Friday, April 2, 2021

Return Home

I had to stop by Trader Joe's of course even though my wife pretended I could come straight home...In the parking lot when I was alone I got to walk around Gannet 2 and secretly admire this new front end arrangement. Very discreet, and with no front license plate  it is perfectly placed to cause minimal disruption. FreedomVanGo did a brilliant job and I highly recommend them for their patience and organization and attention to detail. I hope I'll be going back to have them install a bash plate under the engine if they can get the right to install the only such accessory made for a Promaster. The thing is built in Livermore California and I'd rather drive to Jacksonville to get it installed before going to Alaska.
I took this photo from the Compass Van website which shows the way the winch is installed on a hidden tray behind the plastic bumper. The whole thing is bolted to the frame of the van ensuring the van moves forward intact when pulled by the winch. We shall see!
Naturally this is very Modern and comes not with a pirate hook but this closed ring to which you attach a strap which in turn you attach to an anchor, a tree rock or buried object to allow the 12,000 lb winch to haul the van out of the bog I have driven it into... I will know more after I get lessons. I wanted to install the winch first so I can learn on my own vehicle and not practice on some borrowed wildly suitable jeep or four wheel drive vehicle. Driving my home into a bog will take some nerve.
I also bought a padded bag which looks weird but folds easily and can stand in as a quickly deployed doormat, or as a mat to lie on under the vehicle should the mechanical need overtake me. Something as simple as lowering the spare tire requires some dirt groveling unfortunately. $80- Ka Ching!  Van Life. 
This is the rather intimidating front end of the FreedomVanGo demo Sprinter. Same discreet winch is what matters to me. Its a four wheel drive Sprinter with lifted suspension and bumpers and bars everywhere. Were I to drive this monster I'd feel a total fraud, not least because I'd need a stool to climb in... Naturally on my day off it rained a fair bit as evidenced by the droplets in the photo, so I kept my umbrella close when I went for a stroll.
The van was done by 2pm and I got a quick tutorial on using the remote control to deploy the winch and wrap it up. 12,000 lb pull is enough to sever your hand if you are stupid so I plan not to be stupid.
After Trader Joe's I lunched in the van on a freshly purchased barbecue chicken salad: lettuce and barbecue sauce- who knew? and pointed the winch south. At about 5pm.
I took these pictures previously as I didn't have time inclination or the wit to take pictures of me alone, on I-95, in rest areas between sessions behind the wheel. The drive from Jacksonville to Cudjoe Key is about eight hours and though I stick to 65mph in the van I don't have to faff around looking for toilets and food and we make surprisingly good time when we are forced onto freeways in our home. Layne is really good at keeping the driver supplied with hot fresh tea as we go and our portapotty works for her even at 65 mph.
It got dark north of Palm Beach but the Turnpike was pretty empty and I made good time to Homestead with one stop to fill up and one stop to snack and get a short walk in to refresh me along the way.
Highway One was totally empty through the Keys at one am. I set the cruise control seven mph above the speed limit and cruised along on an empty roadway as though there had been an evacuation order. 
A dark shadow came out from the car port as I backed into the drive and there was much mewing and tail wagging after I got the side door slid open. My wife says Rusty had a hard three days of it and we have been inseparable since I got back. Tomorrow I return to work with two dispatchers gone to new lives out of state and one dispatcher in training to replace them eventually. I might have a very work-heavy summer ahead. A Maine van vacation does not seem on the cards any more this year. Roll on retirement!