It’s an approximately 700 mile trip from Titusville to New Orleans and I’d gotten a rental car, and it should typically take about 10 1/2 hours to drive. It had taken 14 hours to get to New Orleans as I stopped a lot to keep my dog Toby from stressing too much. So on the morning of Sunday, Sept 8th, I had my car brought down from the secured parking and got it loaded up. After a wrong turn, I got my bearings straight and set out on I-10 East heading home. It was a nice trip until…
On my way back, about 70 miles west of Tallahassee, when pulling into a rest area to let Toby out, the car started to shimmy in the front end a little. I was doing about 15 mph. I parked the car and let Toby out and looked at both front tires, saw nothing. I continued on our way thinking I’d lost some of the weights on the front wheels. Well as we went on, the shimmy got worse and I slowed down to 55 mph. The speed limit in Florida is 70, so everyone and their grandmothers were passing me. I stopped again at the next rest area to let Toby stretch and check the front tires; saw nothing that was suspicious looking.
Shortly after leaving this rest area, about 40 miles west of Tallahassee, my front driver’s side tire blew up. I was on a bridge of sorts and the emergency lane was way too narrow to change a tire without giving my life to the cause, so I drove the car forward about 100 yards. I was still about 1 foot off of the white line, but got the tire changed and very dirty in the process. I had put the donut spare on.
I’d decided to take I-10 all the way across to Jacksonville instead of cutting South on I-75/Florida’s Turnpike. Well about 50 miles West of Jacksonville, FL. I was on the phone with a buddy and he’d suggested I pull over and let the donut spare cool off a bit. I agreed and I pulled off on CR 121 (County Road) in MacClenny, FL. (Bum Fuck Egypt by Florida’s standards) and went to a McDonalds to eat and get coffee to relax. Well at the drive through, I was talking to the young man who happened to be from Mims, just north of Titusville and he noticed my spare and said you had a flat earlier eh? I said yes and then he said ‘your spare looks flat to me sir!’ so I got my order and parked in their lot to eat. After i ate I got out and looked, and yes it was flat for the most part. I drove across the street to a Citgo to get air in it and noticed the tire was bulging on the side and didn’t look good. I put air in the tire and decided I’d better head home.
I wasn’t on the road a block and the spare tire blew up and I was stuck on the side of the road in MacClenny, Florida. I backed up where I was and drove through the grass to get to a parking lot, so I wasn’t on the road.
I tried to call the ‘boss’ cause I rented the car from the guy I do freelance driving for and no answer. Then I looked up the desk clerks phone number and left her a message. She hit me back shortly with a text and we chatted awhile about it. There was nothing that could be done til morning and it was around 10 pm or so. I had to sit in the car from 10 pm Sunday night until 11:30 am Monday morning. The manager at the rental office kept trying to talk me into walking 4 miles with the tire/rim any my dog to the local Wal-Mart to get a $63 tire. Then I’d have to walk 4 miles back to put it on. Well that was NOT going to happen. I had contacted a buddy in Jacksonville whom I thought may know the area, and he did. He hooked me up with some phone numbers of local shops that I called. One didn’t do ‘road service’, another’s number was no longer in service. The last number was the charm! They could get the tire I needed by 2-3 pm IF I let them know by 11 am that morning. I finally got the rental office to agree to pay the $83 for the tire from this place and called back to place the order. Their tow truck appeared about 11:30 am and I finally got towed to Miracles for the work. They’d said the tire should arrive between 2 and 3 pm that day, so I had to wait a few more hours there with my dog.
The guys at Miracle’s were bearded to different degrees and one of the customers was too. We started talking Beard, and I handed out some cards and had several good conversations with them. Thankfully though, the tire arrived early and I was out of there about 1:30 pm, but still had over 180 miles to drive to get to Titusville.
I was so ready to be home, I drove like a bat out of hell to get there. I’d not slept at all the night before, and had been up for over 30 hrs at this time. I got home finally, safe and sound, but this trip ended up being 39 hours long, and by the time I was able to go to sleep, I’d been awake for 42 hours. I’d gotten up at 6:30 am on Sunday in New Orleans, and went to bed around 11 pm on Monday night in Titusville. So I’m still very tired, and this will indeed take me several days to adjust. lol Road Trip From HELL!