012 - HENRY FORD the R to the V
As many of you know by now, Henry Ford is our very loyal companion and the heart of this adventure. Without him we would, quite literally, be nowhere. He takes us to all the places we desire to visit and serves as our home throughout it all.
Our 1995 Ford Gulfstream Limited Edition has truly proven to be the right desicion. And in these next couple of lines, I would like to tell you a little bit more about him and his performance, now that we have really gotten to know him in the last two months.
Today marks our 70th day on the road.
First off, Henry Ford is, despite the way we talk about him, a car. When it comes to his driving duties, Henry is nearly perfect. He really drives like it's his only job. The engine roars up, as soon as we turn the key, and from that moment on, he is ready to drive us wherever we wish to go. Though we mostly keep him in the right lane at a lower speed, he has no issue with driving the same speed as the others. He is like me, when it comes to going uphill, he doesn't mind it, but he likes to take it slow. Downhill he lets his size and weight take care of it. We usually step off the gas, saving every drop we can (Henry unfortunately is very thirsty), and feel bad when we have to slow him down by using the brakes. He does get frightened by the heavy winds in the desert (to the point where he kicks out cruise control without our permission and slows down on his own), but with our firm grip on the steering wheel and our foot on the pedal for his reassurance, he masters that too.
Now Henry might be a car, but the R before the Vehicle is where he really shows his true character. When it comes to being our home, Henry sometimes gets a little too comfortable. He tends to burp a couple of times, when we switch on the gas for the fridge to soon. Usually a little more when we can't get the levels completely straight, but to be honest, that's only fair. When we first level him when we get to a site, he likes to play this game where he either goes a little too far over the blocks, or not enough, but after a couple of tries, even he agrees that it's best to stay on the blocks.
As far as showing us the correct levels of the tanks and battery life goes, he is not very reliable. I think he likes to mess with us here, because when we fill our water and drain our black and grey water, he shows exactly the opposite. Sometimes he shows being completely empty on water, when we actually still have half a tank. But luckily we have other ways to figuring out those levels. The fresh water is easy, because we can just open the lower cabinet door and see for ourselves. Our black water tank is quite large, and because we only use our on board toilet for number 1, we have yet to run into the issue of that one being full. The grey water tank is a little smaller however, and because we fill it by doing dishes, brushing our teeth, washing our hands and faces, and by taking the occasional shower, we always have to dump because that one is full first. Now, how do we know it's full, you might wonder. Although Henry likes to let us guess with the levels, he sure doesn't like the feeling of being full. He has his way of letting us know that his grey water tank is full, by simply spitting up the dirty water in the shower. When we are parked a little crooked, this sometimes happens sooner than necessary. So when the water doesn't go down after a quick shower or we do the dishes and water mixed with tomato sauce comes up in the shower, we know Henry can't handle it anymore. To this day however, everytime we continue our journey and Henry switches to his Forte, driving mode, he swallows it back down. For us, it's one way of knowing that it's time to dump, and we are okay with that.
The battery level is a little bit of a mystery. As a little intro, we use the house battery (completely separate from the car battery, but it charges while driving) for our LED lights, water pump, to start the water heater, and if we decide to kick on the generator, the switch over, does need a bit of battery power as well. Although the fridge, normal heater, and water heater run off propane, they do use a tiny bit of the battery power to function or to start. We tend to camp off-grid, meaning we do not have or sometimes also decide to not use any hook-ups for electricity or water. For a better understanding, the longest we've gone without a main power source is 18 days so far. We charge our phones, ipads, and camera while driving, or with a small portable solar panel when the sun is out (our electrical sockets only work while plugged in to a main power source or when we turn on the generator which uses gas). So, as you might suspect, when we are parked for more than one day, our battery drains, without recharging. Henry kindly let's us know we are low, by flickering the lights when we try to flush the toilet at the same time or just simply turning off the fridge. Most of the time we can handle without power for the time being, we usually continue driving shortly after. Otherwise we buy ice to cool the fridge and just simply use water out of our water bottles when the water pump doesn't work anymore. For emergencies we always have the generator. But sometimes, not having power at all, is also okay.
Henry luckily likes food as much as we do, so the stove, which runs off propane, works wonderfully. But I think he also knows that we have back up with our portable grill and that we also don't mind cooking over the fire outside. The fridge also works perfectly okay. We turn off the gas while driving, for safety reasons, but our food stays cool nonetheless. We usually also don't drive long distances, so the time it's turned off is usually much less compared to the time we have it on.
Henry's driver seats are probably the most comfortable thing ever, again he does everything great that comes with the driving part, but the seat cushions by the dinette and the sofa are a little bit different. After sitting in the same spot for more than half an hour, you usually are just sitting on the structure underneath. But that's just Henry's way of letting us know we have been sitting too long. He is sooo kind. And after a month of tossing and turning in our bed where we sleep on the original matress that Henry came with (we swear it looks like new), we finally upgraded and put down a 1 1/4 inch foam pad on top.
Even with all these little quirks that Henry Ford comes with, and the random ant friends that he has, we love every square foot of him and are really really glad we settled for him. He always suprises us with new things that he throws off the shelves or moves around while driving and most of the time gives us no reason to turn on the radio or put in a casette because we don't mind the noises he makes. One day it can be the salt and pepper shakers having a dance off, others it's the dishes that grow legs, or the stove that practices the rattles.
Henry Ford is a wonderful home and he constantly reminds us of all the things we can or should be grateful for. He makes us pay attention to the amount of water we use, shows us that every drop is in fact prescious. As a result we only shower every three days on a good week or five on a bad one. We turn off the water when we shampoo, brush our teeth or do the dishes. He also makes us more aware of the amount of time we spend on our phones because frankly batteries do not last forever. So in return we appreciate solar power so much more and quite enjoy picking up a book instead. We pay more attention to what's around us, listen to the birds chirp or the wind blow, and don't mind doing absolutely nothing for a change. He opened his door to a new and more intellegent lifestyle, and we quite like it. We are looking forward to learn even more from him.