Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Here I sit in a McDonald's in the mid part of Florida. The rain is so loud on the roof of the roadster I could barely carry on a phone conversation. I watched from my dry seat inside the car, the other patrons skipping and dodging through the rain as they tried to get into the McDonalds and still stay dry. It didn't happen. Soaked and beneath the air conditioning inside the store, they shivered and ordered cups of hot coffee to try to stave off the chills that were shaking their bodies.

I got in line and got my own sandwich and cup of Joe and got seated to connect to the internet. When I rolled out of bed this morning, I thought about heading back west on I-10 and going home. Another 8 to 9 hours of driving in the rains from the tropical storm Beryl was just not so appealing.

Instead I changed my destination once again since my destination was never set in stone and being a Freebird allows one to be totally spontaneous. I moved on westward and when I got to I-75 Tampa, I took that direction. Somewhere out of Gainesville the rains hit and the traffic slowed to a crawl. A crawl on slick roads was alright with me. Hydroplaning sucks.

As exits off the interstate appeared, the cars made it their destination and escaped to sit it out somewhere for a while and that is what I am doing right now. I wasn't in a hurry to get into McDonalds or at least not so much that I wanted to dive out into the pouring rain as I watched the others doing. I waited it out for a while and crept in under a few random drops. Sitting under airconditioning in wet clothing is a miserable prospect and one I avoid.

This trip has been a bit different then most trips I embark upon. For one thing, I'm usually a bit more prepared. Oh sure, I knew the right rear tire had a real slow leak and I was planning on having it checked but time got away from me and I hit the road with my mini compressor and a tire gauge thinking I would watch it closely and reinflate as needed. That would have worked but for the big nail that was in the right FRONT tire, dead center. As I sat in a McDonalds' yesterday a man walked in and wanted to know who owned the little red convertible. "I do" I said with dread in my voice "Why? What's wrong with it?" Usually when someone walks into an establishment and inquires about ownership of a vehicle it bears the delivery of bad news. I've never had someone inquire and then say "Nice car' or "You're parked legally." so I was apprehensive.

The next three hours were spent at the only place open on a holiday to fix a tire. The rear tire with the slow leak could not be repaired as the nail/wire/staple was in the sidewall so it had to be replaced. The other tire could be plugged and three hours later and 200.00 lighter I was again on my way. I made it to Tallahassee and decided to call it quits for the day. The tires and the sunburn had put a damper on my fun little trlp.

This morning I woke up and dreaded another 8 hrs in the car. A friend contacted me to tell me the weather up the coast was full of heavy rains and would be for the next few days. Eyeing the 1/4 tank of gas and planning to pull over a few more miles down the road, I threw my belongings into the car, dropped the top and headed out.

The skies overhead were angry. Dark and smokey, and full of rain and it wasn't long before a few raindrops smacked against the windshield. I whipped over to the side of the road, pulled the top up and rolled up th windows. I'm against driving in wet clothing in the rain too.

My head was on the happenings of the past few days and when I remembered to check my gasoline, the little gold tank was lit up signaling I was in trouble or going to be shortly. Shortly came about a minute later as the little car went into a powerless glide. I sailed over to the side of the road. I was in a bit of luck though I was out of gas. A call box was within coasting ranged and I coasted up to it. Lifting the lid, I chose the button to press that said "This idiot let her tank run dry". (it didn't really say it quite that way but that's how I felt.) The last time I ran out of gas was when I was a teen and had to collect pop bottles to pay for a gallon.

Soon a huge white truck arrived and a very nice man walked up to my door. He was kind enough not to snear or laugh or do any other form of degrating behavior. I gave him the story about how I never run out of gas and how abnormal this is for me. He smiled and nodded and said  "It happens" and I wondered if he believed me. 42.00 later, I had 2 gallons of gas and enough to get me to a service station. Considering how quick the response was to my call for help, I didn't complain at all about the charges. I was just grateful for call boxes on the Florida highways. How KEWL is that?

The rain has let up at least for now so I'm going to hit the road again. Another 100 miles and I'm there!

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