Friday, July 22, 2011

Flat tires and road trips

Driving back from a visit with JEJ on Wednesday night, as I was about to make a left turn onto Bartram Avenue, my car's steering wheel suddenly started pulling vigorously to the right. I knew that the last time I had the steering wheel take on a life of its own, I was in the process of getting a flat tire. Still, I was only a few minutes from home, so my hope was that the tire would hold out for the rest of my trip. I made the left turn when the light turned green.

A moment later, the telltale noise of a flat tire started up. WUBWUBWUBWUB went the tire, and "@#$*&" went I. It's not just that it was a really inconvenient hour for the tire to kick the bucket. It's also that there's not so much as ONE inch of shoulder on any part of that road to pull over onto, so I *had* to keep driving in traffic, flat tire or no flat tire. I put my hazard lights on and kept moving. WUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUB. @*&$@*#&$@$.

Fortunately, almost immediately after I made my turn onto Essington Avenue, there was a parking lot available to safely turn into. Even better, this particular lot belongs to an airport parking service, where a person can pay to park their car, then take a shuttle bus to the airport. So it's a business that's actually open 24/7.

I called Mark and AAA, both of whom arrived within ten minutes. The AAA driver actually called to verify my location, and he was entirely familiar with the area once I described where I was.

My biggest concern was whether the spare tire would actually fit onto the car. My previous car had a spare with a mismatched rim; I didn't find out until I needed it that the rim didn't fit the car, rendering the spare unusable. So I was kind of holding my breath this time around, until I actually saw the rim go onto the car without difficulty.

Of course, the only drawback here is that the spare tire is a little Barbie-tire-sized donut. I took one look at the tiny tire and realized that there was no way I would be able to drive to Brigantine in that car the following day, as I'd planned. So Mark agreed to switch cars with me, and let me drive his car to Brigantine on Thursday.

Which is what I did. Cousins Michele, Bryen, Mary, and Connell were visiting Aunt Rita from Illinois, so I wanted to get out there and see them while they were in Brigantine. Hence, I drove there on Thursday and came home today.

We had a great time on the beach. Mary and I went into the ocean -- it's been way, WAY too long since I was in the ocean! -- and I was surprised at how cold the water was. The temperatures on land have been unseasonably hot, but unfortunately that didn't translate into a warm ocean yesterday. I'm told that there was a storm out at sea, which does explain the cold water. Storms churn the water from the depths up to the surface, and BRRR, that can translate into cold water. Then again, with a heat wave that's downright ridiculously hot scorching most of the continent, I can't exactly complain about the water being cold. If there's one week we've needed it, it's this week.

But if I thought yesterday was hot, today is even worse. Even Brigantine was hot, and Atlantic City (and Philly!) were scheduled to reach triple digits today. Ugh. Too bad I couldn't hang out for a while in Brigantine *today* and take another swim, but I had to get home.

It was so nice to see everyone this week. I only wish I could have spent more time with them all. But I was feeding JR's cat all week while he and JFM were away, so I couldn't spend more than one day at the shore. It's an unfortunate coincidence that both events were in the same week.

Anyway, it's been a great few days. other than that whole flat-tire situation that I could have done without. Then again, at least the tire didn't conk out on my to or from Brigantine. In this heat, the last thing in the universe that I'd have wanted to do is get stuck somewhere on a highway between here and the shore. That would have been dreadful. So if the tire had to go kaput, at least it was kind enough to do it when I was close to home.

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