Timing is Everything when Driving

Coming back from Monterey on a weekday can be tricky. You want to wait until rush hour is over, but you don’t want to leave too late, or you’ll get caught in it at the other end.

Since I’d left my laptop cord in the Bay Area, I couldn’t spend my morning pounding out a blog post, as I usually do. I cleaned up, packed up, and once the suitcase was rolled to the gate, my two dogs started whining.

“Don’t leave us behind!”

I suited up the dogs, Pepper in her choke chain, and Daisy in her Thunder shirt and purple harness over it. Daisy hates the car, but the shirt does help her by squeezing her tight like a wrapped burrito.

We were in the car by 9:30, a record! I dropped off a donation bag downtown and grabbed the new Carmel Pinecone, which comes out every Friday.  We were Highway 1 by 9:44.

“We’ll be home before noon,” I said to the dogs.

Everyone was moving along at 65 to 70 mph, not much traffic on the road. Then I saw it.

A tire flying off to the right, then dirt flying about four cars up from me.

I slowed down and came to a full stop.  Men were getting out of their cars. I sat tight with the dogs.

What had happened?

I saw one guy collecting debris on the road and giving it to someone. My view was blocked, but I knew my lane would be clear if that guy would get back in his truck and get going.

The Beatles were playing on the CD player (yes, I am a dinosaur). I watched two of the three drivers get back into their cars and trucks. Then the first guy got into his truck, and there was movement.

I quickly merged into the other lane, and soon I was weaving my way around the black pick-up truck, turned sideways with its tailgate rammed up against the bridge railing — no tire, no wheel, just the axle sitting on the road. I looked to the right. The wheel was butted up against the bridge railing on the other side.

The wheel came off, not just the tire, the whole wheel!

The pick-up driver was pacing while on his phone. It was a miracle that no one got hit or hurt.

I called 911 and got my town in the Bay Area.

“You have to actually dial it,” the woman said. “You’ve programmed in your local number, and we can’t help you.”

II punched 9-1 and got a message that my call could not be completed.

It’s hard going 65 mph and trying to dial the phone. No wonder it’s illegal.

I tried again, got the local dispatcher and told her about the pick-up truck on the northbound lane of 101 just south of Betabel Road.

“The other callers said it’s southbound,” the dispatcher said.

“I am coming up on Gilroy,” I said. “I promise you that it is on the northbound side. I just passed the guy.”

A few seconds earlier, I would’ve been part of the accident. A few minutes later and we would’ve been sitting there for a good long time.

This is the second time I have been right behind a 101 accident south of Gilroy. This is the second time I am thankful to be okay.

We did get home before noon, but it could’ve turned out much differently.

Couldda Wouldda Didda

Even though I was grooving out to Magical Mystery Tour, I was still paying attention and saw the tire and the spray of dirt up ahead. I slowed down, and so did everyone else. No one got hurt.

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