Thursday noon-time John Bilodeau and I headed north for New Brunswick to run dogs in the Leslie Anderson and the International Amateur Woodcock Championship. We were looking forward to some of Heino’s German cooking at the John Gyles for dinner Thursday but stuff got in the way. About four hours into the trip we had a flat in the section of I-95 where the speed limit is 75. I couldn’t get the spare to come down so Johnny used his AAA card. While we waited for help I jacked up the truck and took of the flat tire. I found the puncture and put a plug in it, put it back on and tried to pump it back up with the compressor that I carry in the truck. I got about 20 pounds of pressure in it but it was still leaking. The AAA guy finally arrived and was no help getting the spare down and gave up when it started to rain. He did put enough air in the tire to get me to the next exit where he suggested I put a can of Fix-a-Flat in the tire. I followed his advice and then drove a few miles as per the instructions on the can. When I came back to the Irving to check the air pressure in the tire, there was a large blister in the sidewall and it was growing. Johnny and I both moved away just as it blew. It sounded like a gunshot and people in the store came out to check on us. Now we weren’t going anywhere on that tire and the spare was still stuck up under the back of the truck. A guy named Roger who was putting gas in his Simplex-Grinnel work van came over to survey the situation and when he saw our dilema he drove his van around and helped me get the tire down. It was pouring rain and we were both soon soaked. With the spare in hand I then changed the tire and headed north. We lost three hours. When we finally got to the John Gyles I fired up the computer to check e-mail and report in here but the WiFi there was not really working.
Friday morning we headed out to Cronk Farm for the Leslie Anderson and LJ was drawn in the first brace. He ran the same type of race that had won him the previous three derby stakes but couldn’t dig out a bird although one grouse came out of a tree close to the dogs. Later in the stake the birds became more available and the judges ended up with three useable performances and LJ got an Honorable Mention for his race. I had been asked to fill in as one of the judge’s for the Cronk Farm Puppy Classic and my plan to go to Houlton and get a new tire did not happen. Saturday morning I scouted the eventual runner-up in the Amateur — Chasehill’s Little Bud and then the winner Richfield Silver Lining both had deserving performances and it was the obvious decision for the judges. Jack ran in the 8th brace at the end of the day in a pretty strong wind with a bracemate that was wearing a really loud bell and I had a lot of trouble keeping track of him as he was running a little big. At the 45 minute mark I had an idea of where he probably was but knew it would take my scout Mike Flewelling and I a long time of find him and even if we did his race had been to rough to beat the eventual winners so I called for the Garmin and the dog was over 180 yards away on point. When we found him he had a grouse about 50 yards from the spot where he had a woodcock last year when he won the championship. I still had LJ to run on Sunday morning.
LJ had the same course as Jack and it is probably the best course to let a dog run on as the first 20 – 25 minutes is in fairly mature woods. My only real concern was that LJ would point a grouse out in the open woods and would not be able to handle it. A few minutes into the brace, LJ slowed in the bottom of a little valley where there was a small patch of heavier cover and then stopped. When we got to him he looked like a million bucks standing on the edge of the cover pointing out into the open spruces that ran up a hill where the ground under them looked like a pool table. As I glanced in front of the dog I could see the grouse running and so could the dog. I ran to try and get it in the air and LJ self-relocated and blew up into another picture book point. The bird flew, I fired, and LJ broke. That gave me an 0 for 3 for the weekend.
We headed home with the rusted spare tire and made it almost to Bangor before our next disaster. The spare is a different size that the other tires and the truck just didn’t feel right. Then things really started to feel wrong and I began to slow down. Before I could stop and check it — the wheel came off and I was able to get us stopped on the side of the road. Now we were really screwed. The wheel was missing, the stud bolts were stripped, the lug nuts were gone, and the rotor was ruined. This time we got a really good AAA guy named Andy. Before he got their Thuddd and Al came along and found the missing wheel and stayed with us until we got things as resolved as we could on a sunday night in Bangor. When we realized that we couldn’t put the wheel back on Andy towed the truck to a tire shop that didn’t have the parts and was closing in 15 minutes. At that point it was obvious that we weren’t going to get out of Bangor Sunday night, so, I called Joe Dahl who lives in Bangor and made arrangements to stay with him. Timmy took John and the dogs to Joe’s and I had Andy tow the truck to Mike Flewelling’s shop in Holden.
Thom Richardson was also at Joe’s for the night and agreed to run me over to Mike’s in the morning and take John back to New Hampshire. We watched the Patriots defeat Denver, had Chinese take out, and enjoyed the company. Yesterday morning Thom dropped me at Mike’s early in the morning and then went on his way with John and a truck load of dogs. I heard later that he and John feasted on a lunch of fried clams at Thom’s lunch and ice cream shop in Whitefield, NH. With only a few minor problems Mike changed the rotor, got a new tire mounted. and I was back on the road by 11. I went back to Joe’s and got the dogs and then headed for home. Made the trip without further incident. I after I’d unloaded and Katie got home from work we took Trip out for a run as she had been in the kennel since Thursday and hadn’t been run since last Tuesday. As we left the yard a grouse flushed out of one of the apple trees and we went on to move 3 more grouse and around a dozen woodcock and I finally felt like the run of bad luck might be over.