Saved By a Snake
I almost always have driving catastrophes lurking in my thoughts when I am traveling with my children. I travel with good tires, brakes, up to date maintenance, road service and cell phone, but still I worry, some times more than others. We are all glad to be on our way home. My brother in law and my sister were wonderful, but I have no doubt they are looking forward to enough hot water after our departure and I am sure they are relieved our visit is over.
I like to scan the side of the road while I am driving, looking for a shoulder or a window in which to change lanes. Once we pass the town of Vail Colorado heading west, there is no shoulder and quite a bit of traffic. The van is performing well and I hear a slight bumping noise but I don’t give it any notice. There is no place to pull over any way. This is one of those times I am worrying less. As we descend from Vail Pass and drive through Evergreen, Colorado, I am enjoying driving, and I am unconcerned about potential catastrophes. By the time we have hit the flatlands, Ivy comments on a noise from the rear of the van. Ivy and Ruby are in the back, seated over the axle, Lea and Nina are in the captain’s chairs in the middle and Sheila is riding shotgun. I start listening more closely and ask everyone to be quiet. There is a loud bang, actually, an explosion. The girls scream and the van lists badly and I can barely control it. I have always feared a rollover and wondered if I would remember what to do. Immediately, I take my foot off the gas, turn on the hazard lights and we limp to the shoulder of the highway. I get off the highway as much as possible. I see a huge truck in the rear view mirror with a cement pipe that is wider than the freeway lanes. If that driver cannot get left, we will be sideswiped by a concrete pipe. The driver is able to change lanes and I look toward the left rear wheel. There is no rubber on the wheel and the van is seriously tipped. There is a moment when we are all quiet. Ruby and Ivy had the worst scare because they were on top of the blowout. Ivy was directly over it.
I want everyone to be quiet and let me reflect for a moment but Sheila and Ruby want to get out of the van. I insist they stay in the van because we are on an interstate highway and I want them to be safely in the van where other motorists will see us with our hazard lights. They will not stay in the van. A good thing about passenger vans as opposed to mini vans is that passenger van doors are only on the right side which allow for more safety in uncontrolled exits as I am dealing with this moment. Sheila and Ruby scream and jump back into the van. There is a snake on the side of the road. Sometimes, I believe when I can handle no more, I do get extra help, even though I am not a religious person.
I call AAA while everyone is safely in the car and request help. We are 35 miles east of Grand Junction, Colorado. I allow the girls to move around in the van and get cold drinks from the cooler and I let Nina out of her safety seat. It takes an hour for the tow truck to get to us. The tow truck was dispatched from Grand Junction. The truck pulls up behind me very close to the van and the driver gets out and comes to my window. He says: “Ma’am, someone was watching out for you today.” Tears start streaming down my cheeks as I agree with him.
I believe it is a good thing for your children to see you as a vulnerable human being. I have such a strong personality that sometimes my children think I am capable of more than I actually am. Sheila becomes a strong ally at this point. Our spare tire is not safe for a long trip. The tow truck driver follows us closely as I go to the tire shop he recommends in Grand Junction.
We are back on the road within the hour with a new tire. Sheila and Ruby begin pestering me about driving all night to save money on the motel room because of the money spent on the new tire. I consider it briefly and then dismiss it because I really need to rest.