A Rainy New England Weekend

After Friday’s meetings I packed up and drove north to New Hampshire. Naturally, I waited until after crossing the border into tax-free shopping before hitting a grocery store in Rindge to stock up. Imagine my surprise when I heard my name, and it was my old motorcycle buddy Kate shopping in the same store far from where she lived. She was in the area for the New England Adventure Rally, a dual-sport motorcycle camping weekend with group dirt rides for all ability levels. I would’ve gone, but registration sold out three hours after opening, and I missed the boat. It was still good to see an old friend, though.

From there I made a quick stop in Jaffrey to pick up packages that had arrived there for me so far. More is still on the way, but this would get me started. Then I drove up to Charlestown, where I’d never been before, but my friends Dan and Faith live there and offered me parking. They’re primarily known as local folk musicians these days, but I remember them as the people who drove me to ham radio gatherings back when I was too young to drive myself. Yes, we’ve known each other that long. These days they have a Travato they travel in while they’re touring, so they understand van life and what I’m doing. It was yet another case of not having seen each other in years, then picking up right where we left off.

I’d hoped to get some riding in. I spotted a number of fun dirt and class 6 (unmaintained) roads on my way in. But the weather had other ideas, with rain or a strong threat of it all weekend. Oh well. Something else I spotted on my way in was the house of my former boss (also named Justin), where I’d been a couple of times for parties. I looked him up, and he invited me over for wings. We caught up, both on life in general (he’d met Trisha too), as well as what’s been going on with my former workplace after the massive layoffs that took me out last October. (I don’t blame him. In fact, they went behind his back to lay me off without him knowing until it was done.)

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Amongst the packages I picked up in Jaffrey was my WifiRanger Spruce mobile router. Since the weather was keeping me inside, I went ahead and installed it. (Don’t worry, I intend to clean up this rat’s nest of wiring.) For a computer nerd and former IT professional like me, it was super easy to set up. Now all I have to do is connect my devices to the “Smokey Da Van” WiFi, and the router will get them to the internet by whatever means I tell it to. Right now I’m using Dan and Faith’s guest WiFi, but I disabled WiFi temporarily and successfully tested it through my hotspots as well. Now all the devices can connect to each other without using cellular data.

Another thing that arrived is my 10-amp Noco battery charger. As I’m staying with more friends these days, it finally made sense to upgrade from my 4-amp charger that was but a trickle of water into the large buckets of my batteries. I installed that as well, and ran the power cord temporarily to my side doors. The permanent solution for that will be the power socket in the side of my van, but between the rain and my lack of silicone and a two-inch hole saw, I didn’t install it yet. Once I do, though, it’ll be super easy to just plug my extension cord directly into the van itself.

I’m also putting my new windshield cover to good use. It’s intended for a Class C RV with a Ford van front end, but by pure coincidence it just happens to also work on an actual Ford van. It’s not stealthy at all, and that’s fine for many of the places I park. I’ll still use the Reflectix and Star Wars windshield cover at other times.

Not every day in van life is glamourous. This has been a good weekend, but not a particularly adventurous one. That’s okay, though. Sometimes you just need to get stuff done. Other times, it’s good to take a break. I’ll be headed back to Jaffrey for the next few days, both to wait for my mail and to catch up with more friends down that way.

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