Woes of a Previous Year

Excerpted from Journal DEC2018: God’s protection by way of troubles

– Never doubt the Lord’s oversight in whatever we do- Psalm 121:7; Isaiah 41:10, 13

…Travel is never far down on my agenda. If you know me, you know how much I love to be either on my ’98 Honda Goldwing or in my ’02 F250 booking down the highway to somewhere! Well, 2018 was off to a good start with a couple short trips to Maine & Ohio. Late in February I put the camper on the truck and headed south to see my sane family members who live in Florida and Georgia. My niece’s wedding was a special occasion for the trip too! While the traveling was great, it wasn’t too far into the trip before I realized there were a few thousand too many miles on the set of tires I was riding on. One finally sprung a leak, and about my brother’s place in north Georgia I had to get it fixed. The others were on their last steel belt by the time I returned home! If only the tires were where the story ended. I had no idea of the “mis-adventures” that lie ahead.

Tires replaced.

Leaky air valves would plague the next 3 months traveling to New Hampshire, Maine and back home several times – only foreshadowing Summer’s transportation woes. Things really heated up when I headed to Maine for the summer – late June. Camper repaired, cycle in tow.

I had agreed to return from Maine mid-July to run a science related 2-day experience for a summer school program back in New York. I thought, “no problem – I’ll just take the Goldwing down for the duration and be back in time to start work at the Jordan Pond House.” The trip back to Rochester was uneventful. But there were some strange goings-on with the bike’s electrical system – unexplainable instant shut-offs while on the interstate, lasting only seconds. Couldn’t figure out what that was all about. And, while it was disconcerting, it didn’t last, so I thought I would check it out when I got back to Maine and spoke with the Goldwing club members.

It never made it out of the dooryard.

An electrical malfunction that interrupted the starter – just hours before I was to leave for the return trip – literally burned out the 3-year old starter on the bike. There aren’t replacement starters for a bike that age just sitting on shop shelves on weekends. So, the bike was sidelined, and I was stranded.
Panicked, I rented a car one way to Bangor and drove overnight to be back to work on Monday. Crisis averted. Or so I thought! The very next day would change my whole summer, and the rest of the year for that matter.

8 minutes from work, along the Stanley Brook Road Tuesday morning, I made the ill-fated decision to turn around to run an errand in Seal Harbor. Easily I could have continued on and returned to the village via the Jordan Pond road. No, I decided to make a turn at the one wide spot in the road. A sandy shoulder space on both sides where routine maintenance trucks often park was open. I went for the turn

…as I notice the 6 inch drop between the blacktop and the sand.

The hard bumps at the turn were little worry for an F250 prepped like mine is to carry a truck camper and run a snowplow. While it was bumpy, I wasn’t fazed, thinking the beast can handle it. It was as I was headed back to the village that the morning’s plans began to unravel; or wear away as this case was.

At first, I was just frustrated. The noise I heard coming from the back sounded like the air valve on one of the tires was leaking again. . . one that I just had replaced! I hit the accelerator thinking I could at least get back to the beach parking lot before all the air was lost. The coast was clear (it was very early!) and I rolled in to the Seal Harbor Beach parking lot – virtually uninhabited this time of day. Hopping out, I inspected the driver’s side tires. Nothing. Around the back and to the other side – nothing! All tires were fine. What?? Something flowing on the asphalt from beneath the truck. I looked under the truck bed …

and my heart stopped.

I literally could not believe what I was looking at. I couldn’t fathom what had happened, but there it was. The 25-gallon gas tank was partially dislodged, and its front portion was hanging down resting on the pavement …Leaking. Now I was laser focused – how to fix or stop the hemorrhaging – it was a completely filled tank just last evening. The gas was slowly leaking from the front of the plastic tank. Now, unless something could be done, all 25 gallons would make its way toward the storm drain

– and into the federally protected trout stream and out to the beach and the Atlantic.

Apparently, what I interpreted as a leaky tire was actually the gas tank dragging along the surface of the roadway. I tried desperately to harness the tank with a tie-down. That only made it leak faster. I lowered the tank back onto the pavement. There was nothing else I could do. But pray.. and call 911. The cell service usually doesn’t work at Seal Harbor Beach. But I got through, though spotty, and managed to deliver the emergency message.

Northeast Harbor Hazmat safely contained the 25 gallons of unleaded gasoline that had leaked from the trucks tank

I won’t continue the story – of a God-sent beach tractor with sand, hazmat response teams, agonizing loss of sleep over whether contamination had occurred, a month of searching for a replacement tank but not finding a perfect fit; of renting an overly expensive micro-car that gutted my summer wages, or of the additional later replacements of gas line, exhaust system and snow plow overhaul.
Suffice it to say the truck is now ready … for sale!

There is an extremely valuable piece to share, in the midst of this chaos: At no time did I ever sense a lack of God’s care or protection.

In fact, at least twice it dawned on me what He had spared me from. Both with the motorcycle and the truck, disaster may well have been realized on several occasions and on several levels. I’m alive and can give witness that my troubles were minimal compared to what could have happened.
The bike – it turns out – had loose battery terminals, the results of a repair guy’s misinterpretation after fixing brakes and installing tires. At 70 mph, loss of power on the return trip to Maine might have cost me life or limb.

The truck – it turns out- had tank straps rusted to the point where the jarring of that turn tore them loose. The Ziebart undercoating had masked the danger as the whole undercarriage- wires, hoses and all looked healthy. Had this event happened in the likely areas of the NY Thruway or I-495 around Boston -where the potholes and road-debris make the sandy turn-around look like a golf-greens divot – and had my tank been metal, the 70 mph speed and the difficult roadside navigation could also have been beyond hazardous.

For the record, the Harbor, the stream and the beach are all safe – thanks to the quick actions of a beach combing tractor driver and an efficient local Fire Department. I am grateful for the care and provision of these men and for the God who oversaw this whole ordeal.

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