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.
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.
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.
“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?”
“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.
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 . . . . ”