Thursday, December 4, 2008

Red Cross fly-by

We are parked behind the Sam's Club, adjacent to Wal-Mart, in Sterling, Virginia (map), just about five miles from the Red Cross facility here. We'd been told we could park there, as well, but we arrived after dark and after closing time, so we decided to play it safe.

We had hoped to find a way into DC today and meet with our leads at Red Cross HQ, but two of them are out of the office this week, and the rest are more or less tied up today and tomorrow. On top of that, apparently the national tree lighting is this evening, and DC will be a mess due to all the road closures -- everyone is trying to bail out of HQ early as a result.

Just as well, really, because Louise is still pretty much under the weather -- I might have had to go to DC alone. So today, we will drive over to the Ashburn facility just to check it out, and scope out the parking situation in the event we are ever asked to do a tour of duty there during a disaster. From there we will head due south, connecting with US-1 (parallel to I-95) near Quantico, and head on south to the Flying-J in Carmel Church for some desperately needed fuel.

The fuel gauge has been getting more and more erratic, and I've got my hands full trying to do mental fuel calculations while driving. This is where I really wish the mileage readings on the DDEC were working, which would help with the calcs. In any event, we passed $2.58 diesel in New Jersey, but it looked like we had half a tank, so we kept going, knowing fuel was $2.40 at the Flying-J south of here. In Maryland, fuel was $2.70 when it started looking like we had only a third of a tank -- still plenty to get us to the Flying-J in Carmel Church. Somewhere on yesterday's drive, though, the needle plummeted.

We passed a couple of gas stations on Leesburg Pike on the way here, but I did not notice any diesel. When we got parked, I tilted the bus to get as much pooled in the dip tube area as possible, but the level was still too low to run the Webasto. We ended up using our electric heaters all evening off the batteries, and this morning, I had to run the main engine for about an hour to get heat, hot water, and some charge back in to the batteries. A bit inefficient, since the main engine burns twice as much as the genny, and several times as much as the Webasto, but it does work, in a pinch. (The main engine dip tube goes nearly all the way to the bottom of the tank; the webasto tube only goes down to about the quarter-tank mark, with the genny just a bit above that -- this keeps either of those devices, which might be running even when we are not around, from sucking the tank dry and stranding us someplace.)

Our arrival here after dark was largely due to an accident on the beltway in Maryland that closed several lanes. We ended up bailing off onto local roads, and using the GPS to navigate our way around the jam and back onto the beltway downstream of it. That cost us half an hour; hard to say if we actually saved any time or not.

In other news, we did pass through two more E-ZPass lanes yesterday, at the Fort McHenry Tunnel under Baltimore Harbor and on the Dulles Greenway (267), respectively, and both registered properly even with the transponder on the lower windshield, where it has been all along. I'm now guessing that the Thanksgiving holiday somehow delayed getting our New York transponder properly registered in the inter-agency system; it would be interesting to see if we would now get properly read in NJ.

1 comment:

  1. "...I've got my hands full trying to do mental fuel calculations..."

    I knew Italians talked with their hands, but I never knew they did math that way.


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