Pulling it all together

The weather forecast for the end of our stay in northern Arkansas is far from appealing — in the 90s every day, getting hotter as the week steams on. It was 91°F here by noon today, with a “heat index” of 101°F.

Deb and I won’t be going on any woodland hikes in this heat. We’ve also postponed exploring a quaint town in the northwest corner of the state ’til we come back in October, when it’ll be cooler. And that’s fine, ’cause there’s work to be done ’round the bus, and we’ll be able to get it done in leisurely fashion.

My main focus today was becoming familiar with our towing setup — piece by piece, step by step, every thou-shalt and thou-shalt-not. Essentially I tethered Mercy to Ernie without actually doing it. I’ll repeat the exercise tomorrow and the day after that.

Here’s an example of how a walkthrough can pay off — today I discovered that attaching the safety cables to a pair of forged loops on Mercy’s front bumper wouldn’t work. The hooks simply are too small to latch securely.

I quickly ordered a couple of extension cables to solve the problem. They’ll be here in plenty of time, day after tomorrow.

One of the most interesting parts of the process today was setting up the inertial braking system on the Jeep. It’s a box the size of a small watermelon that sits in front of the driver’s seat and clamps to the brake pedal. It senses (by weight transfer) when the toad’s brakes need to be applied and, braced against the seat, extends the arm and mashes the pedal.

Running the unit through its automated calibration routine totally fascinated me.

The work today wasn’t physical, but man, it was hotter’n hell out there. I went through a lot of Gatorade and water. And I’ll do it again tomorrow.


Between this blog and social media, Deb and I are being pretty public about what we’re doing. For reasons of personal security we’re not often specific about where we are, at least not in the moment, but we’re not shy about sharing our experiences.

That’s our choice. We realize it’s not for everyone.

Reactions vary, of course. Many of our friends are truly and sincerely happy for us, living vicariously through our adventures and trials. Some folks, quite naturally, are envious to one degree or another. (We would be, too.) A few are resentful and say nothing.

Whatever. That can’t be helped, nor does it affect what we do.

There’s another reaction, though, one we never expected — it turns out that we actually may be inspiring a few people. Seriously.

Early Saturday morning I got a private message from a young man who said that he and his family had just bought “our Ernie.”

“Thank you for the inspiration!” he wrote, sending photos and a video of a new-to-them Class C motorhome.

Then this evening I got a message from a friend and former colleague — he and his wife are picking up a fifth-wheel trailer, saying that Deb and I “most definitely did” motivate them to take the plunge.

Look, this isn’t what we set out to do. But even though it wasn’t our intent, our actions are having a positive effect anyway. That, my friends, is gratifying.

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

#WiseUp #libertyOrDeath