Safe travels

I won’t be made to ever feel ashamed
that I’m American made

I’m in love with her
and I won’t apologize

Jon David Kahn, “American Heart”

It’s Day 386 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve. Deb and I are fine.

After the sun went down yesterday, Deb and I went out to the bus to audition the LEDs I’d installed in the puck lights throughout the coach. They’re neither as bright nor as harsh as the halogen bulbs they replaced, and they certainly don’t generate as much heat.

The 13 fixtures are controlled by six rotary dimmers and, for the pucks over the driver and passenger seats, a pair of switches. I was glad to see that they responded to the dimmers (which not all LEDs do).

We judged the change to be a good one and, as I said in a previous post, LEDs will pay practical dividends when we boondock. Total cost of the upgrade was less than eight bucks.

With perfect weather this morning, I gathered my car-washing gear and set to work giving Ernie a much-needed bath. I had my work cut out for me, too — between the grime that had settled on the bus over the winter, and the mud and general dirt collected during the shakedown, I figured I’d be at it a while.

Almost five hours later, I sure was right about that. And this was just a wash and rinse.

It’s the equivalent of washing about six or eight cars. Today I used my favorite car-wash potion, a soft-bristle brush on an extension pole and a medium-pressure nozzle on a long wand — all the right tools, and it still kicked my ass. I’m definitely feeling my age.

After dinner I dressed the tires and brightened the massive aluminum wheels. Tomorrow I’ll apply a coat of spray wax. Then I’ll call it done.

I’ll have the cleanest Beaver in town.

The header image for today’s post is a screen grab from Ernie’s Garmin DC 46 Dash Cam*, a gizmo we’re really growing to love. (I’ll have more to say about it in a future post.) It captures a moment on I-75 south of Lexington, Kentucky, just before 1pm last Monday.

Traffic is relatively light. Road conditions and visibility are near-perfect. We’re in the right-hand lane, the Garmin‘s* display showing that we’re traveling at the speed limit, 70 miles per hour.

Fundamentally there’s nothing “unsafe” going on. Still, that’s faster than I prefer, and shortly afterward I backed off to 65mph.

The 8.3-liter Cummins pushing us down the highway puts out 330 horsepower and 950 foot-pounds of torque. It’s a snarling, muscular engine with balls big enough to propel 16 tons to speeds that neither the chassis nor the driver should ever see. And it takes a certain discipline, I’ve found, and a fair amount of constant attention, to keep Ernie within his overall capabilities.

Deb can testify to hearing me talk to myself when I notice that we’ve crept outside the envelope, the most common self-scolding being, “Slow down, dummy.” I explicitly remind myself to stay well inside our mechanical (and my personal) limits, creating a reasonable margin for the unexpected.

The consequences of failing to do that can be catastrophic. I’ve seen what can happen.

When weather or road conditions go to hell I’ll back off to 60mph, or even 55mph. In heavy traffic my following distance doubles. I adhere to the speed limits posted in construction zones.

As is true in many areas of life, the key is pace — advancing steadily and with confidence, adjusting to circumstances. A full tank of diesel will take us farther than we’ll likely travel in a day. We have food, water, toilets, a comfortable bed and a generator onboard. Pulling off at a rest area and taking a break isn’t an inconvenience.

Now, can I imagine us on a flat, straight, empty Interstate somewhere in the American West, watching the needle flirt with 75mph for hours on end? Sure.

But there’s no rush. I can roll at 60mph all day long. An average of 50mph, including stops, is perfect.

We’ll get there — wherever “there” may be.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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