Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 6: Missoula, MT to Rapid City, SD

Mileage: 674
Total Mileage: 3242

It was sad leaving Missoula, but we had to go onward to our next destination, Debbie's new home, Rapid City, SD. We saw lots of cows on the way.This was the day I had car trouble. Even with a good car things do happen. This was one of those days when you wonder what would have happened if you didn’t pull off of the road in time. One of those days when you realize that literally everything you own that is worth anything could have become fierce projectiles if things would have happened differently and you would have rolled.

Debbie and I hit the road east on I-90, heading for Rapid City, SD. Beautiful morning, it was sad to leave LeeAnn and wonder when we’ll meet again. The familiar face that I’ve known for 6 years, the somewhat familar town, the hike, the nightlife, the after hours pizza. I was driving starting out on a 75mph speed limit highway, booking between 75 and 80, which seems so fast to me. I noticed that the alignment of my steering wheel was funky, something I didn’t notice previously. It kept swerving to the right.. huh. Well that sucks, is what I thought. Then, all of a sudden the car got really shaky, and at first I was thinking it was the road since I was going close to 80, but it didn’t seem to matter if I slowed down or not. I pulled off at the next gas station, and Debbie suggested first that we check and make sure the tires were not loose. No loose tires. Okay. She called her husband, and I called my Dad. Dad said that the tire may have a bubble in it and to see anything and notice if we could feel the tire rolling uneven at a slow speed. If so, we could be close to a blowout. Sure enough, he was right. Never doubt the advice of a 72 year old man who worked on cars his whole life. I had to get back on the highway to get to the nearest tire shop in Butte a couple miles down the road. I was that jerk going 30mph with my blinkers on through a one lane construction area for a mile. HA! Really big pickup truck, it’s not going to help anyone if you tailgate me right now. Get off my back, k thanks. In Butte, we stopped at a gas station, looked and there was one big honkin’ bulge in the front right tire about to explode, with a slight tear already in the tire. Phew, that was close. That could have been the end of my car, my friends’ canoe, my bike, guitar, research laptop, and potentially our health and life. I’ve had these moments before, ones that make you realize in the matter of seconds what really matters. Since all of the tire shops are closed on Sundays, we put the spare on (in a graupel-squall), and headed back east to SD. Now I am a seasoned tire changer.
On the left side of the tire is where you can really see the bulge. A hole had already developed and this tire was about to blow.

Debbie documents my first tire change. Note the graupel falling.

Montana is pretty. I like it a lot down here, though I’m not 100% sure that it is for me. I think I might be able to do it for awhile. The great wide open is awesome, and maybe it is just the time of year but things are really dry down here. The color contrast isn’t much compared to Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta , but again maybe it’s just this time of year. Part of me though still sees this image of living on a big plot of land in the hills with a view of a sunset that can blow anyone away.
Not to mention the cool skies. I guess Montana is called "Big Sky" for a reason.
We passed a few Indian reservations on the way to Rapid City.
We didn't get photos at ALL of the state signs, but we stopped at Wyoming, since I was looking into going to grad school here a few years ago and imagined living there someday.

We rolled into South Dakota pretty late, but successfully made our destination. When I arrived at Josh and Debbie's house, we found out that the other front tire was beginning to bulge as well. Something to take care of in the morning.

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