Monday, October 30, 2023

Oooooooooo, sparkles!

The company that warrants the replacement transmission that went bad wanted the mechanic to check some things about the device’s condition. So I limped the van to the shop this morning.

The mechanic checked the level and color of the automatic transmission fluid, wiped the dipstick on a paper towel, looked at it for a couple of seconds, then showed it to me. There were metal particles in the residue. Quite a few for just that bit of fluid on the end of the dipstick.

 “Well that’s not good,” said I. 

He concurred.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The philosophy of trousers

A couple of months ago I got a pair of pants I love. Sort of a cross between cargo pants and hiking pants. They fit great and I like the fabric, which is lighter weight than denim, has a bit of stretch, and has a subtle ripstop weave. They’re made by Wrangler. 

I wanted to get another pair, but the store didn’t stock them anymore. So I found them on the Wrangler site where I was offered a selection of colors. Ah, colors. Ah, choices. 

There had been only one color when bought the first pair—sort of a darker khaki that shifts depending on what color it’s mated with. When I wear a white shirt the pants look to be neutral brown that leans just a hair toward yellow. When I wear a tan shirt the brown drifts slightly toward olive. A red shirt makes them look gray. All of which is fine, just curious.

The color samples on the Wrangler site didn’t match the pants I have. Other than black, charcoal and navy (default man colors) there were three tones in the khaki-to-olive drab range, with two so similar I wondered why they bothered making one of them.

Now, I know from my decades as an art director that accurate color reproduction is tricky, especially when viewed on a monitor, which tends to skew things slightly toward blue. And everyone’s monitor is adjusted differently. (The color on the right is labeled "olive drab" but might look gray on your device.) I also know that fabric color can drift from one dye lot to the next, or that fashion companies fiddle with colors for their own reasons. So I was ready to accept that the pants I own match one or neither of the khaki colors on the screen.

But do I want the same color? Do I want something familiar and satisfying, or do I want variety? That gets into the realm of Big Life Questions. What type of person am I? What type of person do I aspire to be? Is sameness comforting or boring? Is change interesting or risky?

I chose variety and clicked the dark olive option. I will laugh if that turns out to be a perfect match of the pants I have.

UPDATE: The new pants arrived. They’re the dark ones. The original ones are light.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Well, that didn’t last long

I was going up a long steep mountain grade leading from New Mexico to Arizona when the newly installed low mileage transmission started acting up. Or not acting. Third gear was slipping and sometimes not wanting to stay in gear. 


I had made a choice: go with the salvaged transmission that was available, or wait who knows how much longer for a remanufactured version. The salvaged transmission came out of a wrecked van with a third of the mileage of the Rolling Steel Tent, so I figured it should serve for a couple of hundred miles more. Right. And I was very tired of waiting.

I limped to the summit and a cell signal. I called the mechanic and broke the news. We talked options, including reinstalling my old not-as-broken transmission. He called back five minutes later saying he had talked to the transmission supplier and gotten him on the hunt for a remanufactured or new one. The warranty would cover the replacement. I’d just need to pay any extra price difference. Okay.

Now the trick was to get 170 miles back to the shop without a reliable third gear. I chose a longer, slower, twistier route because it was flatter and mostly downhill.

And I made it.

Meanwhile, the power had been shut off at Lou’s place, so staying there would mean boondocking rather than having the comforts of home. I could’ve handled that. But my trusty neighbors Pat and Marjean invited me to park at their place where I could plug into their RV hookup, use their bathroom, and wash my clothes while I wait. And wait. And wait for the next transmission.

It could be worse. I’m not totally stranded in the middle of nowhere, starving and penniless. This is just disappointing, inconvenient and patience-trying. As they say, it’s another story to tell.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Starting over

I didn’t go very far today. It was late morning by the time I took care of the last few things at the house. 

I’m still in New Mexico near Cosmic Campground — a place dedicated to stargazing. I don’t have a telescope, so I’ll have to be contented to watch the sky with my bare eyes.

Meanwhile, I need to get back into the van life groove. How do I cook dinner? Oh, yeah.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Reunited at last!

The replacement transmission is in and working as it should. The Rolling Steel Tent and I are partners again. Now it’s time to load up and get back to my real life—for real this time. 

Goodbye old transmission

It has been ten months since Lou passed, and about twenty months that I’ve been here. That’s not very nomadic. I hope I haven’t forgotten how to do this.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Almost every morning

Yesterday there were nine deer grazing in that spot. Then they drank from the water buckets I leave out for them. They’re pretty good neighbors.

The transmission saga is about to end. Fingers crossed.

After several false starts because of backed up work at the repair shop (trouble getting parts, illness, etc.) it’s finally time to swap out the transmission. At least the van is there. Ricky promised it for Friday. If that happens, then I’m out of here and back on the open road by Monday. Please.

Here’s the beast, wrapped for our protection.