The other weekend, we went camping with two other couples. My son and the other couple’s son also joined us on this trip. It was a camping to reminisce the good old days.
When our kids were small, our three families who were all homeschoolers, would go camping every year, usually one weekend in spring. But our kids have all grown-up now. Between our three families, there is one child who is now a doctor doing her residency training, another one in medical school, two are pursuing masters degree in graduate school, one is a full-pledged engineer, another one in engineering school, and one beginning his pre-med.
With our children done with homeschooling, our families have not spent much time together for a while now, and even have rare contact with each other. It did not help that the other family also moved out of Iowa to a nearby state.
One of the fathers among our group just retired, so he organized this camping trip. Perhaps to rekindle our bond, or perhaps just to get away from the mundane daily grind. The last time our families camped together was almost a decade ago.
When we arrived in the camp which was three hours drive from our home, I was shocked to find out that both front wheels of our car were completely bald with all the tread worn out with the inner steel belts even visibly showing. We just replaced all our tires just a little more than a year ago, and the back wheels were completely fine, so I believe there’s something wrong with the wheel balance or the drivetrain of our car. I was just relieved that we did not have a tire blown-out while driving to the camp. I know we were partly to blame for not regularly checking on our tires.
Since the camp site was far from a major city, I was afraid to drive our car for a significant distance. It was dangerous and the state of the tires were not even street legal. I called for an auto service and thought of having the car towed to the nearest dealership or car repair shop, but it would cost much money as we were almost in the middle of nowhere. Plus it was a weekend so they would not be able to fix it until the next work week, as they have to order the right tires. How could we get home then?
So as I worry about the situation, the time that we should be relaxing became a time of stress and anxiety for me. I was uncertain on what to do. And knowing that the rains would be coming the day we were supposed to leave camp, would make the situation even more treacherous to drive.
As I was sitting by the camp fire with all of them that night, I was physically present but my mind was somewhere else, worrying. However as I listened to the stories our friends shared around the camp fire, my attitude began to change.
I learned that one of them was recently diagnosed with the debilitating condition of Parkinson’s disease and was now undergoing treatment. His symptoms were not so bad currently, but we all know that this is a degenerative disease and could only get worse. While the other parent shared that he had his chest cracked open for a life-threatening condition that required a delicate surgery, and had to go to Texas as the procedure is done only in select hospitals around the country. He was in the ICU for a few days last year.
As I was listening to these stories and the hardships that my friends have gone through or still going through, I realized how silly I was distressed about tires, when these people have more bigger issues to contend with. I stopped worrying and resolved to just enjoy and live for the moment.
The next day we hiked through the woods for a few hours and soaked in the beauty of nature that surrounded us. We relished the opportunity and thanked God that we still have the strength and the ability to celebrate this life that He bestowed us.
After the invigorating hike, we decided to go home a day early as the rain was coming and would drench the camp site and we would not be able to do any activity anyway.
Instead of driving all the way back home, we chose to drive to my daughter’s place which is half the distance, about 80 miles away. Our friends accompanied us and we drove by convoy, going slowly at only 40 to 50 miles per hour. We elected to avoid the main highways and instead passed through small byways and side roads. I was in needles and pins when we started driving, feeling the sword of Damocles hanging above us, as we roll with our disaster-waiting-to-happen tires.
But as we course through the typical Iowa scenic landscapes, which were vistas that inspired the artist, Grant Wood, to paint his creations, what was supposed to be a white-knuckle drive became a calming journey. My mind was totally placed at ease.
We arrived at our daughter’s place safely, where we decided to stay for the night, while our friends continued their journey home. I was amazed on how those tires survived that long drive. For sure angels traveled with us that afternoon.
The next morning we got a rental vehicle and left our car to get fixed. It was another weekend that I will remember.