Saturday, 22 October 2016

New tires, and a late arrival

We have now made it to October 7... (yes, I'm late with posts).

The plan for the day had been in limbo until October 3rd when we finally confirmed we would be visiting my old high school friend Steve at his cottage near Bancroft. The original idea for the day was to drive from The Soo to Bancroft via Algonquin Park -- about 8 hrs -- to see the colours there.

But to do that, I needed tires, and even though I knew they were on the way, I had no idea when they would arrive, though Chris at the tire shop thought they would get there around noon. We were hoping to be on the road by 1:30 pm. We had agreed that

  • if we weren't on the road by 2 PM, we should not go through Algonquin, because it would be dark and there were too many critters to hit;
  • if we weren't on the road by 4:30 pm, we needed an alternate plan... finding a place to overnight... on the Friday night of the Thanksgiving long weekend... when we couldn't find one when we were planning the trip a month ago. Ah, well.

The morning delay gave us time for Karen to do laundry and me to... get a watch. As I posted a few weeks ago, I got a new watch recently. Unfortunately, on the morning of the 7th, I caught my brand new watch on a door handle, ripping it off my wrist, breaking its band (and my wrist...). On top of that, I was having troubles setting it and in that process the crown broke. Sigh. So while Karen was at the laundromat, I was at Wal-Mart getting yet another Casio $25 special.
At least it has a dual display and a stopwatch
At noon, we got to Chris'. No tires yet. We went for lunch and had a picnic in a nearby playground, 19°, threatening clouds. At 1 PM, we went back to Chris'. No tires yet. At 1:30 pm, a truck pulled up and delivered my tires (along with a bunch of other stuff for Chris).
The top 4 are mine
The tires, I learned, came from Mississauga, leaving Thursday morning and arriving in Sudbury on Thursday evening. They were then shipped to The Soo from Sudbury -- a 4 hr drive -- this morning.

Chris told me to drive my car into a bay, and around this time I learned Chris is a popular and busy guy. His one helper was getting married tomorrow, so was off, and Chris was all by his lonesome. There was a car up on the hoist that he was working on when we arrived at noon; by 1 PM it was replaced by a truck. The afternoon saw a parade of his regular customers, including:

  • a farmer with a tractor tire and a wheelbarrow tire he had brought in for repair;
  • a guy who looked like a used car salesman who needed to replace the tires with cheap ones on his leased car;
  • a guy who came in to confirm a price for a set of tires Chis said he could get;
  • a guy who drove up with a tire problem hoping to get it fixed today.
Chris alternated between working on mine, answering the phone, and managing everyone else. Hell of a balancing act. And I didn't just need my tires mounted and balanced; the asymmetrical wear made it clear I needed a 4 wheel alignment.
Old tech but good tech
Turns out my front left wheel was way out, and my rear left was slightly out. I had just rotated my tires, so the one that failed had been worn badly by the misalignment.

By the time all was said and done, I was finished with Chris at 3:45 PM.  He gave me such a deal; even including GST & PST, it was about 30% less that the same tire in Calgary. We gassed up and were on the road at 4 PM.

But we still had a +8 hr drive to do. And the temp had dropped to 8° and it had started to rain. Hard.

A cold front had passed through around 3 PM with a line of nasty rain and thunderstorms. It was moving east, and over the next 5 hrs, I went through it three times; once going from the Soo to Sudbury, again leaving Sudbury because it passed us while we were wolfing down dinner, and again between Sudbury and Parry Sound.

It was light for the first 3 hrs of the drive. Because of the rain, we didn't see much of the scenery.
5:15 pm somewhere
But we did see bald eagles. Lots of bald eagles. Probably 20-30 of them, spaced out every 300 m along the Mississagi River between Blind River and Iron Bridge. The road parallels the river, and for 10 km, it was eagle after eagle sitting in the trees. I wanted to stop and take pictures, but my GPS said I was already going to get to Steve's well after midnight. So this blurry photo is the best we got out the car window.
The white head is visible
So we just hotfooted it through torrential rains and violently swinging temperatures (7° to 16°, down to 6°, back up to 14°), losing time the whole way to the GPS's estimates (and I was doing the speed limit). Almost 6 hrs of driving in the pitch black...
...through moose and deer country, all the while texting location and progress updates to Steve as we were finally back in cell range. We saw a black bear on the road at 10:30 PM near Bracebridge (he ambled off the road as we went by), and a dozen dead racoons, too. 

We rolled into Steve's at 12:50 AM, dead tired. Thanks to M.R. and Duncan for staying up to greet us.

It was a long, expensive, colour-free day day.

No comments: