HOME ARCHIVE

Published on October 13, 2020

On the road with Forbes
The Van gets extended road test as it maneuvers I-10

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

On the road again, but not with CBS’s Charles Kuralt - a gifted interviewer and student of human behavior and personality.

You are stuck with me. I don’t have the network’s money and support. But I do have a used 2001 Chevrolet 3500 Express sports mobile.

It is the economy version with a refrigerator, microwave, four seats and two couches (with a bonus - three seat belts each) that can be made into a bed. It has no running water and, therefore, no shower.

The 19-foot-long van is limited on storage space. There are little cubbyholes and bins in every conceivable location. You are only required to remember what you stored and where. I am in the middle of the maiden voyage, traveling solo to see my brother-in-law and nephew in Decatur, Alabama.

I don’t think you need to be a horse-racing fan or casino-gambling fan to know that I-10 is under construction from Houston to its most eastern hinterland. Road warriors will be ecstatic to learn I-10 is not alone. Interstates 20 and 65 join it in the current tear-down and rebuild frenzy. It makes Xanax a road trip prerequisite.

Speed limit signs are everywhere warning of double fines in construction zones. But the 55 MPH limit, evidently, is a suggestion as opposed to a rule. Like a herd of wildebeests on their annual migration, the car traffic careens through the work zones with frightening speed and sense of purpose.

The new 55 MPH speed limit is dwarfed by vehicles traveling 75-80 MPH, and for some souls, even higher. I think state troopers are leery of participating in the high-speed mayhem.

Time to test out the radio and pass the time listening to something other than road noise. Previous owners of The Van, as we shall henceforth call it, upgraded the radio with a fancy one. It has features I can access and a touch screen I can occasionally manipulate. I pay for Sirius-XM radio on one of my vehicles, and my beloved grandson downloaded an app to my I-phone that allows me to hook it up to the radio via a USB port.

I listened to Vinyl Classic Rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Very appropriate during an annual migration. The volume controls and other push buttons on the radio were designed for the eyes of an eagle, not my eyes, for sure. Anything more complicated than raising or lowering the volume required roadside or rest stop maintenance.

A passenger with a magnifying glass would be welcome. I would also like to have my grandson on speed dial for consultations concerning radio the operations.

I drove 661 miles on day one of my journey. Impending darkness (I prefer not to drive in the dark) and fatigue compelled me to stop for the day at a truck stop about 180 miles short of my destination. I used their restrooms but didn’t inquire if I could pay for a shower facility like the truckers.

I couldn’t hook up to shore power (that’s electricity for you non-campers) and had to run the engine of The Van periodically to power the air conditioner and refrigerator. I slept in The Van in the truck stop parking lot and had a crash course in operating the thermostat. I’d swear, a few times in the night, I had icicles forming on me.

I made a ham and cheese sandwich for supper and prepared a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios. Sleep was intermittent at best; truck stops are noisy places. I mean, there are all those trucks coming and going, some staying to spend the night.

Unlike Charles Kuralt, who had a motorhome and a film crew, I observed the countryside at breakneck speeds. The most interesting conversation with an interesting person was the cashier at a truck stop telling me she could not understand me speaking through my mask.

I hope to get another chance to try a leisurely paced trip during which I can enjoy the views and people along the way. I am currently plotting my return trip home, avoiding I-10 in Louisiana. The Van and I will appreciate that.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)