Tucson-Santa Fe roadtrip

It has been a good day.  I launched from Tucson about 8 a.m. and figured I had plenty of time to make my 5:30 appointment in Santa Fe.  The weather was as perfect as I’d expect from the southwest in October, traffic on I-10 was light, and at 75 MPH (the speed limit) it looked like smooth sailing.

Alas, I forgot that this time of year it’s an hour later in New Mexico.  Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings but New Mexico does.  Drat.  I trimmed my breaks to the bare minimum and opened up the throttle a tad.  The GL’s great range meant that I wouldn’t have a fuel stop all day, and Eleanor had packed snacks for the car, which meant that in 500 miles I only stopped three times for about five minutes each.  It all worked out.  By 4:30 I was in Santa Fe.

So I was an hour early for my appointment downtown, which gave me time to go check out the Bubble.  It was parked in a storage lot amidst a forest of weeds and sandspurs, which made kneeling down to check the underside a literal pain.  It had a cracked window, a bit of drooping belly pan (which I’m going to keep an eye on), the brakes don’t work, and the interior is gutted.  But it’s a cute little thing, only 15 feet long, and it’s one of those trailers that has obvious potential for an owner who cares to invest a lot of time and/or money.  I like it but I like the fact that the Caravel is done, more.  I taped the cracked glass, attached the temporary Texas ferry permit, and tested the 7-blade to 6-pin adapter to make sure the lights worked.  All good.

Since my next stop was downtown, I didn’t want to take the Bubble just yet.  In town I met Rebecca, who co-owns a food trailer called “Slurp.”  We had a very rushed photo shoot, trying to beat the sunset, and then I headed back to the storage lot to hitch up the Bubble.

It was nearly dark, so I worked by the light of a headlamp.  That’s when I discovered that the hitch mount I had brought was too low for the trailer.  The ball needed to be removed and installed upside down so that instead of yielding a two-inch drop, the mount would give a 3/4″ rise.  They’re designed for that.

I was patting myself on the back for being ready for this possibility. I brought with me a massive wrench specifically for the nut on a hitch ball.  Problem was, I couldn’t get the nut off. I fought with it for a while, and then of course the rain started.  That’s how it goes, from self-congratulation to humbleness in just a few minutes.  Eventually I got the nut off and completed the hitching job, installed the temporary license plate, and gave the whole trailer a good look-over one more time.  Then I slowly towed it through the lot with the windows open to listen for horrible sounds of impending mechanical failure (there were none), paused a few times to check that the umbilical line wasn’t binding, and got going to the hotel for the night.

Tomorrow will be another big day on the road.  The trip plan calls for 520 miles and they won’t be fast ones like I enjoyed today.  The tires on this trailer are from 2004, and atop that I am not yet sure that there’s sufficient tongue weight in the trailer (because it’s gutted).  Insufficient tongue weight can cause a dangerous sway at speed.   I’m going to load all my heavy stuff into the front of the trailer in the morning just to add some insurance, and I’ll be stopping several times in the first hour or two, to check everything over.

But I have to admit that I already like this little trailer.  It’s cute as a button, light as a feather, and it seems to be happy behind the Mercedes.  Tomorrow I wouldn’t be surprised to get a few thumbs-up from people on the highway as we toodle along through Texas.

 

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine