The plan for today is to get a little closer to Sydney, Maine. I’m due there Sunday eve for a meeting to start the 2017 New England Adult Music Camp at the Snow Pond Center. Pam has some spots picked out on the DeLorme over near Moscow which is about 30 or so miles from Sydney. We’ll start with a stop in Greenville for some coffee and maybe a few supplies at the grocery store. It’s probably close to 11 by the time we get going. We stop at the coffee shop on the hill headed out of town. I gripe about the setup of the coffee shop. Everything is a bottleneck to the register and nobody knows where to stand or move to and it makes things all messed up even there’s only six or seven people in there. I’d make it so the register is away from everything, near the door. Get ’em in, get ’em out, lots of space for eveyone to ogle the sweets but plenty of room for folks who just want to grab a coffee and hit the road.
Next door at the grocery store we grab some stuff for dinner. Chicken and some vegetables and some apple fritters to chow while we’re finding the next spot. Then we’re on our way. We pass the State of Maine DPW lot which, we were told on our first trip to Moosehead, was a good spot to see moose. It’s kinda marshy and I bet it is a good spot at the right time of day. We head off the main road and after a mile or two, three, the road we’re on turns to dirt. We’ve been cruising around on dirt roads a lot so this is just more of the same. We pass a large group of ATV’s parked on the left side of the road. Soon after that, I hear a rock stuck in one of the tires. I pull over and pull one out. I pull away and still hear the rock and then, I hear air coming out of the tire. !@#$ a flat! We’ve driven this baby all the way to Montana and back. All over the Northeast, Virginia, North Carolina, blah, blah, blah, and we’ve been incredibly lucky and NEVER had a flat! I pull over in a turnout at the top of someone’s PAVED driveway. Pam wisely tells me to level it out as much as I can. We hop out and take a look. Driver’s side rear – flat as piss on a plate.
We have a bike rack on the back. We open it up and I start to wonder about the jack and lug wrench. Where the hell are they? I remember seeing them…oh yeah, in the coach battery storage area. I pull them out. I know the spare is stored under the rear of the van. I have no idea how to get it down but we have the manual with us so we should be cool. I try to loosen the lug nuts before jacking her up and the lug wrench doesn’t fit the lugs! The gent we bought the van from had the Gowesty lift kit put on it, which is awesome and the main reason we can drive into the woods in Moosehead without bottoming out, but the tires are 16″ instead of the stock 15″ and this must be a stock lug wrench. I have some tools with me so I try some of the sockets to see if they fit. One does, a 17mm but it’s a 1/2 inch socket, all I have is a 3/8th driver. SO CLOSE…@#$%!! Well, thank goodness for BIKES! I hop on Roger Goldenberg’s bike and tell Pam, “see you when I see ya!”
I’m going to try and find a 1/2 inch driver for my socket. That’s the main thing on my mind. If i have to find something else, I will, but I’m thinking; gas station, garage, whatever. We’re kinda in the boonies so it’s probably going to be whatever. I didn’t consider going down the paved driveway to see if there was anyone home because there were no trespassing signs all over the place and the fact that there was a paved driveway, mighty nice, clean looking one too, gave me the thought that there was probably an ornery dude down there sitting in his living room with a large firearm just waiting for someone to dare trod upon his swanky driveway. No thank you, I’ll ride a few miles on Roger’s bike instead.
I’ve ridden about 200 yards when I pass a camp on my left with a pickup in the front yard with the tailgate down. Hmmm. I pass. Then I think; pickup…tools. I’m going back. I pass again with the camp on my right to see if I can see any signs of people. Sure enough, someone is up in the woods behind the camp. I turn around and head up the driveway. I hear, “Hello?” from the woods. I reply, “Hello!” and ride past the camp up into the woods where a man and a woman are cutting wood. I apologise for interrupting them and the dude says, “you mean I have to take a break!?” I tell them I got a flat down the road and ask if he has a half inch driver for a socket wrench by any chance. He says, “Sure. Let’s go down to the truck.” He and his wife, I assume, come out of the woods. They have a couple dogs and they’re all over me. Super friendly, just like the people. The man’s name is John which he tells me later and his wife’s name – correct assumption, in this case – is Laurie (I’m assuming the spelling – sorry if it’s wrong.) Laurie keeps the dogs at bay. I don’t remember the dog’s names, unfortunately, the real friendly one is a pit bull mix and the other one is kind of hound dog-ish but is also missing a front leg. Having three legs isn’t slowing him down at all.
Back at the pickup John looks at the bike kinda puzzled. He asks what I’m looking for again and I tell him my lug wrench doesn’t fit my lugs on the van but I have a socket that fits but the wrong driver for it. “Ohhh, I thought you were talking about your bike! I’m thinking, the bike looks fine, what’s he talking about?!” John says. He grabs a jack just in case and he tells me to ride back on my bike, he’ll follow in the truck.
When I come riding up on my bike Pam is very surprised to see me so soon as I thought she might be. I tell her help is on the way and John pulls up in the pickup shortly after that. He hops out and takes a look. We decide to use his floor jack instead of the VW jack. He brought a plank to put it on so I throw it under the driver side rear wheel and look for a good place underside to jack this puppy up. First I loosen all the lugs. Fortunately they all loosen with a good kick. One gives us some trouble so we find a better socket and it finally snaps loose. I find a spot on the frame in front of the wheel and start jacking ‘er up. I get it up high enough to take the wheel off. Now, how the hell do you get the spare down. I climb under the bike rack to get at the spare. There are two nuts holding the metal plate that binds the spare to bottom of the van. The lug wrench fits on these! But how the hell does it work?! Pam gets the manual! She figures it out and I get the spare to drop. I drag it out and John puts it up against the hub. We need more height but the jack is up as high as she’ll go. John says try putting the VW jack under the wheel so we can jack the wheel up higher – compress the shock a bit. Nice! It works! He says we’re good so I come around to put the tire on, screw in the lug nuts and be on our way. Hmmm, something ain’t right. The tire doesn’t fit on the hub. We check the wheel that came off, It’s a 16″ wheel. The spare is a 15″ wheel. @#%$! So close, but still stranded.
John says he might have a tire plug kit back at the camp and he knows he’s got a compressor. WHATTTT?!?! Who is this guy?! We head back to the camp in the truck while Pam hangs at the van. Back at the camp, sure enough, tire plug kit AND compressor. We find the hole easily in the middle of the tread so it’s very patchable. John plugs her up and pops the hood of the truck to hook up the compressor. He says he fried the cigarette lighter with the compressor so now he hooks it up to his battery. While we’re working he tells me about a another guy he helped out who was in waaaay worse shape than us. He and Laurie were out four wheeling and they came across a broken down rig and its owner stranded in the woods. The whole back end on the engine had blown off and there was oil everywhere. Turns out all John and Laurie could do in that case was tow the rig back to camp and get the guy drunk!
While we’re blowing up the tire, Laurie brings out a thick, juicy peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a paper plate! She says, “I thought you might be hungry!” I can’t believe it! These people are incredible! We are the luckiest people on earth! I chowdown half the sandwich and save the other half for Pam. John fills the tire, I throw it on the truck. He grabs another plank in case we need to jack it higher and we head back. When we arrive Pam is very happy to hear the tire is fixed. She’s very happy to get half a peanut butter sandwich too! I offer John a beer but he says he tries not to drink before 2PM at camp! I tell him, I shoot for noon when I’m on vacation. He says he’s not always too good about 2PM, sometimes he only makes it until 10AM. I LOVE this guy!
In minutes we’ve got the wheel back on and he quickly says with a smile, “No guarantees on that plug!” We all laugh. We thank him and tell him to thank Laurie again for the sandwich and he takes off. We pack up and head out too. As we pass the camp Laurie waves and John heads back up into the woods to get back to work! We’re back on tar roads soon but kinda lost and google maps is telling us to head up the other side of the river that we just came down. We drive around the area a bit and finally decide to follow googletta. Back into the woods on dirt roads we go. What could possibly happen?….