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July 24, 2006

Blown Away

We weren't going to blog about this vacation. It was a little weekend getaway that was going to stay as a memory, not a post. It was supposed to be well-documented with photos to remain private and memories to remain unwritten, instead of wordy attempts at recapping excitement, adventure, and summertime fun.

But when something like this happens, I don't know how the hell I could -not- blog it, to be perfectly honest. I feel like there is an angel looking out for my dear friend Amanda and I.

vacation endlessrd.jpg

Vacation was wonderful. Driving by seemingly endless mountain landscape across the state was incredible. Visiting our dear friend Athena was grand, and stopping by the ocean was just what we needed.

The drive home was supposed to be uneventful. And to a point, it was. Right up until we started talking about it. We'd been over at least six hundred miles in one weekend without any problems. We'd praised Amanda's car for its ability to stretch a gallon of gasoline ($3.21 a gallon in NJ and eastern PA!!!). We stuck to our guns and never paid more than $2.96, regardless of the fact that we got pretty concerned when a service plaza wasn't presenting itself and we were banging off "E." We'd joked about getting a flat tire the whole trip.

About two hours from home, Amanda grew tired of driving and so we switched places. I was pilot, she was co-pilot. I got familiar with the gauges and switches and off we went, not even a five minute stop. Barreling along the turnpike at a breezy 65 mph on such a gorgeous day made driving simple--fun, even. I had moved to the left lane to pass a semi on an uphill three-lane stretch. The iPod was on, we were singing along with the windows down, and then I heard a strange sound.

A sort of rug-beating was taking place outside my driver's-side window, it seemed. I thought it might be that I was driving alongside the cement barrier. The three lanes had merged and the road was two-wide at this point, so I moved to the right-most lane. It was lucky that I moved right when I did.

The next few moments are a blur to me, even now as I reflect on them. The strange noise had amplified to what I recall as a th-thwap-th-thwap-th-thwap (excuse the onomatopoeia, please). It was so loud I that it may as well have been in my left ear. Pop--and little black pieces of rubber spewed from below me: one flew into the car and flicked my left arm, many scattered like confetti in front of the still-foreward-moving vehicle.

I didn't realize that I was screaming until I found the brake with my foot. Amanda was screaming, too, and we got the car to the shoulder of the road. Barely off of the highway, but no longer moving. Park, off, and out. "Oh" and "my" and "God," may have been the only words in my vocabulary within seconds of stopping the car. There was some sort of massive exhale from all of us, car included.

We had a flat. A shredded flat tire. Amanda and I climbed out of the car, and quickly examined the situation. In a number of deft movements, we had a spare, a jack, a tire-iron, and all of our car know-how laying on the pavement. We got to unscrewing the lug-nuts once the caps were off. We removed the hubcap once the lug-nuts were secured in the front seat of the car. We muscled the jack under the car and pumped it high enough for the car to spit off the blistered tire.

I can't speak for Amanda, but I was shaking the whole time. I kept thinking about what -could- have happened. What would have happened if it had been a rear tire and not a front tire (since the steering would have essentially been shot). What would have happened if the rim had begun to spark. What would have happened if I hadn't gotten the car off the road. What would have happened if people around us hadn't noticed we were in peril. As I cranked the jack, a migraine crept behind my eyes and took up residence in my temples, which throbbed like a nightclub with too many subwoofers. Every turn to lift the car somehow drove another "what if" into my brain, and I shook with each turn I made.

Yes, a few kind individuals did stop to help us. The first was not too helpful, as we already had the jack under the frame and already had lug-nuts off the wheel. He was quick to leave in his tow-truck--we simply assumed he was on the clock and had to get going. The second was very concerned. He got down on the pavement with us and assisted in what we deemed the most important part of the ordeal: getting the donut spare on securely. The man in the yellow tee-shirt and Steelers' baseball cap was Rob, and he was a genuinely kind stranger. The third man that stopped just sort of watched as Rob helped us... he isn't a necessary part of the story other than the fact that he is the third person who stopped to aid us.

I am grateful for the assistance; however, I am proud that Amanda and I knew what to do. We didn't fret or flag-down help. We didn't call our daddies, who were miles away and couldn't help us anyway. We didn't cry or get upset or whine about it being hot or dirty or greasy. We got down next to the car and did what had to be done. There was no second thought, there was no "let's call for help," and there was no "we don't know what we're doing."

vacation ACdirty tireblown.jpg

This was quite possibly the most terrifying experience in my personal history as a driver. I've had some scares with people pulling out in front of me, animals darting across the road, and other typical incidences. Blowing a tire, however, is heart-stopping.

vacation cartireblown sm.jpg

Posted by KarissaKilgore at July 24, 2006 7:44 PM


Comments


Maybe we could take those photos down after a while, Karissa. :-D What an ordeal!

Posted by: Amanda at July 24, 2006 9:24 PM


Whew. I'm glad you both are safe.

I just got back from a family trip to see her brother and his wife in New Jersey, down the same route where we had our overturn accident a little over a year ago. My wife was extremely nervous until we passed the spot where the accident occurred last time, and from then on she was much better. When we got back home, we found that her brother's car was totalled at work today as he drove from one office building to the next. (He seems to be fine, thank goodness.)

So it was a bit of a shock to read of yet another automotive accident that hit close to home. But I'm glad the ordeal ended as well as it did.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at July 24, 2006 11:39 PM


Yes, this happened all the time. Cars is more dangerous than open fire.

Posted by: Carman at July 27, 2006 5:30 AM



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