Our westward adventure began last week driving to Oregon in a large U-Haul. We consider it practice for driving a large van. Not only did we still get along spending 12 hours/day driving, we actually had some nice conversations! Our cargo was a half-built airplane. As many friends know, I started building a Zenith 601XL in 2005 before running out of steam about halfway through. For the last decade or so the half-built airplane has been sitting in my basement. Through a chance meeting on the gondola at Kicking Horse Resort in British Columbia last February with a guy from Joseph, OR, I had decided to donate the plane to the aviation/STEM program at Joseph High School.
The approximately 2800 mile, 44-hour drive (NH-VT-NY-PA-OH-IN-IL-IA-NE-WY-ID-OR – interestingly our route included every state starting with an I) was largely uneventful. In case you were not aware, we grow an awful lot of corn here in America. Nearly every day started and ended with a view of a cornfield! The one bit of excitement in the otherwise routine journey was the back-to-back blown trailer tires in Wyoming about 9:00 p.m. on day 3. I knew heading out that my trailer spare was junk, but I thought that by taking the spare I would be warding off bad luck. Nope! Tire number one was only good for the first 2000 miles of this adventure. Fortunately a helpful passing motorist and a tire shop open until 11:00 p.m. saved us.
The good samaritan alerted us immediately when the first tire started to go flat and disintegrate, then even stopped to help us change the tire. Unfortunately, the rotten spare only lasted about 1/2 a mile and then blew out even worse, destroying my trailer light with whipping tire shrapnel. We grabbed the original tire and abandoned the trailer on the side of I-80 just outside Sinclair, WY. We found the one tire shop open late in Rawlins, WY about 10 miles down the road and coincidentally they had three tires the size we needed. After replacing the one tire we drove back out to change out the blown spare with the new tire (after stopping at Walmart for the tools we should have already had with us). We managed to retrieve the trailer and get back to the tire shop at 10:30 p.m. They replaced the blown spare, and as the shop just happened to have three tires in our size we decided to be smart and get the last tire replaced as well. In the end we only lost two hours of our day and put an unexpected dent in the credit card, but we ended up with three new tires. Considering all that could have gone wrong and the places it could have gone wrong, this was a small price to pay.
On Tuesday we were able to meet up with the teacher at Joseph (OR) High School and get the plane unloaded into his shop. I can only hope the kids enjoy finishing what I have started. Someday I’m expecting to go for a ride in a plane I half-built!
Welcome to Vermont!
Welcome to New York!
Welcome to Pennsylvania!
Welcome to Indiana!
Welcome to Illinois!
Welcome to Nebraska!
Welcome to Idaho!