Something I didn’t expect to happen after I left, was that I would become so reliant on others. I thought people might pop in and out of my life but that mostly, I’d be on my own. That I’d have all the alone time in the world and the freedom to do what I please. Don’t get me wrong, I felt so lucky, blessed and taken care of but I also felt like a little bit of a failure and a burden. Going from one kind stranger’s house to another was not what I had set out to do.
I was learning very quickly that when you live on the road, you are at the mercy of so many other things. You can plan and work towards places you wanna be but at the end of the day, you are simply along for the ride.
While I was at John and Sam’s house, I was struggling with these feelings and trying to come to terms with my new reality. I felt pretty bummed out and really just wanted to be self reliant. I felt the sooner I could get those new tires slapped on and out of everyone’s hair, the better. Tire Town had located 2 more tires and I was headed there to get the job done. The day before, John had brought me to O’rielly so I could buy something to fix my exhaust with. Essentially it was an exhaust band aid and I was planning on applying it once I got to the tire shop since the directions called for warmed up pipes.
I arrived at the shop for the second day and headed into the office. Coverall cladded and exhaust band aid in hand, I said good morning to the guys. They looked at me and asked me what I planned on doing with that thing in my hand. I told them about my exhaust situation and Tim said an aluminum can would be the best way to fix it. I was handed an empty pop can and a pocket knife and went to work cutting it open. Then I headed outside to see what I could rig up.
I was laying on the ground under Mander when Tim came to check things out. He said my situation was beyond an aluminum can fix, he was a master welder and he’d take care of me. So we pulled Mander into the garage (she just barely fit) and the guys got to work. One man on the tires and Tim on the exhaust. I stood around breathing in everyone’s second hand smoke and fretting over how terrified my cats must be. Tire shops are loud. It became clear, pretty quickly, that nobody was in any kind of a hurry. It took more than a couple hours before I was on my way but when Tim the Tire Man is willing to weld your exhaust back together for free, you don’t say a peep.
After $800, lots of questions, encouraging words, looks of disbelief and admiration, I was rolling out of there with 4 new tires in back, a new spare and a functioning exhaust system. It put a big dent in my savings but it was unarguably the best outcome and worth every penny. I was reinvigorated and ready to get this show on the road! The plan was to get gas, head back to John and Sam’s to take a shower, load up my scooter and be on my way!
I got to the gas station and filled up. Great. Now off to John and Sam’s! I turned the key and nothing. Mander wouldn’t start. I had been having this problem periodically and was convinced it was the ignition switch going out. Sometimes I would turn the key and nothing would happen and on the next turn it would crank over. Except this time, no matter how many times I tried, she wouldn’t crank over. I lost it. I started crying and hitting the steering wheel in frustration. I went limp and whispered, “No. No. Noooooo. Don’t do this to me Mander.” I got my hammer out and beat the crap out of the steering column. When that didn’t work, I googled how to hot wire vehicles. I was preparing to jam a screwdriver in the ignition but decided I should call my Uncle Buster first.
He told me what I needed to do to trouble shoot the situation was to crawl under Mander and arc the starter. As previously mentioned, I am terrified to arc things. PLUS I had just spilled gas on the ground so it took me all of 2 milliseconds of entertaining the idea before I said hell no. The ever so patient and kind Buster said, “Ok. Then can you at least take off the doghouse and look around to see if you can find any loose wires or anything that looks off?”
I felt so defeated and hopeless but I agreed. I took the doghouse off, looked at the starting solenoid and lo and behold….a nut was loose! The nut that holds the cable to the battery! And just like that, a beam of hope! I tightened the nut and turned the key…she was turning over again! THANK. GOD. And Buster. Always so many thanks to Buster.
I threw the doghouse back on, completed the rest of my list and left Kansas City heading south again. I am incredibly grateful to John and Sam for opening up their beautiful home to me and I will never forget their generosity, sweet children and cuddley furbabies. I am grateful that Tim the Tire Man took pity on me and welded my exhaust back together. Having people there to catch me along the way was such a relief in so many ways, but I sure was happy to be on my own again and Mandering on!