NECE 3, Day 6 – again working on the MFALCON with Mark; concluding thoughts on the amazing week

Carefully departing Bar Harbor (Bah Hahbah?)

After driving John to his car where he had parked it in Bar Harbor, and then having to dig it out of 3+ foot of snow…

John's Nissan did some snow collecting during the blizzard

John’s Nissan did some snow collecting during the blizzard

… I had to drive up to the Blackwoods area in order to pay for the firewood we had used from an honor system shed on a person’s property near the road.  I realized it might be interesting to check out how much snow had hit the campsite…

Snow at Blackwoods was above the hood of the car, yeesh

Snow at Blackwoods was above the hood of the car, yeesh

… holy smokes.  The snow would have been over the hood of my car, we would have spent *hours* digging a path out to the road, much less packing the gear and getting it to the cars.

Fort Knox, the Maine Edition

Along the way on US 1, the Penobscot Bridge was a LOT more visible this time, as there was not a nor’easter messing with my view.  I also wanted to stop by at least one of the famous forts in Maine, and Fort Knox happened to be right there.

Was the park TECHNICALLY closed for the season? Yeah.   Did I go in? Maybe.

Was the park TECHNICALLY closed for the season? Yeah. Did I go in? Maybe.

The fort was actually constructed out of anti-British sentiments, and because the worst American naval losses prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred during an expedition to try and take Maine.  Suffice to say, the Mainers wanted to remain American after that, and so this fort was constructed at the mouths of the river tributaries there.

Apologies that I couldn't get a better angle for my photo of the MASSIVE granite fort, but here is one of the walls with moat around it

Apologies that I couldn’t get a better angle for my photo of the MASSIVE granite fort, but here is one of the walls with moat around it

The Penobscot Bridge in its full daylight glory

The Penobscot Bridge in its full daylight glory

From there, I drove 3 hours south, stopping along the way to pick up a 1.25″ to 2″ hitch adaptor, as Mark had asked me to help him by bringing a pair of Passat doors south (so the guy buying them, from NY, wouldn’t have to drive all the way up to Maine).  This means I was going to buy a trailer hitch shelf, and Mark happened to have one he got on sale, which means I got what I was going to get anyways (for my eventual move to Maryland for this summer’s internship) for maybe 30% of the typical cost!!

Round 2, Working on the Car

Again encountering Mark’s breathtaking graciousness and willingness to help, though, I got back to the pumping station and we got to work.

Drying gear a bit outside of the water pumping station, as we worked on the car Sunday afternoon

Drying gear a bit outside of the water pumping station, as we worked on the car Sunday afternoon

Repairs
1) camshaft was worn out badly, and got replaced, as were the lifters
2) timing belt was 6000 miles past its scheduled replacement, and given that it makes all of the engine’s mechanical components work in concert, I didn’t want to risk letting it go for much longer… and Mark had both the expertise and the tools to do this, whereas I do not
3) the N75 solenoid is a simple device, used to let excess boost produced out of a wastegate; given that my car was upgraded over Christmas and produces a LOT more boost, this was a problem.  The new N75 makes SUCH a big difference in terms of power, acceleration, and generally level of fun to drive.

Upgrades
1) Mark helped me both cap off the non-functioning 5th injector fuel line (leftover from the European design, where it was used to burn the exhaust more fully)
2) we also drilled a tap into the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculator) which is leaking a whole bunch of oil; once I check in with KermaTDI about my tune, I will probably put in a shunt line to keep the oil from leaking into the engine
3) the trailer hitch shelf, shown below (and retrospectively, I must say – this thing drives like a dream, can’t really even tell it was on the back of the car at speed).  Not technically an upgrade mechanically or electronically, but it IS
4) A simple jumper in the fusebox underneath the driver’s side dashboard has the low beams stay on when I activate the highbeams… SO MUCH LIGHT YESSSSS

The big future problem we found is that SOMETHING in the engine is leaking a lot of oil. A *LOT*.  But we couldn’t figure out what and/or where, so that will be my next big project.  That, and changing out the transmission fluid, as its starting to shift somewhat poorly (plus, I don’t know if or when it was changed last).

New lifters in place, beginning to prep to put the new camshaft in, and then do the new timing belt

New lifters in place, beginning to prep to put the new camshaft in, and then do the new timing belt

I packed the partially-dried gear into the car, and had to make room for a set of Passat B4 doors I brought south…

Passat doors within a Passat

Passat doors within a Passat

… and drove home on Monday, getting back around 4:30pm.

The new trailer hitch shelf I bought from Mark, and prepping it to be wrapped and strapped down

The new trailer hitch shelf I bought from Mark, and prepping it to be wrapped and strapped down

Concluding thoughts on the week spent in the Ice World

So then, what can I say at the end of the week?

Every fan I owned, in the basement and running at full speed to try and thaw and then dry the gear after a week in the wilds of Maine

Every fan I owned, in the basement and running at full speed to try and thaw and then dry the gear after a week in the wilds of Maine

OK, *besides* “wow, I didn’t realize I could fit THAT much gear into the basement at once, to dry!”

Well, I will offer a short list of things which really stand out in my mind:

1) the MVP for gear for the week was the pair of Wellco US infantryman combat boots, hands down.  Feet stayed bone dry (this is both from external water, but also from sweat – I am not sure what the hell they coated them with, but it is likely both unholy AND unnatural. Probably causes cancer, as well), and they were comfortable from moment 1 of wearing them, no breaking in required.  My only concern is that I can’t wear them while driving, but that is more because I wear size 16 and can’t fit my damned tank/feet under the dashboard, on the pedals.  But that isn’t an issue, I just brought and wore a separate pair of driving shoes (which meant they stayed dry for most of the week!)

The boots were seriously a slam dunk

The boots were seriously a slam dunk

2) I really like Maine. Really, seriously, deeply.  Besides encountering a great deal of Midwestern style kindness and hospitality (and in the case of Mark and his wife, I got to experience weapons-grade graciousness and helpfulness).  But the wilderness, the wide open spaces, and most especially the sheer clarity of vision of the moon and stars – it was genuinely a struggle to depart.  I can’t comment on the possibility of my living there soon/later in my life, but I did speak at length with several locals about the viability of homesteading up there… and learned there is a vibrant community of such folks. So tempting.

3) Winter camping is something I continue to love, even with weather and gear difficulties.  There is something delightful about the quiet solitude (admittedly enhanced by specifically being in the wilds of Maine in the winter) which did me a world of good – sure, my house and neighborhood has more than its fair share of gunshots and sirens, neither of which I am particularly fond of… but even the lack of people’s loud music shaking their cars, and hell the lack of PEOPLE was wonderful.  Just out in the wild, and enjoying the moments when I did encounter other people, was tough to leave.

4) That said, I cannot do a full hermitage, as I was really glad when John showed up, and I got to spend time with a good friend. In reality, I think, this just demonstrates to me how *vitally, non-negotiably important* to live either by myself or with someone(s) where there is NOT any friction.  I understand life on their earth is imperfect, we all have to make allowances for other people, blah blah blah.  That BS acknowledged, the past 2 years in particular in New Haven have seen me living with folks whom I can be friends with, but am NOT compatible to live with, and I am done with that shit.  Forever.  So I guess I am saying: it was good and healthy to be reaffirmed that my displeasure at the crap I put up with is NOT acceptable, and it IS acceptable for me to look forward to escaping it (and New Haven, and Yale in general)

5) Finally, and admittedly not certainly, being in Maine (with its shifting economic viability with the seasonal changes) made me realize that while the past few months spent considering homesteading and building my own paradise is something I seriously do plan on doing in my life, I am too much of a perfectionist and (lets face it) in favor of getting what I want to NOT have the income to support the building projects I will inevitably come up with over time is NOT going to work for me.  I need to get established financially and start slowly into the process of designing and perfecting my agrarian paradise, I think.  <— watch the blog in the next few weeks for some news along those lines, actually

All told, the week I spent in Maine was simply wonderful, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it and sharing in the photo essay across these blog posts!!

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