I made a mini road trip yesterday, taking my friend Jeri back up to her daughter Heather’s place in St. Louis. Along the way we checked out a freight salvage grocery, where Jeri pointed me to a trove of pork tenderloins that were priced at $3.50 each. So I bought a few of them for future reference. Freezers are so great. We also visited Luka’s, one of the largest liquor stores I have ever seen. I managed to get out of there with only one bottle of tequila. It’s a real beauty, though. It looks like the one in the middle photograph on this link. That crystal agave is inside the bottle. The tequila is pretty good too.
I was treated to a night out at Clancy’s Irish Pub, courtesy Heather and her significant other. We had such a wonderful time! (Thank you guys!!) We retired to their home to sample the seven year old Flor de Caña rum that Jeri had scored at Luka’s. That is some smooth, tasty rum! No wonder everybody down there in Nicaragua is raving about it.
Everything was going smoothly on my trip home, and I had made it through three bottle-necks of road work safely, past most of the congestion in the Rolla area and I was anticipating my arrival home; thinking of a nice relaxing afternoon with Jim when in an instant everything changed .
It was a section of freeway that was quite congested. I was traveling at my usual modest 65 mph (I recently developed this habit when I learned that holding my freeway speed to 65 mph changes my mileage from 48 mpg to around 52 mpg). There was traffic right on my right shoulder — big traffic, as a matter of fact. I was being passed by a tractor-trailer rig. In front of me was a line of around ten cars. I started to see brake lights, so I tapped the brake to disengage the cruise control. Right about then the car in front of me ran over a large hunk of truck tread that had peeled off some semi rig. It was a very long piece of tire, and since it had just been run over it was writhing in the lane in front of me like some sort of wounded snake. It was not flat on the road, but twisted.
I avoided the instinctive urge to whip the wheel of my car to avoid the obstacle. I really had no time to do anything except cuss before I too hit the thing. Bang!
What a noise! I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw the person behind me making the fatal error that I had avoided. I witnessed the beginning of their crash as they side swiped the car in the next lane. I have no idea how many people or cars were involved, I was busy assessing my own situation, which did not seem to be particularly good. Although my car was still running, it was making a heck of a racket and there seemed to be smoke coming from my right front side, so I pulled into the rest area that was providentially Right There.
Oy. The smoke stopped immediately. First I stopped cussing, then I stopped shaking. After that I got out to see what was up.
The smoke had been caused by the broken wheel well on the right side rubbing against the tire. The wheel well on the other side was also broken. The whole front bumper and grill of the car were broken and loose; the piece that shields the engine compartment from road dust and mud was torn loose and dragging on the ground, causing the horrendous racket that had scared me so badly.
After a certain amount of flustered hand wringing I rummaged around in the trunk for the rope I knew was back there, got my handy Gerber knife out of my purse and proceeded to lash up the broken pieces so they wouldn’t drag, and yanked things around so they weren’t rubbing on tires. While I was doing this, a couple of State Troopers in full panic mode went tearing by on their way to the accident scene I had left behind.
I discovered that my antique cell phone has decided it can no longer hold a charge, so I plugged it into the car and listened to it beep disconsolately at me (“I have no reserve juice”) as I made a call to Jim to apprise him of my situation.
Having more or less regained my composure, I proceeded along my no-longer-merry way and had gotten about five miles when the car started making dragging noises again. So I then had the lovely experience of a freeway side stop as I ascertained that one of the bumper pieces had sort of vibrated loose and was dragging on the ground. Even when you are six feet off the road on the shoulder, freeway traffic feels VERY CLOSE and quite threatening as is whizzes by, especially when it is a semi truck.
I decided that it would be wise to make a stop by the Toyota dealer in St. Robert (which was only about 10 miles away at this point) where we bought the car, and make sure that it was really safe to drive before I completed the last 40 miles of the trip, so I did. Free of charge, the mechanic put it up on the rack, and tightened things down and rearranged broken items so they would stay secure for the trip home.
The view from below revealed more damage. My gas tank also got dented rather severely, the housing was cracked. Toyota equips their gas tanks with an itnernal bladder, so it wasn’t leaking (thank Goddess!!). But that may account for why my gas gauge was entertaining the fantasy that no gas had been consumed during the previous 120 mile portion of the trip. Anyway, the whole shebang needs replacement.
Also there is a cross member of the front frame assembly that was bent by the impact. The back bumper has been displaced but doesn’t appear to be damaged, just needs reseating. Well, unless the attachments have been torn up. That remains to be seen.
The end of the tread whipped up and put a dent in the front passenger side by the front door.
While it is in the shop we will make sure that they check all the running gear too, to make sure that it is still in one piece. Seeing what happened to the gas tank made me start to wonder about my tie rods and CV joints. . .
All of that damage from the tread of one truck tire. Honestly, you don’t want to run over stuff like that unless you just can’t help it.
Our insurance company was quite insouciant about the whole thing. Considering that I could have been involved in a situation like the people behind me, or my air bag could have deployed and I could have a wreck while I was all wrapped up in it, things could have been so much worse. They only have to deal with a situation where there is no fault involved, no other insurance company, no lawyers, no bodily injuries.
We’ll have to pay the $500 deductible. They will pay for a rental car while the Prius is in the shop, and that alone will probably wind up costing the amount of the deductible. I have no idea how much the repairs will total, but considering the amount of broken and bent stuff on that car, I’ll bet it is going to be several thousand dollars.
Suddenly, that bi-yearly insurance bill doesn’t seem quite so bad any more!