Most of us know the feeling of having a flat tire on the road, and whether that feeling to you is, call AAA or get out the cones, either way you need to be prepared to be stranded. While AAA or some type of road side assistance insurance is a fantastic commodity especially if you lock your keys in your car, or run out of gas, what if you don’t have cell phone service, or are out of their service area?
Are you prepared for these emergencies? We were, or so we thought.
There we were, we had been traveling all over Alaska and knew we had a spare tire. We checked our air before we left and never gave it another thought. We had camped out in Cantwell, then decided to make a go of the Denali Highway and cut across to Paxson then on up to Delta, hit Fairbanks and then make a round back to Palmer. We had a great trip, camping off the dirt road along the way. We stopped in Fairbanks at the RV Park and showered; we stayed there a few days and decided to hit the road.
We got about a hundred miles or so away through all the hills and almost made Denali North, the scenery is beautiful and we were taking our time. Then BLAMO! Out of nowhere we blew a tire! We pulled over and limped to a place we could safely pull off the highway, no cell service, no sign of another car for miles!
We went to work. First order of business, jack up the axle so we’re not ruining the wheel. Once we had it supported and secured the major task was unraveling the rubber that had peeled off and wrapped around the brakes, axles and everywhere in-between. Supper happy we had leather gloves because those radial wires are not nice!
Next task swapping the tire out for our spare, AND…. Drum roll please…. The spare tire was freaking FLAT! Yep it was supposed to be 80 psi, it had 25 psi! Wait we have an air tank.. let’s add what we can and limp on down the road…
Great idea until the tire in front of the spare we had just put on blew… Yep that was number two! And we had NO spare this time because it was already on there!
We made it to Denali North and got a tiny bit of service. We called for roadside assistance, they wanted to send a semi flatbed to load and tow us back to Fairbanks…. Seriously! AND it would be at least 24 maybe 48 hours. Um, NO we were like 70 miles from Trapper Creek a town with a tire shop, so we unhitched, jacked up both axles took both wheels to town. They inflated one and used an old used tire they found in the yard for the other. We also had them inflate the air tank just in case.
After a long trip back to where we had dropped the trailer we fixed both tires and hitched back up. We stayed that night in Denali North!
You would think after all of that we would have learned our lesson! Nope, once again, different trailer, the lug nuts came loose about 200 miles into our trip and the freaking hub broke off! Yep there we were driving along, and the wobbling started. I was following Mark and radioed him to tell him there was something wrong but it was too late. The tire took off across the road and we were stranded again. Not too far from Soldotna this time, Mark ran back and got a hub, only problem, the tire was blown! No spare and no freaking way to go anywhere without a new one. Luckily for us a friend drove a hundred miles with a spare tire.
As if twice isn’t enough, third time must be a charm! Same trailer, our food truck, we were on our way to set up at the Iditarod restart. Within two miles of our destination the damn axle broke! This time we had a spare but the axle sheered right off and there went the tire across the road! It took us 2 hours to go two miles! No saving this one. We had to drop the trailer and hire someone to put new axles, hubs, and tires on it.
Learn from our experiences and always feel the hubs for excessive heat anytime you stop to get gas, Check your tire pressure once or twice a trip, and make sure you have a spare and it has air in it! Always before you roll out, grease your hubs and check your tire pressure. Having an air tank, tire plugs, and an extra jack is also a good idea, it saved us. If your road tripping a long ways, bring a flash light, battery jumper, and if possible a spare hub and some tools!
You never know when the unfortunate will happen, but being prepared and resourceful just might save you!
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