Last night my wife and our two children were traveling to Council Bluffs, IA for our vacation (yes I said Council Bluffs and yes I know its in Iowa)and whilst traveling to our hotel we suffered one Heck of a setback, we had a blowout.
Our vacation started a little late on Sunday night, we couldn't get our dogs to the kennel until after 5PM (the kennel wasn't able to accept the dogs until after 5), and with bathroom trips, gas breaks and just needing to stretch our legs, we wouldn't be to the hotel until after Midnight. The weather has really been warming up, and on Sunday night the temperature was about 82 degrees and humid. Anyone that has ever traveled on the Great Plains knows that storms whip across it and the Council Bluffs / Omaha area have been hammered with flooding so the weather was ripe for a doozy of a storm.
In April my wife found a used van (a 1991 GMC with a fuel injected 350 and 46000 original miles) and we bought it (obviously or why would I have mentioned it). Our dealer, a man that we have bought two other vehicles from, told us that the tires had at least 80% tread on them and honestly they looked really good. We have been using it to get to places and events so we wouldn't rack up miles on our other vehicles as well as being able to transport more people comfortably (the damn fuel mileage is in the mid to high 20's so its got THAT going for it, which is nice). With all of the positives in favor of the van, it was a no-brainer that we would be taking the van on the vacation.
As we were traveling across Iowa on Interstate 80, all was going swimmingly and the trip seemed like it was off to a great start, but subconsciously I was a little worried the entire time. I think that some of the trepidation comes from the fact that we were in an older, used vehicle as we weren't in one of our newer vehicles thus its part of the great unknown as well as some issues with boarding the dogs (they're older and one has anxiety driven seizures). The speed limit along most of I-80 is 65 and 70 and it really never seemed like it because the van rides so nice but then something wicked this way came.
The GPS was starting its countdown to prompting us which exit to take and exactly one mile from our exit I began to pass a tractor-trailer. My dad is a truck drive so I have grown up in and around them and I feel very comfortable passing them (Side note: When I see one of these stupid attorney commercials for "victims" of accidents with tractor-trailers I want to beat them into a bloody pulp with a sledgehammer) and as I completed the pass the van began to shake. VIOLENTLY! At first I thought someone was hitting me or that I was on the shoulder and I was hitting the "rumble strips" but then the rear end of the van began to break loose.
I had the van under control, and I was able to pull off on the shoulder without further incident and then the fun started. We immediately contacted our insurance company and we used our roadside assistance because I physically can no longer do such things (I have a disabled arm) and then there is the whole changing a tire on a major Interstate at 12:30 AM. The insurance company was great (Progressive rules, despite "Flo", and they kept in contact with us during the wait and Progressive will always be recommended by me based on their customer service alone. I can hear you now saying "this is a rant blog and this sounds like some type of orgy of happiness", first of all "eww" you pervert, and secondly I'm getting to that in the next paragraph.
Whilst I sat along Interstate 80 waiting patiently (stop it, I am PATIENT) I became privy to a phenomena that I have only been personally touched by in Illinois and I never thought in the land of corn. On three occasions, THREE, peace officers drove past a van, on the shoulder of the road with its hazard lights flashing! I know first hand that the police can be busy, trying to get to calls for help and usually that means having lights flashing but did any of the three that passed me have those red and blues flashing, ahhhhhhh NO. I looked at the time, following the three police passers and their shifts weren't changing and I even examined if the three passersby could have been the same car but that couldn't be possible.
For it to be the same dude / dudette, they would have either circumnavigated the globe (all three were traveling east) three times or they have some really cool shortcut that they could use to keep passing by me or the most obvious reason, wormhole. Yeah there would be holes in all three of those possibilities as one was a deputy and the others were Iowa State patrol.
After number three went past my blood began to boil and fortunately the roadside assistance guy showed up, fixed the tire and as I closed my door so I could pull away, the proverbial skies opened. Today, 300 + miles from home I bought four new tires and had them installed and the tire dude and I began to come up with possible reasons for the failure. I just think that the real culprit to it all was all of the things I mentioned and it was almost a "perfect storm" to cause the blowout but another scenario seems to fit. In examining the tire today, I really think that the tire that blew was a retread and when the retread failed, it almost snakebit myself and my family.
Thanks again to ISP and whatever flipping county I'm in, I'm glad you had a reason to slow down then continue on your merry way. I'm glad I wasn't having a massive heart attack, it was really hot and humid so my bloated arse would have stunk up Western Iowa. Here's to hoping something cool will trip my trigger tomorrow.