We spent last night parked near a Mercedes dealer, Feldmann Imports, in Bloomington. One parking lot is pretty much like another, but we were in this particular one because we were the guests of honor at an informal gathering of Mercedes owners from the Twin Cities area. There is a Mercedes Club of America (MBCA) with local units all over the country, and the leadership of this particular unit got wind that we would be in the area. So they invited us to join their members to talk about towing with a Mercedes — a rarely discussed subject indeed.
At this point we have 10,000 miles on the GL320 and it was time for the first scheduled maintenance interval, during which the dealer basically does an oil change with a lot of inspections, and refills the AdBlue (urea) tank which for the Bluetec emission system. This made it convenient to stop at Feldmann’s in the morning, unhitch the trailer in the overflow parking lot, and get serviced while working comfortably in the Airstream.
For those interested, the AdBlue tank required 4.5 gallons of fluid, which is about half the capacity of the tank. This is despite about 7,000 miles of towing and 3,000 miles of general purpose travel. So we have proven that even with a high percentage of towing, I don’t need to be carrying spare bottles of urea around between service intervals. We’ll have another service at 20,000 miles and the AdBlue tank will be flushed and refilled at that time.
In the afternoon we had a couple of hours to zip over to the famous Mall of America (just a few miles down the road), just to say we’d done it. If you like malls, this is heaven, and if you hate malls, well … it’s hell on earth. Like most things, it is what you make of it. One nice perk is that you can buy a Caribou Coffee and then walk around the mall getting free refills at any of the other Caribou Coffee outlets, which are everywhere. That, of course, was all Eleanor needed to know for her bliss.
We didn’t have time for shopping and we didn’t really need anything, even from the “Barbie Store”, but we walked all three circular levels of the mall just for the exercise. Then we ruined any possible benefit of that exercise by pigging out at Dave’s Famous Barbecue. Overall, I think that’s a net win.
The MBCA meeting was held in the parking lot beside the Airstream. Imagine about a dozen people milling around in a parking lot with a few distance sodium lamps providing dim light, all excitedly talking about Airstreams, travel, and Mercedes cars. Beside us the representative from Feldmann’s set up a table with desserts and drinks, and of course each of the members showed up in their Mercedes. This group is a lot like the Airstream’s WBCCI group in age and obsessiveness, and like Airstreamers they own everything from vintage to new (and often several of both). Airstreamers aren’t all millionaires, despite what people think, and the same is true of Mercedes owners. The ones we have met have turned out to be very nice and very dedicated to their cars, even the old clunkers.
Speaking of clunkers, the other noticeable element in the parking lot was several rows of older SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans. These are the remnants of the “cash for clunkers” program, and all are destined to be scrapped under the Federal guidelines of the program. They were a pretty rough-looking bunch, especially when contrasted with the new Mercedes and Nissan cars being unloaded nearby.
We’re on the way out of town now, heading for a quieter spot for a few days, so we can catch up on work, laundry, groceries, and homeschooling. It looks like the SPAM Museum will not be on our route after all, due to limited camping opportunities in the area. We’re moving west again ….