We had to check out by 10:00 am Saturday, and me, Casey and Jones were the last three to go. We had already decided to drive the 30 minutes into Charlotte and spend the night there. Poke around, see the sights, delay returning to reality for one more 24 hour period, etc. We had kept the pontoon boat to use for a few hours before we left, and we spent a lovely couple of hours on the lake, having lunch, and enjoying the gorgeous weather. It really was fantastic weather, the whole trip. It only stormed badly once, and only for ten minutes. Unfortunately, it was the ten minutes in which I was alone in the pontoon, driving it across the lake to return to the marina.
I could see the rain coming across the lake, headed right at me. MAN there is just nothing better than driving a pontoon boat in a thunderstorm with high winds! It’s like riding a bike through a cyclone. Piece of cake!
And for those that might say, well, Bethany. Did you check the weather? Yes. Yes, all of you saying that. I DID check the weather. There was no rain being called for until 2, and this was at 1. Apparently the rain didn’t get the memo, or is confused by time zones, because it unleashed itself upon me in all of its terrible glory. Strike one for Last Day of Vacation.
Despite Mother Nature’s temper tantrum, I got the boat docked safely and made my way to meet Casey and Jones. Of course I was drenched and not in the best of moods, which for some reason is never not funny to Casey. I wasn’t even all the way in the truck before he started smirking, ‘Nice ride over, baby?’
I decided to let Casey live, despite his remark, and we were off for Charlotte. Lake Norman is only about 30 miles away, but it’s a pretty rural 30 miles. We were about 5 miles out when the truck started bucking and thumping. Aw, crap. We had a flat tire.
Or so we thought. Casey gets out to inspect it, and turns out, nope. The front right brake had completely locked. That wheel wasn’t going anywhere. A flat tire, you can change. A locked brake? Time to call AAA. Strike two for Last Day of Vacation.
We had to wait for two hours for the tow truck to arrive. During this time we made up songs, told our favorite stories from vacation, and taught Jones French.
Just kidding. We gave Jones the iPad and passed the time looking at our phones.
Do you know who was DELIGHTED by all of this? Jones. He kept looking up from Minecraft to say, ‘I’m going to get to see a real tow truck!’ Seriously. He was the most excited little guy ever. Then the tow truck got there.And he realized he was going to RIDE IN THE TOW TRUCK.
Mind.Blown. (note the iPad to his left. I am a terrible parent) (also, that’s his right. I’m a terrible parent and I don’t know my left from my right)
We get towed to Meineke for what we think is a brake and rotor fix. They throw the truck up on the lift and….
Mechanic: Did you recently have your brakes changed?
Casey: Yes, why?
Mechanic: Because whoever did it left a lug nut lose on the right rear tire, and the vibrations snapped off all the posts holding your tire on. Your tire was literally about to fall off.
He wiggled the tire for effect. Trust me, you don’t ever want to see a tire that you were JUST driving on wiggle like that. Ever.
It hit me like that storm over Lake Norman. Tire. Fall off. Of car that we were driving 70 mph on the highway. Right side. Where my son sits. Where Casey sits. I almost threw up right then and there. I have never been more grateful for a locked brake in all of my life.
Clearly we weren’t getting the truck back that day, and they were closed Sunday. We already had a hotel room for that night, and were able to extend Casey’s stay to Monday. I kept my original plan to fly out Sunday. Thankfully this Meineke gave customers loaners, so a few hours later than planned, we were off to explore Charlotte.
We were almost there when they called to give the estimate; $1800. That, my friends, is a lot of cheddar. If it wasn’t for the fact that we had narrowly avoided a potentially catastrophic situation, I would have balked at the amount. As it was, I was so friggin grateful to be alive, I would gladly pay all of that and more.
It had been a long, long day though. Very long. Little man crapped out about five minutes before we pulled in to the hotel.After that long of a day, almost having your tire come off, and a five minute nap, you can imagine how tired and cranky we ALL were. So in order to have a semi-decent dinner, I let Jones use his iPad.
And Casey use his phone to watch the Pirates.The next time you’re at a restaurant and you see a little one on a tablet, don’t be so quick to judge. You never know what that family’s day was like leading up to this dinner. They could have had a near-death experience and were exhausted, or, they could just be shitty parents. I’m just saying don’t judge, because you don’t know.
Hopefully Casey can get the car back tomorrow. Him and Jones made the best of their last night in Charlotte. They hit up a Knights game and poked around the city. Me? I sat at the Atlanta airport during an hour and a half delay and wrote a blog post about how bad Last Day of Vacation sucks.
Airport delays suck, too. But this one? I sort of didn’t mind. Considering I almost wasn’t here to enjoy it, I’m going to not do my usual bitching-about-travel blog, and just be grateful for that one locked brake.
Yours from 35,000 feet,