I learned long ago that life doesn’t stop happening while traveling. Things break, dogs need to go to vets, and… tires need to be fixed. It is all part of the adventure. I try to laugh and go with the flow.
Driving south a trailer tire blew. I wasn’t going to put on the spare myself, the last time I changed a flat tire was in high school over 40 years ago. So, I called for road side service and Rick showed up knocking on my window within ten minutes of my call for help. He put on my spare plus called around to find me a place to go to that would replace my tires. I no longer had any faith in these tires. I drove on to Big Brand Tires where they sold and installed two new tires for me.
The good news was that within 1 1/2 hours after blowing the tire I had: Rick come and put the spare on, drove to town, bought two new tires, had them installed, and was on the road again. Everything worked out and I laughed to myself about doing my bit to help the economy, all in 1 1/2 hours.
A few days later I was camping in Panamint Valley. A nice middle of nowhere site. No one was around me I thought (more on my unknown neighbor in a bit).
Off I drove my first morning there to explore some old mining camps, except… life happened again with another flat tire, this time on the truck. This was my fault. I had bought a new truck last year and hadn’t switched the tires to off road tires. And now I was in the middle of nowhere with a flat. No cell service. Maybe someone would come by on the road in a couple of hours or so. But I didn’t think acting helpless and waiting for someone to drive by was the best approach. I got the truck manual out and started reading the directions on how to find the spare tire and how to install the spare tire. One fear I had was that I wouldn’t be strong enough to loosen the lug nuts. My fear was justified, one of the lug nuts was stubborn and wouldn’t budge. Darn. I gave myself a pep talk about – just one more lug nut to go. Don’t quit now. With an extra oomhp I got it loose. After an hour I finally had the spare tire on and I was ready to drive into Trona to get the flat fixed and talk about new tires. With cell service at Trona I made an appointment for the next day in Ridgecrest to have four new ten ply tires installed plus I got the flat fixed in Trona. Success. Before you think I was totally irresponsible to be almost in the middle of nowhere and not be properly prepared, I have an InReach so I could have sent a message to get help if needed and I had food and water with me. If required, I could have stayed there for days.
And life continued to happen. On my way to Ridgecrest to get the new tires the next day, a couple of miles from camp I was flagged down by a scruffy looking guy who had a dead battery and needed a jump. I had a neighbor in this middle of nowhere place. He was camped at a stone quarry near by. Phil had walked a couple of miles from his camp to the road and more, hoping to flag someone down. He said he was living at a quarry working stone. After some discussion of logistics, I gave Phil a ride to the quarry road and told him I would be back to help him that afternoon after I got the new tires put on.
Some may question my sanity in letting a scruffy guy into my truck but I had no choice. Not helping him was not an option.
Coming back from Ridgecrest I found the quarry road and ventured up it. At a Y, he had left me a sign that indicated PHIL with an arrow pointing the way. Up I drove to help a scruffy homeless guy. I found Phil at an abandoned marble quarry. I learned that there was high quality marble at this quarry that was somewhat translucent. And I learned that Phil was no scruffy homeless guy. Yes he was scruffy but that was because he is an accomplished artist that creates stone sculptures and works surrounded by stone dust. This was his outdoor artist studio. He showed me his portfolio and his work was amazing. Really, really amazing. He had gone to Italy as a young lad and learned the technique and enhanced his talent. He has been creating sculptures his entire life and was now 72. He gave me a general lesson on the method. First he creates a clay sculpture. Then using a tool he transfers the cut lines to the stone.
After helping Phil with a jump and chatting, I drove to my camp. It was this too late to start exploring today. But I kept thinking about amazing Phil.
Life is good and this “life happens” was an extraordinary experience.