Tar and Feathers-What Happens When Something Goes Wrong When Traveling Remotely

Five days ago I was driving across the backroads of Wyoming. After leaving Casper I spent a night at Alcova Lake and then began the final push to Boise, to my friends home and Elsie's cat sitters for the next few weeks. All was going well and I was home free. Well so I thought.

Alcova Lake

After, regretfully, leaving Alcova Lake-$10 campsites(first come first serve), hiking trails, and incredible scenery-I followed RT 220 west through sage and more sage and well, more sage. Eventually I found may way to route 28, west. At the end of the route the road led me through the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge. The signs as I traveled through the refuge kept me entertained. Sitting on top of one of the signs was a golden eagle. Immediately I pulled off the side of the road and u-turned it. I definitely needed a picture or two or three. When I returned to the area of the sign I pulled off the road and my camera and I went to work. The bird was very accommodating.

After the photo shoot was over I u-turned it again and began to drive west. Uh oh, something was wrong with the rig. Everything shook. It felt worse than a flat. I pulled over, got out and checked all four tires. No problems that I could see. I got back in, drove across the Green River, shaking like crazy. I turned into a boat launch parking area, on the Green and turned the engine off.  Oh no. Here I was in nowhere Wyoming. Cell phone was sketchy. What was I to do? The first thing I did was call my friend Linda, in Boise. I needed support and commiseration. I needed to not feel so alone and isolated.

Step two, I called Coachnet. Roadside assistance was definitely needed. This was a Friday afternoon, the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. The closest town was Green River, WY about an hour away. After much searching, Wendy from Coachnet found a tire and repair service to come find me. They said it would be about two hours.

Linda suggested that I pull out my chair and a cold beer and enjoy the scenery. I could not have gotten stuck in a better place than along a river in, otherwise sagebrush covered country.

I sat for a while and then got up and really started to take a look at the rig. No dash lights had come on-why not? I walked around and around. What was wrong with the passenger side back tire? It did not look right. About half of the tire was covered with road tar and rocks. The tread was completely covered and the tar was thick. Just as I discovered the probable cause of the shaking, the tire company arrived. Jason confirmed that this was the cause of the shaking. He said that when road crews are done with their work they are known to dump the tar along the side of the road, it is an issue. What was I to do about it? Jason said that people just drive with it until it gets shaken off.

I decided that was not good enough. With the assistance of Goo-Gone, a flathead screw driver and 2 hours of my time I was able to peel off the top layer and find the tread in the tires again. Man was I filthy. My arms, up to my elbows were black-covered with tar and grit. My clothes were filthy and I was hot and probably pretty stinky as well. Most of the offending road gunk was gone (not all of it) and I felt a little more confident about driving out of there the next morning.

Because the tar was still on the tire I began to worry about collecting all the rocks again, as I drove out of the gravel lot the next morning. Never fear, the creative nurse side of me came forward and I found a solution. I put plastic bags over the half of the tire that still had remaining tar on it. In the morning I drove out to a hard surface, peeled most of the plastic bags off, with minimal accumulation of rocks. Success!!!!

Here are a few things that I have learned from the Great Tar Incident.

  • It is OK to call a friend to ask for support. Thank you Linda Peden. The continued texting until I found a solution was very helpful too.
  • It is OK to call Coachnet or whatever roadside assist you have. The one thing I have continued to like about Coachnet is the people I speak to are knowledgable and reassuring and forever helpful.
  • If possible find a good turnout to wait in. I ended up boon docking along the river in the middle of a Wildlife Refuge. I was treated to geese and ducks and a trumpeter swan flying over my campsite in the morning. It was also extremely quiet. Elsie the Cat loved that aspect.
  • I am stronger than I think. After I remind myself to take a few deep breaths and I am not going to die in nowhere Wyoming, often a solution presents itself.
  • It is OK to stop and sit down and then re-approach the issue again.
  • Most problems have a solution.

By the time I reached Boise later in the day the tar was completely gone and the incident now will become a distant memory. However, if it surfaces (sic) again I now have a bit more knowledge in my arsenal. I probably will reach out to a friend again to help me get over the initial trauma. That was extremely helpful. And then I will get to work, using all the resources that are available to me.

Next adventure-two weeks small ship cruising in Alaska. Elsie is staying in Boise.





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