I made a rather interesting discovery on my van, otherwise known as Bit’s Box, this morning.

It turns out that the rearview mirror on it, which has a highly accurate compass display, and real-time outside temp display which is fed from the engine’s computer, also has an indicator which reads “ICE”, that lights up.  Since this is the first time I’ve driven this van in weather this cold, I’d never seen it before.
A new discovery!

Apparently, the light doesn’t stay on at temps below 32 degrees F, but rather is triggered on something else… Possibly a temp/RH combination, I don’t know. Shoot, now I gotta go back and RTFM, again. I remember seeing something about it in there when I read it last August, but it’s not easy to concentrate on passages about ice when you’re sitting in 90 degree temps.

You’ll remember it’s an AWD rig, which makes it a very different animal from my old 95 Astro which you actually guided into corners with the assumption that the back end was gonna get squirrelly. Actual road ice, seemingly, is not a problem for this new rig, though.  I’ve got to drive it a bit more to be sure. The feedback I get from the thing is so steady and so very much ‘yeah, there’s rain and snow…So what?’ that I’ve started to become concerned that it’s not telling me the real traction story, down there. I’m worried it’s giving me a false sense of security.

My usual trick of finding a snow covered empty parking lot and thrashing the thing a bit will have to wait until there’s a snow covered lot in which to thrash the thing a bit. For now, we just have spots of ice, occasionally… And that darned light.

Speaking of the van, I’ve decided, since I’ve been spending so much time and effort on this van of late, that I’d try to hook up with some similar minded folk,a nd perhaps get some ideas meet people have some laughs, etc.  As such, I’ve been looking around for a vanner’s group to get involved with. In years past, we had one of the biggest groups in the nation, right here in good old Ra-cha-cha. This club had over 150 vans in the club at their peak… They could do a ‘run’ all by themselves without inviting any other clubs. Some really wild rides, back then, even by today’s standards.  Of course in those days, about all I could afford was a second-hand Ford Pinto Hatchback that I’d modified into the world’s smallest RV by putting a bed and some curtains in the back.

(Picture this really off-the-hook custom van sitting next to the Pinto Hatchback, with the win 9 foot CB antennae two VHF whips and a scanner whip, and the curtains in the window, and you may begin to understand why I never bothered pressing the vanning matter.)

More recently, in there was one in the Syracuse area, just a short putt down the road from here. Alas, both of them are gone.  Even ones still claiming to be active haven’t updated their sites since the 2002 nationals for the most part.

Really sad.

I did manage to find one based in the Suburbs of Binghamton, which is close enough to make occasional showings, but…(shrug. I’ll have to see it the thing is still active, or not. I see they have a show and shine scheduled in July that might be fun to see. I also see the Nationals are sched’ for mid July in the Keystone state, and that might be fun.

Even there, I’m concerned, though. In the old days, there were some clubs that were sturdily mod/show and shine, and other clubs that got together as an excuse to drink beer. I’ve heard it said that van clubs are motorcycle clubs with four wheels per member vehicle. I suppose that’s true; I’ve DJ’d for bike clubs and can tell you it’s true, from both ends of that spectrum.

What’s odd about that is that now I have two boys, and a wife to consider. Years ago, I’d have thought nothing of some of the wilder aspects of such groups. Now, I’m a little unsure of it all, given my situation and I wonder if that’s not why such clubs are harder to find these days.

Well, we’ll see how this goes. But I’ve got all winter to investigate it.
And looking at the snow, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.