RV Stuck in a Ditch on Lake Erie Coastal Trail


Well, I got myself in a bit of a pickle when I got the RV stuck while traveling the Lake Erie Coastal Trail in Ohio. It was a scary moment – nothing that couldn't be fixed, but nonetheless – not ideal.

I had left the Maumee State Park around Toledo, Ohio that morning to finish off my quest #12 – Lake Erie Coastal Trail -of the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways. The scenic route hugs Lake Erie as it winds around from Toledo to the east border of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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Overnighting at Maumee State Park

I haven't stayed at many RV parks or State Parks yet, but Maumee State Park – pronounced “mommie” (I missprounced it all through the video), so far takes the cake. The sites were very large.

I even had my own grassy lawn with a tree and there was overgrown shrubs and trees as natural dividers between each camp site. Each site has a concrete pad and mine was very level. If you're an RVer, you know there is this never ending quest to get level, especially if you have a refrigerator that runs off of propane gas.

Maumee State Park maintenance must work overtime, because this place was immaculately clean! There's a gob of bicycling trails that wander throughout the park and then down to the beach at Lake Erie. I liked it so much I stayed for two days!

Maumee State Park Bicycling

Maumee State Park

My site was electric only, but they had a very clean dump station and potable water nearby. Would you believe they even supplied sewer hoses already stuck in the drain hole so you can either attach to your existing hose or elbow for your black and grey water tanks?

I'm telling you – this place is #1!

Oh, and if all of that wasn't good enough, they take Passport America memberships so you get HALF off your daily rate.

We had a huge thunderstorm that early morning with torrential rains that woke me up. I tried to get it on video, but it was a bit difficult.

I love thunderstorms, as long as it stays away from the RV!

The wind was howling and blowing the tree branches in all directions. I laid there in bed, looking out the window and across the fields at mother nature.

I felt peaceful and enjoyed the sounds.

I marveled at how those little, fragile leaves could stay attached to the branches when the wind was blowing incredibly hard and whipping the branches around. I sat and wondered where the birds went during those gusting winds and downpours, because as soon as it stopped raining, they went back to singing.

Day 1 of Lake Erie Coastal Trail

Since I couldn't sleep after the storm, I got up and started my day. I set out to travel the majority of the Lake Erie Coastal Trail which would lead me to beautiful neighborhoods nestled on Lake Erie with spectacular views of the water.

There's also plenty of parks to stop off in to walk yourself and your pets that overlook the water.

The state of Ohio had this great app called the Lake Erie Coastal Trail app where you can see turn-by-turn how to get around on the trail and all of the things to do and see in the area. It's truly an amazing app so download this when you visit this trail.

Lake Erie Coastal Trail App

Liz, my RV, did well throughout most of the trip and I was able to get her through most of the trail except for the Sandusky pier area. Only RVs or trucks, 3 tons or below, can travel that lake shore road so I had to go around.  At approximately 10,000 lbs I'm sitting at 5 tons so I instead diverted a couple of blocks and got back on the Lake Erie Coastal Trail.

I also have the Allstays app open to look at low clearance areas, especially if I need to detour, which happens sometimes with construction and size limitations. My Garmin RV GPS system will also detect low clearances, but I always double check with the extra maps.

So far, I've never run into any issues except one time in Minneapolis, MN when the bridge didn't specify the height and it looked too low to me.

I stopped, in the middle of the road, jumped out of the RV, and went to check the clearance to see if Liz could pass under.  I'm sure people were upset at me, but just think how upset they would be if I traveled under a bridge that was too low for my RV and sheared off my AC unit onto their car.

I'd be upset too! It's better to be safe than sorry later.

On this particular day, I wasn't feeling 100% – maybe from the humidity and heat, maybe from lack of sleep the night before because of the thunderstorm, and I felt a little congested – probably from the different climates and allergies. When I stopped at Marblehead Lighthouse, I parked the RV in the designated RV and bus parking area and hopped in bed for a quick nap to see if I felt better after some sleep.

Getting some rest definitely helped. Lily and I took off then to the lighthouse in the heat and sticky humidity. I was sweating just from standing in the humidity.

The park is beautiful with picnic tables and grassy areas to rest and have a bite to eat overlooking Lake Erie and Marblehead Lighthouse.

Marblehead lighthouse

Just nestled next to the lighthouse were these flat-like rocks that you could step on to get to the water with a grove of trees on top of the rocks.

Ahhh….this was spectacular and beautiful and serene and breathtaking.

I climbed over the rocks to the grove of trees to sit and view the scene of water, people, and activities all around. I felt so alive and calm and happy to be experiencing this moment. I love the water – it's calming and to have the trees right there is a bonus.

I realize I probably keep talking about peace and calm, but these are two feelings I've been seeking. I've worked for so many years at a fast and furious pace with no time for myself and to experience the world.

This year I made a vow to myself to change that story.

Lake Erie Coastal Trail - Park

My new story is unfolding daily in my travel adventures, meeting people, enjoying the beauty around. It does give me peace and calm – most days.

Day 2 of Lake Erie Coastal Trail – Getting my RV Stuck

On this second day of my Lake Erie Coastal Trail, however, peace and calm escaped me in the middle of the day.

I missed my exit and needed to turn around so I whipped into a gravel driveway that led up to a gravel parking lot for a place of business. Did I turn around in the parking lot?

No. That would have been the smartest thing to do.

I decided that I could just pull into the drive, back up, straighten and then turn the wheel, and get back out on the road. It sounded like a great idea in the beginning. I mean I have back up camera, long side mirrors. I've got this. I've done it before.

… and then peace and calm left me as the gravel road slipped into the small ditch along with the back end of my RV.

I was stunned. What just happened? How did that happen?

Now my RV is stuck in this rather small ditch, but very loose gravel. I couldn't keep backing up to get out.

RV Stuck in gravel

I wish I could say I experienced a moment of calm as I contemplated how to deal with this before I let out one four-letter word that starts with an “f” about 20 times in repetition. Braking hard and then hitting the gas to get out of my predicament only threw gravel into the air.

More “f” bombs insued (that were edited out of the video).

Okay – I'll put the RV in tow/haul mode to give it some more power. I hit the gas and sunk deeper.

I got out to assess the scene and couldn't believe how deep the tires were. The gravel was loose all around. I couldn't back up or I'd bottom out the back end of the RV.

RV Stuck

At that moment, a woman in her car and a man in his truck pulled up and asked if I needed help.

“Just a little bit!”, I exclaimed as I fought back tears.

I was scared.

It's not like I couldn't somehow fix this with a call to a tow company, but I was upset with myself for not being more careful.

The woman knew the guy next door who owned the RV park and he had a backhoe that could help me get out of this nightmare predicament.

Pete is his name and he came right on over, hooked up the chain to the front part of my frame, instructed me on what to do, and had me out in 5 seconds flat.

I tell you – the strangers that just come to your aide is amazing! I'm so grateful and he was literally one driveway over. What a great place to have this happen and these truly incredible people who just saw my situation and offered to help.

I'm so thankful!

After all of the driving today – over 150 miles, plus this little fiasco, I was exhausted and ready to be settled for the night and sleep.

I found a Walmart in Madison, Ohio that's next to some woods and fields. It even has a little white picket fence around the area with trees and shrubs.

There was about three other Rvers there as well.

Day 3 of Lake Erie Coastal Trail

On my third day of the Lake Erie Coastal Trail I found this colorful park just off of the trail called Geneva Township Park. I call it colorful because the park benches were painted this bright shade of red that overlooked the blue green water.

Lake Erie looks like an ocean. It's huge and beautiful.

Lake Erie Coastal Trail

The lush gardens surrounding the embankment were full of butterflies and flowers and the the boardwalk down to the water was also painted the same shade of red as the park benches.

Township Park

My heart beats faster, but in a calm, exciting way, when I see such beauty.

Marine Museum

Marine Museum 2

Starting with this mornings drive from Madison, Ohio I could really start to see the change in scenery, the color change of Lake Erie to beautiful blues and greens, and the landscape of homes and quaint little towns.

There's this beauty and nostalgic quality about this place.

And just like that, the trail ended right at the Ohio and Pennsylvania border to start the Great Lakes Scenic Route from Pennsylvania, through New York, and the edge of Vermont.

What has been your worst nightmare while traveling? Leave me a comment below.

Overnights & Places Visited

Place:  Maumee State Park and Walmart

RV Accessibility:  Any length

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  4 bars most of the time

Park Pass:  No park pass is needed, but if you have a Passport America membership you can get half off of Maumee State Park

Cost:  $22 per night at Maumee State Park (half off)

City/State:  Toledo, Ohio – Geneva, Ohio – Madison, Ohio

Video/Audio Equipment Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

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  1. Hi Amber, love your travel experiences. Getting stuck in the gravel road is no fun. Safe travels to you and Lily. Bunny Caldwell
    We met in Lubec.

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