If luck, karma, biorhythms, or psychic energy go in cycles, then mine is finally on the rise again. After weeks of disappointments related to the new tow vehicle, and having to cancel two weeks of road trip plans, things have begun to go my way. On Tuesday I got the long-awaited receiver hitch repair, and it is not only only cured of the failed welds, it is amazingly fortified. From the street there is no sign of alteration, but beneath the car it is a hidden dragon, replete with gussets and plates that strengthen it. Looking at it, I feel like I could ram a M-1 tank and come out the victor.
We probably went a little overboard in reinforcing the receiver, but I didn’t want a chance of a repeat occurrence. If by some chance a weld does break, there’s enough redundancy in the design that the hitch should not fail catastrophically (e.g., come off in pieces). I’ll be checking it regularly from here on it, too.
With the hitch done, I was able to take the Airstream out for a 45-mile spin around Tucson, and back to the truck scale for a re-weigh. It handles beautifully. So we re-packed the Airstream, cleaned up the house, and made it out the door by 8 a.m. this morning.
Being so drastically behind schedule, we were obligated to violate one of our most sacred rules: Thou Shalt Not Tow More Than 300 Miles Per Day. We usually choose to travel more slowly so that we can stop and enjoy things along the way. But now we’ve got commitments in Texas, Wisconsin, Ontario, and Vermont that just won’t wait. Knowing this, we planned a brutal frontal assault on the travel plan, and towed the Airstream 600 miles today, ending up in Odessa, TX at the …. (wait for it) ….. Wal-Mart. Oh yeah, we’re back in the saddle again.
Considering the ambitiousness of our first day out (with a new tow vehicle and a new receiver hitch), it was remarkable that absolutely nothing happened along the way to delay us. That is, until we pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot. I did my usual post-drive walk-around, during which I routinely inspect the tires, hitch, and underside of the trailer. There it was: a fresh reminder of our uncanny ability to attract pointy metal objects. We had picked up a nail through one of the trailer tires.
OK, so my karmic score is somewhat less than 100%. It’s still better than it has been the past couple of weeks.
The offending object is actually one of those plastic buttons that go on the bottom of a piece of furniture. The nail that should be securing this plastic to a couch is instead securing it to our tire, and holding air quite nicely. Nonetheless, it has to go. Fortunately, this particular Wal-Mart is a Supercenter and includes a “Tire Express.” We’re parked right next to it, and at 7 a.m. when they open I expect to be standing there with a trailer wheel. If I’m lucky (uh-oh) we can be on our way with a patch in 30 minutes or so. If I’m not lucky … we might be losing a couple of hours scouting for a new trailer tire.
Since Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time, we managed to cross two time zones in one day, and we arrived at 9 p.m. local time. This is not to our advantage. I’ll have to be up at 4 a.m. Arizona time in order to be the early bird at the tire shop. But that’s a small price to pay. I’m so accustomed to getting nails and screws in our tires that it hardly even fazes me anymore. It’s just part of the routine.
Our roadtrip marathon is far from over. We have to go 1,400 miles in the next 7 days, with a couple of non-driving days in there for appointments. Keep your fingers crossed for us. And if you happen to be going to the International Rally in Madison WI next week, we’ll hope to see you there.