Thursday, October 13, 2011

Little problems

Even under the best circumstances things are going to go wrong in an rv. It is absolutely inevitable. Often, those things are quite simple to fix, like when everybody panics for a few minutes that the stove isn't working, and it turns out that someone switched the gas detector off (which shuts off the gas and results in an inoperable stove). Sometimes they are somewhat less simple, as in the awning that got stuck in the extended position and had to be rolled back up by hand after all the wires were pulled loose. Occasionally, it is a simple problem whose answer is not instantly apparent.

 Friday, after we had come all the way across from Minnesota, through the Donner Pass (which although very high up and very covered in snow turned out to be beautiful, but uneventful)  we were greeted at the border of California by way of an agriculture inspection border station. Our apples and oranges were duly examined by a trained inspector, the pepper plant that the A.B. carries around was forbidden to leave the camper (Although his aloe, peace lily, and BABY APPLE TREES were scarcely looked at.) the dog was duly noted, and then the trained inspector handed us a yellow slip of paper and let us go on our way. We then encountered California traffic, probably the worst that we have seen in our travels so far. Exhausted and ready to crawl into our sleeping spaces, we drove to the campground only to find the dreaded sign "No Vacancies." Apparently there has been a sudden increase in jobs in Auburn, California, and the only campground in town is booked solid for months to come. There is one other park in town, but the very name of it kind of cuts our crew right out. Elder's Senior Citizens Park. Yeah. It doesn't exactly  call out our name. Overnight RVing in parking lots is generally frowned upon in Auburn, CA, so our hopes were dwindling as evening loomed. After calling half the stores in the town, our inverter quite suddenly failed us. With all computers rather close to shut down, we tried one last phone call, and wonder of wonders, K-mart declared that they welcomed rv's in their lot overnight. So to K-mart we went. We found a nice little place where it was not too bright, and somewhat less noisy (and actually, we wound up in the Rite-Aid lot). We parked, and were pleased to see that we even had the convenience of several restaurants within walking distance (as in, across the parking lot). After some discussion about whether or not it was proper etiquette, we decided that putting down the leveling jacks  was acceptable as long as we put down the weight distributing pads to avoid scarring the asphalt. Someone pushed the button on the control panel, and the horrible truth was revealed. The inverter had not died, it had blown a fuse. Now, fuses generally fall into the category of simple fixes. We carry a stash of them at all times. The most difficult part is figuring out which fuse is causing the trouble. So the Admiral began checking. He checked and checked. And checked. There are about five fuse boxes spaced around Tallulah. There was plenty of checking to be done. About three hours later, we went for dinner, without having found the fuse. None of the owners manuals held the answer of the fuse's location. The Admiral and the First Mate kept checking. The meter kept signalling the all well. The Commodore and the Admiral had work on Saturday. In the evening, we finally made it to our current location, a park in a tiny mountain town. Sunday, the Admiral checked again. Monday, the Commodore called a help line, just as she was put through to the correct person, the Admiral came through the door, holding (Tada!) a blown fuse. It was, of course, one that we did not have a replacement for. So, he decided to pull an identical fuse from another place and make sure that it was, indeed, the correct fuse. He did just that, and then we discovered that he had pulled a fuse necessary for starting Tallulah, and a running engine is necessary for the leveling jack control panel to work. Thus, a no go all around. He replaced the critical fuse, and we eventually made Tallulah operate again, but the blown fuse was not the one causing all of our troubles. So the First Mate and the Admiral resumed checking fuses. They continued on and on, through an hour, and in and out of days, checking every fuse that they could find. Whenever the Admiral was home from work the fuse checking began again. On and on.We began to fear that the problem was not a fuse but something else. And then, the Admiral had a scathingly brilliant idea. He declared the METER faulty, and suggested that it was giving false positives. The meter, naturally, was hastily replaced. The First Mate crawled back under the driver's seat to check the fuses there once again, and there, in the 38th slot, he found it. One pesky little mini ten amp fuse. Naturally, it was a fuse that we did not have a replacement for. (But we got one in less than thirty minutes, because the rv park is in the backyard of the town's lone gas station.)

And that pretty much sums up our first days in California.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


When the Summer is spent with the entire crew sprawled across half a continent, it becomes necessary to  regroup before moving on. At rallying time, the Admiral, Commodore, Second Mate, and the Navigator (formerly the 2nd AB) were in Minneapolis. The First Mate, the Dog and I were back at Home Port and the Harbor Master, Her Husband, and The Baby were stationed in Missouri but visiting home for a week.

Saturday morning, the Harbor Master and Her Husband, the First Mate and I began packing. Because of our excellent packing skills, we were actually on the road by 3:41 in the afternoon, only 41 minutes behind schedule according to the Harbor Master's Husband's plan. We drove all night, stopping only when the Baby demanded breaks, and for Mass on Sunday Morning. We reached our destination in Missouri by the middle of the next day. Here the First Mate, the Dog and I jumped ship and joined up with the Commodore and the Admiral. We got to Minneapolis at 1:30 AM Monday morning.

We had to wait for a package to be delivered to our camp in Minneapolis, which afforded the First Mate and I our first chance at a bit of rest. We left around ten on Monday and drove as far as we could, which brought us to Jamestown, ND. We picked a lovely Wal-Mart parking lot to camp in. Boon-docking often requires sacrificed sleeping quarters. By the luck of the draw, I got the passenger chair. Although not very rested, we did at least manage to get an early start. On Tuesday, we made it all the way to Billings, MT where we stopped at the world's first KOA. There are those who say it is also the World's best KOA. It's in our top two.  While most of the drive so far was  fairly familiar to all of us, Wednesday began the real adventure. After three years of trying to maneuver it, the Admiral finally got us to attempt Yellowstone in Tallulah.

 Roosevelt's arch at the entrance of the park. 

 The super delightful road going in. Note how pleasantly the road twists right out of sight. 

 The Boardwalk for Mammoth Springs. 
Mammoth Springs
 The Navigator in front of a hot spring. 
 A lone Bison. 

 Nothing says fun like a falling rock sign!
Of all the wildlife we saw in the park, these guys were probably the wildest. It was very close to freezing weather, and there they were, standing in the middle of the river, all to catch a fish. 
Because the weather was not very nice, and we were in Tallulah, and we were rather rushed, we managed to do the impossible, and go through Yellowstone without seeing Old Faithful. I suppose that just gives us a reason to go back someday. 
Yellowstone took up a huge portion of the day, and we stopped not too far after that in Idaho. 

After a decent start this morning (Thursday) we made it to Nevada, and we are now within six hours of our California destination. 
Tomorrow we just have to make it through the Donner Pass. Which is currently frozen. It's ok though. We have kitty litter (for traction in the event that we get stuck) food, water, blankets, warm clothes, matches, charcoal, lighter fluid, and, most importantly, we have all read Gary Paulsen's "Guts." 

 The best vehicle  we were behind today "Milky-Way: Drinkamugamilkameal
 The canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho

 Mountains in the distance. Idaho
Coming out of some bad weather in Nevada