We woke up in our “Urban Campsite” in Las Vegas to find that one of our tires had developed a slow leak, and was on it’s way out. One of the brand NEW tires that had just been purchased from Firestone in Grand Junction not even two weeks ago. Awesome. We decide to go to the Vegas location and check on the warranty. And? Yeah, it’s Memorial Day. Want to get replacement tires for a 10,000 pound van that aren’t carried in stock on Memorial Day? Well, no soup for you. No tire either.
The Las Vegas, Firestone folks were nice enough to show us the puncture in the sidewall, and to let us know that they wouldn’t be able to patch it (not safe or whatever), and that we would just have to wait until tomorrow to order a replacement tire. Well that just wasn’t going to work, so we all then got to getting that spare down from under the she-beast. This was quite a project mind you, as the spare had never made an appearance since MAYBE the last owner. Let’s think back to all of the mud and rocks that the underbelly has seen. An undercarriage wash can only do so much… The men ponny-ed up their skills as I observed from a safe, helpful spectator distance. All was well in Hoo-Ville, and the spare was just about on until… wait… are you kidding me??? The spare’s rim was just MILLIMETERS OFF from fitting onto the van. Seriously, whaaat? How does that… I don’t even know. But, THANK ALL THINGS HOLY we did not discover this when we were out in the bush of the Arizona desert.
**Picture leering cactus, large sharp rocks, and heckling observing (non-helpful) cattle**
One of the techs mentioned that maybe one of the Llantarias (that’s Spanish for super legit tire place) around the corner might be able to help us out. They might be able to patch the tire, or have a new rim for us (as it’s just not okay to have a spare that doesn’t even fit), or a tire that won’t hold pressure. The last time I checked, 3 out of 4 tires don’t make a functioning, rolling, happy vehicle. Mulling over our options, and as exciting as the prospect of camping out “under cover” for another night in Vegas was **growing sarcasm**, we wanted to get the heck out of dodge. These last few minutes had just sealed the deal on our limit of shenanigans. So, off to the Llantaria we went.
We pulled into the shop and immediately were bombarded with every flashy low-rider rim you could ever fancy (Hot Man’s wheels started to turn if any of those things could even BEGIN to be safely rated for the She Beast). All of that shiny bling could not, however, pull our eyes from the men sitting on the curb outside of the office. Three were dressed in varying mechanic uniforms, while the 4th was sporting Pink Panther flannel pajama bottoms, flip flops, and the tire shops official t-shirt. My curiosity was piqued. As soon as he saw us pull up, he hopped up and had the biggest damn 5-tooth smile anyone could ever hope for. He began “oohing” and “aahing” at the beastly van, and asking what those silly colorful things were on top. He was quickly followed by one of the techs and we all begin to share our culmination of Spanish to English translations accompanied by grand swinging gestures.
Us: “Hole. Flat. No bueno. No good” *shake head, look sad*
Him: “Donde? Where?”
Us: *Point* *look sad* “Aqui, here”.
Him: “No fix, not safe”
Us: **Shit… Well, Plan B: New Rim**
Us: “Okay… Spare good, rim bad. Size wrong.”
Him: “Your spare, wrong?” *smiles… shakes head, stupid gringos*
Us: “…Yeah… No bueno. You have right one?”
Him: *Smooths out imaginary goatee* “Maybe… Uno momento”
He then ducked into the shop to find a ruler, then after getting the right size measurement, he went back again to begin the grueling search for one that wasn’t broken, and that would fit the spare.
I’m sure that you all are super curious about Pink Panther Pajama Pants Man. Well, let me tell you, his English was pretty darn good, which made our conversations about the van and our travels pretty interesting. There was a lot of pointing and giggling, and after he saw my bike on the back, he rushed over to his bike that he had at the shop and showed it off. When, who I’m guessing was his brother, was ready to try out the rims he found, he was also quick to help with the cause.
Several different attempts at new rims were had, none of which were successful. It was well past noon at this point and I had yet to consume any nutrients and my stomach was in full protest. Not wanting to invoke the ‘HANGER’ (hunger induced anger), I left Hot Man to figure out the tire solution, and honed in on bagel nourishment, as there was an Einstein’s Bagels not far from the shop. Not too long after I had hastily shoved Pumpernickel and cream cheese goodness into my face, and began to regain control of my brain, Hot Man pulled into the parking lot.
Tire solution? No new rims were to be had, and no fixing of the holey tire was to occur. The spare tire (which at least was the right kind) ended up on the original rim, and the holy tire was tucked away on the junk rim under the van for later dealings. Our vessel was now sea worthy. After Hot Man joined me in bagel-mow-ing (extreme food to mouth action), we pulled ourselves into the She Beast, and set our sites on Los Angeles. My delightfully amazing, aspiring actress friend (Madeline Merritt, check out her IMDB here!) had offered us a place to stay when we arrived, and the thought of new adventure quickly raised our spirits and moved the wind to our backs.
Peace out Vegas, we’re going to Hollywood!