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Road Trip, Day 26

Fernanda driving
Fernanda driving
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Wyoming, Nebraska, Blow-out!

Today was to be a boring driving day, get lots of miles under our belt, possibly up to 1000 km. We started at the beginning of Wyoming this morning in Evanston, we got on the road around 9:15, which is pretty good considering we lost an hour yesterday with the time-zone change. Wyoming is about 400 miles across, so we figured to do that, plus another 200 into Nebraska.

It was uneventful enough to start with. Fernanda was driving, we were plowing through Wyoming. We had a book on CD to listen to, we stopped at a nice highway rest stop for lunch, filled up, entered Nebraska. At some point we passed 6000 [actually 7000 -- I was miscounting] miles total for the trip. We passed into Central time-zone, thus losing yet another hour. Fernanda switched off with me because she needed a break, she took a nap while I contemplated the passing scenery: Racing the freight trains, watching the windmills and oil derricks go by as the foothills give way to the haystack dotted plains and the horizon stretches out to infinity.

We were about 50 miles from our destination, when suddenly I hear and feel something with the left back wheel, it feels like I'm hydroplaning, but the road is dry? and just as I'm registering I must have a flat, all the rubber of the wheel blows away and I'm riding on the rim. I manage to pull over OK, leaving a trail of rubber. I must have been going somewhere around the 75 mph speed limit when it happened.

So we pull over. I take a picture of the wheel. It's a mess. We sit and wait. Nobody pulls over. Fine, whatever, we'll wait for a cop. After about 10 minutes of this, and no cop, I decide to try and walk over to a farm and ask to use the phone. We have an 800 roadside assistance number the rental agency insisted we use, even to change a simple flat, and in this case, with the tire completely blown out and me having ridden on the rim, I don't want to play around. But with the fencing and high weeds to cross a field, and the possibility of snakes, especially with me just wearing my sandals, getting to a farm isn't going to happen. Meanwhile, a truck has pulled over (still no cop), so I go back and Fernanda's on the trucker's phone, talking to the roadside assistance people. Negotiating with the roadside "assistance" people, pleading with them. I wasn't on the call, but it was totally ridiculous. No assistance whatsoever. At first they don't want to send anyone out, just have us change the tire and drive to the nearest Budget location (120 miles away!) Ridiculous! And totally irresponsibly dangerous! The lousy donut replacement wheel isn't meant to be driven more than 50 miles. Out of the question! But they won't send anyone if there's a question of having to tow, an we don't know if we'll need to be towed -- I just had a blow-out at high speed, I'm out in the middle of Nebraska, assist me, you idiots!

The sun is getting lower and lower on the horizon, Fernanda is still negotiating with the people, whatever, she's been transferred three times, still not getting anywhere, cops still haven't shown up, and if I need to change the tire, I need to get started before it gets dark. We've been wasting literally 40 minutes on the phone with these idiots. Supposedly the change-a-tire guy has been sent, but I don't fully believe this, what with the (excuse my French) fuster-cluck that has been going on with this utterly crap roadside "assistance".

Anyway, the cops finally show up (they had to give some guy just up the road a speeding ticket first -- really!), and I go down to talk to them. Fernanda remains on the phone. I tell them we may or may not have a repair guy on the way, the roadside assistance people are beyond useless, my wife is STILL negotiating with them. They tell me OK, but they have to get us off the road one way or another for safety's sake, they'll change the tire and we can drive back to the biggish town 5 miles behind us, and they insinuate some things about truckers, totally uncalled for. This guy has been nice enough to let Fernanda negotiate with the stupid useless roadside idiots for over forty minutes now. So I race back up to the truck, where Fernanda is STILL at it, and I try to hurry her along, because I don't want the cops coming up here and involving this nice trucker in any of this; let him go and get on with his driving, the cops have phones. But she can't get anywhere with whomever she's talking to, and is trying to get a number and a name, but she can't get a last name of the agent she's talking to (because yeah, we're interested in protecting some faceless drone safely away at some calling center while we're stuck on the side of the road after having survived a violent blowout in the middle of Nebraska); at this point even Fernanda's had enough, she gives up, I thank the trucker profusely for having stopped and for having let us use his phone and for having taken up so much of his time. He was the nicest guy: thank you very much!

The cops start changing the tire, I have to pull all the crap out of the trunk to get to the spare, the tire-change guy does show up now, he knows the cops, he takes over. It's decided we'll just follow him to his shop, and he'll put a real tire on, we'll pay out of pocket if need be, and the damn rental agency can deal with it. This is ridiculous. The cops meanwhile will do an accident report for us, in case we need it. So we have paperwork; registration to show, licenses to show, copies for us, copies for them, pictures for the cops, stuff to mail in -- ah, bureaucracy.

Anyway, we follow the tire guy back into town, we call up the roadside number again, but this time I get someone totally competent, who gets right down to it, I tell her we had a blowout, the donut is unable to be driven the 120 miles to the next Budget agency, so the tire-repair guy has to give us a new tire. She's all efficiency, finds out where we are, which repair guy it is, asks if he can accept a credit card over the phone, which he can't, and then asks us if we can put it on our card and she'll take it off the contract. That's fine. Just keep the receipt, we'll pay that much less on the contract. Beautiful. The tire guy says the tire will be good to go, we can continue to drive the car as far as we like. We'll stop at the Budget agency in Grand Island tomorrow, but I'm hoping it'll be a blow off. I don't want to waste any more time over this, it seems everything is OK, we got off lucky.

North Platte, the town we ended up in, is one of those good towns you drive through but aren't ready to stop for the night yet: it has lots of motels, all advertising their relatively good prices (all motels should advertise their price on a big electronic sign, it saves so much hassle), it has supermarkets etc., and the motel we're at (the Hospitality Inn) has a relatively good rate, everything seems new and clean and efficient and friendly, (free popcorn!), breakfast included, and hooray! wifi! A good, fast connection. Only the router had died. So we went to Walmart to replenish our groceries, but when we got back still no joy. The lady at the front desk of course knows nothing (just reset the router!). Finally someone who knows about it resets the router, and hooray! I finally have good high speed net access! Yay!!

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Previous Entries



Our New Bathroom Saga

Europe 2015

The Berkshires

Road Trip South


Our Trip to Ireland

Google Map of our Trip

Road Trip: The End

Road Trip, Day 27

Road Trip, Day 25

Road Trip, Day 24

Road Trip, Day 23

Road Trip, Day 22

Road Trip, Day 21

Road Trip, Day 20

Road Trip, Day 19

Road Trip, Day 18

Road Trip, Day 17

Road Trip, Day 16

Road Trip, Day 15

Road Trip, Day 14

Road Trip, Day 13

Road Trip, Day 12

Road Trip, Day 11

Road Trip, Day 10

Road Trip, Day 9

Road Trip, Day 8

Road Trip, Day 7

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