N.Y. Tourette – Day 1

Posted by admin on July 8th, 2011 filed in travel

A couple months ago I bought a ’66 Mini Cooper and though it requires a lot of tweaking and maintenance, the car is a blast to drive (and surprisingly roomy).

Not to mention, it fits into a space smaller than one sixth of the garage!

After driving it occasionally for two months, the bf and I decided to take it on a road trip. I hadn’t visited my brother and his wife in about a year, so their home on Long Island (and their open invitation) became our destination.


Saturday, July 2nd

We started out from the Tampa area, taking backroads almost entirely, and made it about 250 miles into the trip before we had problems.

Heading north on Hwy 17 somewhere south of Jacksonville, we crossed a set of potholed railroad tracks going over 45mph. The same set of tracks was probably what caused the 18-wheeler in front of us to run off the road and, had I been paying attention to the road instead of to the swerving, shuddering, dust-kicking giant, I probably could have better avoided jumping the canyon, but I guess that’s life.

We continued on, undeterred except to slow for each subsequent railroad crossing, and rolled into Orange Park, just south of Jacksonville, hoping to grab something to eat and continue into Georgia to camp for the night. But while stopped at a stop light a lady in the car next to us said “Hey!”. I was expecting a follow up of “Nice car! What year is it?” which was the choice phrase up to then, but she followed with, “Do you know your front tire is really low?” Since that was not at all what I expected I couldn’t think of anything to say before Jim covered for me with, “We do now!”

We pulled off the road after the light and got out to find our front driver-side tire well on its way to being flat. We brought out Jim’s trusty bicycle pump and took turns pumping up the flat since we didn’t see anything wrong with the tire itself. However, when we went to take the pump off the valve, the valve tore off with it and the tire sighed as all our hard work quickly disappated.

As we don’t have the Vince Gill’s kind of wealth we couldn’t afford to hire a designated cusser, so we did the dirty-word work ourselves then pulled out the tools and spare to change tires. Jim jacked up the car, while I searched for a tire place that could repair a 10″ tire at 5pm on a Saturday before a major holiday.

A nearby Firestone said they would stay open for us so we gently made our way to them only to find they lacked the machinery to work on an 10″ wheel. They recommended Pep Boys down the street, who informed us that even if they had the equipment to change out a 10″ tire, they couldn’t replace the valve because it wasn’t a tubeless tire and they didn’t carry any tubes, much less a 10″ one.

They suggested we try a tractor supply store and helped us call around but by that time, around 6pm, most shops had closed or were closing for the weekend. Pep Boys pointed us in the direction of some other tire stores so we rolled down the road and into a Tire Kingdom across from a Kmart hosting a classic car show. The Tire Kingdom guys didn’t have any 10″ tubes in stock or at the warehouse, but said they could do the work if we could find a replacement tube and be back before closing at 8.

Jim figured our best bet was to go to the car show and ask around, so we moved the Mini to the Kmart lot and parked at the last space in a long row of classic cars on display. Jim asked around and, after putting in a help request with the show’s DJ, spoke with two men who suggested a nearby Harbor Freight Tools which might carry some kind of tube. We thanked them and walked back to the car to find it half surrounded with spectators who couldn’t have cared less that we weren’t part of the show.

A man and a red-headed boy took a extra bit to examine the car so Jim invited the kid to sit in the driver’s seat. The kid tried it out then laughed as he told us our Mini was the only car shorter than him.

We set out for Harbor Freight, thankful to find it stayed open until 9, and found a small shelf in the back of the store with tubes for wheelbarrels, etc. We opened several boxes until we found the right size, grabbed two, then headed to the front of the store only to wait an agonizing, clock-ticking ten minutes to check out since each cashier was having trouble either entering discounts, working out warranty info, checking prices or calling for a manager.

Eventually we got the tubes (at a 10% discount, thanks to another customer who slipped us an online coupon code) and jetted as fast a we safely could to the Tire Kingdom where Patrick and Miles stayed twenty minutes after closing to switch out the tubes and rotate the tires. Thanks for helping us get back on the road guys!

While they worked on the car, I researched campsites, but none were availble at the late hour, so we went in search of motels. After calling around, we found a Rodeway Inn for about $60 and settled on that. But as we drove up to the motel we found what we thought was another, more modern car show.

The parking lot was lined with moded cars and sport bikes with LEDs and the entrance to the motel was guarded by curvy, leggy women in slightly covered bikinis, one of whom held a fistfull of event wristbands. She stopped us and sauntered up to the driver’s side window. In the passenger seat, I could see from her waist to just above her knees, putting the the hem of her shirt – which *almost covered* her bikini bottom – slightly, thankfully below my eye level.

Jim said, “Hey, we’re here to win the car show!” She laughed and said, “It’s not a car show, we’re havin’ a pool party. It’s ten per person to get in and unlimited drinks.” Jim responded, “Actually, we’re just here for a place to sleep” and she replied, “Bring you key card by and I got ya.”

While the idea of a free pool party sounded like an interesting, adventurous way to cap off an eventful evening, we were more concerned with getting dinner, so we waded through several upset motel patrons (“I want my money back!”) and asked for a room away from the pool. Then after unloading and locking up the car, we walked to a nearby Waffle House where we were greeted by a cheerful older waiter who hung out at our table to listen to our adventure. We later found out it was his birthday as his coworkers and friends showed up with cupcakes and a hearty “Happy Birthday” performance.  I love road trips. =D





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