April 4 ,2016
I vividly remember standing on Interstate 90 in the early morning in complete shock and disbelief as to what happened and where the heck my entire wheel went. Steven and I scratched our heads as we followed the grooves in the asphalt and saw where it began, but still no wheel was insight.
With our loaded truck and trailer filled with chewing horses safely stranded on the side of the road, hazard lights flashing, Steven and I began to hunt for the missing wheel. He went across the highway on the west bound I-90 interstate, while I searched up and down on the east side for that errant wheel. Low and behold, Steven found our wheel over 1/2 mile east on the west bound side of the highway. We were both relieved and thankful that it did not hit a vehicle traveling on the highway that morning. The very thought of our wheel slamming into a car windshield was frightening, especially the day before Easter.
Now that the reconnaissance mission was successful, wheel intact recovered, we set the next plan in motion. Call the police, and our insurance carrier, State Farm. While I was making calls, a gentleman from the South Dakota Fish and Game Department showed up. He noticed our dilemma from the opposite side of the Interstate then drove around to assist us. He parked farther back flashing his lights to warn the on coming traffic. By now traffic on the interstate began to pick up shaking the horse trailer as it passed. The horses were starting to get restless.
I attempted to explain our predicament to the State Farm Roadside service but they could not totally understand or maybe I couldn’t relay it properly. Once I did get someone on the line that did understand, I was unable to describe specifically where we were. Thank goodness Mr. Jared Hill, from Fish and Game was on hand because he was able to provide the exits and areas where we could be rescued, or so we hoped.
Even though the State Farm representative understood, he said they would not send any assistance for the horses. Only the truck could be towed to a repair shop. Unfortunately there wasn’t a local shop around that was open, and the closest one was over 50 miles away. At this point I was fuming, (Where is Jake when you need him?) I was not about to leave my horses in a hot trailer on the side of the highway….are they not listening to me? Again they refused….I spoke calmly, tried negotiating, yelled, screamed and almost went postal…..but still got no where. I was resolved to sit on the side of the road and stay with the horses, Steven could go with the truck.
Approximately twenty minutes later, a very large, bright red tow truck arrived with two guys. The truck had the Superman triangle, and the sign said REDI-TOWING. The guys hopped out and looked at us with eyebrows arched and asked about the situation. I have no doubt they were stunned by the sight of our truck, aka Beverly Hillbillies Mobile, a missing wheel, grooves in the asphalt to where our truck stopped and the caboose, a stock trailer full of horses. By the bewildered look on their faces, it was obvious State Farm didn’t inform them of anything other than we needed a tow….absurdity.
Right then and there I was resisting a melt down, but our tow truck driver introduced himself and his helper, smiled and assured us that he would get everyone taken care of. I laid down on the ground, it was only 10 AM and I wanted to go back to bed. Casey bravely approached me and said, no problem. I sat up as he walked toward the guys, and like a quarterback on a football team he began talking, giving directions and pointing everywhere. Then like a team, Casey, his helper, Jared and Steven leaped into action. Casey and Co. prepared to get the truck onto this huge flatbed trailer attached. Steven started removing personal items from the truck cab, and unhitching the horses. Jared headed off to his truck (thank heavens he had a big truck), getting ready to swoop in and hitch up to the horse trailer after our truck had been hoisted. I began to feel a little bit better, and asked Casey if he would get into trouble or anything, he just smiled and said, ” Why would I get into trouble, I own the tow company ..I gave all my guys Easter weekend off to be with their families.”
In a matter of 15-20 minutes we were off. It went flawless….We were on the road again, but it looked kinda like a Picasso painting, nothing was where it should be. Casey and Co driving a black GMC on top a flatbed, covered in hay bales, Dept of Fish and Game truck hauling a trailer from Idaho with four horses. Definitely Picasso. Go Figure.
As we sat in the back of Casey’s rig, we watched Casey work his magic once again. Now it was a war room, Casey was driving a semi, shifting his truck and talking on three phones and to us at the same time. He was cool as can be, my anxiety was as high as a hot air balloon. I could hear bits and pieces of the conversations, “Yea, I know it’s Saturday…Travelers…1 Wheel” “4 horses, need a water trough brought over” “Impound lot”….”Be there in a few”. I glanced over at Steven to see if he consented to this or even was in on the fun…he gave me the I dunno shoulder shrug and smiled. I’m relieved but still confused as to what is actually going on.
As we round a corner towards an industrial complex, Casey speaks up and says “Okay, here is the plan”. He begins telling us our horses are going to be spending the day in an impound yard, down by his tow company, and his buddy is bringing over a water trough. Then we are going to drop off the truck at another shop, his other buddy, Mike, is going to fix the wheel and get us on our way. In the mean time, Steven and I are going to go across the street to get some lunch at Dairy Queen and they are going on another call. At this point I am thinking back to the horses in the Tire-Rama….I guess that was the desensitizing? Okay, wheel, doesn’t sound like it will take too long…Mike, shops around the corner, Dairy Queen…across the street….everything is in walking distance and we are all together.
Jared and Steven unhitch his truck and he starts back on his way. We can’t thank him enough, without his help, I would still be on the side of the interstate with my horses…wondering what will happen to us. He gives us his card and wishes us “safer travels.”
Casey’s buddy shows up with water buckets, and the horses begin milling about with the cars, looking once again like junk yard dogs. Word begins to travel fast because as they are eating from the two bales we dropped and stretching their legs, kids on bikes and walkers begin to stop and stare…and then Casey’s four kids call and want to come down to see them before we leave. Jared’s gone, horses are settled and now our goal is to get the wheel fixed. We head over to Perfection Automotive. Mike the mechanic is currently finishing up a car and begins putting out feelers for a wheel our size. Casey and his guy take off for another call, giving us his card and saying call if we need anything at all. We look at each other and say “okay” and we go to Dairy Queen. Blizzard anyone?