Last year my niece was getting married in Montana so we decided to make a road trip out of it and enjoy the drive out. We drove from North Texas up to Minneapolis and enjoyed a couple of days with my wife’s brother. And then headed west to get to Montana. The drive was just gorgeous and the sites were great as we made our way across. We spent a day driving through Minnesota and then began our Dakota road trip.
We spent the night in the last town in North Dakota. We got up the next morning and were hoping to make a certain distance before night fall. After we entered South Dakota and had driven a couple of hours we noticed that the truck was not feeling quite right so we decided we needed to pull off and check it out. When we found an exit and stopped we realized the right rear tire had gone flat.
Looking through the truck we found a can of flat fix, you know the kind that is supposed to fill the tire with a sealant and then inflate the tire. Well there was not enough gas in it to complete the job so we looked and found that it had a doughnut spare. Those wonderful tires that are about half size of a real tire and you are not supposed to drive on it for very long or you will destroy it. And finally you are not supposed to drive very fast.
That being said I changed the tire and we got back on the road and began looking for a place to get the tire fixed or replaced. Now we are driving with a very different point of view. We couldn’t find anything that said how far we could drive on the spare so we are somewhat concerned with how long we were going to be able to travel before it had a problem with it to. After about a half hour of driving we saw a sign saying the next major city is 150 miles ahead and our hearts sunk.
The scenery no longer looked so interesting to us and the only thing we were looking for was a tire store we could get to. We only felt safe going about 50 miles per hour as when we got anything faster the truck felt very unstable so were looking at least a three-hour drive through an area we weren’t familiar with. The map showed several small towns along the way and we hoped that one of them would have a tire store in its domain.
As we approached each town we looked diligently as we drove by and only saw a few buildings in the side of the road. They didn’t look like they would be of any help at all so we kept driving along the highway. After two hours of driving we realized that we were going to have to make it to the big city and hope we could find a place to get the tire fixed or replaced.
We were about two hours behind schedule when we entered Montana and arrived in the large city and began looking for someplace we could get the tire taken care of. Finally, we saw a sign for a Walmart Super Center. Which almost always has a full service tire center. So we made our way there and then spoke with the tire department and explained what happened.
They agreed to look at it and then we decided to wait in the store as they did so. After about 2 minutes they came and told us that they could repair the tire and it would be ready in another 15 minutes. We were so glad to get the truck back and they said that we should have to trouble with tore repair it was just a small puncture in the tread which repairs very easily and should stand up until the tire wears out.
It was now about 2:30 and we were starved so we left there and looked for a restaurant that we could have a relaxing lunch at. Finding one that looked good we pulled in and went inside to order food. We then relaxed and waited for lunch and started to share our experience and feelings during the drive. We were both praying constantly as we drove. And consequently neither one of could tell you what the scenery was like for that 160-mile section of our drive, but neither of us would forget our Dakota road trip anytime soon.
We were definitely happy we arrived safely and offered a prayer of praise to thank the Lord for our protection for those four hours we drove on the spare. When we told the technician how far we had driven on it, he was a little surprised because it didn’t look like the spare had worn much at all. In fact, it looked almost the same as when we put it on the truck.
As we finished our lunch we started to look at how much further we could drive that day and decide on a goal for the night stop and got back on the road. We knew it meant that we would have an extra 2 hours of driving the next day to arrive in Bozeman for the wedding, and agreed that pushing it today would not make the trip any better and if we did have to arrive the next day we could.
As we made it to our stop we eagerly looked for a hotel for the evening and finally realized that we weren’t going to find one we felt comfortable in so we talked about finishing the drive to Bozeman if we couldn’t find a motel along the way. Since we realized that we were going to arrive about 9 PM and the city would be dark we called ahead to see if my sister could find me a hotel room to stay in when we arrived. After several calls, she finally found one for us in a hotel across the freeway form where they were staying and reserved it for us.
The second part of the day was much better than the first portion and we felt a lot better when we finally tucked ourselves into bed that night. We slept like two logs all night and awoke refreshed and ready to check out the city. My sister said that she would call us in the morning but we never did hear form her so we just enjoyed our day and explored the city while we waited.
The lesson we learned is to know the vehicle you are driving so you know what it has and make sure you have what you need, in case of an emergency. Our Dakota Road trip taught us to have greater respect for the doughnut tires but still don’t care for them at all. Drive carefully on all of your trips and be sure to enjoy the surroundings as you drive through them, you may never get a second chance to drive there again.