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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Today’s dawn found my best wife and me in temporary residence in the home of my daughter in Cookeville, Tennessee. The purpose of our stay is to care for our young – 8 months – grandson while daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter – 8 years – go to Disney World. The main reason for the little one to be left behind with us is the fact that he is not a “good traveler”.

This thing of being a “good traveler” has to do with the length of time the little one can be in the vehicle without yelling and screaming, the decibel level the utterances reach and the length of time the vociferousness continues. The answers to these three tests in this case is 1- not very long 2- very loud and 3- a very long time. Hence the reason for the trip and the several days of R&R in this more or less thriving middle Tennessee area until the rest of the family returns.

Memory recalls that my youngest daughter was not a “good traveler” either and it was a long ago weekend trip to another location in Tennessee that caused me to draw that conclusion. She was about 10 months old at the time and the trouble started right away. She hardly slept at night and my lady and I took turns trying to shush her to sleep. On the way back to South Carolina, it was one almost constant screaming session all the way back, with only an occasional respite when she would fall asleep from exhaustion. She was four years old before we took her on another trip.

Our trip up here was mostly uneventful up I-20, then North on I-75 and my heart rate had almost returned to normal after Atlanta traffic – even though it was still pretty heavy – and everything seemed right with the world. We were in the center lane of the three North-bound lanes when I suddenly noticed an odd whirring noise and the car started to gently pull to the right. The realization that the air was leaving one of my tires sunk in and I dodged my way to the shoulder of the road. One glance told the situation, the right front tire was without air – it didn’t blow out, just very quickly lost all its air.

With one eye glancing over my shoulder at oncoming traffic – many trucks in that area – I took our luggage and “stuff” out and placed it on the side of the highway to reach the abbreviated spare tire. After taking the regular tire off and putting on the “donut”, I discovered that it was mostly flat as well. I decided that it would be better to ruin this one than the regular tire and drove off the interstate at the exit – our stop had placed us right at the beginning of the off ramp. The place of business across from the exit ramp had a compressor and I filled up the small emergency tire and inquired as to where I could find a place to get the flat repaired. The two men there agreed that I would be better off if I could make it down a couple more exits.

The little tire held highway speed fairly well and we went down to the aforementioned exit and a short while later located a genuine old-fashioned “service station” – they sold gas, tires and did minor repairs. One of the things they specialized in was tires – wow – it was like I was being directed to this place. A few minutes later they found that the tire had a defective valve stem, it was replaced, remounted on the car and we were on our way only twelve dollars poorer. From start to finish the whole episode lasted about an hour.

My favorite wife mentioned that the delay could have kept us out of a wreck up the road and I can’t totally disagree with that. We made it on to the daughter’s house without further incident with only my hands and soiled clothes the worse for the wear. I was a little bummed out about the stem since these tires were only about three months old, but grateful that it wasn’t any worse than that.

The following afternoon, the Disney crowd left out for the airport in Nashville, flew down to the Mickey Mouse place and at last report they were having a wonderful time – working as fast and furious as they could at making memories.

Meanwhile back on their home front, the little one seems to have accepted us as his caretakers and all is at peace with the world. God is good. ec


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