A Little Ray of Sunshine

I’m on the road again, traveling with even more electrical load for the truck and even fewer places to plug in. I may have to rethink this.

Back in an earlier Road Trip episode I mentioned adding a freezer to the truck inventory.

“It’s nice to be able to carry food on long trips and I’ve gotten tired of the ice makers in motels. I will run the freezer on the truck system when I have to and on plug in to a handy outdoor outlet where I can.”

It’s a 12VDC or 110VAC unit that needs a little extra cooling so I also added a fan and a nice, 600W inverter to run that.

For this trip, I bought a 110VAC compact refrigerator and tested it on the inverter. It worked fine until I got to the mainland. By then, the inverter was running neither the frig nor the fan.


The frig draws less than a lightbulb running but it apparently has a starting surge the size of Niagara Falls.

I bought a bigger inverter. That one didn’t work at all. Took it back. Found a kilowatt inverter guaranteed to run the frig and the fan and one section of Yankee Stadium (really — that’s what the salesman said).

It made it out of the parking lot before I heard the sizzle and smelled the smoke.

So I went back to the old standby: ice. The 110VAC compact refrigerator keeps pretty nice and cold with a couple of canisters of ice innit.

That’ll work, I figured.

Except the first couple of motels had no outdoor plug for my truck. I really need to run the fan and both coolers — and particularly to recharge the “house” batteries — overnight every night.

I used the 315 HP generator GMC graciously supplied with the (new)(white) truck, idling away its time like a bus or emergency vehicle but at idle, even with the air and lights and other truck services turned off, it doesn’t quite keep up with the load. By the time I got to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, I was feeling some desperation.

The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec is an exhibit of the artist’s radical, bold, and often outrageous posters and illustrations, particularly for the Moulin-Rouge and the angry Aristide Bruant.

It’s a wonderful museum built originally around the collection Walter P. Chrysler Jr. had assembled over his lifetime. Mr. Chrysler was one of the country’s leading art collectors and benefactors; his father, Walter Sr., founded the Chrysler Corporation.

I went for Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa but knew I would spend more time on something there. I left the truck idling in the parking lot.

The welcoming young lady at the ticket desk agreed that my question was one she had never heard before, “Do you have somewhere I can plug in my truck.”

She called the Maintenance Chief who arrived with an extension cord even longer than mine and we walked out to the lot.

“Oh, good,” he said when he saw I had backed up to the generator room. In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t know it was the generator room. I just thought it was about the only shady spot in the lot. A couple of minutes later, the back of the truck was humming nicely as the frig and freezer ran and the big charger purred. The front of the truck was blissfully silent.

I saw too much to catalog that afternoon. Play Me, I’m Yours entranced me. The public piano art project put pianos out in public and invited people to play. The Japanese prints companion exhibit to Toulouse-Lautrec looked at the woodblock prints that inspired him and so many other French artists and reminded me of the prints Uncle Joe Clark brought back from Japan. The paintings of Thomas Hart Benton and the Navy captured an heroic period in American history. And I spent quite a while with Glen McClure’s magnificent enlargements of the Shipyard Workers of Hampton Roads. The Norfolk photographer shot 9,000 frames of 400 of the men and women who keep our coastal economy literally afloat.

The Chrysler also hosted the 2017 Glass Art Society conference. We watched Clare Belfrage prepare for her demonstration from the first gather.

I learned stuff and saw beauty.

When the Chrysler’s Glass Studio kicked us out after the main museum had closed, I hustled back to the parking lot but the cold stuff was still just humming along happily.

“Just roll the cord up when you leave,” the Maintenance Chief had said. “I’ll ask the security folks to put it away.”

I did.

A great museum turned into a life-saver for this traveler. Thank you Chrysler.


It’s the View

The St. John’s Club in Burlington has about the second best view on Lake Champlain because most members love looking at the lake but think it would be more better perfect if they could see the lake and the Green Mountains instead of the newer mountains in the adjoining state.

View of the Broad Lake from the St. John's Club

No matter.

It is indeed one of the great spots to watch the sun set on Lake Champlain and a favored place for weddings and receptions.

Ethan de Seife called the St. John’s Club, a Lakefront Club for the Average Joe and that’s praise indeed. The “social club” was a founded as a men-only laborers’ drinking hall by the Francophone mill workers of the Union St.-Jean-Baptiste about 150 years ago. It has owned its home on the lake since 1964. “Same-sex couples, dancing cheek to cheek, shared the floor with retirees, twenty-somethings, and clients and employees of the Howard Center,” Mr. de Seife wrote. “No single word describes the scene more aptly than ‘unpretentious’.” The club even has Friday karaoke nights, a regular event that welcomes nonmembers.

SWMBO married a couple there Saturday.

One of the guests asked how long she had been doing this. SWMBO counted on her fingers and realized that she’s been a Justice of the Peace for about 18 years; she stands for re-election again this fall.

Vermont’s first governor began his public life as a justice of the peace in Salisbury, Connecticut, before he bought a tract of land along the Onion River in what is now Williston, Vermont.

Today the JP serves as an election official, decides tax appeals, and swears in new voters and may administer other oaths whenever an oath is required. A justice of the peace is a notary public ex officio and may also serve as a magistrate when so commissioned by the Supreme Court. And they can perform marriage ceremonies.

SWMBO lost a close election about a decade ago when eight candidates ended up on the ballot. Fortunately, the governor may fill any vacancy that occurs by resignation, death, or insanity so then-Governor Jim Douglas reappointed her when that did happen.

Most of Vermont was under threat of rain as a frontal boundary approached and brought a pretty good chance of showers for the entire wedding afternoon and through the night. It coalesced into a thin band of rain that sent wind ahead of it and stalled until late that evening. A lightning bolt across the highway woke me about dawn on Sunday but the rain itself had held off until after the reception.

The wind came in early and blew over the arbor. SWMBO caught it. JPs have many mandatory duties.

Kids and grownups, university folk and service people, firemen and contractors, and even a meteorologist, all in ties and long dresses and long pants, as well as the taxi driver in shorts who came in very late attended the festivities.

During the rehearsal, the groom kept asking “Can I kiss her now?”

SWMBO waited until after the readings and a prayer to say to the groom, “Alright, you may now kiss … her hand.”

After the real kiss, the entire wedding party waded out across two sand bars for photos and laughter. Just so you know, I wore the shorts when I arrived to pick up the JP but I also wore my second best blue dress shirt. The bride’s parents invited me to stay.

Nice people, great spot, beautiful day, blessed event.

We love it when a plan comes together.