Friday, September 22, 2023

The call finally came

What is slower than the slow boat to China? The slow truck from Louisiana carrying my transmission. 

When the mechanic checked on its status Tuesday it was determined the truck was in Albuquerque. Why had it taken I-40 instead of I-10? Oh, mine wasn’t the only load on the truck. Okay.

It was still in Albuquerque on Wednesday morning, but in the afternoon it was shown to be “on the move.” So by end of day? Or Thursday morning? It’s only a 4-hour drive. But no show on Thursday.

But the transmission arrived today. It had been held in Albuquerque awaiting a southbound truck. If I had known that I might have gone to Albuquerque myself to get it. Oh well.

The mechanic — Rick Marquez at Twisted Wrenches — will see how his other jobs go today and determine on Monday when he can fit me in. I’m predicting Wednesday. I’m going to need another fifty-pound bag of patience.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Transmission update

I grew up in a time when the slang for transmission was tranny or trans. Using those terms now could cause confusion or offense. So, when I want to avoid typing a 12-letter word, I use gear box instead.

Whatever I might call it, the proper one has been located — in Louisiana — and paid for. It will arrive next week after the seemingly endless slog across the widest part of Texas.

Thursday, August 31, 2023


A rear view camera doesn’t do much good if I ignore it.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Changes to the changes

You know what? I’m going to stop making any kind of plans beyond what I’ll have for dinner.

The latest monkey wrench is a state of emergency in British Columbia because of forest fires. Lou’s friend George, who lives on Vancouver Island, says it’s best to stay away. Besides, his sailboat, from which we had planned to return Lou’s ashes to the sea, is in dry dock awaiting structural repairs. So that’s postponed until… sometime.

Friday, August 18, 2023

First the good news

The new engine is running fine. And between the new engine, the new water pump, and the new radiator, the running temperature stays in the normal range even while driving in 110+° desert heat with the air conditioning on. And the gas mileage is about six percent higher. I imagine it will be slightly better when I can drive with the AC off. Yay!

The not-good news is that some of the issues I had attributed to the old engine are actually the transmission. This became apparent while crossing Arizona. I had considered changing the transmission when I was replacing the engine, but the cost for both seemed so huge. I had the money but imagined the transmission was in better shape and would last longer. Besides, breaking the cost into two chunks feels less painful.

So there I was in Yuma, considering my options. Do I try to find an honest and competent mechanic there, then spend money on lodging while waiting for the new transmission to arrive and for the mechanic to work it into his schedule? Or do I turn around and go back to Lou’s place where I’ll have free lodging and neighborly assistance while the work is being done?

So I’m back at the ranch.

Met with a new mechanic this morning and got an estimate. Even for a factory-fresh transmission the price was a couple of thousand less than what I had been quoted by the previous outfit. And, unlike the previous outfit, he’s willing to go with a remanufactured or a salvaged transmission if I want to go that way. He’ll call me with those prices later today. Since remanufactured transmissions are warrantied, I’ll probably choose that if the price is significantly better. So now I wait. And relax.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Parting shot

Today I loaded my stuff in the van, took two loads of trash to the transfer station, cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, vacuumed, dusted, took the last of the housewares to the 96-year-old perpetual yard sale lady, flipped all the circuit breakers for the house, shop, well and RV hookups, and delivered the keys to my wonderful neighbors, Pat and Margene, so they can give them to the real estate agent who is away for a few weeks. 

Then I drove away.

It felt a little bit weird. It was over. I wasn't running an errand. I wasn't taking a vacation. I was leaving. I might never come back. I didn't have this feeling when I waved farewell to my own house ten years ago.

It felt a little bit wrong. It felt like I was cutting myself off from Lou and his memory, abandoning him. I'm not the caretaker of his hard work anymore.

But now I'm the caretaker of his ashes. I'm delivering them to Lou's sailing buddy, George, who lives on Vancouver Island. We'll deposit Lou in the ocean, as per his request.

After that? I guess I go searching for a new best friend.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Well, that's taken care of

I gave Lou’s truck and mini camper to a woman in El Paso. Her son and fiancee picked it up for her since she was feeling ill today.

You never know about deals made on the Internet, but the woman said she had been following Cheap RV Living and that she had been hoping to get something like this and get out of her apartment. All communications with her, her son and fiancee seemed genuine and above board. So were they just excellent actors? They were very nice and extremely grateful in person. Anyway, it's one more thing crossed off my list and putting me closer to being back on the road.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Ghost in the machine

Well, the Rolling Steel Tent’s engine got replaced and all that, but on the way home to the rancho the check engine light came on. I made a U-turn back to the shop where the scanner determined the problem was a faulty knock sensor. They ordered the part and I returned a few days later to have it installed — all covered by the warranty on the engine replacement.

A day later the check engine light came on again. Return to shop… it’s the knock sensor again… order another replacement… have it replaced a few days later.

Repeat the above once again, only this time they got a genuine GM part.

And the check engine light came on again.

Back to the shop. This time they figured it had to be a bad connector, because three knock sensors in a row is beyond all likelihood. 

Complicating the process a little is the fact the refrigerator, which is mounted where the passenger seat once was, needs to be disconnected and removed in order to have room to remove the engine cover and space for the mechanic to work. And I had reinstalled it the previous day, thinking our problem was finally fixed. It’s not a hard job, just a little tedious, requiring three wrench sizes and two screwdrivers. So I undid my work.

I retrieved the Rolling Steel Tent and its new connector yesterday afternoon and reinstalled the fridge.

This morning the check engine light came on again. “There must be a bad wire somewhere. We’ll have to chase it down. Can you come in Thursday?”

So the fridge will need to come out again. And go back in again.

Yesterday I had figured I could wrap up things with Lou’s property and return to my life on the road by the end of the week. I’ll have to see how this ordeal with the van wiring works out.

To be fair, I don’t blame the repair shop for this. They’ve been sympathetic and professional about the whole thing. However, if it turns out the mechanic dinged a wire during the engine swap, then I’ll grumble a little.

I just want to go.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Another electrical mystery

GM vehicles have a feature called Retained Accessory Power (RAP) that allows certain electrical accessories, such as the radio, to stay on for a short period of time after the engine is turned off. This is done to prevent the accessories from turning off suddenly, which could cause data loss or other problems.

The RAP feature is typically set to stay on for about 10 minutes after the engine is turned off. However, in some cases, the radio may stay on for longer, even after the doors have been opened. This can be caused by a number of factors, including:

• A problem with the RAP switch. The RAP switch is a small switch that is located in the driver's door. It tells the car's computer when the door is open or closed. If the RAP switch is faulty, it may not tell the computer that the door is open, which will keep the radio on.

• A problem with the body control module (BCM). The BCM is the computer that controls the electrical systems in the car. If the BCM is faulty, it may not be able to turn off the radio properly.

• A software problem. The software that controls the RAP feature may have a bug that causes the radio to stay on.

This is a weird setup to me. I believe that when you turn off the key all electrical things should shut down. If you want them on when the engine is off, then turn the key to the accessory position. That’s what it’s there for. But I’ve adapted to GM’s way of doing things.

Then, after getting the van back from the engine transplant, the radio no longer turned off when I opened the door. I had to turn it off myself. Hmmm, okay, so the RAP switch? The BCM? Something reassembled incorrectly? Sigh. So I adapted to that new reality.

Today, out of the blue, with no intervention from me or anyone else, it reverted to the GM standard way of doing things. Go figure.


Saturday, July 22, 2023

Darn otoliths

A few years ago I started having occasional brief episodes of vertigo. They usually happened when I was in bed. I’d turn my head from one side to the other and my world would start spinning. Woah, I’m on the Tilt-A-Whirl!

The vertigo would last only a few seconds, so after a few of these incidents I settled into just letting them run their course. After all, I was already lying down and safe. Sometimes it would happen when I sat up to get out of bed. I would just flop back down and wait.

My type of vertigo is caused by tiny crystals called otoliths in my inner ear wandering into one of the fluid-filled position-detecting tubes that help us maintain balance. 

I learned all that this morning after googling information on vertigo, because an attack that had started as soon as went to bed last night was still going on. Besides finding out the cause, I also learned there’s a series of “exercises” sufferers can do to get the rogue otoliths back where they belong. They involve hanging your head off the end of the bed and holding your head in various positions. It helped, but I’m still not 100 percent. At least I’m not stumbling around and crashing into things.

Friday, July 14, 2023

I’m not all amped up

I’ve been on hold with customer support for too long, so maybe one of my solar-savvy readers can tell me why my two 200W panels are putting out plenty of volts but no amps.


After emailing, live chatting, manual rereading, forum browsing, some fiddling and a lot of hokey-pokey I got my solar contraption working. For now, but I don't know for how long. Ergh, electricity.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Solved that problem

Kitchen cabinets were intended to live sedentary lives, not to ride around in the back of a van. So drawers and doors have a tendency to open up and spill their contents when I’m trying to beat a left turn light.

My former cabinet had a functionally simple but aesthetically unappealing mechanism: cup hooks I would turn to grab the edge of the doors. I wanted something for my new cabinet that was nicer yet just as easy to use.

The soft closing feature of my Ikea cabinet isn’t good for keeping things closed. And I knew from past testing that magnetic latches weren’t enough against the force of several sliding cans of creamy tomato basil soup. I considered all the latches and hasps in several hardware stores. I dug through specialty catalogs online, but… nah.

Then I remembered a trick my nomadic friend Karin showed me. She uses bungee cords looped between the knobs on her cabinet doors. I don’t have facing doors, but I could approach it a different way. 

Voila! Now I just need to get more bungee cord for the drawers. 

I know the drawer police will be after me for not locating the knobs in the center of the drawers, but that’s the type of outlaw I am.

UPDATE: Got enough bungee stuff to do the drawers.

Monday, July 10, 2023

And in this corner...

 Cargo vans don’t have nice moldings covering all the wiring like passenger vans do. So the back corners of the Rolling Steel Tent are a bit of a mess. Not only are there the standard wires for taillights and such, there’s also what I’ve added: back up camera, antenna cable, cellular booster, overhead light… 

Finally, after ten years of trying to ignore all that, I made a simple panel to cover it. Ah, that’s better. Hmmm, maybe I should paint the back of that cabinet.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Going fancier

The original cabinet I built from scratch ten years ago functioned just fine, but there were some funky bits and some obvious flaws. I tried to fix those things as part of my upgrade, but I ended up making things worse. Sigh.

So rather than build a replacement, I explored pre-made cabinets, hoping to find something that would fit in the former cabinet’s space. And, surprise, Ikea had what I needed. I’d have to modify it to clear the fuel filler bump, but that would have been the case with any cabinet. (What, kitchens don’t have weird sticking out thingies?)

I had to pick up the kit at Ikea’s Albuquerque warehouse. There were seven or eight packages, which made carrying them much easier. 

The world is filled with jokes about assembling Ikea stuff. I’ve never had problems before. The trick this time was doing a large, awkward assembly single handed. 

The drawers were easy. Screw a couple of tabs to the drawer face, then snap the rest together. And the door hinges clicked into place. No problem. (I thought.)

In order to measure the cutout for the fuel filler, I had to partially assemble the 24 x 24 x 30 box, then get it into and out of the van without damaging it. It’s cumbersome, heavy and slippery.

In the meantime, we had the estate sale, selling off all of Lou’s tools. No more saws. But our neighbor friend Pat has an even better shop and she let me use it. I notched the base, back and side then built a box to close it in. Although Pat’s power tools are top notch, she doesn’t have many clamps. So I had to wait for one joint to dry before I could do the next. But it worked out.

Then the van was in the shop for the new engine and I couldn’t do measurements and test fits.

The top for the cabinet is separate and I decided I wanted to use butcher block. Lowe’s in Las Cruces had them in four-foot lengths an inch-and-a half thick—and about 5,000 pounds. 

“Hey Pat, Lowe’s wouldn’t cut the butcher block to size. They said it was too thick. Any chance your table saw can handle this slab?”

“I don’t know. Let’s try.” It worked and now Pat has the unneeded chunk of butcher block.

Then I had to decide how to finish the wood. If I wanted to use the butcher block for actual butchering I treat it with the proper waxy oil stuff. But I just need water resistance, so I went with some tinted polyurethane—after a lot of sanding.

The original plywood cabinet was made with plywood on a poplar frame. But melamine-covered medium density fiberboard is more brittle, and there was a chance the vibrations of driving—particularly on dirt roads—would cause damage. So in addition to Ikea’s fasteners, I glued the panels together, used more screws, ran a bead of super glue along all the seams, and added glued and screwed poplar reinforcements to the joints. It’s very rigid now.

Also, the original cabinet had been secured by a bolt through the van floor plus a couple more bolts attaching it to the end or the bed. But this time (partly because there was no one handy to hold one end of the bolt while I crawled under the van to tighten it) I attached it to the bulkhead.

Once the box was in place I could mount the butcher block and install the drawers and door. No problem with the butcher block. Just some marking of holes and drilling them, then using some lag bolts to secure it to Ikea’s brackets. But, oops, there was a problem with the drawers. There was a large gap between the drawer face and the butcher block. I thought I had screwed the slides into the wrong holes, so I unscrewed them and moved them up. But then the drawer was too high. I finally realized I had installed the faces upside down. So I returned the slides to their original position and… How the hell do I get the faces off the drawers? They snapped in, but how do I unsnap it? After about an hour of poking around in various holes (worried that I’d need to buy two more drawers) I finally found the secret combination! Whew!

So now it’s all done, except I need to mount the knobs, adjust the drawer and door gaps, and notch the shelves to clear my custom corner bracing. One more trip to Pat’s shop. Good thing it’s only a half mile away.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

More power

My ten year old solar setup worked fine. I just had to be judicious with electrical usage during the darker days of winter. After a lot of debate with myself, and after acquiring some extra cash, I decided to make the leap from lead acid batteries to lithium. And I would boost both my collection and storage capacities while I was at it.

With deep cycle lead acid batteries you should use only half of its capacity each discharge cycle. Otherwise you damage the battery. So a 100Ah battery is actually good for only about 50Ah. Meanwhile, you can access nearly all of a lithium battery’s power each cycle, meaning a 100Ah lithium battery has almost twice the available power as a 100Ah lead acid battery.

I had two 104Ah lead acid batteries — 208Ah total. I could have replaced them with one 100Ah lithium battery, but that would still leave me with borderline power in winter. I decided to get 200Ah lithium — twice the power. And I chose to get one 200Ah battery instead of two 100Ah ones. It was a couple of bucks cheaper and easier to wire and locate in the van.

One drawback of lithium batteries is they don’t like to be charged in cold weather. Some people keep their batteries in sufficiently heated spaces. Some use the batteries’ power to run a heater or heat pad. But now there are self-heating lithium batteries. That’s what I got.

Having twice the battery capacity meant I needed to increase my solar output. I had a single 270W panel that took up most of the available roof space. But after considerable searching and measuring I found a pair of 200W panels that actually take up slightly less room.

Lithium batteries require a different charging profile than lead acid batteries. I could have found some solar tech guy who could reprogram my existing charge controller that didn't have a setting for lithium batteries, but it would be cheaper and easier to just get a new one. It would also be smaller. So that’s what I did.

Solar experts would probably blanch at the way my original system was wired, but hey, it worked. No shorts, no destroyed components, no fires. But I figured I could do it better this time. So I watched a lot of videos, read a lot of articles, and found a wiring diagram that matched my needs. The new system is more complex, with fuses, breakers, bus bars and such, but it’s actually less of a rat’s nest than what I had.

So, wheeeee! A new solar setup to go along with the new engine. I’m set for another ten year — assuming I last that long.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Further progress

I checked in on the Rolling Steel Tent again. The new engine was in place and Manny was busy hooking up hoses and wires.

I said, “Van engine swaps are a real pain in the ass, aren’t they?”

He shrugged and said, “It’s the third van I’ve done this spring.”

He showed me the old engine. It wasn’t pretty. And it was wrapped up in preparation for a hazmat team to haul it away.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Gone at last

The truck topper that used to be on Lou’s F-150 was the last large item to be cleared off the property. It had been on Facebook Marketplace for two weeks, offered up for free, but there had been no interest. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty, and it was for a 7-foot bed in the age when most truck beds are shorter than that, so I sort of expected it. I was thinking about how I could have it hauled away when I finally got a reply to the ad from a guy in the next town over.

“Bring some extra muscle to lift this thing,” I advised. I was worried when just he and his wife drove up. Well, Lou and I had wrestled it off the truck, so maybe the three of us could get it on his trailer.

“No need,” he said, pointing to the crane on his truck. 

Ah-ha! Excellent. And excellent to have the topper gone.

Friday, June 2, 2023

So far

I was in town on other business this morning and decided to stop by the auto repair shop to see how things were going with the Rolling Steel Tent’s heart transplant. Some shops have strict liability-based rules against non-employees being in the shop, but the folks at R&L turned out to be cool.

The first chore when doing major repairs on a van engine is creating access to it.  Grill, bumper, radiator, core support, fan shroud, air filter and intake, hoses, cables, wires, pipes… All that stuff has to go. Then it’s time to remove accessories like the alternator, power steering pump, and water pump. That’s how far in the process the mechanic was when I dropped by. This is the ugly, sad looking stage of engine replacement.

I had already removed some things from the interior to maximize access to the engine and simplify the mechanic’s job. Just before delivering the van I decided to remove the mattress as well so it wouldn’t soak up garage odors. Good thing I did, because the mechanic is storing parts on the bed platform. Hmmmm, okay.

The service rep said everything had been going smoothly so far. I hope that’s more than just a standard customer-pleasing response.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

More places

My new friend, Jason, is camp hosting just outside Flagstaff. When he learned I was on the road he invited me to stop by, stay a night or two. So I did.

Evening wandering near the campground

Morning walk in the other direction

After Flagstaff I headed south toward Payson and returned to my favorite (so far) campsite on the Mogollon Rim.

Looking down from my campsite

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Road trip

With the estate sale taken care of, and a week before the Rolling Steel Tent goes into the shop, it seemed like a good time to do a little wandering. And I’d take the Loumobile and mini camper.

But where to go? Out of the desert, into the mountains and forests. Yeah, that’s what I wanted. So up the west side of New Mexico, into the Gilas, over into Arizona and the White Mountains, along the Mogollon Rim, then to Flagstaff before dashing back to my appointment.

I’ve taken that route a few times before, but usually with a get-from-point-A-to-point-B mentality. This time I’ll slow down, look around, explore a little.

Monday, May 15, 2023


 The shop called today with the great news that my new engine has arrived, and with the not-so-great news that they can't fit me into their schedule until the 30th.

But, hey, I have a place to stay, other transportation while the van is in the shop, and enough money to pay for it, so life is good.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

All gone

We had an estate sale this weekend to re-home as much of Lou's stuff as possible. I thought it would be a tough job in this small village of people with modest bank accounts. I also figured that since this is largely an area of ranchers and manual laborers they'd already have all the tools they needed. But I was wrong. 

There wasn't a swarm of folks, but they came ready to buy. A lot of the major shop tools were gone before lunch the first day. The rest were gone the next morning. Some people came back for more. It's much easier to sell useful things like tools than it is nicknacks and castoff apparel.

My goal was to clear the place out, not make money, so I was generous with the pricing. But the executor, who had been close friends with Lou for many decades, was having trouble separating her grieving from the job at hand. So many things reminded her of Lou and she hoped some items would go to other close friends, to people with the same emotional attachments. Yeah, if Lou was watching from the afterlife, he probably wouldn't be happy that the buyers weren't fellow craftsmen, or were maybe even people he didn't like, but I had a job to do.

We were still left with a considerable amount of odds and ends, so we contacted some folks down the road whose business is a perpetual "yard sale" to see if they wanted to take our leftovers. They did. The proprietor is a 96-year-old woman who is much respected and adored in the community. And she's still going strong. She drove herself here and helped her son and grandson load the trucks. She says she plans on living to 120. I don't doubt she will. Maybe if she runs into Lou on the other side he'll give her a piece of his mind.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Another nice mechanic

The F-150 needed a couple of new coils. Richie at Twisted Wrenches in Santa Clara NM said I could order the parts myself to save some money and he’d install them. I asked if he could do it while I waited, otherwise I’d need to arrange a ride. He assured me it would take only a half hour, forty-five minutes tops. Cool.

So I showed up at the appointed time this morning and Richie waved me into the service bay and got right to it. None of that “I got behind yesterday and need to finish this other job first so how about you come back at about 2:00” stuff.

He popped the hood and... there was a small surprise:

Critters had started to make a home on top of the engine. Rather than say it wasn’t his job, he got out the shop vac and cleaned it up.

Twisted Wrenches is the type of shop where you’re free to hang out and wander around. So I did. Some unfortunate person was having the engine in his three-year-old Wrangler replaced.

And it’s the type of shop that saves things.

True to his word, Richie was done in 35 minutes, and now the truck runs fine. And there’s a 30-day warranty on the work.

As I’ve said before, I like small town mechanics. Their customer base is too small for them to last long doing bad work or ripping people off. So if you find yourself in southwest New Mexico needing some work on your vehicle, or just need something checked out, go see Richie at Twisted Wrenches, near the junction of highways 180 and 152. 575-412-3051.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

I'll get a big charge out of this

I saw the FedEx guy coming so I met him in the yard. He delivered the first part of my upgraded solar power system. Twice as many Amp hours, half as many connections.

So old curmudgeon me is taking a giant step into 2019, embracing lithium battery technology. I’ve read up on them enough to answer my concerns.

I imagine the system that has faithfully served me the past ten years probably feels (if it has feelings) like a middle-aged wife getting dumped for a 20-year-old. I had no major complaints with it. I just had to be careful with my electrical usage in the winter.

The switch to a LiFePo4 battery means I need a compatible charge controller. And so I gather enough sunlight to keep the battery charged, I’m retiring my 270 Watt panel for two 200 Watt panels. There’s j-u-u-u-u-u-s-t enough room on the Rolling Steel Tent’s roof for them. 

Even though the old system didn’t short out or cause any fires, it wasn’t wired quite right or efficiently. So I’m redoing all my wiring.

Oh, and the repair shop called today. The new engine hadn’t arrived or even been shipped. The supplier said it hadn’t been ordered. Then they said it had but they wouldn’t have one for another month or more. So my shop is looking for a new supplier. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Making it a little safer

The door of the camper Lou built has a deadbolt. But since the door swings out, the hinges are exposed. That means a half-clever thief with a screwdriver and hammer, and maybe a little WD-40, could pop out the hinge pins and jiggle the door off.

So to add a little bit more security I made a modification I saw somewhere years ago. I drilled a hole in the jam and inserted a center punch I sacrificed for the cause. Then I drilled a slightly larger hole in the edge of the door. The tool steel center punch fits in the door hole when the door is closed. Now the door can’t be easily pried out if the hinge pins are removed. 

You could accomplish the same thing by installing a second deadbolt on the hinge side of the door, but then you’d need to lock and unlock both whenever you used the door.

I know it won’t stop everyone. A coworker’s family owned a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains. Cabins in the area were unoccupied most of the time, making them targets for thieves who would just cut open the doors with chain saws. Now, with battery-powered hand tools, determined and equipped thieves can probably get into any unattended space. But at least I did what I could.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The big swap

Yesterday I had the auto repair shop do compression and leak down tests on the Rolling Steel Tent’s engine. Both were lower than the norm but not terrible.

I also had them try to find where my coolant kept going. They confirmed there were no external leaks and that it must be a head gasket or two, and/or the intake manifold gasket. Repairing either of those would be as much labor as replacing the engine, and I’d still have the compression and leak down issues. 

So I pulled the trigger on an engine replacement. They worked up an estimate. Parts and labor just shy of $10,000, which is about what I expected. Seven-hundred of that is a contingency fund for other parts they might discover they need.

While they’re at it, I'll have them replace the rear wheel bearings (the fronts were replaced a little while ago) and the shock absorbers.

So my home will go under the wrench on the 20th and be done sometime the next week. Then vrooooom vroooooooooom!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Now I own two trucks


Before he died, Lou “sold” me his pickup and the camper he built. “Keep it, or sell it and use the money toward a new van or a new engine for the old van. “

Well, I just got back from the New Mexico Motor Vehicles Division. Title transfer, new registration. In the eyes of the law the truck is now officially mine. But it still feels like I’m only borrowing it, or looking after it until Lou returns. 

I felt guilty cleaning out some stuff from the glovebox, the console, and the back of the cab. Lou had reasons for that stuff being there — reasons that no longer matter. Except it feels like they still do.

On the way to town and back I worried how Lou might critique my driving and how I handled the truck. His truck.

It would be less trouble for me to sell the truck and camper as a package. Have it all gone at once. It takes four to six strong people to lift the camper. I know because I was one of those who helped get it onto the truck.

There’s a young guy thinking about buying just the truck. “I haven’t filed my taxes yet, so I don’t know if I’ll have the money right away. How long could you wait?” 

I’d rather get the rig in the hands of an aspiring nomad. The camper has a solar power system, heater and stove. It’s, um, “compact,” but roomier than a minivan. The pickup has 190,000 miles on it, but that’s only middle age for trucks. And a truck is better for going into the boondocks.

I almost got myself in the position of owning three trucks. Until I finally decided for the last time I was going to have an engine transplant done on the Rolling Steel Tent, I had been shopping for a replacement. I even had my brother-in-law in Salt Lake City go check out a very promising van near him. But besides the logistical hassles of getting myself to Utah somehow (begging a ride to Deming > taking a bus to Phoenix > catching a shuttle flight to SLC) to make the purchase and driving the new van back, I’d need to build it out, then divest myself of the other two trucks. Nah. As much as I’d like power locks/windows/mirrors and cruise control, the smarter thing would be to freshen the Rolling Steel Tent. (Is it smarter because it’s easier, or is it easier because it’s smarter?)

So Tuesday the final final FINAL decision will be made after having the Rolling Steel Tent accessed by a mechanic. Scan it, do a compression test and leak-down test, check other systems like the water pump… Then have them work up the estimate.

Stay tuned.