08-16-2007 Almost Movin' On; Tired Out Between Chugwater and Wheatland, WY
Thursday, August 16, I was up at 7:10. It is cool this morning with a low of 63. I took a one-mile walk; my last one around Loveland RV Park. I wonder if anyone will miss me. There is no paper this morning and the office isn't open yet so I can't settle up our electric bill. I went back home to stretch and have breakfast. We packed up quickly. I checked back at the office twice to try to pay our electric bill for the month. The old guy in the noisy golf cart was still riding around taking meter readings for everyone who is leaving today. Bob and I were all packed up so we pulled out right across the road. We couldn't believe that slot was actually empty--the one next to where Bud and Billie were. So it was easy to get out without making a tight turn. We stopped our rig in front of the office. I paid $34.65 for the last month's electricity. Then we hopped in and exited out the back at 11:15. Bob expertly maneuvered through four roundabouts to get to Crossroads and I-25. We went north on I-25 and said Wyoming here we come! Or so we thought.
We only got about 20 miles up the road on the Interstate and our right front tire on the trailer blew. I blame myself since one mile north of Loveland I remarked that things were going too good today (we had no rain, it was cool this morning for our move and the free space in front of us made our exit a snap) as we packed up and left; disaster must be looming were my exact words. We heard two pops and pulled over on the shoulder. The rim was okay since we stopped so soon. So we dug all of our tools out and Bob changed the tire, putting on the spare in the hot sun. One half hour later we're rolling north again. Only a few miles and we gave a cheer as we crossed into Wyoming--our 21st state in our travels!
We decided to zoom past Cheyenne and head to Wheatland, about 40 miles north of Cheyenne to stop for gas. There is nothing but deserted plains for 37 miles between Chugwater and Wheatland, WY. About two miles south of Wheatland I'm looking forward to a restroom break. All of a sudden we hear another loud noise and Bob saw smoke on the driver's side back by the trailer. He pulled over on the shoulder and our hearts sank as we saw another flat tire on the front driver's side of the trailer. How can that be? We have less than 8,000 miles on that tire and it is less than two years old. The other one only had 12,000 miles on it and was four years old.
So now we're standing in the blazing sun, high of 97 degrees, on the side of the Interstate with 18-wheelers whizzing by and no spare. We have Good Sam Emergency Road Service but that could take hours for them to arrive so we review our options. Bob gets out the binoculars after deciding that we can't remove that tire and run without it (we have two axles on the trailer.) He spies exit #78 for Wheatland just in front of us. So it is maybe 1.5 miles to the exit ramp. He decides there is enough rubber left to drive slowly on the shoulder with our flashers on. We go 1/4 mile and he gets out to look at the tire. The remaining rubber is holding up. All we need is to ruin our rim-we'll never replace it out here in the middle of nowhere (Wheatland, population 3,500.) After he gets out to check the wheel and we went another 1/4 mile, I spied a Kelly Tire on the service road. So he hops a fence while I wait in the grass (no way I'm sitting in our stranded rig on the shoulder of the Interstate.) He's back in 10 minutes. They don't have our tire but there are two tire places in Wheatland at the next exit.
So we continue our 5 mph (gives a whole new meaning to 5 miles-per-hour!) drive on the shoulder. There is a steep grade up to the exit and four vehicles whiz by us on the exit ramp. At the stop sign by the overpass we try to make a split second decision--go right and park in the Visitor Center's big parking lot with no utilities for the night, or go left across the highway and try to find an RV Park that is supposed to be at this exit according to our campground guide. I get the campground book out of the backseat; find Mountain View RV Park (at exit 78) in Wheatland, WY. But wait, our campground book is 2003 so they might be out of business. We can't see them from our pause here on the exit ramp. I dial their phone number (307) 322-4858 and get "no network" on my cell phone display. We are officially in the middle of nowhere! Bob is about to head for the Visitor Center parking lot when I redial and a lady answers "Mountain View RV Park." I explain our dilemma and she says yes, they are open and have a site for the night. They are one block west of I-25 right past the Pit Stop gas station. We can see it!
Bob goes left and like a herd of turtles we make another left at .2 mph into the RV Park. Benito, the camp host, is on the road directing us into a site. He is very nice and gets his big wrench out and removes our flat tire that has rubber hanging by a thread. We unhook the truck and are set up by 4:08 p.m. after our 123 mile nightmare trip. Benito give us directions to Fat Boys Tire and Auto on 8th Street (Yes, the owner is BIG and his name is Pork Hohnholt!) You cannot make up stories this good. Bob piled both dead tires in the back of our camper shell. We never knew that two would fit back there.
Fat Boys actually had two of the size tires we need. One half hour and $202.00 later we have two new mounted and balanced tire. We're hot and hungry. The gals in the office (one must be Pork's wife) direct us to "Big A's" (it is actually The Prime Rib Steakhouse but everybody in town calls it Big A's.) When we get there, a liquor store out front has a sign with a huge letter "A" on the parking lot, hence the local name. Unfortunately, Big A's is closed. So we head for the Arby's sign we can see along the Interstate but on the way we spot "Vimbo's Restaurant." Back about 40 miles on the Interstate we laughed when we saw a billboard for Vimbo's, never dreaming we would end up eating there. Be careful what you make fun of; it may come back to haunt you.
Bob took the safe route and had a good burger. I had a club melt that wasn’t' so great but didn't really care by this time. We got a Casper Star-Tribune out front and gas at Exxon on the highway for $2.95/gallon. Then we went home but there is no rest for the wicked as my Grandfather Orf used to say. I went over to pay Delores, Benito’s wife, at their Class A in site #15. She said they spend the winter in Harlingen, TX. They leave Wyoming about September 15 since they have seen snow in September before. They stay about five months in Harlingen. They have a dog and cat with them. She said she sometimes misses her home that they sold. They stop to see her daughter in Ft. Worth as they head south since it is too hot to go directly to Harlingen in September. I paid her $25.00 for one night--we have cable TV!
While I'm chatting with Delores, poor Bob removes the spare tire and puts the new tire on. Then he fixes the wheel well covers on both sides that are torn up. He drilled new holes to rescrew the whole thing down. And finally, he had to twist a metal bracket back into shape. All of this was done in 95-degree heat. We got to collapse at last about 6:00 p.m. My dear Aunt Annie was right--it's a good thing we don't know what's coming up ahead of us!
Showers are heaven. I'm so thankful we didn't end up in the Visitor Center parking lot with no utilities. I can't believe we have to get up and do it all again tomorrow.
It's 6:40 p.m. and 87.7 degrees.