Monthly Archives: May 2021

Tailgate Fixed

I believe I mentioned that the tailgate on my Mitsubishi Montero Sport wasn’t opening. Reason unknown. I need to be able to access the back of the van, of course, and this was really a problem. The solution did NOT reside online. There were no YouTube vids dealing with MY specific problem with MY specific vehicle. The few pics I could find did nothing to help.

So, the other day I went in and ripped the covering off of the back of the tailgate. There were some cut-outs that I could just barely get my hand into, and peering down to where the latching mechanism was was awful. My friend and neighbor, Capt’n Natural Lee, here deep in the swamp off the Saint Johns River in DeBary, Florida, lent me his large Dremel tool. I widened the major opening for better access  with it but despite everything I tried it still wouldn’t open. I gave up for the day and returned to my boat to cogitate.

Yesterday Lee came down and spent almost two hours pushing and pulling on the rod that activates the mechanism between the door handle and the other doohicky to no avail. In the afternoon I went to the local Ace Hardware and bought the smallest can of TriFlow lubricant they sell. Got back to the swamp and DRENCHED the damned thing and left it to soak overnight.

One way or another I was going to get the effin’ thing open TODAY! After my morning mug of espresso I went on up t the van. Pushed on the rod and same thing as yesterday. I got some light shining down into the hole and watched what was happening to the mechanism. There seemed to be a small, perhaps 1/16 to 1/8-inch something down inside the slot that was blocking the whatchamacallit from fully travelling to the end. I found a little something and after a while I was able to get rid of it. Pushed down on the rod and pushed on the door and, as we used to say when I was living in Antibes, France, VOILÀ!!!

Sprayed TriFlow on the underside, opened and closed the hatch a half-dozen times using the door handle and finished the job. Now I can go to Home Depot and get them to cut me a 3/4″ piece of plywood for a platform to lay my mattress down on and I’m one step closer to being my next “Good Adventure.”

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Getting Ready For The Next Adventure

One advantage of being in Facebook Prison and not being able to post or comment is that it frees up the time normally wasted on that to do other things. Take today, for instance…

Having decided that I’d stick to the Mitsubishi until it either makes the big loop or falls apart along the way, I need to have more internal space. Yesterday I lay down in back and there was JUST enough room from the back of the front seats to the back door of the vehicle. JUST! So this morning I dismantled the seats. Or more specifically, seat. There’s just the one. It was unbelievably simple. Six bolts total. Gives me almost a full foot of extra reclining space. The worst thing about the back space, however, is the large amount of room taken up by the covers of the wheel wells. But the only thing I can do is work around them.

Yesterday my youngest brother, Mark, called for some information about our brothers who died in infancy. He didn’t know either of them and I only have a vague remembrance of the second one. Brother Jim died before he was two and I was only three.

Anyway, I told Mark that I’d looked at the minivan and decided not to buy it and we got to talking about camping. When I was in grade school we used to spend the entire summer, from the day school let out until the day after Labor Day at Nickerson State Park in Brewster, Mass, out near the elbow of Cape Cod. Mom and dad lived in a small trailer.

Brothers David and Gary slept in a tent with me. Dad had started Philbrick’s Snack Shack down at Skaket Beach on the Bay Side of Orleans and would leave every morning for work. I think the last time I slept in a tent was when I was, maybe 11 or 12 years old. Way more than half a century ago.

Mark, and brothers Gary and Jeff were all Eagle Scouts. Jeff has been a life-long devotee to scouting and has served in various capacities within the organization and helped kids learn survival skills in the wild. Jeff also hiked a great deal of the Appalachian Trail until blowing his knees. His son Ken, on the other hand, through hiked the trail after getting out of the Army. In our conversation, until my phone ran completely out of juice, Mark said that he’d given up back packing and had been doing a lot of car camping over the past couple of years He said he bought a Coleman Instant Tent. The 6-person model because it has 6-foot headroom and can be set up in, literally, a couple of minutes.

Even with my COPD I should be able to do that without overtaxing myself. I was so impressed that I immediately got on Amazon and ordered one!

A tent is going to be essential for this adventure for a lot of reasons. I plan on using National Park Lands and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds along with state parks as much as possible to keep expenses reasonable. Many places don’t allow you to stay in your vehicle and require a tent. It also gives a place to use one’s bucket toilet, to change clothes, and simply a place to chill out in on those days when it’s raining and dreary. Should be a lot more comfortable than being stuck inside the SUV.

More to come…

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Go With What You Have….

As mentioned in a previous post I’m thinking of making a large circular tour of the eastern U.S. this summer. Sort of a land version of boating’s “Great Loop.” I’ve joined a half dozen Facebook Groups about van living and camping and I’ve devoured much of the films and forum posts on Cheap RV Living. Despite my friend and neighbor’s ill feelings towards Chrysler products and lots of other bad mouthing of Dodge vehicles, lots of it warranted I’m sure, there are also tons of others who are loyal fans of same. I wrote to a friend who owns a delivery company that uses vans and asked his opinion of Dodge vans. He said he was driving one currently and loves it. I posed the question on the Facebook groups and got overwhelming thumbs up for the Dodge Grand Caravan as a minivan camper and it’s listed online as one of the top 10 minivans for camping. Some people are living in them full time, too, which I suspect is what I’ll eventually be doing.

The other day I went and looked at a Kia Sedona, one of the three of the top 10 I wanted to check out. Didn’t like it a whole lot.

Today I drove down to nearby Sanford, FL and looked at a 2006 Chrysler Town and Country with only 80,000 miles on the clock. LOVED IT! It was clean inside and out and underneath. the only fault I saw was when I lifted the hood and found the positive anode of the battery covered with corrosion. Looked just like this:

There are several things that could cause this…an old battery that has been overcharged. Electrolyte leakage. Overfilled with water. Or it could simply be an old battery past its time. Most likely NOT a big deal and easily fixed.

I have enough money in the bank that I could have bought it right then and still had money left in the bank to go on the trip. But something just wouldn’t let me do it. Cheapskate at heart, I guess.

On the way back home I got to thinking of the time when I was still wearing a suit and tie to work and dreaming about cruising around on a small boat. I’d bought the book “Sensible Cruising: The Thoreau Approach: A Philosophic and Practical Approach to Cruising” by Don Casey and Lew Hackler. I’ve always remembered their answer to the question: “What’s the best boat to go cruising on?” They said: “The one you have!” The book is long out of print but is available used from places like: http://Sensible Cruising: The Thoreau Approach : A Philosophic and Practical Approach to Cruising Don Casey, Lew Hackler

So, as I’m driving back to the swamp (in case you missed it I live on a small sailboat moored on a canal off the Saint Johns River in DeBary, Florida, 3 miles from the nearest paved road) I’m thinking about whether or not I need a new van to make this journey around the states. I HAVE a vehicle. Before I went out this morning I looked up the Blue Book value and if I was lucky I could get, maybe, 750 MAX in trade in, but most likely not more than $500. That’s okay. I got it for FREE, so whatever I get in trade would be like “found” money. I don’t need a van for a place to live. I HAVE a place to live…my boat. And it will be here when I get back, ready to move into. What it boils down to is I should use what I have. If it makes the whole 4,000 mile circuit I’m a winner with a bunch of money still in the bank. If I have a serious breakdown then I’ve got the money to buy something wherever I happen to be.

One of the big problems with the Montero is storage space. There is no roof rails so I can’t mount a box topside. But it does have a trailer hitch set up. So I went up to the local Harbor Freight and found I can get a carrier for between $49 and 90 bucks depending on whether I want steel or aluminum. Then I’d need to buy a box to carry a few things. Like a chair, a tent, a place to keep my cook stove and 11 lb. tank, etc. I can lie down in the back of the Montero…JUST, but I can. Tomorrow I’ll take the old air mattress out and blow it up and see what that looks like. I slept on an air mattress for a couple of years here on the boat and didn’t have a problem with it. Well, four of them got leaks, but they’re less than a dozen dollars at Wally World.

I think I can put a camping package together with everything I need to do the trip for less than a grand which would leave $4K untouched that I was going to use for buying a minivan. I can buy one of those when I return to DeBary.

Q: What’s the best vehicle to go on an adventure with?

A: The one you have.

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Fuck Zuck!

For the second time in over a month I’ve been locked up for 30 days in Facebook prison because of something I posted. Each time it was something that triggered an algorithm. 

The first time was when I wrote that “Right wingers want EVERYONE to own a gun…except for ‘darkies’ and ‘beaners,’ of course…” Got me for using racist terms. I didn’t dispute the ban except Facebook doesn’t recognize sarcasm or consider context. So I sat it out. 

I belong to a lot of “Groups” on the site that have a special interest for me…ukuleles, boats, and most recently van life. I also have three groups of my own that I created, one of which has close to two thousand members!!! I can READ what’s posted, but I’m unable to post or make comments on the groups. I CAN, however, moderate my groups, approving or denying requests for membership.

After getting off of the ban a couple of weeks ago I was slammed again by an algorithm against “Bullying.” I appealed because, again, context was not taken into consideration. My appeal was denied. This is what caused it…There was a cartoon of a flatbed truck with a swimming pool and a guy on a high diving board zipping along the road in frame one. In frame two the truck has gone forward and the guy dives into the road. The poster read “Science, bitches!'”

I posted, “Since the truck, pool and diver are all traveling along at the same velocity, when he dives he will dive into the pool because “Physics, bitches!”

That’s considered “Bullying.” I appealed and someone with a dot on their forehead sitting in a haze of curry-scented air surrounded with tens of thousands of their Covid-killed countrymen said it WAS bullying. Fuck THEM! And Fuck ZUCK!

I’ll be posting here. I’m hunting for a minivan to start my next adventure. In fact, going to look at one in a little while in nearby Sanford, FL.

See ya!

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