If you have time to read only one posting, click the following link to read the entry for the last day of our journey.

August 3: Getting the Defender Ready, Just in Case

In the event, unlikely or likely,  that I can get on the road after all,  regardless of what odds may now be stacked against me, I want to be able to move out within 24 hours after hearing the results of Erde's biopsy and, if called for, talking with the vets, but not if Erde’s tumor is malignant. So, today, I spent six hours on the Defender-90 preparing it for the trip. In addition to giving it a thorough cleaning inside, I made some progress in loading some of the gear need for the trip. In the course of cleaning it, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Land Rover left me a little gift, 20 years ago, a 10-piece tool kit, stashed away in the battery compartment under the driver’s seat. I cannot believe I never knew about this before. Each tool was still in its plastic wrapping. How nice.

To save time, I almost did not bother to clean under the rubber mat on the passenger’s side of the front since it rarely needs cleaning, seeing that it is covered by the dogs' bed. I am glad I did. When I pulled out the mat, it was completely wet on the floor. At first I thought some rain had gotten through, but that never happened before. So, I dried up the floor, started the engine and turned on the AC full blast. Sure enough, the new AC was leaking. And not only just leaking, but leaking onto the ECU, the electronic control unit, the truck's computer. If I had not discovered this, somewhere along the 16,000 trip it might have shorted out the entire electrical system, not something I needed. Fortunately, I already have an appointment at the garage on Tuesday for replacing the drive shaft’s u-joints, so I'll add this to the list.

Below are three photos of the Defender-90 to show you some of the basic setup for the trip. When fully loaded, literally, there isn't an inch of space to spare.

The top photo is a view of the dogs' bed, which displaces the front passenger seat, which has been removed. Note how this was designed so that the two right AC vents are nose high on the dogs. On really hot days, the two dogs can squeeze into this bed, and each has his and her own AC vent. (My two vets are closed off to give more force to the dogs’.) I store my off-road recovery equipment in the foot-well in the lower tight, under the bed. If I need to have a human passenger ride with me, both dogs go in the rear, the bed gets disassembled, and the passenger sits on a beach chair I bring along as my tent chair.

The middle photo shows a view of the rear compartment from the driver's side. Of note here are the wheels of Leben’s three-wheeled CATV (Canned All Terrain Vehicle, aka stroller or Doggy-Ride) strapped to the cage-window, the two rear wheels on this side and the smaller front wheel on the other. (The handlebar is strapped to the back pf the driver's seat, and the carriage is stored on the roof-rack.  If the tires go flat, I have a built-in compressor in the Defender to handle that.)  The tan pole you see running along the top of the far window is my walking stick in case I need one.

The bottom photo shows the Defender-90 from the rear. Of note here are Leben's wheel chair secured to the roof-rack ladder on the left, the yellow step stool strapped to the hitch-mounted platform step (both of which make or a double step for the dogs to get into the truck, the yellow step stool also doubling as our in-tent dining table), the white portable shower to the rear left (also doubling as he dogs’ medicine chest), and the dogs' rear bed taking up more than half the room. The bed consists of four layers: two folded extra-wide and extra-thick air mattresses, also used in the tent for the three of us to sleep on, a protective carpet so the dogs' nails don't puncture the mattresses, and the red bed. After a few hours of driving, the floor of the rear gets warm from the heat of the exhaust system beneath the floor, but these multiple layers dissipate the heat, at least I hope. There's more here than meets the eye right away, but this should give you an idea of the setup, before the rear really starts to get loaded with our gear.

I still need to put on the second spare tire on the hood (or bonnet, as the British like to say), the Pull-Pall anchor for winching the Defender out of a predicament, and the off-road recovery gear, as well as all the other gear and stuff that will go for a long ride with us, I hope.

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