Tires, gas, groceries, and a dish called Hilton

Today I realize I’ve been riding around with underinflated tires on the Perfect Tow Vehicle. 

Why did I do this?  Because I didn’t use my head.   I didn’t actively think about the tires.  I read the owner’s manual for the PTV, and passively accepted the information about tire inflation.  I simply went ahead and did what it said.

But the tires never looked quite right to me.

I mentioned this to Rusty and he agreed that they looked underinflated.  He immediately bends down on one knee and reads the lettering on the sidewall out loud.  “Forty-four psi with a load capacity of 2,271 pounds. “

My brain clicks into gear. 

Oh, no!  What have I been doing!  The pounds per square inch should fit the tires on the ground, not the tires in the manual.  These tires are different than the ones that were on the PTV when it was new.  Errrgh.  How dumb can I get!

Rusty interrupts my thoughts.

“Do you have a gauge?”

I retrieve my Slime digital tire gauge from inside the Best Little Trailer.   Rusty removes the cap on the tire stem, and inserts the gauge.  It reads 33 pounds per square inch.

“You need to put some air in these tires,” Rusty announces with enormous understatement.

“Yes, I think I do,” I respond, adding my own understatement.   “And you know what, Rusty?  I just happen to have what we need to inflate these tires.”

I reach into the huge cavern of the PTV and pull out an old Road Pal emergency air compressor.   I show him the 12 volt end and the cord that zaps the air into the tire.  “Look it even has an emergency orange light that flashes, and a regular flashlight.

Pretty neat huh?”

Rusty smiles and nods. 

“I got this when my uncle passed away thirteen years ago.  It was among his things.  I’ve never turned it on.  Let me go get the keys to the van.  I’ve been wanting to see if it works.”

I turn on the PTV, and shove the plug into the 12 volt outlet on the dash. Rusty inserts the nozzle onto the tire, and turns on the compressor.

The cord from the 12v plug hangs out the window to the Road Pro.

It starts to hum.  In about four minutes, the tire is properly inflated.   “Let me do the rest, Rusty, so I’ll be sure to know how to do it.”

While the little Road Pal inflates the tires, we sit in the camp chairs and watch.

Rusty always has a story or two to tell.  He’s thinking about Canary Cate.

“After we were together about a year, I asked her to marry me.  I went down to the hardware store and bought some copper tubing.  I cut the copper in pieces to make a ring for her and a ring for me. I filed the edges and polished the rings until they looked like gold.  Those were our engagement rings.  Only thing is, they turned our fingers green.”

The story is interrupted while we stop the compressor, check the pressure, and get the next tire set up.

“So I needed something better for wedding rings,” Rusty continues. 

“I got me two, pure-silver quarters.  I drilled a hole in the center of each one.  Then I put a rod through the center and tapped the edge with a tiny ballpeen hammer until it flattened out the silver all around.  I filed the edges smooth.  I worked on them until we had two perfect silver bands.”

Later I remind Rusty I’m going to Safeway in Chino Valley today.

“Sue, would you pick me up some pepper jack cheese?  I’ll pay for it.”

“Sure, Rusty.  Anything else you need?”

The BLT looks lonely without the PTV.

“No, that’s all.”  Before going back to his camp, he promises to keep an eye on my camp until we get back.

The crew and I head south on Highway 89.

Upon seeing the green of Chino Valley stretching out on both sides of the highway all the way to the mountains, I immediately like the place, even though the town of Chino Valley is pretty ordinary.  It has an easy pace with a lot of the things you need to live comfortably.  I find the Safeway easily, and soon see that Rusty was right about the prices.

On the way out of the parking lot, I stop for gas at the Safeway pumps.  The price for unleaded is $3.87 a gallon, but since I have a Safeway card, I pay only $3.67.  Hmmm, pretty good.  Especially when gas at Ash Fork on the interstate was $4.29 a gallon the other day.

Back home I fill a bag full of food for Rusty, including a block of pepper jack.

He’s very pleased with the selection.  “You didn’t have to do this, Sue.”

“Well, Rusty, I know what it’s like to scrimp on groceries in order to watch your pennies.  Believe me, I know.  It gets old.  You need a break from that once in a while.”

In a few minutes I return to his camp with the five-pound bag of potatoes I forgot to bring over before.

Rusty meets me outside his door and looks at the potatoes.  

He becomes animated.   “I know what I’m going to make for dinner,” he begins.  “I’m going to slice some potatoes real thin and fry them in a little oil.  Then I’ll fry the bacon and break it up in pieces.  I’ll cook the eggs and put them together with the potatoes and the bacon and the can of chopped tomatoes with chilies.  I’m gonna’ eat good tonight.”

I start to say something in parting, but Rusty’s not finished. 

“You know what that dish is called?”

Before I can answer, he continues.

“It’s a Hilton.  You see, when I was up in Montana, I was sittin’ in a diner.  The woman there, Brenda, wasn’t much of a cook.  All of a sudden somebody says real loud, ‘This breakfast is awful.’  Well, there happened to be this guy sittin’ there by the name of Hilton, and he says, ‘I’ll make a good breakfast for ya’.   He goes behind the counter and asks Brenda to get him a big skillet and . . . . ”



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
This entry was posted in Simple living and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Tires, gas, groceries, and a dish called Hilton

  1. Elizabeth in NC says:

    Great stories!! (True ones usually are)…thanks for sharing!! My Grampie never lacked for stories either….sometimes tho, my Grandma would say: “Aren’t you embellishing that one a little bit?” Heh…yep….heehee. I like stories that teach us things.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      How fortunate you are to have great memories of your grandparents. Most of Rusty’s stories have an underlying message of “make the best with what you’ve got,” because that’s his nature. They always reflect his values.

      • Elizabeth in NC says:

        Yes, I was fortunate in that, thankfully. I even knew 3 of my great grandparents fairly well as they lived into my teens. One can learn a lot from their elders.
        So glad too that Rusty was there to help you figure out how to fill the tires with more air and that you had that wonderful compressor with you!! (Heh, older tools often work longer than a year, unlike today, huh?)

    • Sue says:

      I love stories too and each day I check several times just to see if the post has changed so I can hear another. My Uncles and Dad used to tell some good ones. They are all gone now. And that Hilton sounds tasty. My Hunny makes something similar but with out the bacon. You are such a blessing Sue for sharing the way you have. Not only are you blessing Rusty but you are blessing us who are reading just knowing that God blessed Rusty through you. You are both in my prayers that God will pay it back a thousand times over.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Hi, Sue,

        I clicked on your name and read about your plans toward retirement on your blog. You have a very sincere, natural writing style. Reading your April 13 entry brought back recent memories of my planning for retirement, right about the same age you are now. That’s when the travel trailer/vagabond life idea came to me. You can do it!

        I wish you good fortune to help you reach your goal, and may God bless your niece.

  2. cathieok says:

    Wonder what else you are going to pull out of the PTV that will come in so handy?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That’s funny. Sometimes I get so annoyed with all the stuff in the back of the PTV. . . until I need something and all I have to do is dig around inside until I find it.

      • hobopals says:

        I carry a compressor, too. I was told to check tires on the trailer and the truck each time I set out to tow. It seems like overkill, but I do it. I always thought when too much air in a tire would make it susceptible to a blow out, but it’s actually too little air–at least that’s what I’ve been told. I try to go right with the number on the tire.

        • hobopals says:

          The way I wrote that does’t make any sense. Sorry. I finally broke down this year after buying new tires for truck and trailer and I got vinyl tire covers to protect them from the sun. I got them from…where else…Amazon. They stay on without any problems. Might save your tires some, Sue.

          I read in one comment that the number on the tire is the most that should be put in. I read elsewhere, however, that the number allows for the expansion of the tire in heat and long rides. Hopefully, someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Some of the folks here don’t advise using the number on the tire but say to check the recommendation on the inside of the door. This is why I’m not a mechanic. Just tell me the number already!

          • rvsueandcrew says:

            I have two cloth tire covers that were given to me by good friends. I should get more and be better about using them!

          • hobopals says:

            The numbers on the trailer, right? After forgetting the numbers several times on both vehicles, I wrote them both down and put them on a label just inside on an inside cabinet so they are all in one place. I guess I’ll have to take it down one digit on each. Thanks, Sue.

  3. Carla says:

    You tell the best stories and have met some of the best people on your journey.

  4. cece says:

    Rusty’s Hilton dish with a little salsa on top, yum,

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m not sure I can picture the presentation of the Hilton. Is it all put together or is the salsa/tomatoes on the side? I didn’t ask. What’s important is he knew how to make it and he was looking forward to eating it!

  5. Donna K says:

    I think you could write a book about Rusty and his stories.

  6. Chuck says:

    Hi Sue!
    This is one of the better made little compressors out there! Check on it to see if it has a ‘running time’ warning on it. It MAY say not to run it for more than 15(or whatever)minutes and then let it cool. The newer Chinese ones do and if you let them run too long, they’ll burn up…guarnateed! That ‘Hilton’ sounds good!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, yay! It’s nice to hear it’s a good one. I’ll take a look at it in the morning to see if there’s a warning printed on it. It wouldn’t hurt to treat it kindly anyway.

  7. Chinle says:

    Great story! Now I need one of those compressors. Sounds like a good thing to have. Rusty sure seems like a super nice person.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      This little compressor is sweet. I hate using those air pumps at gas stations. With the compressor you can inflate your tires in the comfort of your own home. Ha!

      The good thing about buying the food is now I have absolutely no qualms about asking Rusty to help me with these mechanic type things!

  8. mickent says:

    The tire pressure numbers on the sidewall of the tire are maximum numbers. When the tires are cold you should fill them somewhat less. My guess would be 36 – 40 PSI. Look in the PTV door frame for a sticker stating the PSI range recommended for the Van. You could jump out after a couple hours on a hot highway and get a peak reading … stop first!


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mick!

      We put 41 psi. Thanks for the tip about stopping first. . . good idea. I’m glad I have a smart engineer in my corner!

      The walking stick . . . I can’t tell you how much I love it. Now I wonder how I went without one for so long.

  9. Christopher says:

    I’m pretty sure that the MAXIMUM load that your tire can carry is of 2,271 pounds, and the MAXIMUM pressure that you can safely put in your tires is Forty-four psi. I doubt that your tires should be aired up to Forty-four psi. If you open up the door (probably the drivers side) and look at the sticker on the door frame it will tell you the proper psi that you should keep in your tires.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Christopher!

      I was running around with them inflated at 36 psi and then they dropped down around 31 psi to 33 psi. Now they’re inflated to 41 psi and they look right (for whatever that’s worth). I’ll follow your advice tomorrow morning and check. Thanks.

  10. bargirl2381 says:

    It seems you are never bored and you always seem to meet interesting people. In the 50’s there were a lot of people traveling on the roads ,but mostly in the cars and sleeping in tents or on the back seats of their autos. WE met a man with a cart being pulled by some goats he was in CA and his wife was in OR with her cart and goats and they would meet halfway ,they would let you take their photo for a $1.00 apiece.
    He told great stories.My Mom cooked some food for all of us and we shared a watermelon.There was a family living under a hugh tree, weeping willow i think.thay had it just like a real house with
    kitchen,bed, and a couch.Would really be nice if Rusty had a blog and told his stories or wrote some short stories.
    Thanks again for sharing Rusty with us.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      How interesting! People who live simply and honestly always intrigue me.

      Without getting too personal, Rusty did not have the best of childhoods and it affected his education which he freely admits. It’d be wonderful if he were the type to write everything down, but then he wouldn’t be Rusty aka Three Feathers.

      Thank you for appreciating Rusty, and thanks for giving us a glimpse of some extraordinary people.

  11. Karen Blaine says:

    I can well imagine how pleased you were to realize you had the perfect tool stored in the PTV. It sure beat another trip into town to rectify the tire pressure problem. It does feel good to be able to handle lifes little bumps on your own. Good for you!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You nailed it, Karen! Exactly the feeling I had! I was so proud of my PTV. She carries the answer to a lot of problems. Well, of course, she’s perfect!

  12. Jim Melvin says:

    That was so kind of you to help out Rusty. He seems like a really nice guy. Remember kindness is something you can never give away, it always comes back.

  13. geogypsy2u says:

    Yet another thing road warriors have to check, air pressure. Sure glad you had that compressor. Funny, I inherited my Dad’s old compressor too and it works like a dream. My dad made silver quarter rings like that in WWII. Mom and I both wore them until they got very thin and cracked but I still have mine.

    You sure made Rusty’s day being able to cook up some Hilton.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      How sweet . . . Your dad made his “girls” silver quarter rings. I bet you cherish yours.

      I know my uncle would be pleased to know his compressor is helping keep me safe. He loved me very much.

  14. Emily says:

    It is wonderful how you brought us around to loving Rusty.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      And he doesn’t even know it. I wonder if all the positive energy will reach him anyway.

      Yeah, we’ve come a long way from “camo man,” me included.

  15. Oh yes Sue, I do think all the posotive energy will reach Rusty. Love your stories. And especially lately with Rustys stories added to them.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Susan,

      I appreciate the feedback. When I started this particular entry, I wondered if I was overdoing the Rusty stories. I always go back to what I started out to do with this blog and that’s to record what happened during the day in a style that people can read easily and enjoy, and to include helpful information along the way.

      I hope lots of positive energy beams down on Rusty.

  16. Kevin says:

    The air pressure figures on the tire is the air pressure you need to follow. The recommended pressure on the door are the one’s you would follow “if” you had the same tires that originally came with your van. The tire pressure figures on your tire are the max pressure of a cold tire. This reading should be taken when the tire is cool, like in the morning before the sun warms it up. Once the sun warms up the tire or you travel some miles and warm up the tire, the tire pressure will be above the pressure recommended on the tire. You don’t really need to worry about this, as it is a warm tire pressure and once the tire cools down the readings will go down.
    Don’t forget to keep your spare tire at the correct reading also.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You make a lot of sense, Kevin, with that explanation. I know others disagree with your reasoning. However, I question why the manufacturer would put a number on their tire that you shouldn’t inflate to. It would be interesting to hear from a tire company directly on this point.

      The spare tire … ugh. The spare is bolted to the underside of the PTV. I’m not in a hurry to crawl under there. Spaces like that get me a little claustrophobic. How about this compromise? If I get a flat, I’ll do one of two things…. I’ll put some fix-a-flat in the flat tire (or inflate it if it’s a slow leak) and drive somewhere for repairs, or I’ll put air in the spare when I need to use it! The wonderful thing about these two solutions is I don’t have to crawl under the dang PTV today and hopefully no time soon.

  17. Llanos says:

    I’ve known a lot of Rusty’s in my life. They are like diamonds in the rough. They just drop out and society does not understand. I suspect I share some history with Rusty. We were not treated very well after “our war”. Quite a few could not take it, and took the solitary path. There is nothing wrong with being independent. The “herd” mentality just does not understand it. I’m glad you are his friend Sue.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Llanos,

      One of the great travesties perpetrated by many people of my generation is the detestable way they treated the soldiers returning from Vietnam. The cut was very deep, as evidenced by “the solitary path” so many veterans took. I hope these veterans found and continue to find a good, satisfying life away from the herd. They deserve our gratitude and respect. And that’s about as outspoken as I’m going to get on this blog!

      I appreciate your comment.

      • Elizabeth in NC says:

        My hubby was in for 6 years during the VN war…not an easy life, but because he was on a submarine, it was easier than actually being on the ground there. Still the hardships and toxins he was exposed to then have definitely impacted his health. And the life we had before is not the same since either. People seem to forget that most men were not anxious to go into the miltary but with the draft had no other option or flee to another country. Unlike WW2, which at the least had the support of most of the population here. We were somewhat frightened at times, as in that time, just your haircut gave away who you were. He was commanded to take civilian clothes to change into before leaving base, as well as changing after he got on base. Trying to blend in with the local population. It was not a matter of agreeing with the war, but of doing what your country told you to do. After those years, we decided that our son would be educated to at least 4 year degree if such a thing happened to him, so that at least he could be an officer, which gave you at least a somewhat better life. Hubby’s parents did not have much money. Well, we did not either, but in essence upon the end of son’s 5 years of college to get his master’s, we sold our house to pay off the loans we had to take. We would do it again in a heartbeat. Tho’ he was never called up.

  18. Bob says:

    Sue, Just a thought, when you mention going of to town and leaving the trailer, do you have a lock on the hitch? Where you have been in some remote areas and no one else around, someone could easily come by and hook on to your trailer and take off.
    There is a device that inserts into the hitch/ball socket that can be locked.
    Things like that, have happened around here in remote areas, sad that this is happening now days.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Bob,

      Yes, I have a hitch lock. One comes with the Casita when you pick it up at the factory. Whenever I unhitch from the PTV, I put the hitch lock back on. Two reasons: To hinder someone from stealing the BLT and so I won’t misplace the hitch lock. Thanks for your concern.

      From things Rusty has said I gather he’s run into a person or persons who tinkered around with his belongings, did some mischief or something. Each time I’ve left the BLT he’s told me he’ll watch it for me.

  19. Karen says:

    That Hilton sounds like a good meal that a hungry man would invent. I’ll bet Rusty enjoyed it and will long remember your kindness in providing the fixings. Yet another thing blooms in the desert….a great friendship.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Karen,

      We’ve exchanged phone numbers. Rusty offered to answer any questions I might have as I travel around the West. All I have to do is call.

      • Karen says:

        Wow! Your own personal helpline. How great is that to have in your back pocket? I’m sure, since he’s walked all those miles, he is a wealth of knowledge.

      • cathieok says:

        I have to say I am amazed he has a cell phone! But, how nice for you!

  20. Teri says:

    As much as you appreciate Rusty, I think he appreciates you too. He seems satisfied with his life, but I’ll bet he has also really enjoyed sharing his stories with you, and the fact that you enjoy them and also get something out of them must make him feel good. I’m going to miss hearing about him, and I hope that things go well for him.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Teri,

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the Rusty stories. I wish he could read all the great things people say about him here. Blogging about people presents a dilemma. I try to blog about my day, and people, of course, are often a part of my day. If I’m camped with people and tell them about the blog, if they have a computer, they’ll look up the blog and read it. Then will that influence their behavior in any way? Also, there’s the privacy issue . . .

      I always tell a person when I get my camera out that they don’t have to look at the camera; they can remain somewhat anonymous. I only use first names. Rusty would absolutely love the sweet, positive things said about him. There are no disrespectful comments and many express admiration toward him.

      He plans to get a computer someday. (He had one once . .. it’s a long story). Do I give him the name of my blog before I leave? It seems disrespectful not to. I haven’t talked to him about the blog, mainly because he’d want to read it every day, it would influence his behavior and mine . . . etc. I try to be honest and respectful toward my portrayal of Rusty. When he gets a computer I’m sure he’ll google his name and read all this. I hope it makes him happy.

      • Teri says:

        I meant what I said a few days ago, you really try to be thoughtful in how you approach things….I think he’d enjoy what you’ve written, as well as the comments left by others. I am sure you will do the right thing whether you tell him the name of your blog or not. It’s always nice to know that people appreciate the time they spend with us, and to know we’ve left a good impression. It would be cool if you run into him again someday!

  21. Pauline says:

    What a blessing you are!!!! Your stories and pictures are something I look forward to. Rusty sounds like a true gem and I am glad you were able to help him out …as he has for you. Love you,. My Sister

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pauline,

      I was beginning to worry about you, hadn’t heard from you in a while. Aren’t I the one who’s supposed to be worried about? LOL I know you are busy with all the grandchildren’s ball games. Hello and love to everyone! Thanks for writing.

  22. Sherry says:

    Nice post Sue. It is great how people always have something they can exchange. I love win/win situations and really think there just must be a way to manage that in pretty much every circumstance. Your friendship with Rusty is a great example.

    On the tire topic: I’m a tire fanatic and totally agree with Kevin. Although, since you bought your Casita new, these should be the original tires and thus the label in the casita should say the same thing as the one on the tires. You might just double check to be sure. We travel with an air compressor, a new one, not a cool one like yours. And we check the pressure on all tires, before we move on. We typically stay somewhere 2 weeks. At the end we check the motorhome tires, the toad tires and the dolly we use to tow the toad. Doesn’t take THAT long and at least I’m sure we are safe. Another thing to know and write down is the DOT date on your tires. It’s seldom tread wear that indicates when tires need replacing it’s usually age. DOT will give the week and year the tires were manufactured. 4409 for instance would be the 44th week of 2009. I’ve been told 5-7 years and you need to replace. We also have white tire covers to protect from sun damage and put them on first thing when we are anywhere longer than overnight. But our tires were WAY more expensive than yours. LOL Ok – enough tires………sheeesh.

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