me the use of her big pick up. She told me she wasn’t very good at driving it—not that I was either. We discussed fetching her husband, but realized that it would be a full hour before he could reach us. Instead, I hopped in her car, and she drove me toward her truck.

As we drove, she did a quick mental inventory of which truck owners who lived on the road might be home. She settled on our friend, Ian, who lived near the end of the road. We went to his place, and found him working in his shop.

The excitement that lit Ian’s face as we described our situation truly warmed my heart. Apparently, he’d just put new, fat, studded tires on his big pickup, and positively relished the chance to use them! He also had a come-along in the truck bed.

Ian had us yanked out in no time at all. We thanked him and Kelly, and began a slow drive toward town.

To our amazement, we checked the time, and discovered we could still reach the brewery before closing! We filled our growler, and presented it, along with the story of its procurement, to our friends in Sitka.

My glass of that beer, which I tipped to our good friends and neighbors, may be the best beer I’ll ever enjoy.

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