Sports Column

NELSON: Cars need love too

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My circuit was a near-repeat this past weekend as travel took me out and about.

I went back to Seattle, then to Los Angeles again, but flew right over Texas on the way home instead of stopping there.

But there were a few bumps in the road along the way.

I’ve had a couple car adventures.

Two weeks ago, on the way home from a Pacers game, just as I was getting on the interstate, and getting up to speed, the entire windshield wiper assembly on the driver side simply fell off and flew away into the dark and stormy night.

Yes, it was raining, and no, the small passenger side wiper does not clear a lot of window.

I found out how my postal service brother feels when he is out delivering mail. I was leaned over as far as I could go to the right, running the gas pedal and brakes while navigating the roadway home.

Last Friday there was another revolt from the wheels department, as I had a blowout on the passenger side front tire just as I was leaving town for the airport.

The darn thing just disintegrated, and there I sat at 5:15 on a cold and dark morning a mile east of Crawfordsville.

I’ve changed plenty of tires in my day, so that wasn’t the biggest problem.

The dark was a problem, and I had a plane to catch was another.

So I got the wrenches and jack out and got started. The tire was so messed up that I couldn’t get the jack under the frame, so I had to jack up the bumper a bit, then run down into the ditch to find a piece of branch to put under the frame. Then I could get the jack in a safe spot and get started.

The lug nuts eventually came off and of course I had to empty everything from the back of my car to get the spare out. It took more work from the jack to get things far enough in the air to make the change.

I kept thinking of how the crews change tires and fuel up race cars in 15 seconds as the minutes continued to fly past, and I knew I was probably going to miss my first flight, which meant missing my second flight, which meant getting to Seattle was going to be an adventure again.

I finally was able to throw everything back in the back of the car, including the flat, which had a nasty burnt rubber odor.

That smell lingered on me the rest of the weekend, just for the record.

I finally got to the airport, but not it time, and there were no easy solutions. I got shuffled to Dallas with hopes of finding something heading to Seattle. You will find out if you have a flight canceled that airline folks love to just get you out of their town and let someone else fix your issue.

I had to get on standby for Seattle flights, and of course did not get anywhere close to getting on the first flight. I managed to get in line for the second one, and was standing at the ramp door for the third. One more empty seat and I would have made it.

The third time was the charm, and I eventually got to the west coast, but it was about eight hours later than planned.

It was XFL duty on Saturday, and the game went fine. Afterwards it was time to head back to the airport and catch a flight to LA — same as last weekend.

But, there were not as many TSA issues in Seattle as last week, no lady wanting to change seats with me, and no Sunday morning flight to Houston. Our game last Sunday was in California.

The issues Sunday were at the stadium. There were two soccer matches Saturday, so our football crew was not able to set up the day before, as is the usual routine. They had to wait until very late Saturday night to start, and through some sort of miscommunication, our guys ended up in the wrong, and much smaller, television booth.

Trust me on this, with all the equipment and people we stuff into a booth,space is at a premium, and short space makes things a lot tighter.

We had no time to move everything into the correct booth, however, so we made do.

The end of that game meant it was time to go home, and instead of waiting for Monday morning, I opted for the midnight red eye from LA to Indy.

I’ve learned how to get at least some sleep in airplanes, so there was at least a snooze of sorts on the way home. I landed just as dawn was rising in Indy, and I remembered that stinky tire in the back of my car.

I got back to Crawfordsville, called my tire folks, and was told to come right in. I went out to the car and discovered that the left front was now half-flat, so I carefully drove the few blocks to the shop.

I now have new shoes on the front of the jalopy and away we go!

It’s Pacers and high school stuff this week, and my weekend travel keeps me in the center of the nation. I fly to Sat. Louis Saturday for a game, and then to Dallas Sunday, with a return flight to Indy Sunday night.

Nothing to it – right?

Safe travels.

Jeff Nelson works in national television. His column appears each Thursday in the Journal Review.

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