a friend named Glen


you can’t trust Google Maps all the time.  i found this out the hard way on the last day of my road trip to Branson Missouri.

as you know i have a had a few mechanical problems on this trip.  therefore i have stayed on interstate highways for most of the road trip.  i wanted to be close to assistance if i should need it.

after traveling through California, Arizona, New Mexico and most of Oklahoma i reached Tulsa.  Tulsa is only 3.5 hours from Branson.  i am saying to myself i can continue to follow the interstates to Branson, or i can, after all of this driving, take the back roads, take the more local roads to Branson now that i am so close.

i make the decision to get off the interstates.  i am going to Branson from Tulsa using local, non interstate roads.

in hindsight this was a major mistake.  for two reasons.  one, local roads in Missouri in particular are unbelievably windy and hilly, following the topography of the Ozarks.

second, the local roads are narrow, two lane, with absolutely no shoulders.  not only are there no shoulders, where there usually is a shoulder is a culvert, catching rain water running off the paved road.  so, if you should happen to make an error and slightly slide off the road to what would normally be a shoulder, you are in serious trouble, immediately going into a ditch that would cause a lot of damage.

as if these problems were not enough, the main problem i ran into was a directional problem.  my Google Maps app on my iphone is what i use for directional guidance.  i type in my current location and then i type in my destination and wait for the app to give me the best route.  i do this all the time.

well, this time my Google Maps app let me down.  it sent me to a road in Missouri that was quite narrow.  not two lanes wide, just one plus lane wide.  and it was really rural.  farm land on each side.

remember i am driving a 45′ motorcoach and trailering a Jeep Liberty vehicle.  i am taking up a lot of the road.  i am big.  and here i am going down a one lane rural country road, because that is what my Google Maps app tells me to do.

my hands begin to sweat on the steering wheel. i am concerned.  something is not right.  and then the worst thing happens.  i pass a sign on the side of the road that says “no exit”.   i see the sign as i am passing it.  i don’t see the sign in the distance with plenty of time to slow down and stop.  no, i see the sign as i am passing it.  holy s***.  i am in trouble.

the biggest fear i have about driving a 45′ motorcoach is getting caught on a road or in a parking lot without the ability to turn around or get out.  when i enter any road or location or parking area i am always looking at the way that i am going to get out.  i don’t want to put myself in a situation where i am stuck with no way out.

so i continue down the road very slowly looking for how am i going to get out of here.  i come to the end of the road and i am faced with a bad situation.  the road ends at a “T”, running into another road.  but the other road is even narrower than the road i am on.  and the other road is not paved.  it is a gravel road.  and as i look down the other road i see trees leaning over the road.  it is clear that the other road would not be friendly to a huge motorcoach trying to negotiate it.

on top of that, the way to the other road at the “T” is over a small stream.  there is a small concrete bridge that spans the creek.  however there are no guardrails.  in fact, there has been erosion at the ends of the concrete slabs that traverse the stream.


adding to that is the degree of the turn required to get from the road i am on to the other road.  it is more than a 90 degree turn, and there does not appear to be the room or space to make the turn for a 45′ bus.  but, i try.  i slowly, very slowly go over the “bridge” and then try to turn the wheels dramatically but i can’t get my rear wheels over the “bridge” and i can’t get the front of the coach to miss the trees in front of me.  in short, i am stuck.  i can’t make the turn.  and i am not sure that i want to make the turn.  i don’t like what i am seeing on the other road even if i could make the turn.

so here i am in the middle of nowhere not sure about what i am going to do.  plus i am totally blocking both roads.  nobody can get by me in their vehicle.

at this point a pick up truck arrives, on its way home to its farm.  the pick up truck is driven by Glen.  Glen gets out of his truck and meets me and the first words out of his mouth is “you have a problem”.  but he said in such a way that i knew immediately that he was someone who naturally wanted to help.  we shake hands.  sweat is rolling off my forehead.

Glen and I brainstorm what our options are.  first, he confirms that going down the other road is a non starter.  the only option is backing up on the road that i am on.  backing up is no easy task.  first, i have to uncouple my Jeep Liberty, because i can’t back up the coach with the trailering vehicle in tow.  can’t do it.  so i have to uncouple it.

then Glen says there is a driveway about 1000 feet back down the road i have just come from.  he says i can take my Jeep to that driveway and park it and then i can carefully back up the motorcoach 1,000 feet.  at that point i can try to turn the coach into the driveway.  sounds simple.  it is not.  the turn into the driveway is not one that was designed for a 45′ motorcoach.  to make the turn into the driveway will be very tricky.  my left wheels will have to be so close to the fence of the property, while at the same time, my front wheels have to make a dramatic turn that does not go into the culvert on the other side of the narrow road.  i attempt this with Glen providing directions.  i move the coach very, very slowly.

somehow we make it.  the coach is now in the driveway.  a miracle.  i am exhausted.

now, i have the same issue in getting the coach out of the driveway and into the road going back in the other direction, retracing my route.  again, Glen guides me as i carefully turn the coach from this narrow driveway into the one lane road.  and do so without hitting the property fences and without having any of my eight wheels go into a culvert is the challenge.  we make it again.

now i am able to move my Jeep to the back of the coach and rehook the car to the motorcoach’s towbar.

by this time we have six cars and pick up trucks lined up along the road watching and wondering what is this big rig doing here.

as challenging as this situation was, the major message to me was about Glen.  what a prince.  never even hesitated to help.  went way out of his way to get involved.  did so to a complete stranger, somebody he had never seen before, and somebody he will never see again.  wow.

thank God for the Glen’s of the world.

3 thoughts on “a friend named Glen”

  1. Thank God for Glen and thank you for providing us with a daily smile, laugh and understanding. This life on the road can be very challenging?

  2. Well, that’s quite a story, Neil.

    It was great to be neighbors for a week; look forward to seeing you at ORI.

    Meanwhile, safe travels and STAY OFF ROADS THAT AREN’T RED LINES ON THE AAA MAP! (Yes, it’s a good idea to double-check your route!).

  3. Niel, you are one lucky man to still have your motorhome in one piece and not in a ditch. You cannot always trust GPS or Google to get you where you want to go. Guess you are back to stay on the interstate or at least state or country roads. Another good idea is if it doesn’t have a painted strip down the middle of the road don’t take your coach down that road. Thank you for the great story. The country is blessed with so many people like Glen, luckily.

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