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Fender Bender


11/14/15 & 11/15/12

11/14/15, Havasu Lake City, AZ (Far, southeast side of city at the Rodeo Grounds.

This was a rough day on the wagon. About 3 miles after getting underway, the trailer was rear-ended by a car whose driver had lost control. All horses Hershey Bar the dog and people are fine and the wagon/trailer only suffered minor damage.

At 9 am, I was 2 miles from the edge of Havasu Lake City, running north down a fairly large shoulder along the highway.  Someone slowed way down in the north bound lane (probably to take pictures). An elderly lady coming up from behind noticed the slow vehicle too late and slammed on her brakes, locking them up. Her car slid sideways and the right side impacted the back of the trailer.

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The major damage was done to the wagon/trailer hitch.  The 1/2 inch thick steel for the ball was bent up and the receiver on the trailer was wrecked.  The trailer also sustained some damage in the rear and the wagon had some damage to the front left side.

Just before the impact, I heard the screeching tires and had just enough time to start kicking the team into gear.  When the impact occurred, it pushed me slightly to the right and out of alignment with an approaching guard rail. The front, right side of the wagon impacted on the crush protection on the edge of the guard rail and came to an abrupt stop.  The horses, already moving at a faster pace, had enough force on their evener and neck yoke that both of these devices snapped.

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After recovering the team, I tied them to the side of the wagon and went about separating them from the broken neck yoke, evener beam and single trees. You can see where the wagon impacted the guardrail.  There’s very little damage here, due to the solid metal frame of the wagon.

When the evener snapped, the lines were jerked out of my hand and the team bolted up the road.  They only ran about 100 yards, then stopped at a guardrail on the opposite side of the road.  I was out of the wagon and after them in about 2 seconds. My girlfriend, Jacquie, went out the other side wagon and went back to check on Bill, at the rear of the trailer.

The team was real calm and easily drove back to the side of the wagon to be tied.  Bill, standing beside the trailer, had a ‘so what’ look on his face.  According to witnesses, the car just missed him as he nimbly stepped to the side.  Only a couple of words from me in a calm voice had them settled right down.

The drama continued as the elderly lady’s car then developed an engine fire. By the time I got there with some water and a Border Patrol Agent with a fire extinguisher, the engine compartment was fully in flames.  Not to worry - a combination of wagon water and Border Patrol extinguisher agent soon had the fire out.

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I think this day was a graduation exercise for a really extreme ‘Crisis Management Course’

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Once I fabricated a new evener from spare parts and used my spare neck yoke, I could still pull the wagon (with a few hasty repairs). However, the trailer had to be temporarily left at the scene of the accident.

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This picture shows the skid marks from the elderly lady’s car and some of the witnesses. Larry, the guy in the bib overalls, later came back with his truck, trailer and some rigging gear. With Larry’s expertise as a long time oil well driller, we soon had the trailer from the wagon hitched and on the truck trailer.

After driving the team to the rodeo grounds, 4 miles away, I left them in Jacquie’s care while I went back to the crash sight to retrieve the trailer with Larry.

The remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent unwinding while I regrouped.

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While the wagon and trailer were pulled free of the guardrail, the lads stood calmly alongside it, further down the road.

11/15/12, Lake Havasu City, AZ (Coord. W. 34 deg, 28.728 min; W. 114 deg, 14.880 min)

I awoke to a brilliant sunrise, with a clear idea of my future actions.  I decided to end Trip #4 right hear in Havasu City, AZ. This was due to a combination of factors, the primary reason being the safety of the driving public. Traffic moves an a very fast pace, with little attention being paid to slow moving vehicles.  Also, in Arizona, it’s illegal to occupy part of the driving lane while I am also on part of the shoulder. I either have to be fully on the shoulder or fully in the driving lane. This means that if I have 5 feet of shoulder available, I can’t use any of it as the wagon needs 6 1/2 feet. I have to disregard the safety of the shoulder and move out into the traffic lane. With the unsafe driving I’ve seen in this state, it’s not worth it to me.  Also, the horses and I are road weary, I have accomplished most of the trip, and the lads and I are ready for a long rest. So, after 6 1/2 months and 2821 miles, I’m ending the journey.

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The sun setting over a peaceful scene on the last day of the trek.

In other news, Wagoneers Chuck and Mary Reagon have had a bad fire in their wagon in Chloride, AZ. Everybody is okay, but the wagon top, some of the sides and most of their belongings have been burnt.  Chuck plans on rebuilding and carrying on, but I’m sure he could use a little help. If you want to donate via paypal, you can send it to his paypal account via the “Donate” button, on the “Store and Donation” page of his website - www.americafoundbestofthefreelife.com

Tomorrow, the lads are on their way via a horse trailer to Valley Falls, OR. After I fly back to Colorado and pick up my truck, I’m driving here, renting a trailer and hauling the wagon up to Oregon, where I’ll join Jacquie.

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The lads in a comfortable pen, enjoying their last night in Arizona.

Thanks to everyone who has helped out in the past couple of days to include those that have provided gifts of hay and horse treats.  A special thanks to my hosts for the past couple of nights and everyone else who has helped out.

Stay tuned for a couple of epilogs of this trip in the coming week or two.