Thursday, February 23, 2012

On The Road - 7

Bahia Honda Sunset

Getting to the end of the account of the trip is as depressing as was getting to the end of the trip. Now it’s back to reality. With farewells to Joe and Ruth, I left Punta Gorda at 6:30 the next morning. It was 63 degrees, and the sun was just starting to lighten the horizon. By the time I reached North Port, the temperature had dropped to 57. That was just enough to dip below the dew point and bring on a thick fog.

In the on-going effort to see as many friends as possible, I had contacted a long-time friend from Homerville, GA. Paul Higbee had arranged to come down to St. Marks to combine a couple days of fishing, and a chance for us to get together for lunch. I met him at his campground, and we went out to the Dockside at St. Marks and spent a couple hours together before it was time to get back on the road.

A strong storm front was moving east that had brought tornadoes to Alabama the night before. I met the system at Dothan, AL. I continued through the pouring rain for about 40 miles and was able to punch through the west side of the system and continued on.

I was approaching Clanton, AL, when I felt a rough vibration. As first I thought it was the road, but it didn’t look any different, so thought I’d get off at the next exit to check the tires. I pulled into a Texaco convenience store. Sure enough, the right rear tire was going down fast. By the time I had the jack and tools out, the tire was completely flat. I had picked up not a nail or screw, but a fairly large piece of steel. Then the fun began. The wheel had fused to the hub and I couldn’t get the wheel off. I kicked and beat on it to no avail. The gas station had no tools but a carpenter’s hammer. I crawled around on the ground and under the truck for two hours trying to break the wheel loose. The hammering was hard enough that I was driving the truck off the jack, so I had to let it down, reposition the jack and try again. Going from one business to another, I finally found a Scottish Inn that had a sledge hammer in its maintenance closet. The wheel finally came off, but by then the Wal-Mart auto center had closed, so I was unable to get the flat fixed, I spent the night at the motel. I’m glad I got off the highway. If I had stopped on the roadway, I would have been out of luck.

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