Dust Bowl Road Trip: A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies

We left Canyon Journeys and the Everett Ranch in the morning, bumping south over gravel roads towards Oklahoma. It was day two of our Dust Bowl Road Trip, and we were excited to explore. Learn the reasons why we did this road trip here.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (9)

We stopped for a romp at Carrizo Canyon Picnic Area, just south of the ranch. The canyon is beautiful but watch out for poison ivy (Ryan found it and didn’t realize until a couple days later).

We were the only vehicle in the parking lot, so Fritzi got to run free. She approves of this style of travel.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (3)

We explored a bit and chatted about how a cowboy would have thought he’d found paradise when he stumbled on this place. Carrizo Creek runs through the canyon, meaning it is a lush landscape in the middle of an otherwise parched-looking land. Again, watch for poison ivy. It’s here. We know for sure. Apparently, there are petroglyphs too, but we didn’t search for them.

While this looks like a swimming hole, there’s a sign that warns of snapping turtles. You might take your chance on a hot day. Thankfully, the weather was perfect in the canyon on the day we visited.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (7)

Back on the road, we headed south through yellow prairies occasionally dotted with windmills. As we bounced along, at some point I heard a loud bang. It was as if we’d hit a rock and Ryan stated just that. However, moments later, he was pulling over.

“Feels like a flat,” he said.

I tried to remain calm as he rolled the truck to a stop.

At that very moment, top down, a white convertible zoomed past.

When we got out—the dog anxiously watching out the window—we found that it wasn’t a flat tire, it was a really flat tire. Our Toyota Tacoma was lilting to the right and the back right tire was sitting on its rim.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (5)

As I looked down at this puddle of a tire, I heard the moo of a cow and turn around. In the distance were lots of black cows watching us with passing curiosity.

The wind was blowing hard. It resulted in a constant tug on the hair and clothing that created a sense of anxiety.

My normal state of being cannot be described as calm. I am always on the brink of pure panic. Thankfully, I married Ryan. There isn’t much that rattles him. Not even the sight of a flat tire, it seems. This kept me in a much more visibly serene state than would have been the case.

We have put many, many HeidiTown related miles on our vehicles, and we have never had a flat. Since I have been doing this since 2007ish, that’s truly amazing. I guess we were due.

However, because we’d never experienced getting a flat in the Tacoma, Ryan had to pull out the manual because he had no idea how to get the spare tire off the truck. It’s bolted to the undercarriage. Eventually, he figured it out, as I paced around with Fritzi, quietly planning how we were going to get out of this.

Have I mentioned the lack of cell service? Somewhere along the way, we’d received a flood of beeps as our phones suddenly got service, but that had been a while ago, and I couldn’t remember how far we’d come since. Not only was there zero cell phone service, there were no cars. The white convertible had been the first and last car we’d seen.

Ryan beat on the tire, trying to get it to pop off the truck after he’d removed the hubs. The grime and grease had built up and the tire wouldn’t budge. I had a plan. We would walk north along the wind-swept road until we could get cell service.

Finally, the offending tire came off and we all let out a big sigh of relief. Putting on the spare took no time. However, the entire ordeal had taken an hour and 30 minutes. Yes, 1.5 hours of listening to cows’ moo and the wind whistle.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (13)
Driving south away from the flat tire scene.

At that point we didn’t know if we were in Colorado or Oklahoma. Turns out, we were still in Colorado, but barely. Thankfully, the Tacoma has a full-sized spare and we continued, even stopping near Black Mesa to look for the dinosaur prints that we knew were there. And Ryan found them. By the way, Black Mesa is the highest point in Oklahoma (4,973 feet above sea level)

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (14)
We walked and walked a dry creek bed looking for the tracks.
Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (15)
Ta-da! Ryan found them!

In Boise City, Oklahoma, thanks to the friendly gals at Cimmeron Heritage Center (more on that at a later date), we found J&K Tire. Ryan had all four tires replaced on his truck. I’d been sitting with Fritzi, looking at No Man’s Land Beef Jerky across the street. No Man’s Land is the nickname of the Oklahoma panhandle and has been since before the dust bowl. The panhandle is 34 miles wide and 166 miles long. We were living off buttered toast so jerky sounded delightful.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (10)
Waiting for new tires in Boise City, Oklahoma. She’s a lap dog! Most German Shepherds are lap dogs.

With four sparkling new tires, we drove across the road. I was there for one bag of jerky, but the guy in front of me in line got 10 bags. I am not kidding. This is the place for jerky, and to see Cap do tricks on his bike. I bought jerky and then four-year-old Cap, the grandson of the owners, showed us tricks on his dirt bike outside in the yard as the shop’s stray cats wound themselves around our legs.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (11)

When you are on a road trip, unexpected things happen like wrong turns, flat tires, and wheelies. This is what gives a trip flavor, in this case, jerky flavor. And by the way, it is the best beef jerky I have ever eaten.

Dust Bowl Road Trip A Flat Tire, New Tires & Popping Wheelies. HeidiTown (16)
Texas or bust!

Keep popping wheelies, Cap!

1 Comment


  1. Fritzi looks so at home on Ryan’s lap! I think I would have been panicky during the flat-tire fiasco as well. Travel is so often about creating surprise memories, like the beef jerky. And now I want beef jerky.

    Reply

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