The Journey Begins 3.04.19

Well….After a mad flurry of preparations and long hours in my cold garage working on my Metro van, I’m heading out from Polebridge Montana to pick up Jackie, my love, in Wisconsin Monday morning. From Polebridge, our home, to Glendive Montana is 571 miles, the first leg. It’s an absolutely beautiful, but barren drive. In winter it can be also very dangerous and I’m not sure I can still do 11 hour non stop, knuckle busting, road trips. But I think the adrenaline will help.

Ready to go!

This past month we have had unusually cold weather and lots of snow. On the plains and tonight, Saturday March 2nd, in Lewistown Montana (on route) it’s currently -21° below with wind chills of -41°. It is forcasted to get even colder, down to -29° later tonight.

Monday I’ll be too busy trying to say warm and on the road to post pictures; and cell service is spotty. So, today I went on the State of Montana Road Conditions website and copied some photos from their live road cam’s.

The new bridge in Hungry Horse

These photo’s should give you an idea of the terrain and current road conditions I’ll be experiencing Monday. I’m sure I’ll stop and take a few pictures myself and I’ll share them when I have time, but for now these will do, they are pretty good!

Geyser Montana on Hwy 200 3.2.19
Along my route a little bit after Great Falls at sunrise! 3.02.19

Before I say anytimg more, please pray for a safe journey. The old van has only two shorter “summer journey” experiences. I don’t have a clue how it will do in below zero temps and icy, snow covered highways, but I’m optimistic and have faith.

Lewistown Montana the morning of 3.02.19
Lufborough, about 150 miles from Glendive.
Nowheresville!

The same people who constantly threaten us with global warming and can’t get each day’s weather right, are projecting more cold and windy conditions, but a clear and sunny Monday March 4th. I hope they are right on this one! I told my mom, “We Montana’s are adventurous and I’ll just enjoy the ride!”

I’ve pretty much done all I can do to be safe. I’ll be filling my tank with gas at every opportunity and I’m carrying 7 gallons in spare plastic gas cans just in case. Gas stations are few and far in between along Hwy’s 87, 89, and 200 and “conditions” can change quickly.

Towns with populations of twenty are 100 miles apart. You cannot very well break down and walk to the farmers house without freezing to death. I’ve called all the gas stations along the route and I asked about the road and how late they stay open. Some said 8 O’clock others said 10 p.m “maybe”. The longest stretch without gas, if they are open, is 150 miles. I think/hope I’ll get 200 miles out of my van’s tanks and with the extra 7 gallons I should be fine. I only got about 11 mpg this last summer; and fuel efficency goes down in cold winter weather. I’m also bringing extra gas in case I get into a wind whiteout and have to wait it out idling; it doesn’t need to be snowing to get a whiteout. But just in case all fails, I also bought and installed myself a really interesting diesel heater that works independently of my engine. I installed it just last week and tested it. It works great! It’s a Chinese brand. It has a glow plug and a diesel drip pump. It heats the glow plug then drips diesel fuel into a housing with fins.

Chinese Heater in my van

A fire inside the housing produces heat and the fins warm up. A small 12 volt fan kicks on and blows air past the fins and it produces 5kw of heat at full power. The inlet sucks outside air and the outlet vents the diesel air outside the van so no smelly fumes or exhaust dangers. The only issue I see is that it runs off an auxiliary battery. I’ve only tested it for four hours. It worked great for four hours on my old battery until it shut off when the voltage dropped too low (a safety feature). Now, with a brand new AGM auxillary battery, it can be charged by my alternator and protected by a battery isolator when the enginge is off, it has a 105 amp hour capacity. I think the heating unit draws about 30 watts continually and about 400 watts on start up to heat the glow plug. I’m hoping It will run 6 plus hours before having to recharge the battery. I’m hoping because the company did not specify the actual wattage used or how long it will run, those are my numbers based on info I gathered from website bulletins boards. One hint nobody mentioned, for those who may want to buy one of these heaters is, it’s best to start the heater with the engine running and charging the alternate battery. Basically letting the alternator heat up the glow plug. This way the glow plug startup process won’t drain the battery. The start up of one of these heaters can remove as much as 20% of your storage capacity and reducing your run time significantly. So, besides the diesel heater, I have a Buddy Heater and 3 canisters of Propane. This could give me 3+ hours of heat in an emergency. I’ll also have a lightwight synthetic comforter, two fleece blankets, two cheap Kmart 40+ degree sleeping bags, my winter jacket, all my clothes for the long tour, and my 119 lb dog. I hope that’s enough because there is not room in the van for another thing!

Because it is the van’s first big, untested, winter journey I also felt like had to bring a bunch of tools, wrenches, sockets, spare fuel filter, my honda generator, an impact driver, a battery charger, a solar panel, and a goal zero lithium “generator.” They call the Yeti Goal Zero a generator, but it is actually just a battery with a built in inverter. I can use it to power my electronics and it recharges by shore power, 12 volt cig lighter, or solar.

So here is the routine I expect to do at each below zero start up. First I’ll try to stay at a hotel in Glendive if I make it that far. In the morning it’s supposed to be about -14°. So I will bring my generator into the hotel to keep it warm. In the morning I’ll bring the generator out to the van, chain it up, start it, and hook it up to the installed 100 watt block heater I added to the engine. I’ll let that run for about an hour to heat the oil. Many cars can start at below zero temps, and mine probably could too if it did not have a new engine. The enginge is still in the “break in phase” so I had to add Lucus Oil Stabilizer. “It allows motor oils a higher degree of lubricity which reduces oil consumption and operating temperatures.” It is a must for new “older” engines along with a zinc additive. The problem with the Lucus Oil is that the stablizer is really thick and needs at least 5° temps to flow properly, per the manufacturer. Anyway, hopefully the engine will start and I’ll be on my second leg of my journey. From Glendive I’ll head across North Dakota, again in freezing, below zero temps, through Bismarck, through Fargo, and hopefully bed down somewhere near Minneapolis. All this travel will be on interstate so not as much to worry about after Glendive. I can do rest stop breaks and bathroom breaks pretty much at will. From Minneapolis to Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin, that too should not be very eventful?

So, there you have it! Preparation will meet opportunity Monday morning, but God is always in charge and my wishes are not always His. Wish me through prayer God’s speed and the wisdom to make this a safe journey. Thanks for helping me write by giving me somebody to write to; thanks for letting me share our journey.

The Plain of Faith

Few care to listen to those who come late to the party of internet discussions. The topic tempts passions only for a moment, days at best. Come late to the thread and nobody cares; the thread is dead, only to be revived once again in another context, another drama. It seems little is ever learned or solved in voicing our views, just vented venom or frustration. All do it I presume to support some dogma. Some are happy either to confirm or to increase their professed circle of reason; others compete to deflate the wicked doctrines of another.
At first glance it may seem judicious to look at life this way. Consider that most unbelievers view existence of purpose in meaningful circles of rational reason or strength. They live in subjective small circles or big circles, always competing; the victor must express eloquently or fight ruthlessly to enlarge their portion. For some their words must be considered important in their field, for the others their power lies in self-importance. A true genius they say must be published or at least celebrity; a true success must possess more than another.
For the man of faith truth lies not in the circle of knowledge or power, but in the eternal plane of infinite faith. What is possible for the circular thinkers is dependent upon their diameter. What is possible for those of faith is present. For those of this world are always pursuing larger circles, God Bless them for trying, but with each unit of increase comes ever more self-importance. The little circles are thought politely quaint or ignorantly feeble. The prideful pity the feeble and give them their second best, or a good tongue lashing internet experience. For the ignorant and feeble, the small circles, they make the self-important feel exceptionally good.
Wealth seems to be able to buy a larger circle and the comparisons become visibly stark. The wicked doctrine of politics and power often gathers a steam that inflates. Pride corrupts her brother’s value and self-respect. With achievement, possession, and pleasure, dignity becomes arrogant and the circle becomes larger than life itself. Accepting the praise of others without making effort to obtain the worthy praise that comes from God is the futile endeavor of the ever expanding circle of being.
While most of society lives in their own bubble, there are a few who see a life of freedom. There are no distinctions amongst those who live on the infinite plane. Wealth, knowledge, eloquence or physical ability cannot hold back the possibility of miracles; G.K. Chesterton called it magic or the belief in fairies. He grouped rational thinkers with the potentially insane; thinking only inside your circle can only make life monotonous. Freedom only comes to those who can believe in the miracles of God, through faith. It’s nice to believe in facts, say’s Chesterton, but when the brakes fail on the train the engineer can only hope for a miracle. The data can be cruel, natural laws have consequences. Both circles and infinite planes experience the laws of nature. Oxygen is needed to breathe: gravity, hot, cold, light and darkness are all physical laws. Hate, love, good, evil, are moral laws that transcend all distinctions.
Life on an infinite plane is not selfish and has no boundaries. Sure it can be lonely and many try to stake out homesteads. But I don’t believe God wants us to live that way. The life of faith has no boundaries. We don’t die each day and wake up unaffected. We sleep and wake up changed, refreshed. The horizon seems far off and each hill or mountain seems insurmountable at times, but when crested the view goes on, the journey never ending. My wife and I tried to find a shortcut through the logging roads of the Canadian Rockies many years ago. When we made our last attempt to find our way we saw an eternity of mountains ahead. We turned back. Not because the journey was impossible, but because we were not prepared. If our goal as Christians is to ever expand our circle we shall never live in the possibilities outside it.
Step out of your bubble onto the infinite plane and the journey will be exciting for sure. In faith there is freedom, mind blowing freedom you’ll find, unlimited potential. It’s a change from inward thinking to outward thinking, linear, eternal.