2008 October 18
by Stace

If civilization were to collapse tomorrow and leave Hedon and I struggling to survive in the wild, we’d be dead in three days. Or maybe less, when you consider how wiped we are from just a day or so of moving into our new truck.

I think it’s all the climbing in and out of the two trucks that has done the most damage. It’s seemed endless. We are so stiff that if we stop moving for more than 10 minutes, we’ll turn into rigid mummies. Saaaad.

But anyway, the old truck is finally cleaned out and we are installed in our new truck. Right now we are waiting for the company shop to do its thing (moving over the CB, taking out the inverter, that sort of thing that the company won’t allow us to do). Who knows how long that will take since we are probably number 50 in line. Doesn’t matter much to us, though.

We wound up having to throw away about 6 of those big black trash bags full of stuff. Some of it we didn’t actually need. Happily, Hedon found another driver to take the microwave, and found some driving students to take our food (driving students are generally broke and hungry, having been led to believe they’d be getting more help in school than they actually get). Maggie lucked out and we managed to find space for all but the most chewed up of her toys.

After having spent time in the new truck, we feel confident we’ll be able to manage just fine. Most of the things we need to do to take better advantage of the space available will have to wait until we get home and can do some shopping, etc.

We knocked off about 8 p.m. last night and I spent a few hours reading the handbooks for the new truck. There are some things to really love about this truck. For instance, it is clean idle certified for California, which means we can idle legally in California and won’t have to worry about getting a ticket anymore. The installed radio has has a CD/MP3 player as well as XM and speakers with pretty good sound (we had to have a break to do some old lady nerd rocking out to “My Sharona” yesterday).

Also, the fuel tanks are a bit bigger, which is always nice. The engine brake has three settings. The interior lights are incredibly bright, which is lovely; many of them are theatre lights, which ramp up when you turn them on and ramp down when you turn them off (fancypants, eh?). The headlights are much better as well. Both windows are power windows, so now Maggie can have fun rolling down both of them.

Best of all, we have disk brakes on all wheels! This is just awesome! In Europe, they have been using disk brakes for a long time, and have many reports showing the ways that they have saved lives. We’re terribly excited to have these babies. Stopping power is much improved with disk brakes over the old-fashioned shoe and drum style which are on almost all American trucks. Because disk brakes are much more expensive, we never expected to see them on a company truck, in particular.

There are some new and strange things about this truck, too. The biggest is that you have to do this thing called a “regeneration.” Apparently, this involves, every 3,000 – 4,000 miles, activating some process that burns off accumulated soot on something or the other to do with the clean air system. When some amber light comes on, you have 30 minutes to find a parking spot that is clear of other vehicles, debris, oil stains (Ha, good luck), vegetation, and in other words, anything that can burn. You’re not even allowed to park on gravel (which must be combustible in some way I’ve never been aware).

Once parked, you flip a switch that starts the regeneration process. According to the book, for the next 20 minutes to one hour, the truck will superheat the exhaust system up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s right, 1500 degrees), and burn off the accumulated soot. When it’s done, you let it cool down for 5 minutes or so, shut the truck down for a few minutes, then you are supposedly free to restart and go. Good grief. It’s just too bizarre. And what are we supposed to do if we get that amber light in the middle of downtown L.A., Chicago, Dallas, or really any big city? Good luck finding the parking space the book demands. Oh well. We shall see.

According to the book, the truck itself will sometimes activate the regeneration business while we are driving, though not to such a lengthy degree. All of this jazz is to maintain the system to comply with the new clean air EPA standards. I’m all for clean air as much as the next person, but wow. I’m just thinking maybe they could have found some way to do this that didn’t sound so damned scary. I mean, do you really want us to be basically running a portable crematorium? Gads.

One other odd thing about the truck is that they appear to have built the upper bunk in the sleeper so high (and the step-points so low) that only someone 6-and-a-half feet tall can easily climb up to it. I am not six-and-a-half feet tall. I’m about 5 feet eight inches tall, so that makes my climbing onto that upper bunk quite the acrobatic feat. Exiting the upper bunk is basically a sliding act of faith that your feet will hit something to support you before you are hanging entirely by your hands, but that’s nothing compared to getting up there in the first place.

It goes like this: right hand grabs upper right handhold, left hand hooks onto edge of upper bunk, left foot lifts onto lower bunk, heave-ho right foot onto nearby step on cabinet, try to grow tall enough to rest torso onto upper bunk so can then flail lower body onto bed, fail miserably, panic and kick free left foot and leg around in air, become certain arms will completely separate from shoulders (a-la SpongeBob) from having to hold up massive body weight for so long, eventually manage to swing left leg clear across to other side of truck to another step thing on another cabinet, consider the indignity of legs widely straddling interior of truck, readjust right hand on handhold for better heave-ho angle, push with all legs and arms, swing up left leg onto bunk, shove more, and finally collapse face first on bunk exhausted and humiliated but at least glad you didn’t kill yourself or someone else in the process. And remember, you have to do this several times a night, half-asleep, if you have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Hedon has already been warned that any pointing of fingers and outward show of hilarity during my bunk climbing show will result in her having to attempt it (which would be interesting to say the least, since my legs are much longer than hers, even though we are the same height). She appears to be intimidated enough by the prospect thus far to not break my rules. And yet, while I was writing this, she offered to take pictures of my acrobatics and post them just to “make sure everyone understands” what I have written. Uh-huh. I think that was an infraction of my rules right there.

4 Responses
  1. 2008 October 19
    Belledog permalink

    Hope you are settling well into your new digs with wheels. Plz share some photos soon, if you are able to. (Know you must maintain confidentiality on “They” company.)

  2. 2008 October 19

    Yah, I think you will like that truck.

    Loved the description of the acrobatics to get into the top bunk…

  3. 2008 October 19

    Um, that pain you’re feeling is from what people call “exercise”.

    And that’s precisely why I don’t do it. LOL

    Hope you’re settling in to the new ride. Sounds very interesting.

    I’m not so sure about that regeneration process though – sounds a bit Star Trekkish.

  4. 2008 October 20


    ex er cise… what is this exercise of which you speak? I assume it’s a punishment for convicted purse snatchers or something? Or maybe what they do to contestants on a really hideous game show?

    New truck is growing on us and we’ve already had to do the Regen thing once. Woke up and the truck was dead. It wouldn’t run until we did it. Sounds like a jet getting ready to take off while it’s going on, but I guess it worked ok.

    CAPTCHA: chaos of… my mind

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