The ideal orientation of a motorhome on a campsite, I’ve heard, is with the windshield facing east. Ernie’s pointed ENE here, which is pretty close — the sun rises off the right headlight and sets behind the left taillight. By early afternoon the trees over our site come into play, a canopy of oak leaves keeping us fairly cool.
We customarily sit outside in the morning as long as we can, moving our chairs several times to chase the shadow cast by Ernie’s awning. This week we’ve been driven indoors early, thanks to temps climbing into the 90s well before noon.
I kept busy today, checking chores and to-dos off a long list. I finally presented the images and video from last week’s drone flight to our campground hosts. And Deb and I tackled one of those tasks which, like it or not, must be done — we gave the black tank its periodic cleaning.
That’s not quite as nasty as it sounds. After dumping the tank, we dissolved 20 Mule Team Borax — anyone else remember “Death Valley Days”? — in warm water and poured it down the toilet. Then we did the same with Dawn dish soap. We probably devoted five or six gallons of each solution to the task.
Now we’ll let the black tank fill in the course of everyday use. The goal of the Borax-and-Dawn treatment is to loosen accumulated residue from the walls of the tank, especially the sensors that tell us how full it is.
It’s worked for us before. If necessary, we’ll repeat the treatment just before we hit the road and add some sloshing to the process.
We’ve been hauling around a certain accessory, tucked away in our under-bed storage, for three months now, meaning to bring it out and install it but never taking the time. With a long push ahead of us, nearly 2,000 miles, I decided it was now or never — oppressive heat be damned.
It’s a TireMinder Smart TPMS* (tire-pressure monitoring system). The system consists of a Bluetooth adapter, a signal booster, six transmitters (one for each valve stem) and a cell-phone app. We bought it to give us advance warning should any of Ernie’s massive meats develop a problem.
First I looked for a suitable location for the signal booster, a place where its six-foot cable would reach a reliable connection in the battery bay. Using a couple of zip-ties, I ended up lashing it to a frame member on the undercarriage. After confirming that it had power, I fired up the Bluetooth adapter (which is wireless once charged), downloaded the app and set to work installing the transmitters.
To make a long story short, for the time being our system will monitor four tires, not all six. The valve stems on Ernie’s inner duals refused to trigger the TireMinder transmitters. I tried adjusting the valve cores, but to no avail. Next time we have the tires serviced we’ll swap out those two valve stems.
The tires I’m most concerned about anyway are the fronts, because the consequences of a problem with steer tires can be catastrophic. We now have the ability to monitor those tires’ PSI and temp, along with the outboard duals. That brings a measure of confidence we didn’t have before.
Come Friday, we’ll be getting four more transmitters to monitor our toad’s tires as well. (The TireMinder system can be expanded to keep tabs on up to 22 tires.) So between Ernie and Mercy we’ll be able to eyeball eight out of ten. For now that’ll be just fine.
This evening we had dinner at a local sports bar, Buckets, under the same ownership as the restaurant we enjoyed last night. The menu was what we would’ve expected from a sports bar, but it was prepared with flair and skill.
Deb and I shared an order of deep-fried cheese curds, served with honey mustard and tangy ranch for dipping. She had a Buffalo chicken wrap, while I ordered the house “patty melt” — a third-pound burger on marbled rye bread, topped with Swiss and red onion.
Her beer was a shandy. I had a Shiner Bock.
Some time after we returned to the campsite there was a knock at the door — it was one of our Canadian friends, back in Arkansas on business.
A pleasant surprise. And he brought margaritas.
Our time here is growing short. We’re approaching the upcoming re-launch in a relaxed way, but we can’t deny that there’s a sense of anticipation of the adventure that awaits us.
Bring it on.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
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