I was almost asleep in the car, with my thoughts literally saying, "Hmm, I won't have much to write about for this trip home-it's been kind of boring," when we heard the sound.
We were crossing the bridge that always signifies our "only a half an hour to home" mark when we heard a loud sound. Everything was kind of bumpy, but since the bridge is currently under construction, we figured that it was the road. Then we made it across the bridge and still heard the sound. It finally occurred to us that we had a flat tire.
It is really fun to be crossing a bridge with nothing but construction walls on the side of the highway in sight while having a flat tire.
Thankfully, within seconds of realizing what was going on, there was a rest stop. We quickly pulled in, jumped out to assess the damage, and could not believe what we saw.
Where on earth had our tire gone?
As the wind almost whipped the doors off the van, we set to work. And by "we" I mean "Nick." I learned how to change a tire back when I first got my driver's license. Never had to do it since, so you can imagine my expertise. It ranks right up there with my ability to drive a standard.
Since we had never used our spare tire in the six years that we have owned the van, we just assumed that it was in the back. You know, under all of the loot that I had just jammed in there so carefully. While Nick jacked up the van, I started emptying all of the bags of toys, suitcases, the laundry bag and, of course, the huge box that held our new rotisserie.
I threw it all onto the front seats, except for that blessed rotisserie box-there was no way that thing was going to fit anywhere else. Unless I wanted little Noah to hold it. Nick and I finally looked in the back and found a problem.
There was no tire. And no place where a tire should be.
So, after six years of owning this van, I pulled out the owner's manual (which was not easy to do since the glove compartment was blocked by all the above-mentioned bags) to find out where the tire could be. We finally found it under the van (sure) and used the proper tool to get it out.
Now, let me mention that in the midst of all of this, I fully expected Nick to lose it. He was supposed to meet his friend who had amazing tickets to the Bengals game that afternoon. These magical tickets gave them permission to hang out on the field before the game and to sit in the Macy's skybox. Since this little delay was pretty much ruining his chances of getting on the field, I figured he would be upset.
However, Nick was actually enjoying himself. He was so proud of himself that he remembered how to change a tire that he ignored the fact that he was cold, tired (four hours of sleep for us the night before) and late for a big game. He just kept talking about how his family is so much more important than a game.
I felt like checking his forehead to see if he was feeling okay.
We finally got the tire changed, the van loaded back up (no idea how we managed to put the remains of the tire in the zero space that we had left) and made it to the next exit with a gas station. Since the spare tire had sat around for six years, it was not the fullest. Unfortunately, the gas station that we found had a broken air pump. No problem-there was another gas station across the street.
Put the money in and realized that that one was broken, too. Not only was it broken, but the little air that was left in the tire was disappearing. I went in to speak with the attendant to find out if they could fix it or at least offer some advice. She had no idea, but as I was walking out, a guy walking out at the same time said, "Hey, I have an air pump for you."
He walked over to his Uhaul to find it, with Nick running over to find out why I was following a strange man to his car. Thankfully, that worked and we were on our way-again.
Many back roads later, we were two minutes from home when I looked back and saw that Noah had fallen asleep. You know, after not sleeping for six hours. Unbelievable.
Someone mentioned to me that the first day of the year is an idea of how the rest of it will go. Hmm.
Okay, so we had a rough ride home. But, it could have been worse. Think about it-we were only a half hour from home instead of being made to drive for hours on a spare tire. We found a gas station that was open on a holiday. The guy with the air pump just happened to be there at the same time. Yes, it was windy, but not icy and the rain held off until after we started driving again. And no one was hurt when the tire blew-ON A BRIDGE.
If our year is going to be like this, that would be okay with me.