A Stitch Not in Time
Just a travel update. During today’s run, the Mighty Furd feigned normality very well. Odds are that the cooling fan clutch has gone bye-bye, since the fan itself remains surprisingly lazy and hasn’t made its usual obnoxious roar on cue since in New Mexico last year, on the way to Yuma. At least I think so. It’s harder to recall a customary event by its absence. It seems that the Furd’s cooling system, rather generously-sized to accommodate the extra heat occasionally put out during regeneration mode to clear the diesel particulate filter, simply doesn’t need a radiator fan unless it’s towing big, and/or heading up a long, steep grade. But I’m not of a mind to put off repairing it for long, since I’m also not of a mind to encounter a repeat performance on the extra-long trip back toward Yuma. I opened the hood to look for any disconnected connectors, but that was a wasted effort, what with all the tightly-packed clutter. Unbelievable. What an unholy mess!
My error today was in not double-checking the distances involved in the travel itinerary. The “commute” section of the trip back to Illinois was a copy-&-paste from an earlier tour. Unfortunately, that schedule had a hole in it, an accidental doubling of the distance between two points by omitting a needed stop in between them. I do that now and then. Annoying? You bet. So today was a six-hour drive, which is beyond what I can do these days. When I climbed into the cab to set the GPS, I expected a 215-mile distance per my itinerary. What I got was about 356 miles to go that day. A lighthearted jaunt for some. For me, exhausting.
At least I found a barber in North Platte before I left, and did the drive looking good. Well okay, let’s just say I will no longer frighten small children by my appearance. As badly. The barber looked to be 80, and the guy in the chair maybe 85-90. “Hey, you’re not old enough to be in here,” the guy in the chair said to me, “You need to be a geezer.” “Well, I’m gettin’ there!” I replied, and took a seat. They liked to talk, and after the usual questions about where I was from and where I was going, the barber after some time volunteered to his customer and myself that the big thing for kids here when he was growing up was bronc riding. His 16-year-old brother was especially on about it and had been insulted when he was accused of touching the saddlehorn during one ride. “I never touched it!” he insisted. He was so irked about it that the next week, he sawed the horn off his $400 saddle to eliminate the chance of another insult. “Wasn’t long after that,” the barber said in an even tone, “that he got thrown forward off the horse he’d already ridden a few times before, and the horse jumped over him but its rear hoof hit his chest. We took him to the hospital. He was able to speak and all, but was fading and had to have surgery. They found the aorta had kind of popped off his heart, and they couldn’t put it back together. And that’s when we lost him, in surgery. I didn’t ride so much after that, myself. Just didn’t feel like it.”
On the upside, the barber’s wife arrived when he was finishing me up. She mentioned the Nebraskaland parade later that day, the preparation for which was already beginning to strangle the main drag in the old downtown section. She volunteered that she was going to watch it, but on TV at home. It was scheduled for 1:30 PM, when the hot sun would be in full bloom. “It’s not like being there,” she admitted, “but home will be a lot cooler.” With age comes wisdom. For her, anyway.
On the truly mundane side of things, the 110V AC adapter for charging the iPhone crapped out the night before, so it’s charging off the laptop’s USB port for now. I’ll need to order another as a backup to my usual 12V adapter method of charging.
The drive away from North Platte was flatness personified. Once I got into Iowa, it became mildly hilly. Naturally, I kept a paranoiac eye on the gauges the entire time. I also monitored tire temperatures by hand and with a combo pressure/temperature monitoring system I have. The four sensors are like oversized tire valve caps. The pressure readout on top of the dash may be as much as a couple of PSI off, but that’s good enough. I’m not sure why they bothered to pack a temperature sensor in too, because instead of measuring the air inside the tire, it actually winds up showing the ambient outside air temperature at that location, plus a couple of degrees. The temperatures can vary wildly depending on sun exposure and air flow. By early afternoon, the lowest sensor showed 100 degrees while the highest showed 108. Warm day. I’d never seen readings that high, so that made me want to get out and check by hand when the occasions arose. Hot, but not at all coffee mug hot. The A/C got a workout that day.
By the time I pulled into West Des Moines, Iowa, I crawled into a generic Perkins restaurant and got me a decent dinner for too much money. Any port in a storm. I crawled out quasi-refreshed and continued on to the Motel 6 I had decided to pursue first. I was in among a tight pack of Big Brand motels, and I walked in the first door I saw to ask about room rates and availability. Only suites were now available, and they cost $110/night. Huh? When I doth protest too much, the guy behind the counter suggested Motel 6, around the corner over that way. Oh. Yes, thanks. (See? I told you I was tired!) Motel 6 also had all the cheapie rooms taken and I was going to have to ante up for a two-bed cubette until the young lady behind the counter stumbled upon just one single-bed left after all, 3rd floor. I’ll take it! As I gathered my stuff out of the Intrepid, I pictured myself relaxing, feet up, in cool air. And that’s pretty much how it wound out. Ahhhh. Maybe I should double-check the distance for tomorrow’s drive to Rochelle, Illinois…