I've posted before about all the critters here in rural Texas. Most of 'em I like, some of them (for example spiders, beetles, mosquitoes, and fleas!) I could gladly do without. But the ones I absolutely LOATHE with every fiber of my being are the critters that lurk unseen by the side of the road, waiting to dart out and be transformed into roadkill by innocent, unsuspecting travelers.
After spending a lovely evening in Elsewhere, Texas at the inestimable Phlegm Fatale's and LawDog's abode, in the company of Holly and JPG, during which visit much delicious food and beverage were consumed (ask Phlegmmy about the whipped cream...;) ), Silver and I were tooling along the highway, heading for my work. I had taken a half-day off, seeing as it's quite the drive from Elsewhere, and I neither wanted to rush this morning, nor force our hosts out of bed too early on their day off. Oh, and let me just say that Phlegmmy's couch is extremely comfortable, I slept like a baby!
ANYWAY...we were about fifty miles or so into our journey, when *BANG*!!! Some unknown critter decided to commit suicide by throwing itself underneath the wheel of my car. The front driver's side wheel, to be exact. It couldn't have been a big one, since I didn't even catch a glimpse of an animal and I didn't feel the car drive over anything, either.
I carefully steered the rattling car to the shoulder and stopped, put my warning lights on, and got out to peruse the damage. Hmmmmmm. Small but rather deep dent in the underside of the bumper, right in front of the driver's side wheel, smeared with a little blood. Scrapes underneath said bumper. Matching dent in the metal frame of the car to the rear of the wheel, behind where the fender SHOULD be. Plastic fenders inside the wheel well cracked and tattered, hanging in pieces, with several pieces missing and presumed lost on the highway during the rumpus. Side light/reflector hanging outside the chassis by its wire, easily enough snapped into place. Front side panel a little warped/bent. Wheel/tire in perfect shape. Apparently.
We carefully rejoined the highway traffic, going at a sensible 50 mph, with warning lights continuing to flash. The car was still shaking and rattling, but relatively easy enough to handle, nonetheless.
Silver got on the phone with my boss and explained the situation, and I was prudently given the rest of the day off. I hated missing the appointments I already had scheduled, but needs must and all that, right? An hour later, we hit SmallTown and swung by Marvin's place (Marvin is my Most Excellent Mechanic), but he was closed already. We then threw ourselves on my friend Mulligan's mercy, since he's one of those handy fellows. He agreed to meet us at our place in about ten minutes.
About two miles from our house, on a (luckily) quiet country road...*PFFFFFFFFFFT*!!! The car started pulling sharply to the left. *sigh*
She'd done good, but didn't quite get us home: the tire had come apart!
Luckily, Mulligan had to travel the same route, so he gallantly stepped in to assist in the whole swap-the-tire-for-the-spare thing, and a few minutes later, we finally ended our odyssey. HOME!
After we removed the wheel, this is what it looked like...YIKES! I'm amazed we made it as far as we did, considering the damage the tire was sustaining. I don't know WHAT was rubbing on it or contributing to its damage, but it must have been bad.
We transferred the wheel from my trunk to Mulligan's truck and headed to Nearby Largish Town, which had a Discount Tire place that was still open. One new tire later, we headed back home. Then the fun REALLY started!
Jack up the car, remove the spare. Remove all pieces of plastic fender still remaining. Use electrical tape to tape up the three wires whose insulation had been rubbed/scraped away in spots. (Silver and I had checked all lights after the original EVENT, everything still worked fine.) Zip-tie said wires tightly to make absolutely sure they are completely out of the way. Bend back the dented frame at the rear of the wheel well. Attach the wheel with the new tire in place, lower the car back to the ground.
TEST DRIVE! W00t...she was running SMOOOOOOOTHLY. Awesome. I quickly called work and told 'em I'd be able to come in on Sunday after all. I had cringed at the thought of missing another day, my bank account surely couldn't afford it, especially with the advent of my babies! Teenagers eat a LOT.
Quick clean up of the work area, everything put back neatly in its respective place.
I have to say, fixing my car ourselves was very rewarding and strangely satisfying. Up til now, I've been content to throw money at the professionals to handle things. Mulligan is an excellent instructor, btw. Very patient with an occasionally fumble-fingered apprentice.
After we had retired to our respective homes for SERIOUSLY needed showers, Mulligan, Silver, and I reconvened at our local Chinese buffet for dinner. My treat. And Mulligan, you have a massage coming your way, my friend!
Oh, lest y'all think I'm leaving things as they are, take heart: I plan on getting the necessary fender parts at O'Reilly's and putting the wheel well back together again. Hey, should be fun!
Also, another tire will be purchased in the next week. I had already bought two a couple weeks ago, so now I have three new tires and one worn one...that doesn't make sense, nor is it particularly good for the vehicle.
All in all, this has been quite the adventure. It could have been much, much worse, of course. Nobody was hurt except for an evil critter, my car works fine again, and I only missed one day of work.
We really enjoyed our visit to Elsewhere to see Phlegmmy and LawDog; thanks, Y'all...next time, though, I'll try to keep a better eye out for kamikaze critters! ;)