A day trip to the Grand Canyon for one last glimpse before we headed into California ended much differently than expected.

The Grand Canyon was an easy 2.5-hour drive from Cottonwood, driving on I-17 and a portion of I-40 to route 64. We wanted to see a part of the south rim we didn’t see in November, and we were hoping to see some snow. We were rewarded with a clear sky, bright sun, temperatures in the low 50s, and a snow-dappled landscape. Even though photos do not do it justice, our eyes feasted on the grandness of this vast, multilayered vista.

As we started our journey back to Cottonwood, we made a last-minute decision to take a back way into Flagstaff. Route 180 is a lightly-traveled two lane road from Valle to Flagstaff with views of snow-capped mountains and tall, green pine trees galore. Those in the East might be wondering why we care to see green pine trees when there are more than plenty back home, but all we’ve seen is desert for weeks and months. Seeing any tall green tree is like seeing an oasis in a bone-dry desert!

We were about 10 miles outside of Flagstaff when we came upon a new Ford F-150 creeping down the road with its hazard lights flashing. Other vehicles were quickly passing them. As we approached the truck, Carl noticed it had a flat tire, so we stopped along side of it, rolled down our window, and asked if they needed any help. And, boy did they ever!

They had not one flat tire, but TWO! They used their spare tire for one of them before realizing that the other tire was going flat fast. Both affected tires were on the passenger side, so they must have run over something on a snow-covered side road.

Toby, Rebecca, and Liam had ventured from Phoenix to Flagstaff for a long weekend getaway to give Liam, their two-year-old son, his first sledding adventure in snow. Originally from the New York/New Jersey area, they moved west after leaving their high-stress finance careers behind, first landing in San Jose, CA before moving to Phoenix, AZ to become independent distributors for Boar’s Head meats.

Their weekend away had been a little bumpy already. A newly-purchased remote control car (with speeds up to 65mph!) was totaled in a crash within 4 minutes of Toby taking it out of the box (it hit the ONLY log in the area… LOL) The smoker in the backyard of their AirBnB couldn’t decide if it wanted to work right, putting a brisket in jeopardy. Then two flat tires from one brief off-road excursion into snow. (This is a new 2022 Ford F-150 King Ranch with less than 1500 miles.)

Carl had a plug kit, a can of Slime (used to help with his cactus-punctured bike tire), and a portable air pump and thought he could repair the flat tire so they could drive to a tire shop for a better repair. Their plan, when we came upon them, was to slowly drive into Flagstaff to Discount Tire. NO BUENO! They would never have made it before the shop closed and would have completely ruined the rim on their truck in the process.

Unfortunately, whatever they encountered didn’t just puncture the tires, it actually gashed the sides of them, and they were both unrepairable.

We suggested taking them to Discount Tire with one of the bad tires, getting it replaced, and bringing it back to the truck. We unloaded the back seat of our pickup (it’s our garage, you know!), putting the contents in the back of theirs. We dropped off Rebecca and Liam at their AirBnB which was on the way into Flagstaff, and we drove Toby to Discount Tire, arriving just 15 minutes before closing. With the tire replaced, we drove back to his pickup, and watched him put it on his truck. With one spare and one new tire, he was back in business and would be able to get back to Phoenix, where they live, with no problems. (Carl was joking with the guy at Discount Tire about “getting a ham” for a job well done … a line from the movie “Raising Helen” with Kate Hudson, as she wins a ham for selling the worst car on the lot where she worked.)

Although not the greatest of circumstances, it was a joy to meet and get to know Toby, Rebecca, and Liam. We hope they made it safely back to Phoenix without any other issues, and we hope to run into them again (in much better circumstances).

Why write a blog about helping them with their flat tire?

(1) They gave us permission to photograph the entire odyssey (Carl likes to document everything!), and they are looking forward to reading about it from our perspective.

(2) We thought the blog title was attention-grabbing.

(3) We hope to gain a few more followers to our blog after Toby and Rebecca share it with their friends,


(4) Maybe (shamelessly) benefit from a few stock tips from their finance friends!

Pro Tips: Always have a good spare tire and know how to replace it (kudos to Toby). Carry a repair kit and a portable air pump in case two tires go flat and it’s a simple puncture (kudos to Carl). Maintain a AAA membership—it is rare for two tires to go flat at the same time, but at least with AAA or a similar membership, you’ll have someone to call if no one stops. Venture onward and drive safe!

[P.S. – Rebecca! If you see this, can you please send me the selfie you took of all of us? Thank you!]