It has been several days since I posted and I have a very good reason for that. We were at one of those wonderful confluences (for a working person) of time & space, specifically, a state park where cell phone signals barely penetrate AND a two day period where I was not obligated to be online for work reasons. It doesn’t happen often these days. I’ll tell you about that in greater detail in the next blog entry.
Our stay at Lake Mead National Recreation Area was fine, if uneventful. On the way over Thursday afternoon Kyle discovered a leak in his AirSafe hitch (which is basically an airbag contraption to soften the ride), and after we were parked the campground we spent a couple of hours effecting a field repair.
All hitches have their failure points, and so I don’t hold it against any particular brand when there’s an issue, unless it’s a design flaw that repeatedly causes problems. When (early on) we had problems with our Hensley I noticed there were always people eager to step up and use the breakdown as evidence that the hitch itself was not worth using, which I think is a case of a pre-determined conclusion looking for supporting evidence. I haven’t seen the hitch brand yet that never has failures, be it Reese, Blue Ox, Hensley, AirSafe, EZ-Lift, Equal-i-zer, or whatever. The important thing, to me, is that when it breaks down in the middle of nowhere—which is where they always go wrong—that you can make some sort of repair on the spot and proceed on your way. The real failure is when a part breaks and no substitute can be found locally, and nothing can be rigged up temporarily.
In this case, the field repair was fairly simple. We deflated the air bag fully and wedged in a chunk of wood to lock the AirSafe in the deflated position, which effectively nullified it but made it possible for Kyle to continue towing. The local ACE Hardware store was kind enough to let us borrow a hand saw to cut a 2×4 to the correct size.
Since this was a short trip, I brought along the Dutch Oven and the Weber grill, and Eleanor packed ingredients for both. We had agreed before we left that we would do a lot of outdoor cooking, which is uncommon for us because we usually don’t have time, but really more fun. Thursday night I grilled hamburgers and attempted a “Lazy Peach Cobbler” in the Dutch Oven. The cobbler came out OK but the oven sat low in the gravel, and this partially smothered the charcoal beneath it, so it was a bit underdone. Lesson learned.
The grill was already out, so I grilled Teryaki Chicken on Friday, and Saturday morning I made a country breakfast thing in the Dutch Oven, which was sort of like a frittata. That came out well, and I think may have fooled our friends into thinking I know how to cook. In reality, I have a secret tool which allows me to avoid most horrible mistakes and season things to perfection. It’s called Eleanor. Thus the peach cobbler contained ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon, which was far more than the recipe suggested.
On Friday we took our friends over to Hoover Dam, since they’d never seen it. The new Pat Tillman bridge is now in place, and so the thru traffic now flies high over the dam, but the traffic on the dam is really no better because of all the tourists. We walked the dam, took some pictures, and then walked the new bridge (spectacular views) but fled fairly quickly to get away from the crowds.
As we’ve been traveling I’ve been noticing stupid camper tricks and meaning to document them. Friday morning we encountered a great one. The guy next to us used a hammer drill (a.k.a. impact driver) to raise his stabilizer jacks. Now, I use a cordless drill myself, which quickly winds up the stabilizers and makes a small amount of noise for a few seconds as it goes.
But an impact driver pounds the metal as it turns, and that creates a whole new level of excitement as it resonates. Especially at 7:30 a.m. Especially since his giant fifth wheel had eight stabilizers. And they were big ones, so the noise went on for quite a while. It was like someone had decided to jackhammer the sidewalk next to us.
The best part was an hour later, as he was about to climb into his truck. He stopped and said to me, “I hope I didn’t bother you with the noise.” Nah. We like waking up to heavy construction sounds.
We headed out on Friday morning because our next destination was Valley of Fire State Park, about 60 miles north. My research revealed that it was a beautiful place of red sandstone formations, it had a few campsites with water & electric, and it didn’t take reservations. My conclusion: get there early on Friday before the weekend crowd arrives, and hope to snag two spaces for the Airstreams. So at 9 a.m., we were off …