Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why I need my Cummins

This is why I need my Cummins.

My business simply demands a lot of travel. Back in the ‘old day’ it was a lot easier – and a lot cheaper – when fuel was only about a dollar a gallon. It was easier and profitable to travel all over the country to shows, and know that I could still come out with some money in my pocket. Now that fuel is more than three times the cost, it takes about $150 to get from Toon Town to Colorado, instead of the old $40-$50.

Vehicles have changed also. Back when I first started working at Ren Faires, and just before I started traveling full time, the vehicle of choice was the Ford Econoline F150. EVERY rennie had one it seemed. James and I bought one after our first summer on the road, and I think he eventually got around 300k miles on it. Larry and I have been through at least 3 Ford vans over the years. That 351 V8 just seems to have been the best ever engine for hauling your stuff around. And rennies have stuff. Lots of stuff.

I’ve seen people take a 20 foot, 20 year old travel trailer and load every square inch of the floor, bed, tables and privy with their clothes, costumes, books, stock, tents, you name it. And then they wonder why the springs break. And the van that they try to pull it with is just as loaded, although, somewhere, there is a nook they crawl into for sleeping on the road. Good as that Econoline was, it didn’t have enough oomph to pull some of those trailers.

These days the Econoline is a retired icon. Now I see more Dodge Cummins diesel at faires than any other vehicle. Maybe it’s just the newer technology, or who knows, but rennies have discovered the power of diesel. Power strokes follow a close second. Everyone has their favorites, but I am sold on Cummins. Larry is a former truck driver, with more than 2 million logged commercial miles. That takes an average of 20 years to accumulate, and that’s only his logged miles *wink*. Trucks is what Larry knows. He is a Cummins fan. And after we got our first Dodge back in 1998, I’ve been a fan every since. We sold our second Dodge last April so we could buy this...

We had bought the trailer last August. We sold the Dodge in order to buy the International, needing something that could haul that big ass trailer. And we acquired the Ford 150 above for a runabout. I MISS my Cummins! It was so weird to drive a gas engine again. There is nothing else like driving a Cummins and once you’ve driven one, you’ll never want to drive anything else again. Granted, this little Ford has proven to be a really good workhorse – it has more than 300k miles on it and it’s still going strong. But we simply need more. The picture above the bed is totally loaded, with more stuff in the rear of the cab, so hauling a 4 horse trailer with two ponies in it is stretching the limits.

The good news is that the International that we bought will be fairly inexpensive to switch engines in it. It came with a DT360 in it, which doesn’t have much more power in it than our 5.9 liter Dodge Cummins did. But on big trucks all parts are interchangeable. You can take a Peterbilt or a Kenworth, drop in any tranny you want in either, or a Detroit or Cummins – they all fit. So Larry is going to find an older Cummins with a half a million miles on it and put it in. We’ll never be able to overload now!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More CRF

It is difficult for me to not keep saying "wow" when I'm in Colorado. The rainbows here are particularly great. We got this double rainbow the other day when we were leaving the showers on site.

I got this shot of Erika working in the booth on the second weekend. Doing her usual good work.

Sadly, Erika had to go back home after the second weekend and Friday morning July 9 her mother passed away. Erika was able to spend her last moments with her. Our condolences go out to Erika and wish her the best.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Don't like the weather? Just wait a second.....

Colorado is a wonderful place. It can also be a harsh place. Larry and I don't do the extreme sports like a week of wilderness camping in the winter, or rock climbing. In fact, we don't even hike much anymore, but we have done some awesome exploring over the years. But if you spend any time in Colorado at all, you will experience its intenseness.

Opening weekend at Colorado Renaissance Festival was one of those trying weekends. It was SO un-Colorado like for the weater to be has cold, rainy and harsh for so long as it was. It wasn't the best impression Erika had of the state that I've so long praised. But we got through it without incedent and had a couple of good weekends weather-wise and crowd-wise.

This weekend - weekend number four - was typical of Colorado. Warm and dry, actually almost balmy in the mornings. And right on schedule - about 3 o'clock in the afternoon - along came the 20% chance of rain. The rain on this day, as is common, turned into hail. First, the normal pea sized hail. After about 15 minutes it stopped.

The  hail begins.

The hails begins

But the clouds didn't go away as they usually do. Withing 20 minutes it started again. Marble size hail. The hail abated. Then more. Eventually, after about 60 minutes of on again off again hail, the hail got bigger each time, until it was golf ball size!

Making a dash for shelter!

Watching the hail from the safty of the booth

With the onslaught of the first hail, people ran for the booths. Oh yes, we like that! "Come on in!"

They crowded in and browsed. One young lady was sniffing the oils and the hail was bouncing off the trees and off of the ground and hitting her in the legs! That's cold!

The sun returns and the crowds resume their merriment!

Of course, as is always in Colorado on the front range, the clouds move out onto the plains and the sun returns. People swarm out of the booths the same way they swarmed in. Merriment abounds!