After we made it through Misery in Missouri, the trip seemed to go a little better. We had been driving for about six hours when we reached the Arkansas border. Our destination, the town of Jasper, was only two hours away.
Caleb and I both agreed that the rolling hills and winding switchbacks seemed harder to navigate than the steep mountains of Colorado. Caleb did a great job of keeping Beast and Thistle on the road, despite many hairpin turns on two-lane country roads.
Somewhere about 10 miles outside of Jasper, I heard a faint grinding sound coming from Thistle. I only seemed to hear it when we made a sharp turn and assumed it was the sway bars or something. Looking back, I should have mentioned this to Caleb.
Meanwhile a car was following us very close behind and we assumed he was probably annoyed that we were going so slow. Caleb took the first opportunity he saw to pull off the road and let the car pass us. The car stayed behind us, so we just kept moving.
I kept hearing the noise and it was getting louder, so I mentioned it to Caleb. We both listened intently and Caleb checked his mirrors. Sure enough, sparks were coming from the rear drivers side of the RV. Crap.
We had to keep driving for a while since the roads are so narrow and steep. We finally pulled off in an area called Dead Man’s Curve. Of course, this sounds like the perfect place to breakdown, then get murdered. Thankfully the man in the car behind us also stopped and lent us a hand. He said he had been following us for about ten miles trying to get our attention.
The man promptly called a friend in town with a tow truck who came right away. The mechanic changed our tire, which took about an hour and a half because the rim was bent all out of shape. However, we discovered that our biggest problem was not the tire but the damage the tire created. As the rubber part flapped down the road it whacked off the pipes and valves for both our gray and black tanks.
Thankfully we were able to get to our campground before night fall, but not before the total embarrassment of having all of our bank cards be denied when the mechanic ran them. I tried to explain that we had trouble with the banks freezing our accounts, but the mechanic just looked at me like I was the biggest liar he’d ever seen. We had no way to pay him and were totally humiliated. Thankfully, the mechanic’s wife took pity on us and suggested we come by and pay in the morning. Glory Hallelujah!
We were able to get everything sorted out and the mechanic paid the next day. It was an exhausting and humbling experience to say the least. We are so thankful that the damage wasn’t worse and that we were not injured (anymore than our pride, at least). We have insurance on Thistle and we hope to have our tank valves fixed soon. In the meantime, the campground we are in has a bathroom and shower that we can use.
This whole debacle really made me think about giving people the benefit of doubt. So often we judge people only by what we can see. I hope to be more like the sweet mechanic’s wife, who trusted beyond what her eyes could see. She had mercy on us and I will never forget that.