Disaster Narrowly Averted and an Hour Regained

In Travels With Myself on June 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm

As I drove across Indiana and Illinois, the scenery lept back and forth from corn fields and dairy farms to town centers and vast malls and industrial parks. I actually passed two separate Walmart warehouse/distribution centers today, one in eastern Indiana and the other in eastern Illinois. In Seymour, Indiana, all those elements converge. Corn fields give way to small shopping centers that give way to industrial parks that give way to the town center and then return to malls, industrial parks and cornfields. Seymour is the home of a large medical center, the third largest egg farm in the country, John Mellencamp, one of the first train robberies, and the guy who designed the battle-bot that Sheldon and the guys used in an episode of Big Bang Theory. I, however, will remember Seymour because it is the home of Denny’s Auto Repair and Towing – and Robert and Tony.
I had left Versaille State Park less than an hour before. Route 50 is a pretty good road for the most part after it leaves Ohio. This is probably because it cuts across the Midwest in between the major cities, like Evansville and Indianapolis, and well south of Chicago, Peoria and Springfield. There’s a lot of industry along the route and a lot of population. As a result, I was making good time and enjoying the ride. As I came up into Seymour, though, I noticed that the van seemed to be riding a little roughly, even though the road surface was pretty even. As I passed through town, however, the ride got rougher and I suddenly heard a loud clunking noise which got louder when I braked. I had just cleared all the malls and businesses, so I pulled over and looked around to see if I could find the problem. I was convinced that the sound had come from the front right wheel. I couldn’t find anything, though, so I turned around and drove slowly and nervously back into town to Denny’s.
Robert (as I know from his shirt) checked out the front end, but didn’t see anything, either, so he asked to take it around the block. He got about 10 yards from the garage when he turned around and came back. A man of few words, he got out of the van and said, “Your rear wheel’s about to fall off.” Somewhere along the road, the left rear wheel had discarded three lug nuts and sheared off two of the lugs. The rest were loosening rapidly. To my angels I said a small, quiet, and very sincere “thank you.” To Robert I said, “Holy Shit!” Then, after a moment, “Well, that could have been a whole lot worse!” He agreed.
I spent the next hour or so pacing around while Robert located the necessary parts, Tony made a run for the lug nuts, and then Robert set about calmly to put everything back together. As Tony and I took care of the bill, which was not bad at all, he proved to be something of a town booster. When I said that Seymour was a surprising town, that it looked really small on the map, but seemed to have a lot going on, he proceeded to list what he could remember of what he considered to be some of the more interesting tourist attractions, which is how I learned all that stuff about train robbers and robots and eggs and John Mellencamp.
Feeling very fortunate, I got back on the road and pointed Taliesin west once again. With occasional stops to rest or eat, to answer nature’s call, or to buy a new road map (they’re becoming easier to find), I crossed into Illinois, crossed my first time zone (thus recovering the hour I’d lost having the car repaired), and finally crossed the Mississippi into St. Louis, Missouri.
“Wow,” I thought as I drove over the MLK Bridge and the Mississippi passed beneath me. “I’m really doing this!”
There are markers that make things more real, I think. The near-disaster with the wheel, and the quick, friendly and efficient way Robert and Tony took care of it (The place was busy when I got there, but nobody seemed to be in too big a hurry to not to take the time to be friendly and helpful. ) will be a marker for me because it was a challenge faced and overcome. The Mississippi is a marker because it feels like I have finally broken free of that pull of gravity I talked about in my first entry. There are still plenty of things (and special people) to draw me home again. I’m not going to drift off into the cosmos, but I can flatter myself to imagine that this is something of what the astronauts must have felt when they first realized that they were actually leaving Earth and heading for the moon.
So I have told the story of the wheel and taken pictures of the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi waterfront because that is what we have to do with marker events – mark them. And I am realizing as I write this that it isn’t the size of the adventure that matters, it’s the importance of having one of whatever size works for you.

  1. You really are doing it David and we are enviously enjoying reading your ‘blogs’
    Safe travels as you go further into your journey… Glad to hear that Taliesin is well and has all her wheels intact. God Speed.. hugs Carol and Nigel xx


  2. Whoa! Close one! Glad all is well.


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