Getting an early start out of Lorton, we said goodbye to Adam and hit the road. Traffic was heavy but flowing as we wove our way out of the greater D.C. area, and soon we found ourselves back on the turnpike. Weary from our adventures from the day before, we kept alert with talk of future plans for the NAPCO and the museum as a whole. Since the radio in the Excursion is on the fritz, we enjoyed my eclectic mix of favorites on Pandora over my phone, well at least I enjoyed them…
With a craving for greasy turnpike plaza pizza, we watched for a Sbarro, but as the lunch hour came and went, we had to settle for another place we hadn’t heard of. It was O.K., but left us craving the real thing. About an hour after lunch, we had hit a pretty smooth and lazy section of the Ohio turnpike, and as we were in pretty deep conversation about our upcoming National Association of Automobile Museums (N.A.A.M.) conference we heard a loud thud accompanied by a jarring thud from under our seats. At first I thought our driveshaft had let go, but in the mirror I could see a large road gator rolling down the highway. Within a few more seconds everything seemed normal, but I could feel just the smallest vibration so we found a safe spot to pull over and inspect the situation. What we found was that we had lost the entire tread of one of our trailer tires. The remaining carcass was a balding porcupine of wire belts but amazingly it was still holding air. Instead of working on the side of the road, we decided to try and make it to the next service plaza 13 miles down the road.
Our luck paid off, and we made it to the plaza where Justin had the opportunity to learn how to properly change a tire, A.K.A. the old guys put the kid to work. And work he did. Within several minutes, we had it changed out with our spare and we were back on the road, enjoying my fantastic mix of tunes.
As luck would have it, by the time our bellies wanted dinner, we found a service plaza with a Sbarro. With our hearts and cholesterol levels raised, we fueled up ourselves and the Excursion, and hit the road for the last stretch.
Around 8:00PM we found ourselves entering Detroit, where the roads became exceedingly bad. My attempts to dodge the largest of potholes was going O.K. until right north of downtown I hit one with a bone jarring “Wham!!!” followed by the familiar hiss of a tire loosing air. With a quick glance in the mirror, I could see a trailer tire that was utterly shredded and throwing chunks of rubber. We exited the freeway, into one of the lesser desirable areas of town, and pulled into a gas station to assess the damage. I initially thought we had lost both passenger side trailer tires, but fortunately we had only lost the front one, although that was a brand new tire before we departed on the trip.
On our previous tire Andrew had devised the idea of instead of using a jack, just to back up our disconnected trailer ramp to change the tire. It worked well the first time, so our frazzled pit crew started all over again. We had only one problem. We didn’t have another spare, and knowing that the lug pattern on the Excursion, and even the NAPCO, was different, we had to figure something else out. Checking our porcupine carcass, it was still holding air, although not much. It was better than nothing, and we put it back onto the trailer. Not everyone shared my faith that it could make it the 50 miles home, but it was all we had. So, on we went, all a little on edge, waiting for that next big bang that ultimately never came. I watched the tire like a hawk in my mirror, and as flat as it squatted, it continued to roll over the broken asphalt and potholes.
Pulling into my driveway after 9:30, we got out and watched the last of the air hiss and escape from the tire that never should have made it as far as it did. Happy, we all said our goodbyes, and after saying hello to the fiance, I headed for a well deserved sleep.
All in all we are very happy with the NAPCO, and had a great little adventure going out and getting her. One plan for our trip was to interview an individual that is a big part of 4×4 history, but unfortunately he wasn’t feeling well so we had to tentatively reschedule for next month. Please continue to check our progress on this website, where there are links if you are interested in donating to the NAPCO preservation, and please follow us at facebook.com/themoramuseum