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Labor Day weekend - catlinye_maker [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Labor Day weekend [Sep. 21st, 2011|09:38 am]
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It was a far cry from where we were over Labor Day weekend to where we ended up the following week. As I wrote this post it was raining softly but steadily; I looked out the windows to see young pines planted among the campsites, with the mature forest all around. We were at Autumn Moon, a small campground at the base of the Adirondacks, in a rain which followed us from Oneida Shores.

Labor Day weekend we drove almost straight through on Friday to get to the campground for the holiday. We had been going to leave Cherry Hill Park on Thursday after we got the truck back, but a series of unfortunate events postponed our departure until the next day (the truck wasn’t ready until mid-afternoon, the rental car turn-in took forever, I-95 northbound was closed with an accident…) Watching the news at the pizza place before heading out, we learned that I-95 was STILL closed and a hazmat crew was on site. At that point we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and gave up on a Thursday departure. I was grateful for the delays; if it weren’t for them we would have missed that first offhand radio announcement of the closure, and instead of spending a pleasant evening reading and playing games, we’dve been stuck in a horrendous backup for hours.

With a 400 mile drive ahead of us, we got up early the next day and started right into getting ready to go. The morning setup went nice and fast as most of the prep had been done the day before. On the way north we stopped at D’s local Wal-Mart and released him to the care of my uncle (his grandfather) then J and I bought snacks for lunch and got back on the road. Other than brief stops to fuel up and swap drivers, we drove straight through. The cats were cranky with us but the drive was not too bad otherwise. We got in around 5 in the afternoon, just after my other cousin D and her SO had arrived; she spotted us and waved us to the correct entrance to the campground after we wound up in the beach parking lot instead; the signage inside the park was not so much bad as absent, though it had been very good on the way to the park.

The campground (a county park on Oneida Lake) was completely full, crowded with people and dogs celebrating the end of summer. Oddly, they’d closed the beach for the season (complete with sheriff for enforcement) which was too bad; the weather was muggy and we would have been glad for a swim. D was somewhat oppressed by the heat and humidity, but after our scorching summer temperatures it felt ok to me, and we were able to sit outside quasi-comfortably for the first time in ages.

It was great to spend the weekend the way I prefer spending Labor Day, hanging out with friends and family. While the campground was brimful, it was nice and quiet, sociable, but nobody was too rowdy around the campfire. On Sunday, D&G packed up and headed home with the rest of the weekenders, and we had the place mostly to ourselves by afternoon. I spent the evening working on the 7-way plug which connects the trailer lights and brakes to the truck while we are towing; our passenger side taillights were out and we were pretty sure that the problem was in the connection. Trailer plugs come in sets; you have to replace both plug and socket (despite dealers touting universal plugs, we’ve never seen them work that way.) I’d ordered the parts (well-made by Hopkins Towing Solutions) the week before but then the truck had been in the shop for a week, so this was the first chance to get everything swapped over.

The trailer plug went together easily. It helped that we had done this before, so I knew to label the wires before cutting them away from the old plug, but a lot of it was that this plug was much better designed for DIY. The plug casing split into two halves, so all I had to do was wire up the connector and set it into the case, then pop everything back together (which took a little wiggling once all the wires were in place) and tighten the case screw. By the time I was done it was too late to work on the truck socket, so I left that for Monday.

Of course on Monday the rain which had been predicted for the past several days finally arrived, and it rained non-stop all day. J backed the truck under the trailer overhang and I arranged umbrellas to more or less shelter the work area. After a diversion to Cicero for lunch and drill bits (and yet another utility knife – either the truck eats them or they are migrating to hidden warrens in the basement) I spent the better part of the afternoon hunched over between the overhang and the truck bed, reinstalling the new socket and gradually getting thoroughly damp. On the plus side I only thunked my head on the roof a few times.

Actually putting the socket together was the easy part; before and after that I had to yell for help from J who: broke off the old screws holding the old socket (tops, and later rusted stalactite bottoms), drilled out the screw holes for the new socket (two of them, we left the other two as an exercise for a drier day), and tightened the nuts underneath the truck while I held the bolts firm from above. I waited until the rain slacked a bit (it never stopped) to swab the connections with isopropyl alcohol and then dielectric grease before sealing everything up and hoping for the best, and the smoke test worked first time! There’s always a lot of finger crossing with these DIY repairs.

n.b.: The ground wire on the truck end showed considerable corrosion; I used sandpaper and alcohol to clean it off but if things start to go out again that’s where to start looking for the problem.