Getting Gouged And Getting Helped In Montana

On Sunday March 5, it was a warm and sunny day in Dickinson, North Dakota.  It warmed up to almost 70 degrees.  I sat out in the sun on the back deck for about half an hour.  Then I went to the grocery store to get something to cook out on the grill.

Driving through town, I passed by the Paragon Bowling Alley & Bar.  I thought to myself, why would anyone want to be inside drinking today, it is so nice outside.  At the grocery store, I decided that I would just cook hot dogs outside and make chili dogs.

When I got back to the house, I asked my room mate, the person who owns the home, if he wanted any chili dogs.  He said no, he didn’t think so.  I was happy cooking the hot dogs outside, making chili dogs, and eating them.  My room mate was yelling about political news on television.

There was no reason for my room mate to be yelling, I was ten feet away, and I was eating, not disagreeing with him.  There was no reason to be yelling, no one else was there.  No one else is ever there to listen to my room mate, and he is not welcome in anyone’s home, any social gathering, or any bar because he gets too loud and too carried away, to the point of being offensive.  I could not stand it any more.  I went to my  bed room.  It was only 5:00 p.m.  I thought to myself, this is why people are at the Paragon Bowling Alley & Bar drinking in the afternoon, they have to get away from where they live.  But I am not going to drink at bars all afternoon and through the evening to get away from home.

My room mate continued to mutter to himself and rant in the living room, though there was no one else there.  The problem is, I can hear him.  If another person, police officer, nurse, counselor, or psychiatrist witnessed this, they would start to ask him a series of questions to see if he needed to be taken to a hospital for psychological evaluation to determine what level of help and intervention was needed, due to the nature of what he is saying and how he is behaving.

It would do me no good to ask my room mate, the owner of the house where I live, if he has got something wrong with him, because we both know that he does.  Not long ago, I had a private discussion with a family member of his, to ask if my room mate has ever needed help in the past or has been treated in the past.  The family member said, I don’t know that there is anything that can be done about it, it runs in our family, our father did the same thing.

I could not stand going to bed at 5:00 p.m. on this nice, sunny, warm Sunday afternoon in order to avoid listening to and being around the owner of the house where I live.  I had taken a four hour drive on Saturday to get out of the house, and I was not interested in taking another four hour drive.  I had had many days like this in the past three years, living in this house in Dickinson, and I finally had enough.

I had been unable to move someplace else in Dickinson, because I had four trucks, two equipment trailers, two kayaks, and many mountain bikes.  This was it, I knew this day would eventually come, I would have to move all of this shit back to Idaho.  It would take about four round trips.  I had better get started, on starting over.

At about 5:30 p.m. I began taking all of the equipment off of a flat bed car trailer.  The Ford truck that was going to pull the trailer had a dead battery because it had gotten so cold this winter.  I got the Ford truck started.  The trailer hitch on the car trailer was frozen and stuck in the locked position.  I got the trailer hooked up.  I got a Toyota truck loaded on the car trailer.  It took me a while to get the Toyota truck tied down to the bed of the trailer with six ratchet straps.  I got the entire bed of the Ford truck loaded with equipment.  I packed a small duffle bag with clothes.

All four tires on the car trailer were low.  It was now about 8:00 p.m. and dark.  I drove to the County Line Truck Stop to get air in the tires, fuel, and cash out of the ATM machine.  I was tired and angry.  What had started out as such a nice peaceful day, had turned into me having to unload a trailer, load a trailer, and drive 750 miles unexpectedly.

You aren’t supposed to drive when you are angry.  It doesn’t help when the truck and trailer you are hauling weighs 6,500 lbs, and the truck you are using to pull it weighs only 4,000 lbs.  If you make any sudden movement on the steering wheel that unsettles the trailer, the trailer “wag” will cause the truck to crash within a few seconds.  The trailer can develop a “wag” all on its own, and quickly amplify, to cause your truck to crash within a few seconds.  On Interstate 94 heading back west to Idaho, I found that I could only safely drive about 55 mph to 65 mph because the trailer would get a “wag” going about every fifteen minutes.

I was very tired by midnight.  It began to snow.  I was just beginning to get into a mountainous area of Montana.  I had not planned this trip.  I had only thought that it would be O.K. to make this trip at this time of year because it had been so warm and sunny in Dickinson.  I was also angry, and I just went ahead and did it.  My Ford truck is only two wheel drive, it weighs 4,000 lb, and the load that I am hauling weighs 6,500 lbs.  I became worried that I was going to have all kinds of problems.

I parked in a rest area for the night.  When I woke up at about 5:00 a.m., there was about three to four inches of snow on the ground.  I thought that the interstate would be plowed.  I barely, barely made it out of the rest area onto the interstate.  The interstate was not plowed.  There were just a few tire tracks in the right lane of the interstate.  Within about ten miles, there was a steep uphill.  My tires were spinning and I was losing speed.  Just before I came to a complete stop going uphill, I pulled over to  the shoulder in order to not be stuck in the middle of the interstate.  It was difficult to even get over and not be stuck in the middle of the road.

Several hundred feet ahead of me, a tractor truck had been unable to make it up the hill and had slid off the side of the road into a ditch.  When I pulled over to the shoulder, my truck and trailer had started sliding sideways toward a deeper ravine.  I called 911 to give my location and ask for a tow truck.  The tow truck driver called me and said, “$115 to hook up, then $2.50 per mile.”  I just needed to get moved 18 miles to the nearest town to get off the interstate and figure out what I was going to do.

I realized that I had to get my Toyota truck off the car trailer, which I hated to do because it had taken me about 30 minutes to get it onto the car trailer and strapped down.  As I was having difficulty getting each of the six frozen tie down ratchet straps untied and unratcheted, I realized that the Toyota truck could pull the empty trailer.  I just needed the two wheel drive Ford truck moved 18 miles to the nearest town, then a ride back from the tow truck driver to the Toyota truck and trailer.

By the time the tow truck driver got to me, three or four snow plow trucks had gone by.  I said to the tow truck driver, just pull my Ford truck away from the shoulder with this tow strap, unhook me, and let me follow you to the nearest town, then give me ride back to my Toyota truck.  Twenty minutes later, it was $350 for the “tow”.  The tow truck driver had not told me he was going to charge me $2.50 per mile all the way from where he had come from, and all the way back to where he had come from.

I rode back east on the interstate with the tow truck driver, got out and climbed through a snowy ravine to get back to the west bound lane and my Toyota truck.  In the small town where I left my Ford truck and car trailer, I saw a Ford dealership.  I went to the service department and explained how I had gotten stuck on the interstate, I would not be able to continue driving on the interstate until it was plowed and it warmed up, could they please replace the brake pads on my Ford truck?  They agreed.

I got my Toyota truck back onto the car trailer and strapped down.  I drove the Ford truck and car trailer to the Ford dealership, and unhooked the car trailer.  My brake appointment was at 10:30 a.m.  I was thinking, I already paid $350 for the tow, I had already been quoted $485 for the brake work at the Ford dealer in Dickinson, I wonder what will happen with the brake work here in Montana.

I thought, this could have turned out much worse.  I could have slid down the road shoulder embankment into the ravine with my Ford truck, Toyota truck, and car trailer, damaging or totaling each of them.  What would have the tow fees been like on that?  What if I had made it up to the top of the hill, what would it have been like going on a steep downhill that had not been plowed yet with 6,500 lbs pushing behind you.

I called State Farm Insurance, and they said yes, my Ford truck had tow insurance, State Farm Insurance would pay for the $350 tow charges since I got towed to the nearest town.  When I got my Ford truck back from the small Ford dealer in Montana, it was only $265 for replacing all four brake pads.  In Dickinson, the dealer had quoted me $485, which is why I put off having it done.

At this point, I talked to this small Ford dealership in Montana about getting the CV joints replaced on my Dodge truck.  They said parts and labor, $500.  I had been quoted by the Dodge dealer in Dickinson, $785.

Besides all the bad things that happened, State Farm agreed to pay for the $350 tow charges, and I saved $220 on the brake repair.

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