An Unconventional Adventure
I always love a good adventure…. climbing high into the mountains, jeeping through a big mud hole, jeep camping in the wilderness, exploring our amazing country. There are so many ways to have a great adventure. Sometimes though, an adventure can be found in the smaller things that we do every day….
Recently, I had an adventure that was most unexpected. I was cleaning up my newly aquired property and had to do a dump run with some recyclables. It was a lovely sunny September afternoon and I had Fiona’s roof half off and the windows wide open. I stuffed my recycling cans into the back and set out. In between my house and the refuse site is a ridge with a powerline trail that I often go for a quick 4 wheel rip after work, or I go to take photos of the sunset. I had decided that I’d take this powerline ridge on my way home to break up an otherwise pretty straight forward day.
After sorting my recycling I headed back to the start of the trail, shifted into 4 high and started to climb. This section of the powerline is a short 15 minute rollercoaster of fun and is a mere 3 minute descent almost right to my front door! It’s mostly trail with lots of 4 wheeling side trails and a small creek to pass through and as I wheeled my way along, I was happy to be able to break up my day with a little 4 wheel rip. As I wheeled along the trail I came to the creek and dipped down ito it, climbing a steep embankment on the other side. I had a couple of large garbage cans in the back and they were being tossed around like a freshly shot pinball.
I smiled and eyed up the next challenge, a huge downhill trail with some Canadian Shield type rock that I often slide along as I descend. I shifted into 4 low to ease down what I call the “Rockfall” (a take on a waterfall). After slipping down the Rockfall, and back in 4 high, I bumped and climbed along the trail to a very steep, short dirt hill. I got a bit of speed and roared up but faltered at the top and slid backwards a bit, stalling Fiona! “What the…” I thought to myself, I’d done this hill a dozen times and this had never happened! I turned over the ignition again and attempted to climb the last few feet to the top… unsucessfully. I slowly backed down the hill in defeat and took another run at it, this time successfully. I was scratching my head over that one but my bewilderment quickly vanished at the sight of one of my favourite spots, a little tipsy turvy side trail with more Canadian Shield-like rock that is easy and challenging all at once. It’s a short run that I call “Rock ‘n Roll”. I shifted back into 4 low, eyed the line I was going to take and started to crawl up the rock. Fiona tipped and rolled a bit as her wheels gripped and slid and we got to the top without any problem. Or so I thought…
Going down Rockfall
When I drove out of Rock ‘n Roll, Fiona had a flopping sound and a bit of a limp along the front passenger side so I immediately stopped and jumped out to have a look. Awww no… Flat tire!!
Ok, so I’ve never had to deal with a flat tire in all my years of driving… which are many! Fortunately I changed all my own tires from Winter to summer this past spring, so I at least knew how to change one. I looked at the tire and there was a nice jagged gash from too much pressure. Sigh…. I guess I wheeled these stock tires a little too hard! Ok, time to get down to business. I pulled the little jeep jack and tire wrench out and planned my next steps. As a was thinking, somebody on a quad drove up and stopped to offer me help, to which I accepted. Within 20 minutes I was home.
My next step was to think about replacing the flat tire with a new one, so I rolled it into my garage until I could take it for recylcing. I thought my troubles were over…
They were not.
I carpool to work 60kms away (one way) and each carpool member takes a turn driving. The day after my “fun” flat tire adventure I parked at the carpool lot as always and when I returned from work, my other front tire was flat!!! I was disheartened and slightly amused. One of my carpool buddies offered to drive me home to get a winter tire & help me to change it, which gave me great relief! Within about 40 minutes I was back home with one 16 inch rimmed winter tire and three 18 inch rimmed summer tires! I needed to get all my winter tires on to even out this tire mess!
I quickly set to work getting the winter tires out of the garage, setting up my supplies… jack, tire wrench, and small compressor, in case I needed to pump the winters up a bit. I managed to change the previous day’s flat with it’s winter counterpart and moved to replace the back tires. I had to try to be quick as night was falling and I was losing light. I got Fiona’s front tire blocked, jacked her up with just enough clearance and tried to pull the tire off. Nope. Not going to happen. I kicked the tire, pounded it with the back of my big axe, kicked it some more and it just wouldn’t budge! I was getting frustrated. I had a big drive the following day and needed my tires to be right! But I had to stop for the night. I figured that two winters on the front and two summers on the back would be ok for one day. I had no choice. I was again, somewhat amused at the silliness of this tire saga!
Unlike the “old” days when a person would go to the next door neighbor or call a buddy to ask for some advice, I got onto my Instagram account and asked my jeeping friends for some advice on how to get that sticky, subborn, un-cooperative tire off. Within a couple of hours I had a whole slew of advice! I love my jeeping community. We’re just a big jeep family. If you have instagram: jk_jen is my handle 🙂
The best advice that I got, from two different jeepers, was to loosen the lug nuts 4-5 turns, roll the jeep back a forth a couple of times and try again. The next day I did this and it worked like a charm! I still had to give a few good kicks, but I got it off.
When I had the tire off, I realized that I could take the opportunity to replace the fender and liner that had been ripped off by a fallen tree about 6 weeks back, along a back road. I’d already picked up the clips to pop the pieces back on but needed the tire off to do it. I grabbed some tools and set to work and in no time the fender was back on and I’m sure I could hear Fiona cheering that she was whole again.
The last tire didn’t have that problem and within about half an hour I was ready to roll again. Properly. With the right tires. Finally! I just needed to have them balanced and set up an appointment for the next day. After they were balanced, I was chatting with the tire guy, he said that my tires would be good for around town and he hoped I wasn’t planning on driving the highway on them in the winter. Aww really? They’re that bad? I had an idea that they were on their last legs, but he confirmed it. I need new winter tires. UGH. This opened yet another can of worms.
So… I’ve been researching winter tires for the past couple of weeks and since we have wet slushy snow for most of our coastal winters, I’ve decided to buy Hakkepeliita 7 tires by Nokion. These are rated for extreme winter conditions including slush… of which we have plenty. I went to the exclusive Canadian distributor (Kal Tire) and found out that the Hakkepeliita 7 studded tires are sold out in Canada and not being replaced this season. Sheesh! These tires have their own special oval stud, which is part of what makes them the best extreme weather tire. They’re created and tested in Finland and are the best for our coastal conditions. Since I’m on the highways all winter, I need the best I can find. There are still an unstudded version available and the local shop can stud them with the common studs used on other tires. I accepted this because the tires themselves are so highly rated that I’m still winning. I have an appointment to have them installed on November 15th. Whew!!
Who would have thought that a shortcut home from the dump would have caused this great big adventure! Hahaha! I’m thankful that I wasn’t on the highway when either of these tires decided to give out. It could’ve been ugly. Really ugly. Fiona’s roll bar may have been severely tested, but thankfully that’s not the case. This whole ordeal has been an adventure, but such an unconventional one.
I learned so many things.
I learned that it’s important to check your vehicle regularly to make sure things are still working and looking like they should. I missed the signs that my tires were failing because the two front ones had slow leaks which I’d been filling, thinking that my tire sensors were failing. Serious lesson there. The sensors were working properly. It was ME that was failing.
I learned that the best resources are your friends (Instagram jeeping family) and neighbors (The first flat tire helper lives near by).
I learned how to change stubborn tires and how to change one fairly quickly.
I learned about snow tires and that I need to pre-order my next Hakkepeliita 7 studded tires well in advance!
It’s been about 3 weeks now since that first tire went flat and I look back at how much I’ve learned and accomplished, with some help from my friends.
Sometimes adventures come in strange packages!