So we went on a road trip. And all hell broke loose. Part 1.

Earlier this fall we decided we needed to make the trek to Sioux Fall to see Elder Son, whom we hadn’t seen since the Fourth of July weekend. Because his schedule includes being the on-call resident on certain weekends, we emailed him and asked for potential free weekends starting November 1. (Smokey knew he had outdoor stuff to do before winter set in and didn’t want to miss any sunny Saturdays/Sundays.)

We all settled on the weekend of November 6 – 8.

Separately, we had decided to spend a few days on the North Shore to celebrate our 41th anniversary. My October calendar was full (good grief, when did I ever have time for a job?) so we settled on November 9 – 13.

See what we did there? Here, let me draw you a map.


Start at the red dot, drive to the blue dot, then proceed to the green dot. Columbus couldn’t have plotted a better route.

Well, we said, if that’s how it has to be, then that’s how it has to be. And we set out at 11:50 am on Friday, November 6, for the first leg of our road trip, the six-hour drive to Sioux Falls.. (I give you the exact time of departure because it is a remarkable one. We tend to leave our packing and preparation until the day of departure, but this time we — by which I mean Smokey, who does most of that packing and preparing — had been packing and preparing for two days. His goal was to leave by noon on Friday, and, by gum, we did. Score!)

All went swimmingly until the last ten miles, when one of the rear wheels fell off the van.

On the interstate.

At 70mph.


Apparently the mechanic who had put new tires on the van a couple weeks prior had forgotten to tighten the lug nuts.

Smokey kept the van under control and managed to pull onto the shoulder. As he wrestled with the steering wheel I wondered (fairly calmly) to myself, Is this it? Is this the time we crash and die? Huh.

Apparently not. Once we had come to a stop I congratulated Smokey on his epic job of keeping the van under control. And he began the task of 1, figuring out what exactly had happened; 2, calling for roadside assistance; 3, calling Elder Son to tell him we would be a bit later than we had told him five minutes ago and would he please come pick up Mom and the dogs? and 4, searching for the errant wheel.

A highway patrol came to our aid, a tow truck was summoned, ES found us, and all was well, although we never did find that errant wheel, only the shredded tire tread.

Smokey spent the next day in the parking lot of the garage where the van was towed putting the wheel back together and putting on the spare tire. When he was done he said it had been fun — the weather was sunny and warm and slightly breezy, he had all the tools he needed, and the repair had gone well. Yes, this is my husband’s idea of fun.

We had a pleasant weekend. Misha the dog had a great time playing with Moose the much bigger dog, I introduced ES to Scandal on Netflix, we ate good stuff, and we all caught up with each other’s lives.

On Monday we set out. We didn’t have a spare tire any more, and we didn’t know if Friday’s mishap had caused more damage to the van than we knew about. Our revised plan was to drive to the North Shore via home, where we would change to a different car (the joys of having a fleet at our disposal), and continue to The Lake. But after a couple hundred miles we decided to chance it and continue on to the north in the van.

Stay tuned for the next segment of the saga.

This entry was posted in Andrew, Motorcars, North Shore, Travel, Vacation. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to So we went on a road trip. And all hell broke loose. Part 1.

  1. highlyreasonable says:

    I’ve always had a fear of a wheel falling off after having work done on my tires, and even more so now that I know it has actually happened. Thank goodness for Smokey’s excellent van-wrestling abilities! I’m looking forward to Part II, but only because I know you’re still alive.

  2. Carole says:

    I can’t believe you left us hanging like this! LOL. I’m so glad you are all okay. We had a tire blow out once when we were towing our camper and it was scary – happened on the New York freeway. Good times.

  3. =Tamar says:

    That happened to me twice, fortunately neither time at high speed. Once with my first husband’s ancient station wagon a rear wheel came loose; there was enough overhanging fender that it held the wheel in place, so we just felt weirdness happening and pulled over. The second time with a different car they didn’t come off, but all four wheels were wobbly. A male friend managed to drive it back to the shop and reported that “they seemed to think it was funny.” I never went back to that place!

  4. gayle says:

    Gasping, here. Glad you’re okay!
    You sound more like my twin-separated-at-birth every day…

  5. Deb in PA says:

    Glad you’re safe. Hope you tell the garage that did the wheel exchange what happened.

  6. Stella says:

    Got the oil changed for a long road trip. Except for the part where the new oil is added. Wow. What happens, happens fast. This was in the days before your car could tell you how it was feeling.

  7. k says:

    (I think it’s Smokey. Maybe go in separate vehicles for a while?)
    How terrifying. I’ve had a tire blow just as we left a stop sign, and I have seen somebody lose a tire at highway speeds – fortunately nobody died in that one, and we were a mile back! I will remember to go back and have the nuts checked next time my tires have things done.

  8. Kim says:

    Holy cow — the entire wheel? I’ve had a tire blow on me, but that is crazy. SO glad you’re both alright.

  9. Kym says:

    Oh.My.God. I am so glad you’re all okay — and That Smokey has mad driving skillz, for sure! (Can’t wait to hear what happens next. . .) XO

  10. Jocelyn says:

    I am gasping and clutching at my heart. And that started when I saw your intended route. It got worse when the tire flew off!

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