Friday, December 28, 2007

Third Day to Asheville - Fri. Dec. 28th

Of course there should not have been a third day to Asheville. We should have arrived yesterday, but then we could not drive by night, because we can't run with both our headlights on and the trailer lights and still recharge the battery - even with the rebuilt alternator, and the new battery.

But here we were in New Jersey. The first day we only got out two hours in the evening, and had to stop in Sturbridge, MA. The second was all traffic through Connecticut, New York City, and New Jersey, because we had to travel by day.

I attempted to start the car in the morning, but after ending the previous evening driving around looking for the motel with my lights on I did not have enough power to start it. We had hoped to be on the road by 7am, but after waiting for AAA to help start the car we did not leave until after 8am.

Leaving the Econo Lodge on the New Jersey Turnpike we headed south, and were able to travel a little faster than the previous two days. Now we were typically traveling between 55 and 60MPH, and the trailer wasn't swaying behind us - well, I had to slow down once in a while. So we were making our best time yet.

We were supposed to be staying at Rhonda's dad's house just south of DC, but that was supposed to be after the first day of driving. We knew that traveling by day only, we would just have to go as far as possible. Bev called Sarah (Rhonda's step-mom) and told her we would just have to travel as far as we could during the limited daylight.

After traveling nicely for a couple hours we came to long gentle inclines on 95 in Maryland. We were taking the hills a little faster than the previous days, but soon we found that the old 740 was over-heating. We pulled over at a roadside stop, and I found that I needed to add quite a bit of fluid to the cooling system, and wondered where it all went. This became the ongoing problem for the day. We would travel a ways. We would watch the water heat gauge rise as we traveled up hills. We would stop. I would find no leak in the system. I would add coolant - sometimes lots of it. We would travel again.

At 4pm it grew dark. It began to rain at about 4:30pm as we were traveling down highway 81 in Virginia. I suggested we go as far as Harrisonburg, and so we made it to the Ramada Inn - another place where they accepted dogs.

Moments of interest along the way:

We were talking about Charlton Heston, and mentioned Bible Movies, and guns. Bev was sitting in the back seat, and thought we said Charlton Heston was about Bibles, boobies, and guns. I suppose that might make a good book title.

We made our last stop before coming into Harrisonburg. Once again we were over-heating, and ended up low on coolant. Bev and mom saw a used car, and trailer lot on thee side of the road. They wanted to stop, and trade the Volvo in for a truck to pull the trailer. Hmmmm...good idea except for the fact that I have a 1986 Volvo with 215,000 miles, and I'll get a few hundred for it, and need to pay a couple thousand for something I can be just as confident about.

Well, I unhooked the trailer after arriving here, and drove to a store across town - in the dark with the lights on, and Crash the hound in the car. I made it out and back. The alternator will charge the battery sufficiently as long as the trailer is not attached with its lights it appears.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Second Day to Ashville - December 27th

We awoke late.

The curtains in hotel rooms keep all light from the room. It was 8am, and we jumped up, and all got on the move like we were Marine Corps privates being yelled at by our the Sarge.

The parking lot was slippery, because there was an ice rain over the night.

I went to the old Volvo hoping for a minor miracle - that the old diesel might start. Bev was walking Crash hoping for a minor miracle - that he might pee. I sat in the front seat, put the key in the ignition, whispered a prayer, and turned it. It roared to life!

Crash just sniffed the snow, he did not pee.

We began our travels toward North Carolina once again. We were not much farther than the night before. I had discovered the previous night that I could not travel much above 50 MPH. The trailer wanted to fishtail if I went much faster, so my travels would be quite slow. Besides that I was lucky to hit 50 MPH on a decent hill.

So here was the challenge for the day: I was going to be traveling slow - between 40 and 55 MPH. I was going to be getting hot going uphill, and turning on the heat would be necessary to help keep the engine cool. All extra electrical draws upon the engine would have to be avoided so I could keep the battery charged enough to start it each time I stopped - thus, no lights, no radio, no heat. Okay, this was going to be tough.

So here is our plan: Travel by daylight. Use the heat only when straining uphill. Go as fast as safely possible - probably 45 to 55 MPH.

We got going about 8:30am, and hit South Western Connecticut, New York City, and New Jersey between 11am and 3pm. Yep, it took that long to go that short distance. What would be an hour without traffic took almost 4 hours. This is what I hoped to avoid - traveling by night.

When the traffic was normal speed everyone passed us. Big trucks roared by, and nearly caused the trailer to fishtail behind me each time. When the traffic was crawling I almost was thankful for it - it crawled for hours.

Bev and Mom laughed about the journey, and talked about how we looked like the Clampett's headed to Beverly Hills. I was intent on the road, and the trailer, and tense with concern for safety's sake, and for the prayer that the old car would keep going. Such tension made me grumpy if my attention was diverted even a little. By about 3:30pm we were more comfortably traveling the New Jersey Turnpike, and sometimes safely traveling at 60 MPH. Woo-Hoo!

We made a couple roadside stops. It wasn't until almost 4:00pm that Crash peed. He peed a long, long time. That was good.

As the daylight wore to an end I had to turn on my lights, and we looked for a hotel. Here I am at EconoLodge at exit 5 off the New Jersey turnpike.

Driving by daylight worked. I can drive with my running lights so the trailer has its lights on, and periodically use the heater to keep the engine cool going uphill, and still recharge the battery sufficiently to start it easily again, but the headlights draw on the power way too quickly, and I noticed this even having them on for half-on-hour tonight.

It is dark by 5pm. This is not a good time of year to have to drive by day.

Benezir Bhutto was assassinated today. The owners of the hotel are of Indian or Pakistani descent - I am not sure which. They were quite caught up in the news when we arrived, and seemed almost rude, but then we had not heard the news until after we checked in.

I walked around the area found a mall, a Coldstone Ice Cream, and brought mom and Bev a surprise treat. It was a treat for Crash too. He likes to lick the cups afterward.

Tomorrow we leave earlier than today, and hopefully do not have the traffic we had today. But alas, Washington DC is ahead of us.

I've been having to add a little anti-freeze at each stop, and a little oil at every other stop. This old Volvo burns oil pretty quickly.

First day to Asheville - December 26th

We decided to leave in the evening. Traveling from Salem, MA to North Caroline requires that we go through Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. By any standards of traffic that is a nightmare except between 11pm and 5am. We decided to leave at 7pm to hit New York City at about midnight.

First thing in the morning I hooked the loaded-to-the-gills 12-foot cargo trailer up to the '86 740 diesel Volvo wagon. I have new springs, and heavy duty shocks, but the back went way down, and the front came up. Now that means two things - the load is really too heavy to to pull, and the trailer is loaded with too much weight in the front. I can manage pulling the heavy load - maybe, but I would need to redistribute it. Good thing I picked up Chuck the other day. Chuck helped me unload, and then Evan appeared.

Evan and Missy are going to be moving in to the rooms Elijah and Rhonda have left vacant. He started helping unloading and reloading as well. After a an hour and a half of unloading and reloading the weight was nicely distributed, and the load sat well on the old Volvo.

After preparing the last items for the trip, we left at 7pm.

A stop or two for some necessary items, and two and a half hours later we were at road stop near Old Sturbridge Village on the Mass Turnpike. The Volvo would not start. I received a jump from a concerned, and helpful man in a large diesel one ton truck. Somehow my recently rebuilt alternator was not recharging the brand new battery sufficiently. All the typical things have been taken care of, but still it wasn't doing the job.

We limped to a hotel near Sturbridge Village - a Motel 6 which allowed for pets. Mom, Bev, Crash the dog and I snuggled into the beds as best as one can snuggle into a extra stiff mattress, and slept till morning.

Tomorrow will give us a new adventure. Hope fully a good one

Meeting Earl the Angel

I have not seen "Saving Grace" with Holly Hunter as the tortured detective, but I've seen the TV ads. She kneels over a body in the road, and cries out for help from God. Earl appears from the fog, and says, "Hi my name's Earl, can I help you?" or something like that.

I was testing my '86 Volvo diesel wagon to New London, NH to pick up Chuck, who is watching our dogs while we are gone. I'm hoping to pull an overloaded trailer to North Carolina. It's a two hour trip to get Chuck - one way. I arrived at a toll both on interstate 93 in New Hampshire, and saw lots of steam coming from under my hood. Ouch! That spells trouble. I looked at the water temp, and it was in the red.

I pulled over to the side of the road, and found a stream of steam blasting out from a small hose. After filling my over flow tank with enough water to get me to the truck stop a few miles away, I limped to the truck stop hoping to find things I needed - like a part's store - Yeah right, as if anyone has a hose for an '86 Volvo diesel.

I arrived and there were no parts at the minimalistic truck stop. So I stood forlornly by my car with the hood up. A little old man with a limp came by with his
broom, and trash catcher. He asked how I was doing, and I explained my situation. He walked me into the convenience store at the truck stop, where he worked cleaning up, and looked around sheepishly, "we don't have what your looking for here." After a glance or two at the other workers, and a little glint in his eyes he asked if I wouldn't mind taking a ride in a Lincoln Continental. Then we were riding down the road to a parts store on the day after Christmas.

I said, "My name's Phil."

"Hi I'm Earl."

I found a hose which I was able to cut to fit, I got back on the road, and picked up Chuck without another hitch.

Holly Hunter has a tobacco chewing Guardian Angel named Earl. My Earl had a limp, and Lincoln, and his wife's Bible in the front seat.

I said, "Earl you have been a blessing to me. Certainly God placed you in my life. I can not thank you enough."

Earl said, "Well I figure that's why we're here. We can't make it without helping one another."

Bless you Earl.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Making Bookmarks Late at Night

So here I am working on a bookmark late into the night. I have this last Sunday of Advent to prepare for. My son Elijah and his wife Rhonda are moving to Asheville, North Carolina on Sunday after the service, and we will follow him a couple days later in my old 740 Diesel Volvo pulling a trailer full of his stuff. I mean old too. That car has over 200,000 miles on it, but even more suspect than the mileage is the age - it is as old as Elijah nearly - a 1986. Pray that we make it.

So in middle of all this it was suggested I make a bookmark. I am not good at this Photoshop work, but this is what I can do in a pinch. Kinda silly huh?

You don't have to be cruel and agree with me if you don't want to.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Need a Stronger Irrelevance Filter!

Life is filled with irrelevant nonsense these days - or so it seems. Maybe if I can discover how to use this irrelevance filter in my brain it will help make it through the struggles.

Apart from a silly personal application for this scientific theory/discovery, I find the information in the BBC article quite interesting.