The boys and I returned on Saturday from a trip to visit family near Duluth, MN. We were originally scheduled to leave earlier than we did, but our area had experienced a snowstorm, bringing another foot of snow for us. We then decided to leave as soon as we could, since a second storm was heading our way.
Another factor for this trip was how we were going to cross the North Dakota/Minnesota border, since the Red River of the North was overflowing its banks. Originally I had thought we would travel through the Fargo-Moorhead area, since I am familiar with the roads and knew once we passed by those cities we'd be okay. Instead, after talking with a friend who lives in Grand Forks, we decided to head through that direction.
The photo below is of the Red River as we were crossing the remaining open bridge in Grand Forks. We had stopped at a gas station just before entering the city, and the manager assured us it would be an easy drive through. Sure enough it was, and I was very pleased. Grand Forks had built dikes, etc. to protect the city after they were devastated by the 1997 flooding, so they were confident they would remain dry. And so far it has.
Jonathan drove through all of North Dakota, and I took over when we hit Grand Forks. I was a bit surprised at how one of the front tires gave me the feeling that it was off balance a bit, but it stopped when we accelerated.
The Bartlett car made it as far as just south of Bemidji, MN when all of a sudden there was a tremendous noise and grinding sound. I quickly pulled to the shoulder of the road, and we jumped out to check for damage.
I don't know how it happened or why, but at 65 mph we had blown a tire.
I was very thankful I hadn't lost control of the car, as I had heard that could happen. We got out and the boys pulled out the donut spare tire we have and got busy unscrewing lug nuts, etc.
Soon a man in a van stopped and asked if we needed any help. The boys assured the man that we were okay, and I asked him where the nearest town was where we could purchase a new tire. Ours was now in shreds. He told us to turn around and head back into Bemidji, and gave us directions to a tire store there. We were very thankful for his stopping and for the information he was able to give us.
However, soon afterward we discovered the tire did not want to come off from the axle. The boys tried all kinds of things, but it just wouldn't budge. We had accidentally placed the scissor jack on the bumper instead of the side of the car and the car had moved, sending the jack off kilter and unusable. The boys jiggled with the thing for quite a while and finally got the teeth going where they should go, and then tried jacking up the car once again.
At least an hour had passed, and I sure was tired of seeing all the vehicles making a detour around us. It was cold and windy, and all of us were getting rather chilled. The younger boys and I had walked a ways back to look for the hubcap, but had no success in finding it.
Finally a man and his son in a pickup truck stopped to see if we needed help. I was thanking the Lord, as we had no cell phone and didn't know what we were going to do. The man gave all sorts of helpful advice, and got down where the tire was and tried prying it off himself. They did a few other things, and finally Peter was able to get the tire off. We all were very thankful.
After thanking the man for his much needed help he started walking back to his truck, and then turned around for one last question: Do you have enough money to pay for a new tire? I cried, because he was actually offering to pay for the new tire! I reassured him that I did, and he drove away.
The boys were then able to get the donut spare tire on, and we turned around and used the first man's directions to look for a tire store. Sure enough, we found it without any trouble.
The manager of the store took one look at the tire, decided which new one we would need, and got the car in right away. Within a half hour we were back on the road in the right direction toward family.
It was all such a lesson for me in trusting the Lord in trying circumstances.