Back in May, I was traveling east through northern Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley is a scenic rocky gorge located in otherwise flat farm country south of Cleveland. On a back road in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I pull into a grassy field overlooking the wooded valley. With my 4x4 capability and all terrain tires, I had gotten careless about the capabilities of my SUV, even boasting to another driver a few hours earlier that I had never gotten stuck. Well, what did you know, under the rough grass was nasty goopy mud. Feeling the wheels slip, I gunned my truck deep into the mud. Makeshift efforts to unstick myself proved entirely unsuccessful. Being late in the evening, I decided to camp out there for the night and get the park rangers in the morning.
The next morning, I called the park service, who called a tow truck. The sleazy tow truck guy winched me ten feet out of the hole, and charged me 300 dollars cash. The NPS ranger then mandated a donation of 275 dollars, "unauthorized operation of a motor vehicle on park property", and a warning for illegal camping. I was suddenly left drawing on my emergency fund, which was another adventure in itself.
Now, I only drive on established trails and roads. Just about every dent and mishap I've had while traveling is related to careless off roading. Turns out the grassy field I thought was a great camp spot was a reclaimed Superfund site, one of the most toxic dump sites in the US. The mud from that field is still caked on my entrenching tool after failed attempts to dig out my truck.
I do have to give the NPS credit for their professionalism, though.