Not surprisingly, obstacles to my roadtrip south continue to present themselves. As you all know, I had hernia surgery on February 19th. On that measure, so far, so good. I saw my surgeon for a follow-up on the third of March, and she said I was progressing nicely, with good wound healing. But I am still banned from lifting anything heavier than about fifteen pounds until six weeks after my surgery. That means I’m still not officially “weight-bearing” until April second, or the day after April Fool’s day. Is my doctor saying something to me about this date? Perhaps. And as you’ll see below, I’m doing plenty of foolish, or at least regrettable things.
In any case, while I’m feeling better, I’m not feeling normal. I’m still easily fatigued, which is frustrating for someone who has a lot to do. A week ago Tuesday (March 4th), I decided that I needed to make a dry run for my trip south to see if everything was indeed working in the truck. After considering various destinations, I decided to drive to Provincetown, which is a 230 mile round-trip. It took about two hours-and-a-half to get out there, and about the same to get back. Aside from a very small oil leak (not measurable via dipstick over the full roundtrip), the truck performed perfectly, and the new stereo speakers I had installed “rocked the casbah” nicely.
Yet despite having stopped in P-town for lunch and a very brief stroll (which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that P-town is COMPLETELY dead on a weekday in the winter), when I got home I felt exhausted and wondered if I could ever make the trip south. I mean I’m looking at a good nine-thousand mile trip. My dry run was 2.5% of that. Would I be able to make it? Would I regret it mid-trip? My basic plan is to drive about 500 miles per day, make a more-or-less straight shot to the southern part of Mexico, and then work my way back slowly. I don’t want to be limited to 250 mile days, and then spend a lot of time in boring, roadside American motels recuperating. This issue continues to concern me somewhat, and friends say I should wait a bit longer before leaving. I’m ambivalent on this point, wanting to have left last week, but not wanting to become too fatigued on the road either. I do have a hard return date, so it’s not like I can just push everything forward either.
Meanwhile, More Ridiculous Setbacks
Wednesday March 12th, I decided to install locks on my camper shell (truck cap for you east-coasters). I bought a pair of lock hasps at Home Depot, and came home to install them. While drilling the last mounting hole into the window frame of the back window, my drill bit caught the edge of the glass. Being tempered glass, not only did it break, but it shattered into about a billion little pieces, and dramatically collapsed into the truck bed and onto the floor. ¡¡¡Mierda!!! I was incredibly discouraged. Moreover, it took me a good forty minutes to clean up all the broken glass.
This comedy of errors was not to be a one-act play. Nooooo. After some thought, I decided to buy a sheet of Plexiglas to replace the tempered glass. And in some small way, I suppose that I could count this glass-breaking as a kind of “blessing in disguise.” It had never occurred to me that someone might break into my camper shell by simply breaking the glass. Now it seems only too obvious, and the glass broke quietly to boot. So the Plexiglas will be a better, unbreakable solution.
Unfortunately, Plexiglas is fairly expensive, at least at Home Depot. To create a full window, I need a piece about 51″ x 22″. Unfortunately I can either buy a sheet that’s 48″x24″ for about $60, or buy a much larger sheet for about twice that. After some mental back-and-forth, I opted for the smaller sheet, with the idea that I’d fill the two small gaps on the bottom of the sides with small pieces, thereby creating a window with two small seams about 1½” from each side. While this sounds terrible, in reality, the seams will be very small, and only show about 3″ on either side of the bottom of the window, since it’s a trapezoid shape. And I only paid $75 for this camper shell from someone on Craigslist, and I’m viewing it as kind of “disposable,” i.e., “pretty” is not part of its mandate.
So I bought the Plexiglas, measured everything very carefully, and cut to size. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of cutting Plexiglas, it’s nasty. While cutting, it smells, and the saw throws off lots of bits that look a lot like the kind of shaved coconut you put on cakes. Being plastic, they have static electricity and stick to everything, including the person doing the sawing. When I went to put the Plexiglas into the window frame, it was TOO SMALL by about ¾” at the bottom. What happened?!?! It turned out that I neglected to double the depth of the channel to account for the fact that the pane fits into both sides. Normally, I don’t make such obvious errors, having successfully cut and built many things, but this time I did. Needless to say, I felt like a complete idiot.
Now what to do? Should I simply mount the window anyway? (it could be done, though with a smaller margin than I’d like.) Buy another and start again? (I’d rather not, both hating to waste and having a cheap streak in me.) What about gluing it? After doing some research, gluing the window didn’t appear as ridiculous an idea as it sounds. Basically, when you glue acrylic, the glue dissolves the acrylic on both sides and melds it into a single piece. So theoretically, a glue bond should be just as strong as the original, even if you could see a seam. Kind of like welding metal where the two pieces become one.
Well, let me just say that after a ridiculously tedious process of researching the glue on the web, finding a local source for the glue, and most importantly spending an ABSURD amount of time preparing the surfaces for gluing, I glued the window last night, and clamped it into place. This morning I went down to inspect it. And snapped the glued strip right off. Aaaarrrrgghhhh!!!!
So today, I’m going to buy my SECOND piece of Plexiglas. Hopefully I won’t be such a dope cutting it this time.
As for my expected departure, I’m a bit torn between resting up a bit more, and wanting to get going. If everything goes well today, I could leave as early as tomorrow, though it’s already getting a bit late for that. Otherwise, hopefully next week.
Until then, let’s hope the trip goes better than the preparations. Saludos.