Tuesday, June 2, 2009

That's what I get for going to Iowa

Yesterday was probably the most frustrating chase day I've had in some time. I'm just lucky that a tornado event did not occur, or I might have retired right then. From the get go it had the feeling of a crappy day. I should have turned around then. Right away my laptop is having issues connecting to the internet because my phone continues to say it has "No Connection". Shortly down the road my GPS quits updating, but that is quickly fixed. After becoming convinced that I just won't have data on my laptop today and being content that I can call someone for a nowcast if I need it my phone quits working altogether. It is now telling me to "Insert Smart Card" or Sim card as they're sometimes known. I keep yelling at my phone "It's in there damn it!". This is especially annoying because if it doesn't sense the sim card it does not operate. No phone calls, texts, and certainly no data. Taking the battery out and letting it rest seems to do no good either as I had hoped.

Then my stomach hits me. I quickly pull off at the very first rest stop that I see on the other side of Peoria and empty out my system, right next to a trucker who seemed to be having the same problem. I can deal with technology not working on a chase, but not with my body not functioning. I feel better now though, and decide to hit the road. Before driving I try my phone again... it WORKS. It connects to the internet and everything. However, it disconnects 5 minutes later and then upon reconnecting shuts down telling me to insert the sim card. I -really- should have just gone home.

I continued on though, stopping in Ottumwa. The day was already looking down (of course after I texted the comrades in the field that the day was looking up in their backyard). I decided I was in as good a spot as any in Ottumwa, even though my eyes told me that the best stuff was passing me up and heading for northern and central Illinois. I stopped and sat inside an Arby's for over an hour going over data before deciding to leave. Storms were going up in northern Missouri and eastern Iowa and I had to make a call on where to go. My phone wasn't working once I pulled out of the parking lot, but after more finicking I got it to work for me. It seemed that I could get it to work for about 20 minutes at a time, before having to take the battery out and let it sit for 5 minutes, and then repeating. I decided to take a peak at a storm just to my south, which was producing reported tennis ball sized hail and had some rotation on radar. It quickly gusted out and was not very pretty. So I decided my best bet was to head into Illinois and play with anything that developed there. I plotted my course and started flying east. Of course then my stomach rolls over again, and I quickly blast into a gas station and drop off another load. Then, I was on my way again and just ready to be home.

I saw it about a half second before I hit it. The biggest hold on the side of the road that I've ever seen. I've been making the joke, that it seemed like someone must have been digging a tunnel to China in the freaking road. I clobbered it with the right side of my vehicle. I had all my windows down, and sunroof open so I could immediately hear hiss hiss hiss hiss hiss hiss. Every time it hit a certain position air would leak out. I had heard about this "Fix a flat" product, and bought a can just for kicks not two weeks ago and decided to see if it actually worked. I quickly whipped it out with thunder growing ever louder from the squall line that I was outrunning, but was now a sitting duck to. I hooked up the can and filled up my tire. Well, hope that works! Got in my car and start backing up... hiss hiss hiss hiss. Well, that means one of two things really. Either the product doesn't work, or I have a big problem. I angrily got out, threw everything out of my trunk and tossed my spare tire on the ground. The thunder was getting pretty loud now with cg striking nearer and nearer. Funny enough, just two days ago I was changing Tia's back right tire for her after she blew it on something. Lucky I was in well practiced form and would have the tire changed shortly. All except the very last lug nut were very cooperative. No matter what I did, that thing wouldn't budge. I was slowly stripping not the lug nut, but the inside of my tire iron. I was getting more and more pissed thinking that I would have to call someone with one of those pressurized deals, for ONE LUG NUT. I was ready to slam the tire iron into the ground, if I wasn't so convinced that with my luck it would break in half and I'd be really screwed then. I fidgeted with it for a while, took a break to piss on a nearby tree and went back to work quickly getting it off. After that I quickly had my spare tire on and was on my way. I don't know what the general rule of thumb is for distance to travel on a spare tire, but I know it's not very much. I had a 230 mile journey ahead of me back to home. This would have to be traveled at about 40-45 mph too. Oh yeah, and changing the filthy tire I realized I was wearing a brand new Chicago Cubs / Fukudome t-shirt that was WHITE, that I had picked up from Wrigley Field after a game. I'm not that picky about my clothes, but come on. That would happen the day I wear my one white shirt. I managed to keep all the black filth on my hands and pants however.

Anyway, pissed off and full of regret for even chasing that day (when I was more excited about the marginal chances the next day (today)). I decided I would nurse the car home on the spare tire, a 5 hour drive that should have taken about 2.5-3 hours. Rather than take the interstate I just took Highway 136 all the way to Highway 150 and that back home. I managed to cool myself off with some loud music and a relaxing drive home with the light show to my north. That was interrupted periodically by multiple groups of deer just hanging out in the middle of the highway. Perhaps it was good that I was running on my spare tire and was only doing 45 mph, or I might have bigger problems on my hands with a new hood ornament.

Anyway. I nursed the car home and pulled in around midnight with the plans of getting up at 7 and taking the tire in to be repaired in the case that something worthwhile goes up locally today. Not 5 minutes after sitting down at Tires Plus the guy comes back and tells me what I already knew, but did not want to hear. I needed a new rim, and two new tires. His estimate: $620. That sounds about right for a capper to this chase! The new rim was going to run me about $290, but he calls back regretfully after I leave to tell me he can't find a new one in stock, but he found a used one in good shape for $140. Why would you not tell me that I had the option of saving 60% ahead of time? That saves $150. My car, as much as I love it, has the one really big downfall of taking low profile expensive sport tires. The first time I got new tires on that thing I nearly shat myself in the lobby. I'm trying to find a pair online to save a few bucks, but they'll still probably run my around $120-150 each. My cell phone is still not working, but I don't really feel like dealing with that today.

That was about as aggravating as they came. I guess I can at least look at it positively that I did not miss any tornadoes, or even any really amazing storms. The car will be out of commission until about Thursday or Friday, but it doesn't look like there will be any chaseable storms before then.

1 comment:

Dann Cianca said...

My vote so far for best chase log of the year.