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The long, long RV trip, Week 6: An explosive tire blowout and an emotional goodbye

This installment of the Long Long RV Trip took me a while to write. I kept procrastinating on it because it was a pretty emotional week and I just did not want to revisit it, even though everything did work out well in the end.

When we last left off I had been outrunning the weather in Kansas while enjoying some of the Sunflower State’s excellent RVing and tourism opportunities along the way.

That lead me to arrive in the Kansas City area where my niece, Madi, lives on the Kansas side, and my good friend, Tom, on the Missouri side.

Tom’s house had a large level driveway, so he offered me “moochdocking” space for as long as I wanted to stay.

Other than spending time with these two and a thrift store shopping expedition with Madi, I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing. But it’s not like this was my first time in the area, either.

Oppressive heat

The weather was oppressively hot, in the high 90s to low 100s every day. Even at night things remained hot and muggy.

To complicate this, even though I had proper adapters, the fuses in Tom’s house were consistently blowing when I tried to run my AC.

As there was plenty of room to stay in the air-conditioned house, I unplugged and turned the fridge to propane. I think in the heat it just gave up the ghost and turned itself off a few hours later. I moved the food into the house too.

The blown fuses we naively chalked up to something going on with Tom’s electrical, as he had a few issues in the past.

A dog’s paradise

Budley in Missouri before the tire blowout incident

I spent a week or so with Tom and Madi. We cooked dinners, grilled outside, and once the sun went down, enjoyed watching fireflies dancing around Tom’s large, tree-lined backyard.

Budley, my beloved road dog, was ready to move in. Tom and his mother spoiled him beyond belief with treats and toys. He also had his own personal fenced dog park in the backyard where he could chase squirrels, and chipmunks, and rabbits. It was like Doggy Disneyland!

Budley was in heaven. Especially because I always have to keep him on a leash while on the road because he thinks it is amusing to play “keep away” if he gets loose. The previous time that happened was in Week 2, where he ran back and forth across four lanes of traffic and nearly got crushed by semi-trucks.

Illinois bound and back

Finally, the time came to hit the road. Tom hugged me. And Budley. Those two had really bonded over the previous week.

I took off, accompanied by my canine companion, toward Chicago via Mount Sterling, IL, where I had found a winery through Harvest Hosts to spend a night.

Ridge View Winery is indeed out in the middle of nowhere. But even though I had to take back roads to get there, it wasn’t much out of the way.

Explosive tire blowout

The weather was still excessively hot—high 90s and bright sunshine in the afternoon when I was within three miles of the winery.

Suddenly the truck was rocked by a big loud BOOM!

The back tire on my Ram 2500 pickup had an EXPLOSIVE blowout, and I do mean explosive.

It shredded the tire, completely took out the wheel well lining, and even did some minor body damage to my new-to-me truck.

tire blow out on the long long rv tripIt took several hours for Auto Club to find and get to this remote location. In the meantime, Larry Hanold, owner of the winery, drove down to check on me.



Counting my blessings post tire blowout

Larry and his wife, Phyllis, were awesome hosts. If this had to happen, it was good to be near such nice, caring people.

I also counted my blessings that the blowout happened on an empty backroad when I was only going about 25 mph. I was fully aware that if a tire blowout of this magnitude had happened on the highway at full speed, the consequences could have been deadly.

The Auto Club tech informed me that the tires were actually a year older than the truck.  News to me, especially as when I bought the truck from CarMax a few months earlier I took it back within the warranty period as there were tiny micro-cracks in the tire sidewalls.

They assured me they took the tires off, inspected them thoroughly, and they were good to go for many, many miles.

I questioned, “Are you sure? I am going to be putting a lot of miles on this truck and I do not want to have a blowout!”

They said, “Yes, those tires still have a lot of life in them.”

They were wrong.

Electrical drama and a bad dog (again)

I finally got the tire changed to a spare and made it to the Ridge View Winery.

This Harvest Host, unlike many, does have electrical and water hookups available, so Larry got me plugged in. I turned on the AC and it promptly blew the circuit.

That told me it was probably me, but Larry was still doing everything he possibly could to make it work.

I had Budley on a leash with me as it was too hot to leave him in the truck or trailer at that point. I turned away for a second to answer a question, and the little bugger slipped out of his harness. And started running.

Luckily, unlike the last time, it was not in traffic. But we were in a remote semi-wooded area at dusk.  I had to assume there were predators around.

As I have talked about before, this is my dog’s one and only bad quality, but it is deeply ingrained in his personality.

So there I am running around in 95-degree heat trying to get him back. After the previous drama of the blowout and waiting hours in the heat for the tire change.

Larry was trying to help, but nothing worked. I even started the truck and pretended to begin driving away. Budley ignored it.

I was hot. I was sunburned. I was hungry. I was exhausted. I was within seconds of a full and total meltdown!

What was I thinking coming on this trip alone? It’s too difficult. It’s too expensive. I just can’t handle it. It’s time to throw in the towel and just go home!

All these thoughts and more raced through my frazzled mind.

A very deep breath

I forced myself to slow down and take a deep breath.

I knew Budley would eventually come back. When he does this he is never trying to run away, he is playing a game.

Since we were in the middle of nowhere I knew his survival chances were good, so I went back to the trailer, left the door open, and hoped for the best.

Sure enough, about 30 minutes later he was back like nothing had happened. However, I was still beyond stressed out over the day’s events.

Ridge View Winery: Scenic views, excellent hosts, delicious wine and farm fresh eggs

ridge view winery, Mount sterling, IL

As Larry had gotten the electrical working, I turned on the AC for Budley, closed the door, and went to join my charming hosts before the hour got too late. They had cheese and snacks waiting, and I ordered a much-needed glass of wine. I also was able to buy a dozen eggs, laid on the property, for just $2!

After visiting and enjoying the calming green scenery of rolling hills and vineyards for a short while, I went back to the RV for a much-needed shower. Larry and Phyllis retired to their home on the property.

I hadn’t been back in the trailer even 15 minutes when the electrical blew the circuit.  Great. This told me the problem was clearly on my end.

Another deep breath.

My friend Craig is a mechanic and had told me to wait on any RV repairs until I got to his place in the Chicago suburbs. I opened the windows and used my solar generator to run a fan through the hot and sticky night.

I didn’t sleep much but I did appreciate watching the lightning bugs darting through the vineyards and the silent lightning storms in the distant hot summer sky.

A difficult and painful decision

However, I was still so rattled that I was not able to truly enjoy the moment—through no fault whatsoever of the hosts, who truly went above and beyond the call of duty to help a damsel in distress. That’s just not a role I am very good at.

Budley had done it to me again.

I had to admit that much as I loved him, the road-dog life was not right for him. If I didn’t do something about it, he was going to end up dead.

My mind drifted back to how much he and Tom had bonded the previous week. I also thought back to Tom telling me he was just “waiting for the right dog to come into my life,” to adopt again.

I got online and with tears in my eyes messaged my friend:

“I am not even kidding. If you want Budley, I would be grateful for you to take him.”

The next morning we headed back toward Kansas City.

More troubles: Another near tire blowout

I stopped for gas a few miles down the road and while walking around the truck noticed another tire starting to peel away!

I had planned to deal with the tires when I got back to KC, but instead drove very gingerly towards the closest Firestone dealer I could find, about two miles away.

They got me fixed up with four new heavy-duty tires that should, in theory, keep me safe.  I arrived back at Tom’s in Kansas City that evening.

A bittersweet farewell to Budley

cheri and budley before the tire blow out incident

Budley made himself right at home again.

Tom is as good a friend as a friend can be. He told me if I wanted to leave Budley temporarily, I could always come and get him later. Budley was also welcome to stay forever, if that is what I chose. And I was always welcome to visit.

I said I had made my peace with the decision the night before.

Even though I was terribly sad, I knew Tom would be as good or even better to Budley than me. What more could I possibly ask for?

I also think Tom needed a friend as much as Budley needed a safe place to live. He had recently moved to Missouri and had not yet met many people. And he was deeply missing his own beloved dog who passed away several months earlier.

It was difficult to drive away—but it was best for Budley, best for Tom, and ultimately best for me not to live under the constant stress of whether this would be the day Budley got away and did not come back. That would have been guilt I would have had a very hard time living with.

I will adopt another rescue dog more suited to road life when I get back to Mexico later this year. But for now, my best friend is living his best life, happier than he’s ever been, and certainly safer. If he could talk, I am sure Budley would have asked to stay with Tom.

It was the right thing to do.

Chicago bound (again)

This time I drove the full eight hours to my friend Craig’s in the Chicago suburbs, where I would be “moochdocking” for a few weeks and getting the RV repaired. More on that coming up next time.

NEXT WEEK: Moochdocking in Chicago, reevaluating this trip, small town 4th of July

Previously in Cheri’s long, long RV trip:

##RVT1061

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Kim Carver
12 days ago

Unfortunately, RVs sometimes sit for months on end which can wear out the tires. Also, if no tire covers were used, the sun can prematurely wear them out. Don’t just look at tread alone as that is misleading. Always check the age of the tires when buying used. It’s probably best just to buy new tires because you don’t know where those tires have been. Better safe than sorry. I know you will miss Budley, but knowing he is in a good place will give you peace over your decision.

VICKI CROTHERS
25 days ago

Giving up Budley must have been so heartbreaking. It sure seems you did the right thing for your friend and your pup. Safe travels.

Cheri Sicard
25 days ago
Reply to  VICKI CROTHERS

Thank you. It was difficult but was absolutely the best thing. Budley is living his best life and Tom has a new cherished companion.

Jeffrey L Kirk
26 days ago

IMHO there is nothing wrong with your friends electrical. When you say you had all the adapters that would lead me to believe you were hooking up to a regular house plug. Those plugs are 20 amp service your campground RV hookup is 30 amp. You AC by itself can pull over 25 amps at starting. Running it probably pulls about 15 amps. You had the refrigerator on and it pulls 3 amps. You are now at 18 amps running load not counting anything else that was drawing power in your
RV. This does not count anything that was on in the house on that circuit. Oh and if you were not using a 30 amp RV extension cord you were overloading the cord which can cause a fire. I have seen more than one 20-amp adapter melted from overload. Just because you can use adapters to hook up does not mean you can run everything in your RV

Cheri Sicard
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeffrey L Kirk

In next week’s article, we figure that out. It had nothing to do with any of that and everything to do with a bad converter.

Last edited 24 days ago by Cheri Sicard
Tom
26 days ago

All’s well that ends well. But, that is a bunch all at once.

Cheri Sicard
25 days ago
Reply to  Tom

That seems to be my pattern. Everything will go well, but when one thing goes wrong, many do.

T Edwards
26 days ago

Similar to my explosive tire blowout. Bought a used 2017 Ram 3500HD dually with 66k miles on it. On my way to the Adirondacks last summer the inner right rear tire blew out at highway speeds towing our 40ft 5th wheel. The tire shop told me the two inner tires were manufactured in 2007 (14 years old). Lesson here is when buying a used vehicle or RV always check the tire age.

Cheri Sicard
25 days ago
Reply to  T Edwards

I know I always will in the future.

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