Here's a Crazy Story for You
I wrote this letter to one of my favorite YouTubers, Steve Lehto. I thought that I would share this with you all!
**I also wrote to tell you about the craziest car-related experience I have ever had. You have never heard anything like it. You probably never will. Unfortunately, my words will most definitely not do the experience justice, but I trust you will get the gist of it anyway.
It all began in the early spring of 2017. My brother Nathan and I were living in Utah at the time. For several years, I have been a fan of Doug DeMuro’s videos, but his older ones usually involved him doing wacky things with his personal cars. I miss those days. Anyway, there is one video where he drives his Aston Martin Vantage on the Bonneville Salt Flats of western Utah. It looked awesome. One Sunday in March, my brother tells me that he would like to take some photos of the Salt Flats. Having nothing better to do, I acquiesce. We drive the two hours to the rest stop and explore for a bit. It was a reasonable day, fairly warm, but also very, very wet from days of heavy rainfall.
At the time, I was driving a 2011 Infiniti G37x. I liked the car, and it had a bit of pep. Being the genius that I am, I admit that I had ulterior motives for driving out to the most desolate place on Earth. I wanted to pull a “Doug DeMuro.” So, after maybe an hour near the rest stop, I decided to go big or go home. We drove to the exit that lets you drive onto the salt flats, and I proceeded to leave the safety of the asphalt.
The first thing I noticed was that the ground was “squishy.” Yes, “squishy.” Only a few hundred feet from the road, we noticed a minivan stuck in the mud. Sucks to be them, I thought. As I drove further, I found that the ground was less salty than muddy. In fact, it was very muddy. You might think that after the first time I got stuck, I would have turned around. But, such was not my logic. Apparently, I was a bit to the north of the flats themselves, and so I kept driving, thinking I would eventually hit them and get to do my speed pull.
But this never happened. I kept driving. I drove over and around ditches, hills and holes. Around 6 PM, I finally got stuck for the last time. There was no getting out of this one. My car was buried several feet in the mud. So, I decided to see if I had cellphone service, which, miraculously, I did. I called the only towing company within 100 miles, which was based in Wendover, NV. They told me that they could get me out, but I had to front $600, which I promptly did. I expected a normal towing experience. You know, the kind where a man resembling Santa Clause (minus the joviality, beard, jumpsuit and warm-loving kindness) shows up in a big truck after 1.5 hours of you waiting by the side of the road, only to damage your undercarriage? Anyway, this did not happen. In fact, nothing happened. Hours passed. We wandered the desert, hoping beyond hope that each little light was our tow-messiah. Finally, around 2 AM, we saw movement. It was a custom-built vehicle with treads designed to crawl over the mud and salt. It literally moved one mile per hour. They hooked up to my car and attempted to tow us—still at one MPH.
This continued for maybe an hour when we found ourselves on dry ground again. I figured I could now drive my way out of this (as if that logic had worked before). The company employees (who barely spoke any English) hopped in my vehicle, and we were off. Until...we got stuck again. Uttering the darkest of Mexican profanities, my companions jumped out and walked all the way back to the cat and drove it back. Around 4 AM they proceeded to tow me out once again. Around 6 AM, the cat broke down. We chose to spend the night there, among so many viable options. Lucifer knows you have many options, and thanks you for choosing the Salt Flats. Upon sunrise, mis companeros told me that they would walk all the distance back to Wendover to get more help. I assented. However, by 11 AM, it became apparent that little help would come. They were going to send another cat, and yet, they claimed to be able to get there in 2 hours this time. I knew better. My brother and I obeyed the charge of Ray Charles and hit the proverbial road (would that such existed!). We took our shoes off, abandoning them with the car and began wandering south, barefoot through the desert with no food, water or means to shade ourselves. I tell you Steve, mirages, they do exist. Everything was a blur. You see what looks like water, but it isn’t. You think something is within a mile, but it isn’t within ten. You begin to wonder if that mountain is even in the same county. Flat-earth theories never seemed more convincing. Our feet sludged through salty mud, salty water and baked dirt. Boy Scouts never prepared me for this. There was no food, no shade, no water, no animals, no help. We wandered for most of Monday until we could wander no more. It must have been 8 miles or so before we collapsed on some rotten log. As a last ditch effort, I discovered that I had 3 percent battery remaining on my phone and one bar of service! I called the police. They were originally hesitant to help, but I informed them of the dire nature of our situation, and they finally agreed to send aid. The Wendover Fire Department was dispatched. Eventually, we saw an ATV in the distance and were able to confirm that this was no mirage (or seagull). They rescued us, and we soon learned that it was another 8 miles south to the highway. We most likely would have died had we kept going. I believe the only reason we did not dehydrate more quickly was the fact that the temperature was spot on—not too hot nor cold. The firefighters informed us that many people die on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
After a night among gambling geriatrics in a grungy casino, a friend picked us up. I kept in touch with the towing company, who, through some miracle, was able to save the vehicle with relatively little damage. Even my insurance company accepted my claim, filing it under “flood damage.” Did they realize that I brought such misery upon myself? Anyway, the towing company informed us that it was their hardest gig to-date, and that included airplanes lost in the abyss. Turns out, the second cat broke down towing the first broken-down cat, and thus it came to pass that there were three broken down vehicles in March 2017, stuck in the hell of western Utah. Somehow, they managed to fix both cats and finally pulled the vehicle out after several days. Had I remained with it, I probably would have died in the desert.
I still think back to this experience. The salt flats are not my friend. I refuse to ever go back there. And, I blame Doug DeMuro. Well, sort of. After all, it was my own idiocy that got me into such a predicament in the first place.
You might wonder, what happened to the Infiniti? Well, conveniently, it was totalled later that year, and I received far more in compensation than the vehicle was truly worth, given its “history.” Nevertheless, I was sad to see it go. Those are very good cars. Now, I drive a 2016 Ford Focus ST, which I thought you might like to hear, as you are a true-blooded American cars fan. Heaven forbid I buy a Toyota. Ford is light years ahead in quality than it was a decade ago. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that tale. I guarantee it is 100% true. I warranty that statement for a lifetime. Thanks for the videos.**