I awoke with a start at about 3:00 this morning with a premonition: I was about to have the day from hell. I tried to calm myself down and get more sleep, but I only got in a little fitful dozing. I gave up around 7:00 and got up to pack. I had coffee, but my stomach was too much in knots to even think about breakfast.
I took the time to analyse this premonition. Was it one that would allow me to change my fate or one that doomed me? I decided not to go to Wichita today and try to wrangle another free night out of the casino. The bad feeling didn’t appease itself at all. In fact, it got worse. I would just be delaying the inevitable.
So I packed, returned my parking pass, got gas, checked my tire pressure (perfect), hooked up, and headed on down I-40 eastbound. About a mile from the exit for Midwest City, BOOM.
I pulled over and walked around the rig to discover that my interior dually on the passenger side had disintegrated. I went back in the cab and asked my GPS where the nearest tire place was, which was fewer than 3 miles. I knew I could get there on my own power, so I put the four-way flashers on and motored over there slowly.
The place was Cramer Tires, a small mom & pop type of outfit. I was able to pull in straight enough to unhook. A lady came out and asked what I needed and then went out back to check her inventory of used tires. I’m getting new tires shortly, so a good used tired for $56 (all inclusive price) sounded pretty good to me.
Once they got the tire off, the reason for the failure became evident: a bad valve stem. The tire condition was good and so was the pressure. They replaced the valve stem, mounted the new tire, and I was on my way in about 1.75 hours. I thought everything was good till I got about 40 miles down the road, which was too far.
I pulled into a turnout on I-35 to use the bathroom and the toilet room was so hot that the toilet seal had melted and the toilet was loose. I ran outside and discovered to my horror that when the tire blew, it flew back and knocked the exhaust pipe up into the sidewall! I was very close to a fire (see the picture below). Moreover, the heat was enough that it disintegrated the pipe that goes from my grey water tank to the valve so my grey water was dripping onto the highway.
Thankfully, I was able to bring the tailpipe down after sitting at the rest area for enough time to cool the area down.
I stopped at every opportunity I could all along I-35 and everything seemed okay up until I got onto the turnpike, where there were few exits. The rig just didn’t feel like it was handling correctly. By this point, I was almost at L’s, so I slacked on the speed and drove cautiously.
My toll was $4.25, as I’d estimated, and then it was just a few minutes to get to L’s. I got lined up straight, unhooked, and then backed onto some blocks. L even had an extension cord ready for me.
It was at about this point that he informed me that my ‘new’ rear time was flat as a pancake.
L said that he’s going to have a look at my plumbing over the weekend. Am I glad I’m landed here!
He’s convinced that the neighbours won’t care that I’m here, so at this point, I’m looking at being in Wichita till Wednesday or Thursday. We’ll see.
Once I was settled in, we headed out to the Anchor pub in old town Wichita for a couple of pints and dinner so that I could meet his sweetheart. I hadn’t eaten all day, so when he told me not to be shy and order an appy, I gladly did and got some really nice chips and salsa. For a beer, he recommended a really dark brew called 1545, which was perfect for the cold and damp weather. Dinner was one of the best grilled chicken burgers I have ever had.
Downtown Wichita is beautiful! It’s one gorgeous building after another. I especially like all the bronze statues along the main drag. They are likenesses of ordinary folks doing ordinary things on a busy city street. I’ll try to get back out there and snap a few pictures before I leave.