Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Weight of My World

One of the things that has been weighing heavily on me about my plans to hit the open road has been the strain and stress on my car - I'm worried I'm going to kill her hauling the tearbaby and all my stuff.  I really like my car - "Tawanda" (Ford Focus Wagon) - she is sleek, comfortable and easy to drive, has a large cargo area that is easy for a shortie like me to load / unload and even access the roof.  She's not too big, not too small.  She's just about right - the Goldilocks of cars.  All very important things for my physical, mental and financial well-being!  Except when it comes to being a tow vehicle.

One of the many reasons I wanted the teardrop that I got was for it's weight.  Egon knows how to build not only a GORGEOUS trailer, but a light weight one too - about 650 lbs. - light enough for my car's 1000 lbs towing capacity.  Since I was going to be towing the teardrop constantly, I really needed a light weight trailer. Yes, I knew I would be adding weight to the tearbaby when I started packing her, but thought I could easily keep it right around the 1000 lbs.  Easier said then done.  Sometimes you don't realize how much something weighs or how fast the weight adds up (Oh, how I can relate!).

In preparation for a trip north to visit family and friends (introduce them to the tearbaby and haul some things to be stored), I needed to know what the trailer weighed so I would know how much I could pack in it and the car (I had my new mattress and a few other things added).  It was time for a trip to the CAT Scales!

I had called ahead the week before to the Pilot Travel Center to ask about using the CAT scales.  I got a very nice and helpful young man who graciously answered my questions.  "Was I allowed to use the scales for my little trailer and car?" - "YES!"  "Could I get a weight for both vehicles individually?" - "YES!"  "How did the scales work?" - "You just pull up onto the scales, making sure each vehicle is on a separate scale, then push the CALL button and give them your tractor number and come inside to get your printout!"  Seemed easy enough.  (I really should know better by now).

I get to the rather busy exit, about 25 - 30 miles from my house, turn left and head to the Pilot Travel Center.  I pull in, but don't see a sign for the scales - I am in the "car" refueling area.  I drive through to the other side and then see way in the back behind the building the sign for the CAT Scales.  I wait for traffic to clear for what seems like forever and pull back out and head down the access road.  By now I am a bit frazzled by all the traffic at the travel center so am glad to get to the Big Rig section where everything moves much slower.  I find the scales (have to go around to approach from the other side), and pull forward onto them.  I open my door to check to see if I have each vehicle on a separate section - not quite - so I pull forward about another foot and that does it.  I hop out of my car and start looking around for the CALL button I was told to push.  It's not there.

Who took the CALL button????

Now really, how far could a CALL button go?  I look and look, and then the light in my brain goes on - I look UP.  Way up high in the clouds above me is a big yellow and black box on a pole with instructions and the CALL BUTTON!

Not my car nor my picture - I forgot to get a picture of my car on the scales, but you get the idea.

You've GOT to be kidding me!  Yeah RIGHT!

How the heck am I ever going to reach it?  I think for a few moments then go digging in my car and come up with my crumbling 18 year old compact umbrella.  I climb up on the concrete piling that the sign post is bolted to, then tippy-toe up onto the giant bolts, and holding onto the post I stretch as far as I can and just barely touch the CALL button with the end of my umbrella and push.

Did it push?  I can't be sure.  I wait.  

Just as I was about to push it again a young woman's voice comes over the speaker asking for my tractor number.  I give her a made up number (like the young man from the week before told me to do) and she then tells me to come inside to get my printout.

Now, I would have LOVED to know how many truckers were doubled over laughing at me through this whole CAT scale "initiation".  Of course no one came over with an offer to help - how could they, it was probably all they could do to keep from peeing their pants laughing at me.  But I was happy to do my part and provide some lunchtime entertainment to those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to view the "show".

Oh, I did get the weights (minus me - remember I was up on the pole!  Thank the "Powers That Be" for small miracles!).  The tearbaby came in at 740 lbs. nearly empty!  Yikes!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Rainy Night (and Day) in Georgia"

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted.  I had promised myself that I would do a better job at posting more often and I've done an even worse job than before!

To catch everyone up. . .

I went camping with the Dixie Chapter of the Tear Jerker's September 20 - 21 at Cloudland Canyon State Park on top of Lookout Mountain in Georgia.  

Cloudland Canyon State Park  (Note: Not my photo)

For those of you who have never camped at a Georgia State Park, they have what I consider to be a rather unusual and frustrating reservation system.  You can make reservations in advance, but you can't pick your campsite - those are on a first come, first serve basis.  Now normally if I were camping alone like I will be doing in the future that wouldn't be a big deal, but when you are camping as part of a group like we were, it makes it very difficult to get campsites close together - at least for us later arriving folks.  Cloudland Canyon State Park is a beautiful park and very popular, so by the time I arrived on Friday afternoon around 1:30 (check-in was at 1:00) there were only 4 open sites left in the loop I needed to be in (the more favored loop too!).  I had made my reservation in advance, but that didn't guarantee me a site in that loop.  Needless to say, I ended up on the far side of the campground from the rest of the group, but that was O.K. at least I got in the loop I needed to be in and it was a nice walk to the other side to visit everyone.

However the challenges didn't end there . . .

Heavy rain fallin', seems I hear your voice callin' "It's all right."
A rainy night in Georgia, a rainy night in Georgia
It seems like it's rainin' all over the world

- Benton Brook

Yep, you know what's coming. 

Friday was a lovely day which I spent visiting with folks I hadn't seen for a while, but I knew rain was in store for Saturday and Mother Nature didn't disappoint.  The rain started lightly about 4:30 a.m. and continued through the afternoon on Saturday.  I had my awning up, knowing I would have to take it down when I woke up Saturday, before it really started raining hard, and I almost made it too.  Of course as soon as I went to take it down, Mother Nature thought it would be fun to see how wet she could get me in 5 minutes and let er' rip!  

I love my awning - Egon (the man who designed, built and made everything on the tearbaby) created what I consider to be a most ingenious awning.  The only problem (for me) is it can be hard to hold the long pole that feeds through the loose end of the awning while trying to bend the first tent pole to fit through the hole to attach and detach it.  This is made even more difficult when you have buckets of water pooling in the awning. I had to continually empty the water off / out of the awning to try to get it detached.  Unfortunately this created a waterfall over the exterior light by my door.  I knew I'd be lucky if I didn't have any leaks from all that water. Luck was not on my side that day.

Later that day when I returned from my outing I found the carpet pretty soaked by the door.  Since it was damp and overcast out, I couldn't really hang the carpet out to dry, so I left it inside with the fan blowing on it to try and dry it out - but to no avail.  Every time I got up during the night I had to step on cold, wet, squishy carpet - Ick!  And it was a chilly night too - and you know I had to get up more times than normal!  Of course Sunday was beautiful, sunny and warm and I had to leave.  I did get the carpet hung up when I got home and all is good now.  I resealed around the light and will be adding an extension of the rain guard over it to help with any future times that I can't get the awning down fast enough!  Guess I need to practice more with connecting and disconnecting the awning tent poles.  

In honor of the rainy day I give you "falling water" at Cloudland Canyon State Park  (Note: Not my photo)

It is a good thing for me to have to learn how to fix things with the tearbaby.  Living on the road on my own I will have to rely on myself to take care of minor repairs.  I am grateful to have a dad and brother who are not only knowledgeable about how to build and repair things, but also for their making me have to learn how to use tools and repair things myself - though I do get nervous about screwing things up.  All in all, it was still a great weekend with great folks!  

(Sorry, with being gone most of the day Saturday and all the rain - I never got out to take photos of the park - the ones of the park posted are from the Park's website).