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Road Trip! (Friday July 25, part 2)


We finally arrived at the site of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. H hoped we could just drop off the trailer and go, but it proved to be more complicated than that.

For one thing, she had to find out exactly where to leave her trailer.  She'd been told to leave it in "site J" so she drove the car directly there.  It was a tiny little space, barely big enough for the trailer.  She went to the Ren Faire office to confirm, only to get the answer, "No, not THAT site J.  That's for parking the cars next to the stables.  You want site J in the campgrounds."

So we had to go hunting for site J in the campgrounds.  She found it; it was a nice tree-lined area with space for a campfire.  Well, nice for camping, but not so nice for backing up a trailer.  I got out of the car and directed H: "Turn the wheel all the way to the right.  Now to the left.  To the right.  To the left.  Go forward as far as you can without hitting the tree.  Now reverse.  Turn the wheel all the way to the left.  No, the other left."

I was at my most imperious.  It's a wonder that H didn't strangle me on the spot.

There were other delays as well.  There was paperwork waiting for her at the Ren Faire office.  She had to deal with that.

She was also in an environment where almost everyone knew her, or she knew everyone.  There's were lots of "Hello, how are you, how have you been, we have to get together."  It was good for her; she needed that sense of community.  But it was bad for time.

As I was waiting for her to get through the official and social bureaucracy, it occurred to me that we could not have possibly done this at night.  Even if the trailer's lights and blinkers had worked and we'd driven all the way, we could never have gotten it to the correct site in the dark, without the Ren Faire staff to tell us where to go.  In the end, despite our best intentions, it would have been a two-day trip no matter how early we left on Thursday.  Oh, well.

At last the trailer was off my car.  I could see out my rear-view mirrors again.  Hurray!

I took over driving duties as we left the site, but I knew it would be temporary.  H knew the area, and directed me to the nearest Starbucks on I-76.  She would take over at that point for sake of "efficiency."

Do you remember that H had to be at the Connecticut Ren Faire by 6PM that evening?  H hadn't forgotten.  It was beginning to weigh on her.  By the time we'd gotten out of the PA Faire site, it was already 12:30.  At best we'd get to my place in New York at around 4; then she'd have to deal with rush-hour traffic from New York to Connecticut.  She also had to allow for enough time to break into her partner's trailer to get out her stage props, and she had no idea how long that would take.

"The show must go on."  She didn't say it, but she could feel it.  It burned like three cups of Starbucks coffee surging into her bladder.  She had to get there.

We got to the rest area on I-76.  H got her Starbucks.  We were ready.  H drove us off in a burst of efficiency.

With H concentrating on efficiency (and safety, officer!) I was getting a little bored.  The stereo still didn't work, so we couldn't listen to an iPod.  With nothing else to do, I began to think.

Maybe the electrical system of my car wasn't fried.  Maybe it was just a fuse.  I pull out the car owner's manual, which I keep in my glove compartment.  I go over the section on fuses.  Hmm.  The fuse that's connected to the power on the stereo is also connected to the interior overhead lights.  I hadn't thought about the interior lights until that moment; we'd been driving in the daylight.  I try to turn them on, and they don't work.

Aha!  When I connected the trailer to my car's wiring, I hadn't fried the electrical system.  I'd just burned out a fuse.  I sighed with relief.  That was easy; I could fix that myself.

I continued to read.  According to the manual, the fuses were easy to find.  It didn't require any special tools to get at them; there was nothing to unscrew.  You needed a fuse-puller, but there was one inside the fuse box.  And, wonder of wonders, spare fuses were included in the box!  I told H the good news, and said I could fix the stereo when we hit the next rest stop.

H was less enthusiastic about my brilliance than I was.  She had other things on her mind.

While I had the manual out, I decided to read the section on towing, just in case there was anything I missed.

Yes, there was.

"Towing mirrors."  Of course!  That's why I couldn't see when the trailer was hooked up.  I'd seen towing mirrors on trucks and whatnot all the time.  Why didn't it occur to me that I'd need them too?  Argh!

Then I read: "Connection of trailer lights to your vehicle's electrical system requires modifications to the vehicle's lighting circuit to increase its capacity and accomodate wiring changes.  To ensure the trailer lights are connect properly, consult your dealer."

Argh!  Argh!  Argh!  That's what I missed!  I had the dealer install the wiring harness, but I never asked them to check the wiring itself.  It couldn't handle the extra load of the trailer's lights.  That's why I burned out a fuse.

The web sites said to read the owner's manual.  I hadn't.  I felt so stupid.

Was there anything else I missed?  I went through the rest of the towing section.  The only other thing that I was supposed to have inflated my rear tires with an additional 10 PSI.  Well, no disasters had occurred due to that omission.  I guess I was lucky that time.

I also read, "To back up your vehicle with a trailer attached, place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it in the direction you want to go."  I decided against pointing this out to H.  A wise decision on my part; otherwise I might not be alive to write this.

At the next rest stop, I checked the fuse box under the hood.  There were the fuses.  I checked the fuse that connected to the stereo.  Yes, it was burned out.  It was a 20-amp fuse, so I looked for the spare.  There was a spare 30-amp fuse and a spare 15-amp fuse, but there was an empty slot where the spare 20-amp fuse should be.

I sighed.

I thought about putting the spare 30-amp fuse in the 20-amp socket.  My limited knowledge of electrical systems suggested that it would be fine, at least for the rest of this trip; after all, under normal circumstance I hadn't burned out the 20-amp fuse.  But I decided against it.  My ignorance and lack of clear thinking had already gotten us into trouble on this road trip.  Let's not court another incident.

H and I went into the shop at the rest stop, in the hope that they'd have a small auto parts section that would stock the kind of fuses we needed.  No, they didn't.

We couldn't waste any more time.  It was time to make the final push to get us home.

Little did we know that there were two enemies ahead of us, waiting to pounce.

Next: Road Trip (Friday July 25, part 3)

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