Travel is never far down on my agenda.
If you know me, you know how much I love to be either on my ’98 Honda Goldwing or in my ’02 F250 booking down the highway to somewhere!
Well, 2018 was off to a good start with a couple short trips to Maine & Ohio. Late in February I put the camper on the truck and headed south to see my brother, sister, parents, and son Kevin. My niece Kelsey’s wedding was a special occasion for the trip too!
While the traveling was great, it wasn’t too far into the trip before I realized I had a few thousand too many miles on the set of tires I was riding on. One finally sprung a leak, and about Dan’s place in north Georgia, I had to get it fixed. The others were on their last steel belt by the time I returned to Churchville! If only the tires were where the story ended, this would be a bland and “normal” year. I had no idea the “mis-adventures” that lie ahead!
Tires replaced. Leaky air valves would plague the next 3 months traveling to New Hampshire, Maine and back to Churchville several times – only foreshadowing Summer’s transportation woes. It started when I headed to Maine for the summer – late June.
I had agreed to return from Maine mid-July to run a science-related 2-day experience for a summer school program back in New York. I thought, “no problem – I’ll just take the Goldwing down for the duration and be back in time to start work at the Jordan Pond House.” The trip back to Rochester was uneventful. But there were some strange goings-on with the bike’s electrical system – unexplainable instant shut-offs while on the interstate, lasting only seconds.
Couldn’t figure out what that was all about.
And, while it was disconcerting, it didn’t last, so I thought I would check it out when I got back to Maine and spoke with the Goldwing club members. Besides, it would sit at home while I went & did the science gig.
Friday came, the gig was done, I had one more appointment, then hit the road back to the Pine Tree State. Couldn’t wait to get on the bike… but
It never made it out of the dooryard.
An electrical malfunction – just hours before I was to leave – literally burned out the 3-year old starter on the bike. There aren’t replacement starters for a bike that age just sitting on shop shelves on weekends. So, the bike was sidelined, and I was stranded.
I rented a car one way to Bangor and drove overnight to be back to work on Monday. Crisis averted. Or so I thought!
The very next day would change my whole summer, and the rest of the year for that matter.
8 minutes from work, along the Stanley Brook Road Tuesday morning, I made the ill-fated decision to turn around to run an errand in Seal Harbor. Easily I could have continued on and returned to the village via the Jordan Pond road. No, I decided to make a turn at the one wide spot in the road. A sandy shoulder space on both sides where routine maintenance trucks often park was open. I went for the turn…as I notice the 4+ inch difference between the blacktop and the sand.
The hard bumps at the turn were little worry for an F250 prepped like mine is to carry a truck camper and run a snowplow. While it was bumpy, I wasn’t fazed. It was as I was headed back to the village that it happened.
At first, I was just frustrated. The noise I heard coming from the back sounded like the air valve on one of the tires was leaking again. . . one that I just had replaced! I hit the accelerator thinking I could at least get back to the beach parking lot before all the air was lost. The coast was clear (it was very early!) and I rolled in to the Seal Harbor Beach parking lot – virtually uninhabited this time of day.
Hopping out, I inspected the driver’s side tires. Nothing. Around the back and to the other side – nothing! All tires were fine. What?? Something flowing on the asphalt from beneath the truck. I looked under the truck bed and my heart stopped.
I literally could not believe what I was looking at. I couldn’t fathom what had happened, but there it was. The 25-gallon gas tank was partially dislodged, and its front portion was hanging down resting on the pavement….
Now I was laser focused – how to fix or stop the hemorrhaging – it was a completely filled tank just last evening. The gas was slowly leaking from the front of the plastic tank. Now, unless something could be done, all 25 gallons would make its way toward the storm drain – and into the federally protected trout stream and out to the beach and the Atlantic.
Apparently, what I interpreted as a leaky tire was actually the gas tank dragging along the surface of the roadway.
I won’t continue the story – of a God-sent beach tractor with sand, hazmat response teams, agonizing loss of sleep over whether contamination had occurred, a month of searching for a replacement tank but not finding a perfect fit; of renting an overly expensive micro-car that gutted my summer wages, or of the additional later replacements of gas line, exhaust system and snow plow overhaul.
Suffice it to say the truck is now ready…
… for sale!
There is an extremely valuable piece to share, in the midst of this chaos.
At no time did I ever sense a lack of God’s care or protection.
In fact, at least twice it dawned on me what He had spared me from. Both with the motorcycle and the truck, disaster may well have been realized on several occasions and on several levels. I’m alive and can give witness that my troubles were minimal compared to what could have happened.
The bike – it turns out – had loose battery terminals, the results of a repair guy’s misinterpretation after fixing brakes and installing tires. At 70 mph, loss of power on the return trip to Maine might have cost me life or limb.
The truck – it turns out- had tank straps rusted to the point where the jarring of that turn tore them loose. The Ziebart undercoating had masked the danger as the whole undercarriage- wires, hoses and all looked healthy. Had this event happened in the likely areas of the NY Thruway or I-495 around Boston -where the potholes and road-debris make the sandy turn-around look like a golf-greens divot – and had my tank been metal, the 70 mph speed and the difficult roadside navigation could also have been beyond hazardous.
For the record, the Harbor, the stream and the beach are all safe – thanks to the quick actions of a beachcombing tractor driver and an efficient local Fire Department. I am grateful for the care and provision of these men and for the God who oversaw this whole ordeal.
God sometimes goes to great lengths to teach us life lessons, and to keep us alive. I’m grateful to be a servant and a Christ-follower. And while my life has yet to experience the plight of Habakkuk 3:16-17, I recognize God does whatever it takes to prepare us for our duties in the New Creation, and for the richness of life with him forever.