Friday 19th May – Shannon, the Kindest of Strangers

I had a slow start to the morning, knowing that my tyres wouldn’t be at the shop until at least 10am. I cringed to get out of the van and into the cold, wanting to stay inside and under the covers as long as possible. I started watching qualifying for the Spanish grand prix over breakfast and did a bit more video editing and finances to kill time. After breakfast, I was pretty much ready to go and just as I was getting in the driver’s seat, I got a text from Shannon saying that my tyres had arrived. Woo!

At the tyre shop, I parked up outside and could see my shiny new set of tyres sitting in a stack in the workshop. I complained about the cold, standing in the sun as Shannon jacked the car up on three trolley jacks just outside the shop. When we’d got the rear wheel offs, it was nice to see that my right rear was only well on its way out, probably past gone actually.

After Shannon had taken the front wheels off, he pointed out that my front brake pads had nearly had it, with only a couple millimetres of material left on one side. Bugger. Upon close inspection, we found that it was only a couple of hex bolts to get the calliper off and Shannon had the special tool to compress the piston back into its cylinder. It was too tempting not to ask if I could do the brakes while he worked on my tyres. “Not a problem!” says Shannon. He got on the phone to the parts shop and for $22, they could deliver me a new set of pads. When the parts guy arrived, I didn’t have enough cash to pay him, so Shannon wrote him a cheque then I fixed him up with my card. I told him to make it $50 and he happily agreed. I couldn’t keep letting him lend his tools and workshop out to me for nothing! When I checked the rear brakes, I was happy to discover there was plenty of material there so no more issues!

As Shannon mounted and balanced each of my wheels, I got to work on the pads. With the right tools it was another fast job, only took twenty minutes. I think it would have been a half-day exercise had I attempted it myself. It made me miss my workshop days with Dad, working a lot with compressed air that made light work out of everything. It was good to get more familiar with the brakes too since it’s something I hadn’t touched on this car yet. The callipers came off eventually and I got some good finger strengthening in when trying to compress the piston. Don’t know how I’d have done it without Shannon’s tool.

Shannon had a string of customers come in while all this was happening and I suggested it was me bringing all the business in. He wanted to put me to work he was so impressed with what I was doing. Brakes installed, I gave them a few pumps and they were right to go, just as Shannon finished with my tyres. Perfect! We put the tyres back on and she was a brand new car. I tightened the last nut just as a guy came along requesting a patch for a slow leak.

I was heading across the road to the Laundromat so Shannon asked if I could get him some more beers while I was out, which I happily did, taking his money. I hung out at the Laundromat while my washing was on, catching up on some blogging. Just as I was finishing up, Shannon texted me, letting me know he was ready for those beers, so I hurried it up, went to the servo and returned to the tyre shop. Shannon met me there and graciously accepted the beers. Time to say goodbye. He said he couldn’t thank me enough and I told him that he was the one that couldn’t be thanked enough. He explained that he was a firm believer in treating others as you’d like to be treated, so he didn’t think much of the kindness he’d showed me. I gave him a hug, thanked him again and again and promised I’d stop in if I ever came this way again. He wished me well and I him.

Before leaving Kanab, I did a quick bit of shopping and filled up with petrol. On the way out, I stopped at the visitor’s center for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which I’d driven through a few days ago but wanted to drive through again on a different road, heading to northern Utah. They laughed when I asked if they had any permits for Wave Rock, then gave me some advice on hikes to do on my way before sending me on my way. I filled up my water at their spigot and was really on my way.

Having driven this way so many times before, I put some good music on and chilled out, impressed that my steering wheel now pointed dead straight. I felt like I was driving a new car! I was even happier when Jayne called me, a good friend from Brissie. We hadn’t talked in a long time and since we had mutual friends in Derek, Kylie, Tom and Cat, we had a lot to catch up on. After dropping out of service a couple of times, I took the turn off into the national monument and parked there so we could keep talking. Once we were done, I drove off into the park, on the lookout for a nice camp where I could do some van work.

After a few miles and a bit of reconning, I found a sweet spot on top of a hill where I had full bars of service and nice flat ground to do some work. Ever since Jon’s visit, I’d wanted to build a shelf underneath the fridge to give me more space as he’d suggested. I had just enough timber on hand to get the job done and I also made a small kitchen improvement that meant I wouldn’t have to move milk crates around so much and also gave me better water access. Always things to improve! Jayne called again since she’d finished her yoga class and we continued chatting as I sawed and drilled away.

I was very happy when I stood back to admire my work and sent a photo straight to Jon to give him credit. Hungry, I cooked spaghetti bog for dinner while watching the rest of the Spanish GP qualifying. By the time I was done cooking, I was at the pointy end of Q3 and ready for the race start. I remained glued to my seat in the living room the rest of the night watching the race. It was easily the best of the season with so much action and good battles, I was engaged for the whole thing.

Towards the end of the race, I was wondering why I felt so tired so early. The sun had barely gone down and I felt sleepy. Turns out it was 9pm! I couldn’t believe it was still so light out! What a sweet camp, I was in perfect isolation.

When I went to bed, I kept the bedside curtain open so I could look up at the stars. When I got out to pee in the middle of the night, the Milky Way was centre stage and the whole sky was lit up with white dots. Not something I get sick of seeing.

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