Getting ready for the shakedown cruise

Sometime this week Thor and I will embark on our first journey. I worked this weekend to get some more stuff done, mostly pretty boring stuff like getting locks installed on all of the cabinets, some little pieces of trim and the starts of the two battery electrical system. Right now my Westy is at the shop awaiting new rear wheel bearings and some other such necessities.

I like the idea of the cabinet locks because they’ll make me feel pretty safe leaving the doors unlocked and windows down (especially if Thor is inside) and not worrying much about the contents being stolen. Having all cabinets locked rather than just the ones with the valuables adds further protection because if someone were to break open any of the cabinets they wouldn’t really know where to start. I’m happy with how they came out. They look good and all hold the doors tight. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures and the camper is away, so you’ll have to take my word.

I also got new speakers installed. I went to Sound of Joy on Broadway. I went to them once before to have them install the stereo in the Subaru and really liked the guy that did it. Though I’d researched on the Crutchfield site to order some, I thought I’d go and see what they thought. The guy I talked to looked and said that there was lots of room inside the door where the old speaker was and that he could make some brackets that would hold some bigger speakers in place. That was clearly $45 well spent. I opted to let them install the rear speakers as an act of good will. How hard could it be? It turns out, much harder than I’d thought. The good folks at Westfalia thought that running 4 wires to run two speakers was an unnecessary waste of copper and today a shared ground makes an amplifier very unhappy. The guy helped me trace the wires and show me how to run the wire (he was going to charge $60 for it, but gave me wire and showed me the most obvious way (to him, not to me) to run it. I managed to get it mostly done while he was doing other stuff, so he wired them all up. He also trimmed the grills; it’s not exactly art, but it would have taken me a long time to decide to do it an how. The speakers I got were at least as good as what I’d have ordered from Crutchfield and I felt better about getting expert eyes-on advice. I recommend them. I’ve still got a bit of work to do on the front grills, but that’s another story.

new speakers, sound great

I have solved a few equipment problems that I haven’t updated you on. One is that I have been trying to figure out which guitar to take. I have a really nice Taylor, but I think if it were in the camper I’d be worried about it getting scratched, stolen, too hot, or otherwise threatened. I’d thought that I’d take my Composite Acoustics guitar, which is made of carbon fiber and is mostly impervious to heat and moisture. Last weekend, though, I came up with the perfect solution, my old Martin that I got when I graduated from college. It sustained considerable damage in the fire and was pronounced not worthy of repair by Johnny Rushing, a very talented luthier. As it turns out, after I scrubbed it and strung it up, it sounds pretty damn good. It looks horrible, so I don’t think it’ll be much of a target for thieves. I got this Fishman Rare Earth Blend Pickup to go in it, so I can plug it in should the need arise.

Martin D-16, Damage on side
Martin D-16

I do like a big Diet Coke on the road and wanted not to be getting disposable cups at every stop. I try pretty hard to re-use them, but thought that I’d be happier with a cup I could call my own. I found a pretty nice one somewhere yesterday and almost bought it, but had heard another of those plastic alarmist pieces on the news recently and thought that what I really wanted was something in stainless steel. I was just about to start Googling when I remembered that I already have a double-walled stainless steel vessel, my Frieling USA Ultimo Stainless-Steel French Press, 35-ounce. That’s right, it not only serves double-duty as a coffee press and martini pitcher, but will also make a mighty fine too-big cold beverage container. And though it’s designed to make 35 ounces of coffee, according to the bottom of the pitcher, it holds 42 ounces, just two ounces shy of a Super Big Gulp! I’m pretty sure that if I need a pitcher of martinis, a pot of coffee, or a large carbonated beverage, I don’t be needing either of the other two, so this is a big win in the multitasking/space saving department. The one I’ll take is one that I recovered from the fire after I’d bought another. I’m trying to decide how to make a cup holder for it.

Good for martinis, coffee, and diet coke

Oh! And check out the pen- and wallet-holding mods to the dash desk!

dash desk

I’m a little concerned that my 50F sleeping bag may be a bit cool next week when the temps even in Florida are going to be close to 40F. I think that this may mean that Thor and I will both be sleeping downstairs with the top down. The good news is that I just bought a down comforter, which in addition to the bag, should be quite sufficient.

It’s a haul from Knoxville to Seaside, FL (actually it’s Santa Rosa Beach, but few people know where that is), even at 80MPH, so at 65 it’s likely to be a bit more than I want to bite off in a day. Historically, I’d stop in Birmingham, where I have at least three free places to stay, but I think that I might drive a bit further down the road and try out Walmart RVing. Apparently most Walmarts allow people to park RVs in their parking lots overnight for free. They have bathrooms, and you can imagine that people who park there are likely to spend some money there, it’s pretty much a no-brainer business decision for our nation’s largest retailer. I don’t often shop at Walmart. The idea of sleeping there is rather intriguing. I think that once The Trip begins, it’ll be interesting to spend a straight week sleeping only at Walmarts, so I’m interested in just what the experience might be like.

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4 Responses to Getting ready for the shakedown cruise

  1. dtrauner says:

    I see you are heading to the panhandle. I hope your first long-run is good and your stay at Walmart is interesting. I just wanted to make sure you know that you and Thor are welcome to park your van here in the Tampa Bay area.

  2. pfaffman says:

    Thanks, dtrauner. This trip is going to be a bit short to make it that far south. We’re definitely planning to make it down there sometime in the future. We’ll look forward to meeting you in Tampa and seeing this Bay of yours. Jay and Thor

  3. Hayduke says:

    I’ve done the Wal-Mart thing several times hauling the sailboat. Lock up the car, pull down the ladder, climb up into the boat, pull the ladder up behind me go below to cook dinner. Rig the porthole curtains because you never know when you’re going to get a “look ‘at ‘at Earl, a SAIL-boat” from someone with his nose to the screen.

    Key is to get there late and leave early. It’s cheap, but it tends to be noisy, particularly if they’re on the 24-hour plan. Never what I’d call quiet regardless, particularly if I’m on the way back from a trip where I’ve been anchoring miles away from nothing.

  4. pfaffman says:

    Thanks for the inside, Hayduke. I stopped at one, but just couldn’t muster the energy to stay there, so we headed on down the road. We drove past a KOA campground. I need to get propane and thought that they might be able to help. Thor and I are here now. I’m trying to figure out what to say about our first night in the camper out of my driveway. Maybe in a few minutes.

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