Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lost. In the back woods of Maine. With two flat tires.

Here I go, NOT blogging again for more than a week! But I have a story that is probably funny enough to share. Warning, it's a bit of a rant, and quite long.

It’s been a crazy few weeks; I have several deadlines and have to sort through my friend Erica’s wedding photos to make a CD of the best shots. My husband is a professionally-published photographer, who, in addition to paintball photography, shoots events and also whatever photos I may need for articles. He’s just starting to get into weddings, Sweet 16s, etc.

And that (on the way to Erica’s wedding) is where this story begins.

Those who know me “IRL” know my husband and I have been having some trouble with my 1995 Blazer. Meanwhile, his 1996 Silverado needs about $3000 worth of work to be street legal again. So the poor Blazer keeps going…and going… and occasionally refusing to start, overheating, hesitating or just plain crapping out for no apparent reason.

It chose Option B, overheating, at 11:00 PM on Thursday night, in the deep dark woods of southern Maine… where they don’t believe in street signs.

You know it’s bad when the Deacon who gives the service during a wedding talks about getting lost on the way to the couple’s house. And half the people in the church can relate!

So there we were in the back woods of Maine, lost, with the truck overheating and a cell phone with about five minutes worth of battery power and our charger back in New York.

I call my friend’s fiancĂ© and tell him where we are. “I don’t know where that is, I’m sorry. I can’t think of the two streets you’re saying. I don’t know where you are.”

The conversation went on this way for a few minutes, with me repeating the names of the streets and him saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t know where you are.”

We know we’re about two minutes from the house, but we can’t find our way. And the truck is overheating. And did I mention the cell phone battery is dying?

We limp to the house by retracing our steps and finding the street we missed. But the water pump on the Blazer was completely shot.

My husband went out to pick up the parts on Friday. It actually worked out okay because my friend didn’t need her car all weekend, and was leaving for her honeymoon Sunday morning. So we borrowed her Jeep and drove out to her house from the hotel on Sunday to fix the Blazer.

She left us her keys and told us we should feel welcome to stay the night, but I insisted we had to get back Sunday. T.J. had work Monday and I had a lot of things to take care of. “Thanks for the offer,” I said. “But we’ll leave Sunday afternoon. It shouldn’t take more than two hours for T.J. to replace the water pump.”

It could have been so easy.

We got lost, once again, driving to Erica’s house. Once again we re-traced our steps down the same country roads, knowing we were in the vicinity, but unsure where to turn. Roads look different during the day than at night.

I should mention, it was 4 PM on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We almost didn’t mind being lost. We talked about the wedding, how much fun it was to see our good friends, and how unseasonably warm it is for October 21 in New England. The foliage painted the landscape bright reds and oranges… overall, a nice drive.

Then we decided we made a wrong turn and should go back the other way.

We pulled over onto the grass, ready to hang a u-turn when traffic cleared.

“Whomp. Bang. Whump. Bang.”

“What was that?” I asked TJ, fearing it sounded like a tire blowout.

“Nothing,” TJ said. “Nothing to worry about.”

“Oh good. Because it sounded to me like a flat tire.”

“Nah. We probably ran over a plastic bag.” The dismissive tone in his voice showed more bravado than was necessary. I didn’t quite believe him, but took him at his word.

As we turned back onto the pavement, we couldn’t ignore the facts. Rumble, rumble, rumble, metal rim scraping against pavement.

TJ grimaced. “I guess it was a flat.”

“I thought so,” I said.

“I did too, but didn’t want to believe it.”

We pulled onto the side of the road, woods as far as we could see. We heard the shotgun fire of not-so-distant hunters. TJ got out of the car to assess the damage. “Or TWO flat tires.”

In case you missed it:

Four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. In the back woods of Maine. Lost. With two flat tires. On a borrowed Jeep. With hunters in the woods beside us. And no cell phone service, not that we could have called anyone for help. “We can’t call Triple A,” T.J. pointed out, “because we have no idea where we are!”

T.J. put the spare tire on the rear tire, leaving us with only one flat. The situation was improving.

We walked about a half mile to a convenience store, Ed’s Discount Warehouse. “Do you sell tires?”

“Tires? No.”

Technically, BJ’s and Sam’s Club are also discount warehouses, and they sell tires. But no such luck here at the friendly neighborhood “Ed’s,” which was really more of an oversized dollar store.

“How about maps?” TJ asked.


“How about bicycles?” I ask, only half-joking.

The nearest gas station is about four miles away. We could cover that distance in about 15 minutes on a decent bicycle, 30 on a cheap one.

Instead, we rode on three tires and one rim to the gas station, going about 16 mph—ironically, about the same speed we could have done on bicycles.

There, we looked at the map and realized where we made the wrong turn. We head back and two guys in a white, mud-covered jeep slow down. “Can we help you?” they ask.

“Not unless you have a spare tire we can buy.”

It turns out they did, but when we realized it was the wrong size (only by an inch) they offered to follow us back to Erica’s house, that way we can borrow the tire (better than riding on the rim) and remove it when we get there.

By the time we got back to Erica’s it was dusk. We thanked the boys, and they took off before I could even offer them a cold drink. T.J. started fixing the water pump, and I started dinner, cracked open a beer and once again silently thanked Erica for giving us her house keys and free reign to the fridge.

We watched The Incredibles that night and turned in shortly after dark. The next morning, we got two new tires for the Jeep from the local auto parts store and T.J. finished fixing the water pump. Unfortunately, the auto parts store couldn’t mount the tires until Tuesday. I left Erica a note explaining everything, and cash to cover the price of mounting the tires, but I think we’re going to call her tomorrow. I don’t want her to pull into the driveway, returning from her honeymoon, to find her Jeep missing two tires.

The ride home went smoothly, uneventful even.

The greatest irony? Before we left for the trip, we noticed the Blazer needed two new tires.


plaidearthworm said...

Yay, you're back! Man, when you set out to have an adventure, you don't mess around!

Decaf, please said...

Have you ever watched Curb Your Enthusiasm? This sounds sort of like an episode, except you aren't a dummy like Larry David!

(moonslice from aw)

AmyDoodle said...

Omigosh, this sounds like something I'd get into. The word "adventure" is not necessarily a good thing at our house!

Dawn Allcot said...

My husband is well-known for his "car adventures." It recently took him and his Dad 18 hours to get to the North Carolina--a 13 hour trip.

In the midst of all this, he said to me, "Well, now you've been a part of one of my famous car mishaps!"

I've never watched Curb your Enthusiasm, but I appreciate the compliment. The creator of Seinfeld is a wry, comic genius!! LOL

Jerry Allen said...

That is DEFINITELY something i can relate to. Great story! I "borrowed" my dad's truck once when i was just out of high school. "No problem", I thought, "Im jut going 5 miles to see my girl and Ill be back WAY before he is even home."

Didnt work out that way. On the way home, the drive shaft fell out of the truck. It fell out. It fell OUT! I couldnt believe it. No drive shaft, no moving the truck.

I got into some big time trouble over that little escapade. So, yeah, i can relate!

Love your blog BTW!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Oh man, stories like this make me nervous, as I have minimal mechanical skills and tend to panic when anything car related goes wrong.

Note to self: remember cell phone & keep AAA membership current!

Dawn Allcot said...

Don't forget GPS. Triple A typically only works when you can tell the representative WHERE you are! LOL

Better yet--stay out of the backwoods of Maine. Or the backwoods of anywhere for that matter.

I think I'll add that to my general 'rules for life.' ;)