Monday, November 23, 2009

Adventure on Florida's Turnpike

On Sunday we heard that my dad was going in for emergency surgery. We had already planned to go to Tampa because another family member was also scheduled for surgery. We had originally planned to drive just the car thinking it would be a simple trip to Tampa, stay to help out, and then return home. But, the call about my dad required a change of plans. I decided to take the Mothership, our RV, and tow the car. I would drop Barbara off to stay in Tampa and then I would drive the RV on to South Carolina where my dad was having surgery. That way, if we had to stay longer in SC I would be able to take the car back to Tampa, pick Barbara up, and then return to SC where we would have the RV to live for as long as we could stay. So off we went.


At about Mile Marker 134 on the Turnpike we heard a loud bang. Imagine what it must have been like flying a WWII bomber to be hit by Flak, the anti aircraft artillery used by the Germans against allied aircraft. It sounded as if we had been hit by Flak. It also sounded like something was thrashing loudley as if part of the RV was coming apart. We had blown an inside rear tire. The remenants of the tire were thrashing around and around as it came apart. I wrestled the big beast to a safe landiing on the side of the road and we called AAA. We have the AAA Plus road coverage so that the RV would be part of the service. Barbara also heard a hissing sound which I quickly traced to our propane tank. The line leading to the rest of the coach from the tank had been severed. I turned off the main valve leading from the tank to the rest of the coach.


They dispatched a truck at about 2:30 as soon as we called after rolling to a stop. First a small repair truck arrived but that one did not have the equipment to do the job so they dispatched what is known as a "Rotator." It is a gigantic tow and repair truck. The driver told me that the vehicle cost $750,000. I believe it. That thing could lift an 18 wheeler with its crane and I guess they are called upon to do so.



The driver, a wiry but strong and
intense guy, surveyed the damage. Not only had the propane line been severed but the tire tentacles had thrashed around and grabbed the back of the wheel well pulling it inward toward the tire. That in turn pulled the outside fiberglass wheel well fairing and the wheel well structure inwards towards the wheel. Before the tow guy could change the tire he had to get all of the bent metal and fiberglass clear of the tire. He wrestled and fought with hands, arms feet, and legs until it all came free. It is now in the back of our car. He then proceded to retrieve the spare and change the tire which was another big job but with the right skills and tools he made quick work of it. All of this took about three hours so by now it was 5:30 pm. Damage done included gas line severed, electrical marker light wires severed and possible the electrical line supplying power for lights on our car which we tow. Who knows what else but we at least were underway. We finally arrived in Tampa at 10:00 pm tired and ready for bed.

Today we face finding a place to do quick repairs and buying a new spare tire. Meanwhile my dad is doing well in ICU and my cousin who is a doctor called to fill me in on the details of his situation which sounds very good considering his age, 90. I hope my solo leg is more uneventful than the first leg of this trip. Life is an adventure.

6 comments:

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