Day 243: Ernie comes home

It’s Day 243 of The First Ohio Shutdown, Day Three of AOC — “Absurd Ohio Curfew,” in this case — and Day 179 of That Mostly Peaceful Rioting Stuff.

Deb and I are spectacular this evening. We can explain.

A few weeks ago, right before Election Day, I said that we traveled north and “did a thing.” I apologized at the time for being cryptic, intentionally so, but I didn’t want to be explicit ’til it was 100% real.

Well, that thing is officially ours now — a 16-year-old, low-mileage motorhome (pictured in the header image, when first we saw it in the previous owner’s enviable garage), acquired from a private seller in Northeast Ohio. We found it online and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go take a look. We were impressed enough to put a deposit on it.

It’s a Beaver.

The seller was great to us that day. He gave us all the time we needed and patiently answered all of our questions.

After the extended walkthrough it was time to put the rig on the road and judge its manners. The owner took the wheel first, naturally, easing it out the driveway of his woodsy homestead and toward the Interstate. A few miles later he pulled off the highway to give me a turn.

It was the first time I’d ever driven anything like this, and I approached the unfamiliar task with respectful caution. I allowed common sense to override bravado, so I wasn’t at all worried that I’d come off as a rookie — because, of course, I am a rookie.

With that mindset, directing the 40-foot bus out of its parking spot, down the street and back onto the highway was a low-stress proposition. Once at speed it settled down nicely, the steering tracking true and the big diesel pushing us along with ease. In fact, the only problem I encountered was keeping my speed under the 70mph posted limit.

I mean, it really wanted to get up and run. It’s a beast.

I guided the massive coach back down the owner’s long, narrow lane and brought it to a stop in front of his garage. He left Deb and me alone to talk. Ten minutes later we shook hands on the deal.

Not long after we returned to Second Chance Ranch, Deb asked me what I thought might be a fitting name for the soon-to-be-ours bus. (It’s what we do. Naming things, I mean. Just go with it.) I didn’t have any fresh ideas, not off the top of my head, but I promised her that I’d give the matter due consideration.

Looking over the specifications one evening, I saw that its GVWR is 32,000 pounds.

Thirty-two thousand pounds. I translated that number in my head, and the name came to me immediately.

“You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.”

I remembered that song from my childhood, taken to the top of the charts by the incomparable Tennessee Ernie Ford. And so we’ll call our motorhome “Ernie.”

Today we returned to Medina County to bring Ernie home. Once again we had a great time with the previous owner — genuine, helpful and truly glad that his well-loved coach is going to Deb and me. We spent a couple of hours working our way through the equipment and its functions, sprinkled with healthy doses of advice, which we welcomed.

And then it was time to hit the road. After handshakes and hugs, I took the wheel and Deb rode shotgun, with Braden following in Deb’s truck. Thirty miles in we stopped at a rest area to wolf down some fast food that the boy had peeled off to pick up. The final hundred-mile stretch gave me a good chance to get sorted on the strangeness of driving a sixteen-ton bus.

It’s different — not difficult, particularly, just a totally foreign driving experience. A high perch, sitting inboard and forward of the front wheels, is something that’ll take me a couple of thousand miles to get used to. Even so, I still found it less demanding than pulling our 5,000-pound travel trailer with my Tacoma.

Once we arrived back at Second Chance Ranch, I encountered the final hurdle — backing the beast off the street and up our narrow driveway. Deb and Braden served the community as traffic cops and me as spotters, acquitting themselves admirably in both roles. I had to take a few runs at my target, but it went better than I expected it would.

Wednesday’s tree-trimming paid off, by the way.

In a few weeks Deb and I will drive Ernie back north to have the refrigerator serviced — what is it with us and RV fridges? — but overall we’re pleased as can be. Good times are ahead.

Now, for those of you who’ve read my Facebook posts about the weekend “escapes” that Deb and I enjoyed this summer and fall, you’ll recall how much we love the humble travel trailer we picked up in June. You know it created a whole new life for us, and you might be wondering — does Ernie the Beaver replace the Bumper Bunker?

No.

Or, to be more precise, not exactly.

This rig has a different role and a higher purpose. We can’t wait to tell you about it — and very soon we will.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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