Friday, November 21, 2008

Potts Camp, Mississippi

I got text messages, as usual, from my friend Kathy Beaumont as she went through Potts Camp, Mississippi en route to and from her son Ben's wedding in Little Rock. Two text messages, one each way, advising me that she and LBeau had made it safely through Potts Camp. We all insist that each other do this now. There is a very good reason:

Potts Camp, Mississippi is de debbil.

My first encounter with Potts Camp occurred en route to my very first Arkansas/Auburn football game. I survived the trip without difficulty. I was "with" a whole group of people driving separately, and we were to rendezvous at the Beaumont Inn for Wayward WebHogs (BIFWW), which I must admit is Birmingham's premiere establishment for such purposes.

All of us arrived safely---except the Bawiecs. This was of moderate concern, because Dee (the attractive part of the couple) was preggers at the time, and as the hour grew later, our concern about the possibility of a very early delivery grew.

Finally, here they came in Rick's BMW Z3.

Remember the scene in "Back to the Future, Part III" in which Doc Brown puts huge 1950's tires on the DeLorean? (Gee, the internets is a wonderful thing; I found a PICTURE of it...).
Well, that Z3 looked like that---3 "normal" tires and one "whacko" tire. Seems they had had a blowout in Potts Camp, Mississippi and the local tire store didn't have anything that even remotely fit a Z3 (likely they didn't know what a BMW was...). So Rick had to buy this mismatched, wrong-sized tire to get him from scenic Potts Camp the 140 more miles or so to Birmingham, where they are, in fact, civilized and not only KNOW about German cars but actually MAKE them…

Fast forward to 2005; my friend J. R. and I had been to the BIFWW and attended Arkansas’ loss to the evil Tide, following our trip the week before to the Arkansas/Southern California debacle (so you see, the stage was already set for disaster).

America, especially the south, was still reeling from Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Rita chose that weekend to strike the Texas/Louisiana coast. My sister, her husband, their children, dogs, horses, and friends, were involved in the Texodus, but that’s another blog entry (I think I’ll have her write that one up, she tells great stories about it).

Even though the hurricane was an entire state away, the bands were not. They swept ashore, raking the countryside with bouts of pounding rain---after which the sun would emerge---and then another band of pounding rain. It is the way of hurricanes.

So, J. R. and I were driving back in my (new at the time) Dodge Grand Caravan (Inferno Red), with the back end completely full of border collies---Frank, Lucy, Ethel, and Jack. I was driving, J. R. was piddling on his computer, and all was right with the world.

Until we reached Potts Camp, Mississippi.

We were between bands of Hurricane Rita; I had had to slow down drastically due to heavy rain, but the rain band ended and we emerged into the sunshine and –mostly- dry pavement. I promptly pushed the Warp Drive up to Warp 8.5 and rounded the bend and into the straightaway next to Potts Camp.

One minute, I was driving along; the next I was doing 360’s along the freeway; three complete ones, at 85 mph. I am a good driver, and was attempting to navigate out of the spin; J. R. did not help by grabbing my arm---he was afraid I would do something wrong, and former race car drivers don’t like it when anybody but them is behind the wheel anyway---but it didn’t do me any good.

When I finally came out of the spin, I was headed across the small grass median directly at the oncoming traffic. I succeeded in driving us into the median, where we literally plowed nose down into the soft muck. Suddenly, we were stopped and everything was very quiet. I turned the engine off, removed J. R.’s death grip from my arm, opened the door, got out, and had to hold onto the van due to weakness at the knees. J. R. was similarly afflicted. The dogs had the most interesting looks on their faces: “Um, excuse me, but what the hell just happened?”

While we were standing there, another car joined us in the ditch, missing us by about 10 feet. They were getting out when another car hit the same slick spot and went off the other side of the road.

So I called the auto club.

And here came a Mississippi State Trooper and a wrecker to tow us out.

The tow driver, from Potts Camp, looked it over, attached the tow cables to one of my tires, and pulled my van out that way. The suspension was never the same. He drawled, in his best Miss-uh-sipp-uh mushmouth: “Yeah, we sure have a lot of wrecks right here, ‘specially when it rains!” I didn’t ask him if he had paid the highway department to not fix the slight indentation (which caused cars to drop oil, which resulted in the invisible oil slick).

Our ship righted, and seemingly drivable, we got back on US 78 and headed on toward Little Rock. Less than a half mile down the road, we saw another Arkansas vehicle, an older Ford Explorer, with a couple of young guys trying to change the tire. I said, “Hey! That’s BEN BEAUMONT!”

The exit sign directly in front of their truck? Potts Camp >>>

Potts Camp, Mississippi is de debbil.

1 comment:

  1. Potts Camp is indeed de debbil. That's why we're all so relieved when we've safely navigated it. I'm convinced that although I didn't know it at the time, my Highway 78 median incident in 1988 must have been at Potts Camp. It was definitely in Mississippi.