Duct Tape on the Trunk

February 25, 2006

A few weeks ago I decided that instead of flying to Word of Life Florida, as we usually do, we would drive. That way we could carry our bikes with us. The conference center is located about four miles from the Suncoast Trail, a 41-mile paved bike and hiking trail built alongside the Suncoast Parkway. Every year I try to ride at least 50 miles on the trail during my week at Word of Life. Bringing my own bike would make the riding much more enjoyable. Of course I didn’t really consult a map when I decided that we could drive from Nashville to Hudson, Florida in one day. I thought it might take 10 hours. Wrong. We drove 749 miles in a little over 15 hours, including an hour-and-a-half stop in Birmingham to eat breakfast with Nick. Plus it was raining most of the day. And we ran into a traffic jam on the interstate between Birmingham and Montgomery, which is where our troubles began. We were carrying both bikes on a trunk-mounted carrier. When we stopped for gas, I reached down to pull the lever that opens the cover to the gas cap. It happens that Honda designed the lever so that if you push down, the trunk opens. If you push up, the gas cap cover opens. By force of habit, I pushed down instead of up, which caused the trunk to unlatch slightly (mistake # 1). When we got started again, I noticed the light was on, but didn’t stop and check the trunk because it was raining and we had a long way to go (mistake # 2). So we drove on for another hour or so when Marlene noticed that the bikes were started to bounce. We pulled over and discovered that the trunk had come open about an inch but wouldn’t open any further because of the weight of the bikes. We tried to close the trunk with the bikes in place but that didn’t work (mistake # 3). Did I mention that we were doing this in pouring rain? So we unloaded the bikes and discovered the trunk latch was stuck somehow. So I decided that what the trunk needed was to be slammed shut (mistake # 4). So I slammed it a couple of times until I heard something break. Uh-oh. Now the latch was definitely broken. And we were stuck in the pouring rain, many hours from Word of Life, with the bikes on the ground around us. So we did the only thing we could do. We loaded the bikes on the carrier, got back in the car and started driving, knowing that the trunk could come up any time we hit a bump.
Down the road we went for another hour until we got to the Wal-Mart in Troy, north of Dothan, in far southeastern Alabama. The bikes were swaying from side to side so we had to do something. “Let’s get some duct tape,” Marlene said. We managed to duct tape the trunk with two long pieces that stretched from the back window down the trunk, under the carrier, all the way under the rear bumper. Thus fortified, we soldiered onward. At one point, I told Marlene, “This was not a good idea,” meaning to drive from Nashville to just north of Tampa in one day, especially carrying our bikes with us. Given that we now had duct tape on our trunk, she didn’t argue the point.
I had forgotten that once you get to Florida, you’re still hours away from the conference center. In that respect, Florida is like Texas. It goes on forever. We finally arrived at Word of Life at 9:15 PM, weary, bedraggled, somewhat damp and slightly worse for the wear. I emptied the trunk, threw the bike carrier inside, and secured it with the duct tape.
At one point Marlene laughed and said, “We haven’t had a trip like this in years.” She’s right about that. But we’re here, and as Scarlett O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day.

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