Part of the (almost) daily adventure of my life is my commute. It's not something I particularly enjoy-56 miles in the car, or 1 hour 15 minutes depending on traffic, each way can get pretty old pretty fast. Some days the commute seems shorter than others, but it's part of my life and I try not to complain too much about it. The negatives to it are pretty huge: leaving a big carbon footprint, using tons of fuel, time spent driving when it could be spent doing more useful or exciting things... But the positives are pretty huge to: most importantly, a job (it's the closest I could find) at a place I love with people who are really great, having a house, and enforced time to sit and think or pray, which I would otherwise fill with reading, memorizing vocab, or any number of other things I "have" to get done. My daily drive is often a time when I can just think through things or notice the changing seasons or just talk to God. That's a plus.
But part of what comes with driving is the safety issue. R is a great car guy-he takes cars that just don't work anymore and makes them run beautifully. He got my car, Jack Sparrow, last summer for under 200 dollars. It had been sitting in some guy's garage for five years, but it's relatively rust free (which is huge in New England) and it runs well and I like it. So win-win. When he got the car driving again, he noticed a road noise that wasn't going on in his Subaru, or in the one I owned at the time. This was unique to this car. But it wasn't messing with the driving ability of the vehicle at all, so we both assumed it was the tires being slightly out of round from sitting for so long (although I think R did think it could be a suspension issue as well).
The tire-noise relationship was pretty much confirmed when I switched out the all-weathers for snow tires in December and the noise went away. Then in March I put the all-weathers back on, with the former rear tires going in the front, as you're supposed to do on Subaru's (some other cars involve changing sides too, but not on these cars). Well, the road noise was back and accompanied by a steering wheel jerking that I hadn't noticed in the fall. It had been getting progressively worse, in my mind, but I thought I was just being paranoid.
I was driving down the Mass Pike with R in the passenger seat on my way to work. It was about 7:30 in the morning (I like to get there before I have to teach Sunday School so I can collect myself) and traffic was thus pretty light, as it usually is on Sunday mornings. Driving in the right lane at about 65 mph all of a sudden we hear a loud pop, the front passenger side of the car lowers, R says "stop stop stop!" as I quickly pull into the emergency lane and come to a stop (this is the second time I've had to make an insane yet wonderfully executed emergency stop like this, the first time having been with R again in the passenger seat on the way home from work in the dark and rain when a huge truck ran me off the highway because he doesn't know how to check his mirrors...that was scary).
Here comes my favorite part of the whole event: R gets out of the car looks down and says "yep, looks like we lost the front wheel." I'm thinking to myself "holy sh$%! the whole front wheel? Wouldn't there have been sparks and flames or something?" Obviously he just meant the tire. The picture at the top is the epic fail blowout I had. There was a hunk of tire that fell off on the side of the highway and the steel band was broken and sticking out. I mean, this wasn't just a little blowout. It was huge. The tire was mangled like I've never seen a mangled tire before. Crazy.
Now, to be fair I could have handled all of this on my own just fine. I've known how to change a tire since I was a teenager and have done it often enough (for example, I change out my own all weathers to snow tires and vice-versa every year), so this wouldn't have been a big deal. But it would have been messy, and as I was in a skirt and clerical shirt (no collar though, as it was at the office) and still had to go do services at 10:30, R was very dashing and did all of the tire changing for me so I wouldn't have to get dirty. A state trooper pulled over and after making sure we were alright parked behind us so folks would get out of the right lane, as there's a slow done-change lane law in MA when there's an emergency vehicle (although after this experience I think it should be for all breakdowns, as there were some folks cutting it a little close, I felt, and we were obviously changing a tire).
Then we drove to the next plaza, which was only a mile away, R washed his hands, and we were off to work. He then went and got me four new tires, as we didn't know how old the rear two were, and it made sense to replace all four. R tells me that the steel band had broken sometime when the former owner had it, and that was the road noise. It got worse when the tires were put on the front, and finally gave out on Sunday-hence the huge bits of steel hanging out of the dead tire.
Needless to say, it wasn't a suspension issue. Thank God for light Sunday morning traffic. Thank God for driving in the right lane. Thank God for brakes that work. But most of all, Thank God for our safety. For serious, yo.
The other "epic fail" of the last week is my poison ivy. I wasn't allergic to this stuff as a kid, but somehow developed a sensitivity in the past few years. October 2008 I had a short bout with the stuff, and ended up having to get a steroid cream when it spread from my right wrist to my stomach. This time it went left ankle-left heel-right wrist-stomach-left ankle. Insane. And I can't figure out where it is-I know it's in the backyard, but as I've only gotten it in the fall and spring I think it's when it's either coming up (and therefore I'm not likely to see it immediately when doing yard work) or wilted (in which case I also wouldn't notice it), but either way the oils are still active and pesky. This time, after hoping for a week it would just go away but watching it spread, I had to get the oral prednisone to help out. I read online that poison ivy takes it out of you, but I didn't believe it. Now I do-at the doctor's office my blood pressure was a little high, and every time I've tried to work out this week it's been kind of tough. I seriously think it's the combo of the poison ivy all over me and the meds. Lame-o-la. But hopefully it will all be gone by the weekend (it seems to be clearing up already. Knock on wood).
In summary: tire blowout=fail. Poison ivy=fail.