It’s been a busy day. Early start, stop for a shower, install lighting, various weather delays, a check engine light, and fog during rush hour in a new city.
Got on the road this morning at 6:30am after having breakfast in the trailer. Why so early? I got up around 5am, which is unusual for me. Of course, I don’t generally go to bed at 9:30pm either. By the time I left, some Costco employees’ vehicles had started appearing in the parking lot. Nobody bothered me though.
My first stop of the day was at a Flying J / Pilot truck stop. Flying J and Pilot have merged, and I they’re using a concatenated name, not unlike some marriages. At any rate, they have a rewards program, and it has a nice perk that I’m planning on using whenever possible. If you fill up at least 15 gallons, twice, you get a free shower. That’s a really nice perk when traveling through cold areas and your home-engineered shower isn’t even installed yet. This morning when I filled up, I reached that threshold, so I got to take a shower this morning, just like I normally do at home.
The showering facilities there are very nice. Here’s a youtube video of someone showing how the whole process works and how nice the facilities are. I found his video to be completely accurate.
After freshening up, I got back on the road. Didn’t take long for the first wave of rain to come in. I took the opportunity to pull off somewhere (I don’t even remember where) and install the LED strip lights. Although it took longer to install than I had anticipated (largely due to the tiny power wires), it’s beautiful. I’m really happy to have the lights installed, and the trailer feels a lot less like a cave and more like a living room. They’re not too bright, but they’re good enough for evening use. And the remote control is an awesome feature. I’ve got it near the side door, and it’s easy to turn on the lights when I walk in.
I got back on the road again after my weather delay and continued onwards for a while. Until the rain came back. This time the nearest exit had nothing going on, no buildings, no parking lots, nothing. So I pull off to the side and hung out in the truck (because it was raining so much I didn’t want to go outside into the trailer). I’ve found that if I put both of the armrests down on the front seats, it makes for a perfectly-sized tray for my laptop if I’m sitting in the back seat. I checked email, got some work done, played some music, it worked out well.
Eventually the rain died down again, and off I went. For a while. Then the rain picked back up. This time when I pulled off, there was lots of commercial activity, and it was easy to find a huge parking lot where other truckers had stopped at some diner. I like any spot where I can easily make wide turns and don’t have to back up, and this fit the bill. On my way into the lot, I noticed the check engine light came on. Lovely.
I rested a bit in the trailer to regain mental fortitude. Driving the truck/trailer in the rain isn’t fun. The brakes on the trailer are almost useless because they don’t really grip well, they just lock up and slide. And of course the truck’s traction is lessened because of the rain, so that doesn’t help anything either.
I was thinking about calling it a day, and I looked up some boondocking sites. I found there was a Walmart about a mile down the road, so that seemed like a good stop. Maybe I could pick up an ODBII scanner and figure out what was going on with the truck. Might not be a bad investment since I doubt this will be the only time I see that light.
On my way there, I saw an auto parts store, Auto Zone. I remembered that they usually had the tools and would perform the scans for free because it helped them sell parts. I stopped in, and they turned me away. They don’t do that anymore. But they did suggest O’Reilly’s, up the road.
A young man at in the store grabbed the scanner tool, came out to my truck, and found it reporting a malfunctioning vacuum tube of some sort. I forgot the exact name. Without pause, he popped the hood, and started looking around for which hose it was. It didn’t take him long to find a pair of vacuum hoses with obvious tears and holes in them, and pulled those off. At this point, I was quite impressed, as he could have simply told me the code and walked back into the store.
So we went back into the store to get the replacement hoses, costing me all of $1.51. While he was removing the hoses from the truck engine, I offered to pay him $20 if he could take care of installing the new ones, and that seemed fine by him. So after we got the new hoses from the store, we went back out to the truck, and then found that there was a slight problem.
In the image above, in about the middle of the part, that tube should extend to the same length as the tube on the left. It seems to have melted or sheared off. Without that tube extending, there was nothing for the new vacuum hose to install onto. I grabbed some tools out of the truck, and the young man proceeded to remove the part, which took a good couple minutes.
$65 + tax later, I now have a new EGR-something sensor. He installed the sensor, the vacuum lines, put everything else back together, and presto, the check engine light went away. I happily tipped him, and I was back on the road.
It was about three in the afternoon, and I didn’t really have all that many miles in today, so I figured I’d put a few more in. Now that I look back on it, I don’t think I really needed to. At any rate, the rain had now changed to fog, and I got to navigate the interstate loop around Kansas City, MO. Once again, slick roads plus city traffic, plus trailer equals a less than perfect experience. I eventually arrived at my destination for the evening, a Walmart on the west side of Kansas City.
I’m glad that all of these experiences happened on my second day of driving and not the first. It was nice to have a smooth day yesterday and to save the delays and minor issues for the second day.