It all started late in the evening.
After a delicious dinner in Asheville, Michael (my travel buddy) and I drove to the Blue Ridge Mountains since we’re camping near Mount Mitchell State Park. As we passed each windy road after another, the roads got more and more sketchy. Plus driving in pitch-black darkness wasn’t helping.
Suddenly all I hear was a “THUMP!” All I see now was the tire pressure monitor indicating that I got a flat tire. At that moment, my thoughts became blurry.
“Oh shit! This is not happening…”
I had no choice but to pull over to the side of the road. I looked over at Michael and I could tell he was freaked out about this whole situation. I felt helpless and all I could do was apologize profusely. *Mind you this happened to be a rental car.* He kept telling me it’s okay in a very calm demeanor. I asked Michael if he added insurance to the rental. He replied no.
I tried not to panic as we’re literally stranded in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Turning on the emergency lights, I stared in dumbfound shock until Michael said he kinda knows how to change a flat tire. I asked if he was sure and he said so. A car drove by and stopped. We both rolled down the window. The driver asked if we’re both okay and we assured him we can handle the situation.
We both were wrong. Dead wrong.
As soon as I opened the door, the crisp, autumn air hit me like a brick. The night was beyond cold. Maybe it’s because I’m more used to warmer weather. I quickly shut the door, taking shelter back in the car. It took a lot of courage in me to finally get out of the car and check the trunk for a spare. Luckily it did.
I’ve never felt this much relief…
I tried yanking the tire out only to realize later that the tire can’t be pulled out. There was something in the middle, preventing the tire from being pulled out. Michael and I tried twisting this “part” only to realize this was such a daunting task.
Few minutes pass by and we try to think of another alternative. We tried reaching the car rental company only to realize this plan was futile. Plus, the cell service was spotty at times.
Okay. Moving on to Plan C. Michael and I called a towing service. We were determined to get this tire replaced no matter what. After much effort, one of the towing service recommended another towing company. We obliged and called this other towing service. Luckily someone picked up the phone despite how late the hours were. The guy told us to take photos of the damage and the spare tire since Michael and I were having such a hard time getting the tire out.
Keep in mind, we both have NO CLUE how to change a flat tire.
So we took photos despite how blurry the photos came out. Thankfully, the guy was helpful as he gave us specific instructions on how to get the spare tire out of the trunk. Yes, that means untwisting that “part” by ourselves. After a tough game of arm strength, we finally got the spare out of the trunk.
Now comes the hard part. Placing the jack under the car. First, we tried putting it under the tire. Michael was quick to tell me this wasn’t the right method. Like I mentioned before, I have no clue how to change a flat. So, we put the jack under the body of the car. This plan seemed to work until we realized the car wasn’t lifted at an angle.
At this point I was ready to throw in the towel and just call the towing service to pick up the car.
What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. A car driving by stopped right next to ours and the driver pulled down the window. He asked what’s wrong and both me and Michael had to explain our situation. Lucky for us, the driver said he can change the tires.
PHEW! What a bigger relief!
The driver introduced himself as Jeremy. He was travelling with his girlfriend, heading to Asheville. Luckily for us, Jeremy came over and inspected the problem. He told us we put the jack in the wrong place which explains why the car wasn’t elevated. In less than 30 minutes, Jeremy fixed the car like it was no big deal.
He showed both Michael and me how to change the tire step by step so that next time we can try it ourselves (if we ever get back in this situation).
We thanked him for his kindness and we started chatting about our lives. Jeremy, his girlfriend, and his dog happened to head over to Asheville. Michael and I gave him tons of recommendations and even told him we’d keep in touch. After our conversation, we each said our goodbyes and once again thanked Jeremy and his girlfriend for his help.
Looking back, I think this experience opened my eyes. Travel can go wrong at times. I admit, I don’t always have the “perfect vacation.” Sometimes travel is stressful, sometimes travel has unexpected delays. So it’s okay when shit hits the fan. It’s up to you to look at the situation in a different way, both positive and negative.