Note: This is the eleventh of fourteen parts. Click here to read from the beginning.
We were contented but weary travelers as we drove from Mauna Kea to our home away from home on the coffee farm. All the excitement, packing and unpacking between Airbnbs and physical exertion were taking a minor toll, at least on me. I was looking forward to snuggling up on the futon with the cats purring around us.
As I drove, I started thinking about that notion of “home,” as I’d noticed I was beginning to get homesick and that was odd as I had one of my daughters with me. So, if home is not family, then what exactly is it? Those thoughts occupied my mind until we hit familiar landmarks on 11 in Kona, and we started chatting about additional places we might like to visit and our New Year’s Eve plans.
The cats were very glad to see us when we got “home.” They meowed until we fed them and gave them water. We unpacked and showered, and then Molly wanted to go out for dinner. I was done driving for the day.
“We can go if we take the Subaru,” I said, because Molly was not listed on the rental policy because she isn’t old enough, but she was covered to drive the Subaru.
That worked for her, so we headed to a place called the Strawberry Patch in nearby Kealakekua, Hawaii, that our friends told us about. We heard a funny clunk sound driving down that steep and pitted section of driveway that I refuse to navigate in the Versa.
“Hmmm,” we both said. “Wonder what that was?”
We wondered too about a sound coming from the rear right of the vehicle on the way to the restaurant and wondered no more when we parked and saw that that tire was flat.
When we met our waitress, we asked if she had recommendations for a towing company or a taxi service, or both. She was a young girl and had no idea, so she offered the services of the dishwasher; she said he would put the spare tire on for us. We think this offer came before she asked the dishwasher and the owner. Said offer was amended, we suspect, after she did ask them. Still generous, it was that the dishwasher could swap on the spare in several hours after the restaurant closed. That made more sense but was, of course, not ideal.
I made a few phone calls to towing companies and taxis, but it was the Friday night before New Year’s Eve, and no one was answering. The one taxi driver I reached said there were no companies servicing the farm area where we were headed.
Molly texted Tommy, our new friend from Mauna Kea, to see if he and Evan might be on Kona side. They weren’t, but Tommy had the most excellent suggestion to watch a YouTube video on changing a tire and change it ourselves. Hey, I thought. That sounds interesting, even in my sundress and boots.
With the last 10 percent of power on Molly’s iPad, we watched the video. The process looked easy, and I was duly challenged.
Molly had located the spare. We got it out. Then we found the jack and got that out. We could not find the lug nut wrench, so we borrowed one from the restaurant owner. I had the lug nuts off in no time, and Molly served as trusty assistant, holding them and a flashlight.
I got the tire off, and the spare on, and started to tighten the lug nuts.
Then Molly said, “Mom, that looks funny.”
I stepped back from my work. Indeed it did. The spare was sticking out beyond the side of the car.
We asked the dishwasher to take a look, and he said I had the spare on backwards, so I started over again and put it on correctly. I was sweating like a pig, and my hands were black but, boy, I’d changed a tire.
First time for every damn thing, right?
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