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Saturday, 05 August 2017


 

     As all good adventures begin, this one started with smoke. Summer in North Texas is never a good time to see smoke on the horizon. Frankly I probably would have slept right through the whole thing if Other Half hadn't picked up the phone.

    I was on the phone myself, in deep conversation with a girlfriend. My evening chores  were finished early, so all that was left to do was lock the chickens up when the sun went down. By my clock, I had a good 45 minutes. I was basking in the cool blow of the air-conditioner, happy under the whirl of my ceiling fan, when Other Half burst into the bedroom and blurted,

     "Looks like a fire to the north of us, Sonny saw smoke from his house on the ridge. Come drive out with me so we can see where it's at and which way it's headed!"

     That seemed like a reasonable request at the time. All adventures seem reasonable at first. My chores were done, so I didn't see any harm in loading up the Labrador and a Border Collie and heading out. (Because we cannot go anywhere without a dog, or two. Or three.)

     Since our first impression was that the smoke was in the pasture of a neighbor who wasn't home, we drove that way. Nope. Farther. So following the smoke on the horizon of the setting sun, we drove onward. On the gravel road we met neighbors doing the same thing.

     Where is it? Is it coming our way?

     The general concensus seemed to be that it was far northwest of us and the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. Unless something really got out of hand, we were pretty safe. The neighbors left to go back home. I assumed we would too. Here's where things got dicey. Other Half is always game for an adventure. The dogs are always game for an adventure. When the sun is going down in fifteen minutes, and you're in the middle of nowhere but Rattlesnake Central, and the flames of a brushfire are being backlit by the last rays of the setting sun, I'm not big into adventures. But wait - there's more!

     Other Half did not go home. He drove in the opposite direction, toward the fire. I grumbled loudly when he darted off the main gravel road onto an obscure mountain road. He assured me that he knew where he was going. This road would spit us out onto a familiar road.

     Really? I bought it for the first few minutes. Then I GoogleMapped that shit.

     Wrong. He was lost. Lost. Lost. Lost. The sun was closing on the day. The rattlesnakes were slithering out, and he was taking us towards a brushfire. I was not amused. I shouted. I cussed. I showed him the GoogleMap proof. Okay. Okay. He reluctantly agreed to follow the map back toward home. And that's when we heard the pop.

     It was a loud bam! Followed by a rhythmic whack, whack, whack. We had blown a front tire.

     I blew up.

     It is here that I must point out that for the past month I had been riding him about those tires. They were bald. They needed to be replaced. He brushed my concerns aside. The most he would allow was they needed to be rotated. No! Those front tires were bald. Screw Lincoln's head on a penny! There was no tread left!

     As often happens in a marriage, one spouse is right, and the other refuses to accept it until he's hanging his head out the truck window watching rubber slap the wheel-well of his Ford.

     Now the other spouse, the right one, may just have had an absolute shitfit and been reduced to screaming and flinging a rather expensive iPhone so that it bounced into the windshield and skittered across the dash like a hockey puck. It is, sadly, a character flaw on her part, but since she was right, right, right, we shall gloss over that tiny glimpse of psychotic bitch that peeps out from time to time.

    And here is where the adventure of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, Tomb Raiders, begins. Lara Croft, ever prepared, has brought the items needed for most adventures in Texas: A Border Collie, a gun, a pocketknife, a flashlight, and a fully charged cell phone. Due to the reliability of an Otterbox, the iPhone has survived its journey as a hockey puck and Lara Croft retrieves the phone and uses the one smidgeon of a bar of cell phone reception to text a friend the exact address of their location as Indiana Jones is able to steer the slow-rolling beast to a grinding halt in front of a Wind Turbine Maintenance building on the side of the mountain.

(Nevermind that the friend is currently in South Texas and Lara Croft is in North Texas. There is absolutely no way the friend can be of assistance, but in case of Chainsaw-wielding Zombies, it always helps to have a last known location.)

    On the other hand, Chainsaw-wielding Zombies would have run in fright from the scene when Lara Croft, armed with gun and flashlight, gets out of that truck and stands over what was left of the tire. Indiana Jones tries to weakly explain that the hard gravel road caused the flat. Lara Croft rides the "I Told You So" pony until Indiana Jones is forced to admit that just perhaps, maybe, she was right. This time.

     She is momentarily satisfied. But satisfaction won't change a tire.

     It is a curiously unknown fact, that despite having the truck since 2008, Indiana Jones has never actually had to change a tire on this vehicle himself. It goes without saying that Lara Croft had also never changed a tire on this truck. Thus began the tomb raiding part of our adventure. The thing about changing a tire in the dark, in the middle of nowhere, is that two angry people must work together, using tire irons, flashlights, and other heavy items that people use to kill each other. They must do this as the western sky glows with the flames of a wildfire. It might be a reality show worth watching.

     Indiana Jones prepares for this labor by chocking the rear tires so the truck can't roll on the hill. The underbelly of a ranch truck is coated in hard red mud, over which is a heavy layer of fine white dust. This, and the fact that no person has removed the spare tire in years, makes it feat worthy of Hercules. Hercules, or two Tomb Raiders. While Lara Croft holds a flashlight, lying on his back, Indiana Jones cautiously reaches underneath the truck and tries to open the lock holding the spare tire. This turns out to be reminiscent of explorers coaxing an ancient lock to open and reveal treasures hidden for centuries.

     It turns out the tire cannot be released without a key. A key? A key? Lara Croft is clueless as to where this key may be hidden. Indiana Jones finds a plastic baggie in the glove box containing a small round metal 'thing.' This thing turns out to be the elusive key. Another go in the bowels of the beast, and it reluctantly spits out a spare tire. 

      Indiana Jones then pulls the high-lift jack from behind the cab and commences to search for the perfect place to set it up so that he can safely crank the truck up. This is easier said than done. The truck is on a hill. The left side is sitting lower than the right. Since Lara Croft spent many years working in a career which can be summed up as "1001 Ways To Die" she is a tad bothered about the whole jacking up business. Indiana Jones decides that perhaps an additional jack might need to be employed since the truck is on a hill. For once, Lara Croft is without an opinion on this, as her only real experience with jacks is when they fail and thus crush people. Indiana Jones appears to know what he is doing. On the other hand, he also appeared to know what he was doing when he adamantly proclaimed the tires still had plenty of life in them, so one can never know for certain.

     Experience has taught Lara Croft that when things are working out, that's when the next big adventure is around the bend, and sure enough, having the spare tire secured and the truck precariously on jacks, only sets them up for the next big twist.

     Indiana Jones has carefully removed all the lug nuts. Lara Croft has carefully stacked each lug nut so that none are lost. Indiana Jones goes to lift the tire off - and nothing. It does not budge.

     Years of dog piss and rust have cemented the tire into place. This comes as no surprise to Lara. Indiana Jones has a bit of a meltdown and makes derogatory remarks about dogs. Lara Croft points out that the male dogs pissing on the tires belong to Indiana Jones. They have another explosive argument about the number of dogs he brings home. Since she has the flashlight and the gun, he shuts up.

     A ranch truck is much like the backpack of a Treasure Hunter, it contains all manner of items that you haven't thrown away, you never knew you needed, and you might need one day. Indiana Jones finds a bottle of motor oil behind the seat, and Lara Croft finds a needle and syringe in the glove box. Ranchers and heroin addicts keep things like that just lying around.

     Lara Croft does another flashlight sweep of the area for rattlesnakes as Indiana Jones coats each exposed screw on the tire with motor oil. Using the needle and syringe, with careful precision, he squirts oil deeply into and around each screw. Then he takes a hammer and commences to banging on the tire. Lara Croft has flashbacks to '1001 Ways To Die' as the truck vibrates on the jacks with each bang, but in due time the truck gives up its grip on the tire. The flat tire is pulled off. The spare is slipped on. The flashlight battery is fading.

     The lug nuts are tightened and after a final sweep of the area, Indiana Jones and Lara Croft are back on the road. Indy announces that this adventure was really a good thing. He points out that instead of blowing out here on a cool evening in the middle of nowhere, the tire could have blown in the middle of the day, on the highway, at 65 mph. Lara Croft watches the smoke in the distance through her rear view mirror and wryly points out that if Indiana Jones had bought new tires a month ago he wouldn't have been flat on his back on a gravel road, in the dark, with the rattlesnakes and a wildfire on the horizon. But then, where's the adventure in that?

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 02:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments  |  Email

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