Destination Las Cruces: Can You Spare Some Change

Undeterred by our off-roading adventure we had in Dixie National Forest, we hit the road the next morning toward our next adventure.
Our plan was to stop for the night at Lava River Cave, just outside of Flagstaff, AZ.
I’ve never been to see it, but Courtney had visited it a few years ago and knew there was an open parking lot we could boondock for the night and see the cave in the morning before hitting the road.
To get there, we had to drive through the suburbs of Flagstaff.

[Actually, I had to drive through them.
Why do I even mention this? Well, long story longer, due to my Keratoconus, most of the driving I have been doing is on the highways and interstates and only recently have I regained the confidence to do more than that (my personal blog has my story. Feel free to ask and I’ll give you the link)].

After navigating the streets of Flagstaff (in the dark. I HATE driving in the dark), we reached the entrance to Lava River Cave.
The roads have deteriorated since Courtney was last at the attraction. Whether it was funding, or “It’s the end of season. Screw fixing the potholes in road for the Winter”, the road was most certainly not improved.
Three and a half miles, at 3 miles an hour, sometimes less.
Yeah sure, we’d seen a Hell of a lot worse just the night before, but we were still a little shaken and overly cautious.
We got about 300 yards from the parking lot when the TireTraker started screaming at us that the driver side rear trailer tire had a leak. Greeaaat, another valve stem ruined (this wasn’t the first time we had a problem with a valve stem).
We got out to take a look and sure enough, we could hear the air leaving the tire.
Courtney fidgeted with the valve stem and found a position that stopped the leak. “Get the duct tape, I have an idea,” she said.
While I held the valve stem in the “not leaking air like a sieve” position, Courntey MacGuyvered the valve stem in place.
Now we could hobble the rig to the parking lot and figure out what we were going to do about our latest predicament.
Two tires with valve stem issues, after the tire monitors were installed. Coincidence? A quick internet search indicated that, no, it is not. Apparently, the tire monitors, combined with centrifugal force at highway speeds wreak havoc on rubber valve stems.

Fortunately, we have road side assistance with Good Sam, so Courtney called them up to see when we could get someone out to take care of us.
It was after 9PM, so it was too late for the agent to get someone out to us that night; they could get someone in the morning, and that was good enough for us (we also made sure they understood we were in a popular park, regular visitors, etc. etc. and the agent assured us it was a non-issue).
There were two options:

  • Fix the valve stem, replacing it with a metal one. Cost: almost $90.
  • Swap the spare: Free.

Hmm. Guess which option we went with? Yeah. We opted to have someone sent out to swap and we’d go in to town and have all five tires (the four trailer and the spare) fitted with the metal valve stems at the same time.
That settled, I fired up the generator. It ran out of gas after 1.5 or so, so I refueled with the rest of the gas and that lasted us another 3 to 4 hours or so (no idea when it stopped, as we were fast asleep by that time).

The next morning, a DOT guy shows up with his truck and got to work.
The spare is a “full tire” (hooray), brand new — it still had the factory sticker on it. We decided that rather than waste time trying to find a place in Flagstaff, AZ and not knowing how long it would take (Hours? A day? We don’t have time like that to *cough* spare *cough*) we’d just drive to Chandler and take care of it then.
We were going to be there for a couple of days anyway (among things we had pre-planned upon arrival, we had a skylight to fix, now, too) and could get all the tires fixed in a familiar & known reputable tire shop.

The cost to get all five tires re-fitted with metal valve stems? Less than $90.

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1 Response

  1. Shirley (aka mom) says:

    Next chapter, please….she said waiting on the edge of her seat! ?

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