Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Miami Heat

The van in Miami. We made it 130 miles from home for a day in the big city. The van acquitted itself better than we did.
We left home at four thirty in the morning on Monday with a plan to drive to Miami to get my wife infused with her  anti arthritis drug, a disease of long standing that has left her with a compromised immune system and thus total vulnerability to the coronavirus. One more reason to travel self contained. However I did manage to forget that we had the van plugged into the house electricity and we cheerfully drove off until we heard a noise and memory returned in a  flood.
$75 by mail order from an organization I expect to get more intimate with as time goes by....etrailer.com. Should be here by Thursday...and it arrived as advertised! Silly me, every new sailor gets warned not to forget the shore power cord as apparently does every van driver and I managed it well when it was my turn! I am very good about minding out for the high roof...so far.
It was a steaming hot day with a fell-like high estimated near 105 degrees and by early afternoon it was still baking. I like summer heat in Florida mostly because it stays near 90 and even though there is high humidity that doesn't bother me near as much as these kinds of desert like summer highs. I found a shady spot near the doctor's office and after a run in the grass in this huge strange open space apparently undesirable to any Miami developer, we settled down to a few hours of reading and waiting.
We both enjoyed ice cold water from the fridge and I whipped out our Kermit chair and settled in to some quiet time while Rusty buried himself in the shade of a droopy palmetto. It was actually quite pleasant and serene in the middle of the urban madness.
The plan was to do a little light shopping and perhaps spend the night. In the event after the infusion we  hopped over to the Jamaican place next door for some patties eaten at the dinette table inside the van with the air conditioning going full blast, and then we stopped by Trader Joe's and The Container Store for some storage solutions in the van's  spaces. With those three stops as my sample I can say social distancing, limited numbers of customers at a time and total mask compliance were the order of the day. The complaints one hears in the Keys about "those people from Miami" and their bad manners and endless masks violations were not at all in evidence in the Miami we visited.
With some creative parking, at the corner of the lot in this case, one can cram a 21 foot van into a car space. Most people like to crowd the spaces closest to the entrance so choosing to park across the lot makes it much easier to find a spot without blocking anyone else.  The van has a back up camera and an extremely tight turning radius thanks to front wheel drive so that makes it easy to maneuver. It's bulk also gets attention a lot better than our diminutive Fiat 500 so people and cars tend to notice us and not take a chance. I don't even have to scowl to get compliance...
The outdoors was so hot that Rusty who gets a chance to go outside at each stop, hopped off the asphalt in the parking lot right onto the grassy medians. He is not yet much of a fan of the van which is cavernous and makes strange noises that our little Carolina Dog is not used to, though being a creature of habit he is learning to cope, but slowly. The air conditioner could barely keep up with the heat and at 120 amps of power needed to run it we had four hours of run time on our batteries at full strength. When combined with the engine air conditioning while driving the interior was quite cold but clearly these levels of heat would have needed a campsite plug in to stay cool overnight. And we had no plug thanks to distracted me...brilliant! So a back up plan we had of going to Everglades National Park was scrapped and we drove home.
It wasn't a wasted trip as we got some containers to help sort the contents of the cupboards and we found some stuff at Trader Joe's as you always do but my wife was ready to sit back while I did the driving. It wasn't a terrible drive home once I managed to pass a couple of very slow tourists going 45 in a 55. I am obviously very familiar with the bewildering variety of speed limits on the Overseas Highway and the locations of the passing zones but the Promaster's passing abilities are new to me. It does quite well though the engine roars rather  a lot to get up to passing speeds. I enjoy it at 70 or less on the freeways and on the Overseas Highway it is a pleasant way to cruise all high up. The trouble with slow drivers is they cause people to clump up and get impatient. Most people don't know how to pass on a  two lane highway and no one (except me) bothers to pull over for impatient drivers. My tactic is to try to stay away from all of them and stick within five miles of the speed limit and not have to worry about getting a ticket. It's not easy to do but I was happy I could find a quiet space even with the Promaster van and leave the tail gating slow pokes well behind. Rusty found his happy place too. 
I mentioned to my wife I was feeling a bit tired after a long hot day and she said to pull over after we got off the bridge and she would drive. I said okay a bit surprised as I hadn't wanted to push her into driving the beast but off she went. I got in the back with Rusty to avoid me back seat driving and while she learned how light and easy the beast is to drive, I got wise about my poor dog sitting in a  cave at the back where he often likes to look out of the window of the car as we travel. So I opened  a side window and got some air and opened the back curtain and he started looking out avidly. I think I figured out how to make the van desirable to my dog. He ignored me and lay there watching the world go by backwards. He didn't even have to sit up.
Not at all the trip we expected or planned for. but my wife, as she drove confidently into our driveway announced that she felt we had learned a lot on this first outing. As usual I think she was right.