The 1992 Dodge Diesel Diaries: Day 2
Fried fuses, carrot nubs and dead dials. Today marks Day 2 of mules Brick and Cracker and my truck journey from from Idaho back to North Carolina.
We made 500 miles.
From Mule Power to Horse Power
Rambling the country with mules, the path ahead is what you focus on: keeping hooves out of holes, trying not to get flattened by tractor trailers and finding a place to sleep at night. Hauling my mules home in my truck and trailer has given the voyage a mechanical twist. The new focus is keeping my 1992 Dodge D250 heading up the road.
Keeping my quarter century old Dodge rolling home has become the entire focus of my days: dials need to point in the right direction, lights need to work and bad smells better as hell not be coming from under my hood. Yes, at day’s end, mules Brick and Cracker need feeding and watering.
But for the most part, my undivided attention is getting my 6 cylinder mule headed back to North Carolina.
From Vacay to Haulin’ Mules
My truck has had a splendid vacation. The past 7 months, as I’ve been writing to you about my mule ramble, it’s been parked in the tractor shed back in western North Carolina. A neighbor fired it up every other week just to remind it of it job.
So it sputtered in surprise last week when I jumped in to it, fired it up and drove it 2,200 miles from North Carolina to Idaho to pick up my mules. Those shudders are still running through the ol rig’s system.
The thing about an old truck is that you know the hiccups are coming. This makes you really soak up the good moments when everything lines up. The simple times. Like when the speedometer and the fuel gauge both work. It’s like playing cards. Look a Two of a Kind! Of course when all the dials are engaged, that’s a Full House.
So I’m driving along though eastern Wyoming taking all this in. The gauges are all working: Full House! Terrific. The scenery is early winter Great Plains and I’m soaking it all in on a carrot nub covered bench seat.
Beside me is a cooler of pepperoni sandwiches I made so I don’t have to eat convenience store food. All looks well in the rear view mirror.
All is well with the world then I hit a bump and….crap….no speedometer. And all the other gauges look wonky. The just-filled tank reads half full and the oil pressure gauge reads so high my oil lines should be exploding like a garden hose hooked to a fire truck.
So I ease in to the next gas station and check the fuse box. I pop out the fuses one at a time because I can’t tell which one powers what but they come out easily because I’ve done this a lot lately.
I pull 20 amp fuses and 15 amp fuses and 10 amp fuses but they all look fine. Hmmm…..
And then the narrator of the Mule Man’s Guide to Shonky Truck Repair (I just made that up) says “check the back of the fuse box”. And I do and I’ll be to go to hell, there’s a wire pulled loose from the fuse box.
I pop the wire back on where it belongs and the 1990s vintage gauges salute me with crisp readings. Terrific! This makes me feel like a real pro so I screw everything back together real fast before my veneer of capability wears through, exposing me for the shallow-skilled mechanic that I am.
See, you could have figured that out.
Where to From Here
Tonight the mules and I are spending the night at Kenn and Angie Frederick’s Frederick Ranch. Much as I love my old truck, it’s been great to swap the bench seat for a hay bed. Like last night, I’ll be sleeping in the back of my trailer. My sleeping quarters will be where Cracker stood all day.
Brick and Cracker have been real troopers behaving in the trailer as I deal with my truck’s occasional neurological hiccups.
Tomorrow we head toward St Peters, Missouri, outside St Louis. The plan is to overnight at Pearl Drive Stables.
Yes, I’ve got the spare fuses ready.
As I wrote in the Day 1: Driving Home post yesterday, a few boxes of fuses are way better than truck payments or $50k cash for a new truck.
To the lady who recognized my truck in the Grand Island parking lot tonight (so sorry I’m blanking on your name right now), I wish you the best with your almost-as-old-as-mine truck. I sure enjoyed hearing your trailering stories and wish you the best with your horses.
I hope I didn’t make you late picking your husband up at the sherriff’s departent meeting.
And on a Final Note
In the past days, I’ve heard from so many of you who’ve followed Brick and Cracker’s mule ramble. Many of you say you’ve enjoyed checking in every few days to see what’s up.
That deal’s worked both ways. I’ve really enjoyed sharing this trip with you. It’s given me a reason to scribble in my notebook and snap photos of things I thought you’d enjoy. You helped me keep writing even when the words and photos came hard.
It’ll be with a tinge of sadness that I putt putt my old Dodge up the driveway, knowing we won’t meet as often again here on RiverEarth.com.
Thanks for riding along with me.
Bernie / Currently (November 3) Grand Island, Nebraska
PS: Oh hell yeah I’ll keep posting ’til I get home!