Camping Adventures: Lost Tires, Rainstorms and Lots of Children, Part 1

If you’re a longtime reader of mine (either here or in the forums, for those select few), you probably already know that I don’t like camping. I am not what you call an outdoorsy guy…if you’ve seen the episode of Monk where he exclaims “There’s NATURE on me!”, I’m not too far off from that. My wife and her whole family love to go camping though, so the Father’s Day festivities include going to Bear Run Campground Friday to Sunday. Jen’s parents packed their pop-up trailer, and her brother and his family packed their tent and all headed out on Friday. As usual, we (and Jen’s parents) were leaving later than we wanted but were making good time on the 90 heading west.

That changed in a hurry, when the driver’s side front tire FLEW OFF. There was a loud WHUMP as the car pitched forward and left (my wife driving by the way) and the entire wheel went bouncing down the interstate. We were in the left lane, and my wife managed to get the car safely off the road in the median. This is just a few miles past Silver Creek for those scoring at home. There’s dead silence for a few seconds, until my son starts to cry. Mattie was just upset that she got woke up. We grabbed them both out of the car and went and stood by the guard rail, then I ran down the way and snagged the wheel. Somehow, all 5 lugnuts came off. Studs not broken, just came off. Two different State Troopers stopped to make sure we are OK, and call a tow truck. That takes quite a while, but we do end up with a crew cab flatbed where Mattie’s seat can fit. We’re really having fun now.

We are left at a Midas shop in Fredonia. It’s closed by then (OF COURSE), so we leave there (on foot) and walk down the street in the rain to the closest hotel. We get a room, drop off the suitcase and stuff we were able to lug there, and look into getting dinner. There’s a Bob Evans the next plaza over, so off we go. Still raining. We eat, and Jen gets the kids in bed back at the hotel. While that is going on, I walk back to the car and get the bag of food that we were taking down as well as some extra diapers and wipes for Mattie. I manage to get into dry clothes before collapsing into bed.

The next morning, we destroy the continental breakfast, and I head over to Midas to let them know what we need looked at. I am assured they will check it out ‘soon’ and I hoof it back. Oh, and mixed in is one failed attempt to rent a car at the one rental place in Fredonia, since I don’t have a real credit card and don’t happen to carry utility bills with me when I travel. During all that, Jen is working the phones and reaches the manager of the place that just put four new tires on our vehicle (and supposedly re-tourqed ’em less than 2 weeks ago), and he says to take the car from Midas and to another place (owned by the same corporation as the offending tire place). So that means I walk back over there, meet a tow truck, take it down the street, and get them working on fixing it well enough so we can drive. Great.

During this time, we have to check out of the hotel. I walk back to the hotel, get the bags that are there, and oh yeah, it’s raining HARD. I cut through a Home Depot, and I must’ve been a sight, rain dripping off my eyebrows and ears. The hotel folk let us stay late, which was nice, and the owner had given my wife and kids a ride to the shop once, too. This was the Comfort Inn, by the way. Jen takes the kids across the street to Wal-Mart to kill the rest of the time, and I read every magazine this other shop has. By early Saturday evening, the car is ‘fixed’ enough to drive, and we are off.

Part 2 will cover the actual trip to and Camping Adventure. Yay.