Road trip! Can you think of any other two words that get your heart pumpin' like a lab rat? Probably, but nonetheless, jumping behind the wheel and hittin' the open road is one of those things that makes one feel all warm inside. The sound of the tires humming across the blacktop, 18-wheelers, and my favorite, pulling up to truck stops and smelling that sweet aroma of diesel fuel mixed with rubber while rummaging through all the random crap truck stops have for sale. Personally, I think you'll find your best buys at the cassette rack, where you can pick up a first production run tape from Styx or Kenny Rogers for $2!

Now I know road trips always happen for a reason, because there's always some destination on the horizon. Whether it's a car show, vacation spot, or the world's largest McDonald's (which, by the way, I have been to, thank you very much), it's always something. But you know what the best parts about road trips are? The mystery, the anticipation, and the feeling of not knowing what the road holds in store. Road trips are like Christmas morning. You half expect what you're getting, good or bad, but at the same time you have no idea what you're about to unwrap.

It had been a while since I embarked on a road trip, well, at least a road trip where the drive was over two to three hours long, but all that changed at the beginning of August. My brother Chance, our friend Ned, and myself were about to start our 1,500-mile trek to the northeastern tip of Oklahoma from about as far west as you can get: Huntington Beach, California. Our estimated travel time: roughly 23 hours straight through the night. (That means no hotels or roadside naps; the only sleeping allowed is jumping in my '95 Silverado's back seat.) Our mission: to have fun, but I was picking up an engine as well. All the pieces of the puzzle were in order, and all that was left was some last-minute routine maintenance and such.

Before we took off, I took my truck to get aligned. Right here's where everything could have been fixed, but we will get to that later. You see, my front tires weren't exactly in the best shape, especially the front right, due to a poor alignment job I never had redone. It was always one of those, "I'll take it in tomorrow" deals. But I figured the tires were good for 3,000 miles if I got the front end aligned correctly and fixed the camber, as it was way off. Once I got to the tire/alignment store, I noticed the bad tire was beginning to wear through on the outside edge of the tread. I had planned on getting new tires once I got back, but once I saw this I figured I might as well get new tires now. Only problem was, they didn't have the tires in stock, and they wouldn't be in until the next morning, which wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't waited until the last minute and gone down to the tire store two days before we were leaving! On top of that, I still needed to get an oil change, change my O2 sensor (it's all about fuel economy with these gas prices), buy a spare tire, and make it to the Dodger game the next night. Now I wasn't about to toss any of that to the side, so I decided the tires would be fine until I got back and had the truck aligned, then went home and changed my O2 sensor. The next day I got an oil change and started calling around to buy a complete spare tire, and quickly found out it was going to cost $100! Peace to that! I'll just stop by my parent's house on the way out of town and grab something layin' around there to use as a spare. And just like that, the case was closed and we were off.

Sixteen hours and over 1,000 miles later we were on the other side of Amarillo, Texas, and things were going off without a hitch. Well, at least until we pulled into the gas station, where I just happened to notice that the inch of worn tread had now spread across half the tire! In the motto of safety first, we made the call to play it safe and throw on the spare. I decided to get some shuteye and jumped in the back seat. Then about 10 miles up the road at 80 mph in the lefthand lane the spare tire exploded and nearly put us in the ditch! I guess it wasn't such a good idea to play it safe and throw on the spare tire (whose age remains a mystery) that I yanked out of my '65 Buick. Luckily, we were all OK, but when the tire blew it came back and rolled the rear of the fender, dented about a foot and a half of the rocker panel, and tore the black paint off the bottom of my door, exposing its factory red paint. Not cool. From there I ended up spending $135 buying a spare tire and paying for a late-night service call, buying two overpriced 20-inch tires in small-town America, and spending nearly five hours changing tires and finding a place to take the truck.

Looking back on it all, I could have saved myself all the hassle and money if I had just started my maintenance schedule a day earlier. If I had gone to the tire store on Monday instead of Tuesday I would have gotten new tires and all would have been saved. On second thought, I could have just 86'ed the Dodger game and brought the truck back to the tire store the next day to get the tires put on that I ordered the day before. Or wait, here's another solution; I could have just bitten the bullet and bought a legit spare! But you know what, that's what road trips are all about, the unknown. At least when it's all said and done, you have some cool stories to tell!