The plan was to get up early, drive up to the Panhandle, pick up a bunch of animals (in various places), and drive home. I’d hoped to be home by dark, but I knew it would be more like 10-midnight before we made it in. Hah. Riiight. I stopped in Bowie and picked up a small trailer just to have a little more space for hauling. It had a bad tire so we took it to the nearby tire shop to get that fixed before getting back on the road. That put us just a little bit later than we had planned, but it was still okay. Until we were approaching Wichita Falls. My kids were asleep, and I was having a nice, peaceful drive going about 75 MPH…. Suddenly my daughter bolted upright with a look of horror on her face, “MOM!! WHAT’S WRONG??”
“Um. Okay well there is now…” Trailer was flying behind us, and I knew it was a tire somewhere. Though I thought by the way the trailer was flying that it was the tire on the trailer. I was on an overpass, and I had traffic all around me. I managed to get slowed down and pull off the road, but I really thought I was losing the trailer at least, and at worse, hitting cars or the concrete wall beside me. When I stopped, I was surprised to see the trailer still there and still attached. I got out and walked around… and the trailer tires were fine. Then I saw the truck. Oh my. It was a MASSIVE blowout.
Where I pulled over, I had a choice of being on pavement or being out of the road. I chose out of the road for obvious safety reasons. I said okay… no problem… I can handle a flat. Wrong.
I jacked up the truck and removed the shredded disaster, then I went for the spare. I could not for the life of me get the darn spare loose. It absolutely would not come down. I tried, and I tried. I tried the key in the back, I tried to see if there was any other possible way to get it down manually. I tried with everything I had.
While I was under the truck trying to get the spare, I realized how very comfortable it was. I wanted a nap. Right then. Right there. I needed to curl up and sleep. Seeing the red flags, I fought the urge, crawled out, got my phone, and started asking for help. I started by asking for phone numbers, but NO one answered except one place who answered to tell me they were closed and couldn’t help. Not even the Texas Roadside Assistance answered. State police didn’t answer. Towing… no response… So I posted on FB and went back to work on the tire. I checked in periodically because, well, I was desperate for help. Nothing. No one. No one stopped, no one came. I was already beyond my physical ability (not that it takes much these days) and still pushing because I was stranded.
This is when the decision to do this on the ground and out of the road came to bite me in the ass. The jack shifted, and the truck fell off. No one was under it thank GOD (damn good thing I wasn’t sleeping under there) so no one was hurt, but that put me a lot further from where I needed to be.
I temporarily gave up on the jack, realizing that it could just fall again if I rejacked it and started working on the spare again… so I left it alone (on the ground) to make sure it couldn’t hurt anyone, and I turned back to the problem of getting the spare out. Finally something went well. It worked, and I was finally able to release the spare. So I went to tackle the next part… jack it up, put tire on, get back on road. My brain was cheering and saying, “YOU GOT THIS NOW!!”… my body was saying, “No you don’t.”
Except the jack wouldn’t fit in the place I needed it to because the truck was now too low to the ground. I put the jack in the best place I could and jacked up the truck just as far as it would go. It wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get the spare on – it was inches too low. I reattached the flat thinking that would at least lift the truck to give me a better place to jack it higher. That theory was working, except I couldn’t do any more. I was exhausted and had been on the side of the road for over an hour. Our water and everything was already gone. I was overheated, and with my medical issues, I’d way overdone it as it was.
One of my good friends from DFW realized just how bad it was and that I was not getting help so she got in her car and started driving. I crawled into the front of the truck to try to cool off and rest while I waited for help. My son was really cranky because he’d been stuck in his carseat this whole time, and while we’d kept a door open, it was hot, and he wanted out. I sympathized with him and released him while I laid my chair back to rest. He started getting into all kinds of things. And the AC wasn’t working because we’d been stopped far too long. We were all pouring with sweat, and I was way past my limit. My daughter was telling me how she’d even drink HOT water if she just had anything to drink, and my son was crying because he was thirsty. “Milk please? Juice please? Water please? Drink please?” He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t give him a drink, but we didn’t have anything left.
I was sitting there thinking about how nice it was to crawl under the truck. I had shade and a breeze…. Then I got a really silly idea. I put my son in the cage in the back of my truck, and I crawled in with him. Shade and breeze. Oh, and there’s nothing he can get into except what I give him to play with. BRILLIANT!! My daughter thought I was absolutely insane when I told her we were going to wait in the cage. It worked well for us, and within 5 minutes, my daughter appeared on the tailgate. She tried to lay down and get comfortable, but she was in the sun and was very hot. I commented that she at least needed to get out of the sun. She told me that it’s cooler out there in the sun than it is in the truck. I told her yes, I know, that’s why we’re IN the cage… in the shade with a nice breeze! It didn’t take her long to open the cage and crawl in with us.
So here we are. All three of us in the cage in the back of my pickup, waiting on help that’s coming from 2 hours away just to put a tire on for me because I can’t do it and can’t get help ANYWHERE. We waited and waited. I laid down and tried to rest and breathe, T played, and Mag complained. Cars passed, no one stopped. I gave up trying to get help and just waited because I knew someone was coming, it would just take some time. Then suddenly, we saw two police officers come around the corner. My daughter and I saw them, and we were both going, “Maybe they will stop! Maybe one of them will!…” Lights came on… We’re saved!! I opened the cage and crawled out, the kids followed. Suddenly we were swarmed with FOUR officer cars, all with lights on. Geez. I asked for help, but I didn’t know I needed FOUR officers…. Then another two cars stopped in front of us. Not police cars. By now I’m thoroughly confused. I’d been there for HOURS and no one stopped, now I had everyone. An officer approached first and looked at my kids and I, then he laughed and asked what was going on. I explained my situation, and he and the other officers jumped to work as he was explaining that the reason he had stopped was because someone had called in a 911 call that there was a truck on the side of the road with a bunch of kids in a cage in the back, and they were concerned about child trafficking. LOL!!! So that explains the massive onslaught of officers. Didn’t matter. I had help, and I was thankful.
The people from the other cars approached also and surveyed the situation. They had tea, cold tea even. Then one left. The other offered to let us sit in her car in the AC and cool off. I was really struggling by this time, but eventually, we did all end up in her car while the FOUR officers changed my tire. The other person who had stopped returned with cold water and snacks for all of us. They offered T a bottle, but he was confused and didn’t know what to do with it – we put cold drink in his cup for him, and he was happy. They gave T a change of clothes (cooler clothes) because I’d had him dressed in blue jeans since I knew we were going to be in everyone’s pastures. I was glad I had worn blue jeans after all the crawling around on the ground though. Anyway, these people were all lifesavers. Then it was done. They had the tire changed, and all was good. We could drive again after about 4 hours on the side of the road. Except I couldn’t. I was overheated and unable to walk, much less drive. And the officers weren’t going anywhere until I did so there I sat, waiting to feel like I was able to drive with a crowd of officers behind me. This isn’t going well. My newest friend offered to drive the truck off the road and into the nearby truck stop so we could sit and cool off… and get out of the road. Once I realized that was about my only option, I agreed.
We weren’t in the truck stop very long at all when my friends from DFW arrived. I was feeling a little better (but was apparently still very ill). We rested, and I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but when we left, my friend came with me instead of going home. She wandered all over the panhandle with me all night. What a friend. I’ll admit though, I’m not entirely sure I would have made it without her. I had a very rough evening, especially after my little fiasco.
Add to all of this that my phone died, and I lost touch with everyone I was supposed to be meeting. *sigh* By the time we got to Amarillo, I changed my plans all around, and we started going only to the places where people answered or I knew it was okay to stop. I didn’t hear from the guy in Dumas who had a dog for me so we didn’t drive to Dumas. I did hear from him later, but it was too late as we’d already gone the other direction. I was supposed to pick up a calf, but because I was soooo late, it just didn’t happen. I did get the 2 goats I had planned on getting though. I went to pick up another dog as well, but it was sometime in the middle of the night, and things didn’t go well with that pickup. I was supposed to just grab the dog from the backyard (owner knew, I wasn’t dognapping). First, there were multiple dogs there, and I was expecting only one. The other thing that was mentioned was that this was the only one who will let you grab the collar. So when I opened the gate, several barked, and ONE came running up to me and let me grab its collar. I went, “Um. Okay….” I tried to call the person I was picking up from (she wasn’t there), but I couldn’t get through. I was going, this is the one that let me grab its collar, but I don’t think this one is right. I finally shined a light on it just to make extra sure, and it was definitely NOT the dog I was after. I finally found the one I was after curled up and hiding. The dog was scared and didn’t want to come. My daughter picked him up and carried him to the truck. This was a dog we were excited about picking up and making a part of our family. Then when I opened the truck for her to put the dog in, he freaked out, pushed away, and took off running. We tried and tried to catch him. Every time we got within 15 feet, he ran. We couldn’t even get close enough to corner him, then we lost him. We found him, we lost him. We found him, we lost him. I tried calling for help, but I got no answer (story of my life at this point LOL). We kept trying until we lost him and absolutely could not find him again. Then we said okay, well… I feel terrible, but I can’t chase this dog all night. I still have more stop and then to drive ALL the way back home. So we got in the truck empty handed and started off…. And we saw him. We stopped the truck and rolled a window down… and he was gone again. I kept trying to get the owner on the phone, but I finally gave up and kept going. We picked up Pixie, Shadow, and Lady in Claude last. All were happy to see me. We put Lady in the backseat, and Pixie sat in my lap. We tied Shadow down in the back, and we took off. When we stopped again, Shadow was gone. The tie was there, but she was not in the truck. As of now, Shadow is still missing, but we have a search going for her. I sincerely hope she jumped out while we were stopped either for gas or at a light or something and not while we were driving down the road. So in the end, we made it home safely with “Bad Bad” aka Leroy, “Lacy”, “Lady”, and Pixie. We got home close to 8 am this morning and unloaded what we had. I put out food and water and such, then went to bed. I only slept a couple hours. I need more, but I just can’t. I’m feeling physically ill after this trip. Heat, overdoing it, lack of sleep, dehydration, it was just too much. I am very, very thankful though for everyone who helped.
And as a closing thought… if I’d known all I had to do to get help was get in the cage with my kids, I’d have done that HOURS earlier. If you’re ever stranded and need help, just go hide in a cage and wait.