Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Caravan for Kids

What A Weekend!
Busy, busy, busy…Wow! Not quite sure where to start with my non-weekend. RockCrawlinChef and I had been planning for over a month now to join the Christmas Caravan for Kids to benefit the Marines’ Toys for Tots program, so I guess I’ll start there…

Friday night, late…
We had actually planned on picking up the trailer on Thursday night, but Mother Nature wasn’t on our side at all with all of the snow and ice on the road. RCC finally got home from the shuttle, grabbed something to eat, checked his email and we were off to his parents’ house to pick up Tinkerbell’s trailer. We got an early start, about 9:30 pm. We knew that the trailer lights weren’t working from when we brought Tink home, so our first stop was WalMart to pick up some emergency trailer lights, which we found (hallelujah!) and hoped we wouldn’t have to do too much wiring in the dark. We got lucky and found temporary magnetic tow lights that we just had to plug into the truck’s wiring and the lights would attach to the trailer magnetically. Whew! At least we knew we’d be legal (sort of – still haven’t gotten the trailer registered) to tow Tink to the fairgrounds.

Once we got to Johnstown to pick up the trailer it was good and cold and dark. We managed to snap the bolt that holds the crank handle on while we were trying to crank up the trailer foot, but RCC’s dad is a rock star and had a whole bucket of bolts that we dug through until we found a replacement. We got the trailer hooked up to the truck and pulled it out into the cul-de-sac to attach our make-shift lights only to find out that the cord was about four feet too short! Ugh! With a flash of brilliance, we found that we could attach the trailer lights underneath the trailer near the original lights, run the cord up and over the axle and along the support beams and get plugged in – barely. There wasn’t much slack for things like turning or raising the front of the trailer. After some fine-tuning, we managed to get enough slack and still have visible lights. Our fingers and toes were damn cold, nearly frozen, but we did it (and I didn’t even whine too much about being cold) and were on our way home at midnight or so. I think we finally got parked and into bed about 1:00 am. Just a few hours to grab some sleep before we had to load the girl and get goin’!

Saturday morning, early…
The alarm went off and RCC was out of bed like a shot. I’m not sure he got any sleep – he was like a kid on Christmas Eve, just laying in bed marking time until it was late enough to get up. I, however, took my sweet time getting out of bed – four and a half hours is just not enough for me! Of course, we were so organized, we didn’t have Tink actually running and there were a couple of things, minor of course, that needed to be done. Things like putting gas stabilizer in her fuel cell, along with some, you know, fuel and hooking up a battery. We stole the battery out of our Toyota Celica in hopes that it would have enough cold cranking amps to turn her over. We were wrong. She tried, but there just wasn’t enough juice in the little Toyota battery to turn over her bad-ass Chevy engine. Yikes, quarter ‘til seven and we don’t even have her started! Off to WalMart for a new battery. RCC was taking this all in stride – I think I was more stressed than he was at that point. Ten after seven and he’s installed the new battery, I’ve sprayed starter fluid in her air filter and we’re ready to give her a go. And…success! She started, reluctantly, but she did start. While RCC babied her and tried to coax her into idling, I got the trailer ready. I’m sure my neighbors appreciated hearing me drive the trailer pin out with a sledge hammer shortly after sunrise. They surely appreciated it as much as listening to RCC rev Tink’s engine while trying to warm up her engine.

I was a bit nervous about loading her since it took three of us to get her loaded when we brought her home, now it was just me at O’God thirty. Loading went beautifully and we were off, only thirty minutes or so behind schedule! Did I mention that it was only in the single-digits weather-wise while we were doing all of this? We had to actually scoop the snow off of Tinkerbell before we started on anything.

We still needed to stop and get more fuel for both The Bitch and Tinkerbell, but thought we’d decide on the way which gas station to stop at. The Caravan was leaving the Cracker Barrel at 8:00 am and heading over to the park-and-ride at Berthoud for line up there. Because of our late start, we by-passed the Cracker Barrel and fueled up at the Johnstown exit, choosing to meet up with the Caravan in Berthoud. Putting fuel in Tink was quite a chore – RCC had to climb up on to her like a monkey and reach down as far as he could while I stood on tippy-toes, reaching up as high as I could to hand up the gas nozzle. She’s tall anyway, but then we put her on the trailer and she became damn massive! I’m sure we put on quite a show.

The meet-up in Berthoud was impressive, I thought, for being early on a Saturday morning in December and still in the single-digits. Once we got organized in Berthoud, we headed off to Longmont to meet up with the last group from Northern Colorado. All told, we had twenty or so 4-wheel vehicles in the Caravan from Longmont to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

The ride down was uneventful, but a lot of fun. I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when they see Tinkerbell on the trailer, towering over The Bitch. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of kids still talking about the monster truck they saw on the highway Saturday. When we pulled onto the Jeffco grounds, we were waved out of line and directed to a place where we could park and unload Tink. I think the most fun I had all day was climbing up into her and re-joining the line of 4-wheelers and off-roaders to hand off our toys to the Marines. The looks on the Marines’ faces were priceless when they saw us coming and a couple of them insisted that we “ramp” her – that is, put her up on the RTI (Ramp Travel Index) ramp to test the flexibility of her suspension.

Well RCC, indeed, ramped her and scored a 913, winning the ramp competition. When a truck is ramped, the driver drives one tire up onto the ramp and continues up the ramp until one of the other three tires comes off the ground. At that point a measurement is made and plugged into a chart along with the wheel-base measurement to come up with the score. Tinkerbell maxed out the ramp – she made it to the top and could have continued another few inches before leaving the ground, but the ramp was too short. It’s kind of scary watching the trucks on the ramp because the cab tips so far over in some cases that it looks like the whole vehicle is going to roll over. I guess occasionally they do tip over.

We spent the afternoon, which had warmed up beautifully, wandering around looking at all of the other vehicles and watching the Marines’ 7-ton trucks get filled up (we filled two with toys). It was a blast and I can’t wait until next year’s Christmas Caravan.


Deejo said...

Looks like fun. And CCCOLD!! Better you than me!

GunDiva said...

It was really cccccooooolllldd, then it warmed up enough to be wandering around in just a long-sleeved shirt and a vest (damn nearly tropical). You'd've liked it anyway :)