Other than the usual interstate traffic, everything was going smoothly as we headed south in our motorhome, Pearl. Barry was driving us on I-95 on our way back to Florida from North Carolina, where we'd spent some time with my (Emily's) mother and step-father and gone to a few medical/dental appointments. We were just thirteen miles north of our campground for the night, in Eulonia, Georgia, where we expect to pull in at about 3:30 pm. Ironically I was even being silly and singing "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" when it happened.
All of a sudden, the most sickening BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG happened.
I can't even describe how loud it was, but I can still hear it in my mind's ear, if that is a thing. I knew immediately that we'd had a rear-tire blowout. There's just nothing else that sounds quite like that.
Barry did an admirable job of handling Pearl exactly the way all the websites and manuals say to when you have a blowout. Accelerate slightly, stay straight, then very gradually pull off the road and come to a safe stop. It was the inner tire of the passenger-side rear dually pair. We were very fortunate that we were in the right lane when it happened and that there was an extremely wide shoulder on that stretch of highway. In addition to the normal shoulder, there was a wide parking area to the right of the shoulder, for trucks I presume. This area gave us even more room to pull off without being so close to the eighteen wheelers flying by at 70+ mph. It was disconcerting enough even with the space we had as every one that passed us shook our coach. Poor Pearl!
Barry immediately got on the phone to our roadside assistance, and before he even finished talking to the rep, a Georgia 511 highway assistance patrol truck had pulled up behind us to see if he could help. He couldn't, since we didn't have a spare, but it was nice that he stopped.
Minutes after Barry reported the problem, a local tire service, Triple J, pulled up. That was quick! We thought they could change the tire on the side of the highway, but that was not to be. Instead, since we still had one rear wheel on that axle, they instructed us to drive Pearl with them to their shop.
We were pretty nervous driving on the one tire on such a hot day and took it slowly with hazard lights flashing. The rear passenger side is the heaviest side of our coach, where the refrigerator, the generator, and all our food and pantry supplies reside, and tire pressures get pretty high on a long drive when the day is as hot as it was -- around 100F.
We had to drive four miles south on I-95, then five miles west on a side road, to get to the shop. Right as we pulled in, we hit the high-pressure limit on our TPMS (tire-pressure monitoring system) on the remaining rear passenger-side tire), and triggered an alarm. But we were there.
This was not a city tire shop, that's for sure. We were in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
But they had the size tire we needed in stock and wasted no time changing it.
Here's what the old tire looked like. Completely shredded. These tires were only five years old. Most RVers replace tires at the six- or seven-year point, some go even longer.
I mentioned that it was a very hot day. We couldn't run the generator (and thus the air-conditioning) while the technician was changing the tire, as it is located in a bay right near where he was working, so it got pretty warm inside Pearl while Paisley and I were waiting. I took this photo before the inside temperature got up to 91F, which it did. But the outside temperature gauge in an outer bin shows the misery that the technician was working in.
We were on our way pretty quickly, though, and our wallet was only $400 lighter. It could have been worse, I keep saying. We sure do have bad luck in Georgia, though. That's where I had my bike accident and fractured my jaw and thumb in April 2017.
We made it to the campground at 5 pm, only 90 minutes past schedule. I was more than ready for a glass of wine!
Our second day of driving was uneventful, but we were nervous the entire time. Neither of us breathed easy until we were parked up in our spot in Winter Garden.
Unfortunately, after further inspection, there is other collateral damage from the blowout. We lost the mudguard behind that tire, and the aluminum guard that protects the outside bin right above the tire is mangled. The floor of the bin was pushed up, and our inverter, which resided in that bin, seems to be toast. Some of the circuits, including the one that powers both our televisions, were tied into the inverter, so these no longer function. Barry has an extension cord temporarily in use to plug the front TV into the closest functioning AC outlet in the coach. The bedroom TV is still out of commission.
Barry is still assessing the damage, and we'll need to decide whether to make a claim with our insurance or to DIY a fix. Will depend on our deductible and how much needs to be fixed. We may just do without an inverter if he can get the TV outlets functioning again.
In the meantime, we're very thankful that it wasn't any worse than it was. For now we're relieved that we don't have to drive anywhere anytime soon, courtesy of my orthodontia keeping us in this area. While we don't want to be here indefinitely, for the moment, it feels pretty good.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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