I have incredibly bad luck when it comes to tires. Doesn’t matter if it’s my own car or a rental – if there’s anything even remotely sharp on the road, I’m going to get a flat. I finally got through one entire field trip without a flat last spring and I was so happy I almost cried. Seriously, I am cursed.
Today I’m doing something extra random for Friday 5 by highlighting some of the many flat tires that I’ve gotten on field trips for the entomology classes I’ve taught or on insect collecting trips with my sister. (See, there IS a connection between insects and this topic!) These are the 5 most memorable:
Flats #1 and #2: White Mountains, Arizona, April 2005
I taught the lab for aquatic entomology in 2005. We had the worst vehicle ever on that trip, a van with endless problems. Honestly, the flats were the least of our problems! Flat #1 occurred when we ran over a nail, so we spent part of a day in a nearby small town getting it fixed before moving on. Nothing like spending a few hours at the mechanic’s when you’re supposed to be collecting in amazing mountain streams! The following day, we has to deal with some nasty driving weather:
Then one of the tires just sort of… gave out. The tire split apart all the way around! This was on a tiny, curvy road in middle of nowhere, so we had to drive about a mile on the rim to find a place to change the tire. When we finally reached a pullout and started to change the tire, the jack broke. Two of the students had brought their own cars, so we used one of their jacks. The second jack broke too. The third jack worked:
…and after an hour or so of futzing with the tires, we were on our way back home. Worst car troubles ever on that trip!
Flat #3: Tamiami Trail, Florida, March 2006
My sister the park ranger has lived in awesome places over the past decade. She lives in the National Parks where she works, so I unfortunately can’t collect around her house. When I visited her in the Everglades, we decided to go to Big Cypress one day and do some bug collecting outside of the parks. We started down the Tamiami Trail and were about 15 miles from nowhere when we got a flat. My sister and I have gotten so many flats together we’re skilled tire changers, so we hauled out the jack and lug wrench. We quickly learned that the jack was 4 inches too short, fully extended! Apart from dismantling the guard rail (which we did consider), there wasn’t anything we could prop the jack up on to make it work.
So, we sat on the side of the road for over 2 hours, waiting for a tow truck to come from Miami with a jack. When the driver finally did come, he took one look at the canal alongside the road:
…and freaked, absolutely terrified that an alligator was going to get him. An hour later when the tire was FINALLY changed – the tow guy whined about the canal most of that time and even made us stand between him and the canal when he got under the truck! – we decided not to tempt fate by continuing on our trip and turned around and went home instead. I didn’t bring back a single insect specimen from Florida! Did get a lot of photos of Florida bugs though, and that’s nearly as good – and doesn’t get nearly as many strange/horrified looks on the plane back. :)
Flat #4: San Pedro River near Mammoth, Arizona, April 2007
This flat was on another class field trip. We were headed up to the White Mountains to collect aquatic insects and stopped off at the San Pedro river on the way. We traveled down this impeccably maintained dirt road, then pulled off near the river. As we ate our lunch, one student noticed the tire hissing. By the time we’d eaten, the tire was completely flat.
We soon discovered the cause: I ran over an arrowhead shaped rock! (Don’t think it was actually an arrowhead, but I kept it just in case…) It was lodged in the tire, the one thing that could have possibly caused a flat on that road. Figures… We did get some interesting bugs out of the stop though! And the San Pedro through that area is absolutely gorgeous:
Flat #5: I-19 southBound, 2009
Last time I taught the aquatic entomology lab, we almost made it through the whole 3 day collecting tour of southern Arizona without a flat. On the way to the last collecting site of the trip (and 30 miles from home) we got our traditional flat.
Much to the amusement of the females of the group, the guys got out and started working on the tire, but everyone had a different opinion about how to do it. Ever watch a bunch of guys trying to make a campfire as a group? It was like that! The tire was eventually changed and then we turned around and headed home. Hopefully this will be my last field trip flat ever!
On the other hand, it almost wouldn’t be a proper field trip without a flat! These are only a handful of the many, many flats I’ve experienced while collecting bugs or going on field trips. Anyone know of any good talismans against flat tires? Saints? Anything? I could really use some help. :)
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