What I'd like to do now is look back on what happened and what I learned on the way out. This may recap some of what I reported in shorter posts as I went. So be it.
The weather was a big factor: very windy, chilly, rainy, a bit of fine snow. I'm realizing how much of a desert rat I've become when even a few days of wintery weather feel oppressive (lack of sunshine) and uncomfortable (brrrr!)
|Huddling with the big boys|
The rig handles reasonably well, but it remains a big very non-aerodynamic box. Driving into quartering headwinds required constant attention, and added to the fatigue. It also wrecked gas mileage: I'd been getting about 10mpg last summer in this kind of driving; when I filled up on my way in here it was 6-something. Ouch. By that time the wind had died down. I'll be interested to see what I get on my next tank today, with lower winds.
The casualty of the wind was a vent cover. At one point I realized that it was really cold there in the driver's seat, and then I felt a drop of water. When I could pull over and check, it turned out that the cover in the vent-cum-exhaust fan in the roof/ceiling at the front of the coach was simply gone. And rain was coming in steadily.
The worst driving experience was not the rain and the wind, it was the last few miles doing into Albuquerque. The intersection of I-10 and I-25 is a nightmare, even if you know where you're going. Traffic was, well, urban traffic, and vision to the rear is problematic in any kind of truck. It doesn't help that the driver's side mirror drifts "outward"while traveling: instead of showing me the view straight back along the rig's flank, it points out somewhere in left field. Merrigan's guys told me there was no adjustment: I'd have to go to a Ford Dealer and get a replacement. Hmph! This is a real problem, it turns out, so I have to face up to it.
The little catalytic heater works really well to warm up the whole rear area in the rig. Running the furnace to bring it up to "room temperature" when camped, and then using the portable to maintain it, seems to be a good strategy.
A bag of ice turns the refrigerator into an icebox, and was more than adequate cooling for the drinks and cheese I brought with me. No need to use propane for that short period. It does make puddles, though, if you're not attentive to leaks in the bag. :-(
In only a couple of days I found myself getting really attached to the rig. Partly because it was cold outside and comfy inside. More than that, though -- I found myself with the same feeling I remember from back-packing, coming back from a day hike to my campsite, and feeling like I was "coming home." Whatever the need is for a home place, it seems that this lumbering hunk of metal can fulfill it. I like that.
It's time for a soon cup of coffee, and some granola, and then some packing/organzing.
More from the road.