Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Flat Tires and Dobermans

We departed Walt Disney World and headed for High Point already feeling a bit depressed that such a great trip was coming to an end.  The 10 hour trip, stuffed in vans and an apparently gassy Suburban, was long enough as it was.  The trip down had been fairly uneventful, save for one flat tire on the Holly Spring Friends Meeting van.  The trip home would be a little more adventurous...

My memories of that day are very faded, as it was not the type of day that anyone really wants to remember.  I know that we had not been on the road very long before we had another flat tire on the HSFM van.  We were now down two tires, but since we had three vans (and therefore three spare tires) were not worried.  We continued on I-95 through Georgia and into South Carolina without issue (no doubt stopping at the Hardeeville exit for lunch; it seems like we always did!).  Shortly after entering SC, things took a turn for the worse.  Tire #3 on the HSFM van decided to go, and this time the caravan got split up for a time, taking the final spare tire on down the road.  Remember what life was like before cell phones?  We finally got the entire group back together again...I remember standing on the side of I-95 for a very long time before we were able to get the tire changed.   We were now starring into an ugly scenario.  We had no more spare tires, and the van that had blown three still had one more to go.  We needed to buy at least one tire to ensure we made it home, but it was Sunday and tires for a 15 passenger van were not available just anywhere.  After trying several exits, we were told that Simmons Truck Stop at exit 38 would be our best bet, just a few miles further north on I-95.  So on we went.

We pulled into Simmons and it looked a bit ominous.  It was an old, dirty building with no one outside and a group of men sitting in the front office. I told everyone to stay in the vehicles while I went to ask about a tire.  What I am about to tell you is true.  No exaggerations, no "remembering big."  I reached the door and was greeted by two dobermans.  Growling, snarling, drooling dobermans.  As I peeked in, the men called the dogs away so I could open the door.  I entered to find two of the men holding pistols.  The office was wallpapered with pictures (many of then quite graphic) of naked women.  One of the unarmed men asked me what I wanted, and I began to tell them our story.  They were remarkably untouched by our need.  They said they would see if they could find us a tire.  While they looked, I returned to the vans and told everyone to lock the doors and not move.  I seem to remember people wanting to us the restrooms, and so I sent them down the street to a convenience store while I waited.  I freely admit I was scared to death...I felt like I was in a warped scene from Deliverance.  In any case, they had no tire, and so we continued on and held our breath.  We arrived in High Point without further incident and praised God that we had survived both the trip and Simmons Truck Stop.

We later found out that the tires on the HSFM van were brand new for the trip.  I never did get a definitive answer as to what went wrong, although one story said that they had been put on backwards.  I didn't even know that was possible.  In any case, the disaster that was our trip home helped to ease our depression about The Magic Tour being over, because we were just so grateful to reach Springfield Friends Meeting.  It was a very odd ending to my favorite youth trip ever.  I would return to Simmons Truck Stop again, in the middle of the night and without my knowledge of where we were going, just a few years later.  You'll have to keep reading to hear that one...


  1. Horrifyingly hilarious! Definitely one of those funnier-in-retrospect kind of stories. :)

  2. Cheryl Deal Meadows4/08/2010

    I don't remember the Simmons Truck Stop, I am guessing that is one of those things that you probably didn't openly tell us about, but I do remember getting separated, and I do remember the tire issue. I think we were all ready to kiss the ground that Springfield sat on when we finally made it back safely.


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