Retrospective – Trip down the creek…

My last article indicated that I’d left Lake Tahoe…which I did. But I wanted to backtrack in time a bit and write an article of my trip around the Taylor Creek area there in Tahoe. This creek was once a human caused disaster that emptied effluent into Lake Tahoe. It was dying because of the harm humans were doing upstream and harming the lake in the process. So the Forest Service took it over and for many years has been acting to ensure pure water enters the lake. Mostly by letting it return to a natural state. With some light handed help from the FS. It’s making a comeback as a water filtration system, helping to keep the lake one of the clearest and cleanest in the world.

While I was staying in So. Lake Tahoe at the Tallac Historic Baldwin Estate, I was only 1/4 mile from the creek, and I’d just found a bike to buy so it was time to combine a trip to the creek with some bike riding.

Started the trip at the Baldwin Museum. I travel on the bike path towards the left.

And soon the bike path puts me near the lake shore. Almost looks like the mountains are floating over there.

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Postings in the RV section…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve added some new postings to the RV repair section of the blog so if you like that sort of article, enjoy!

Awning strap replacement…

Bedroom TV mounting and entertainment center…

Product Eval – Bike Rack…

Product Eval – V-Spoilers…

Toilet Seal replacement…

 

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Wrap up to Tahoe visit…

Had a great time working for the FS at Lake Tahoe, but the 5 weeks were coming to a close. Still had snow in the hills and a chill in the evening air but the days were sunny and warm.

Did a drive around to check out the local golf courses. This is on US-50 just a few miles south from the ‘Y’. There was another course further on. Both very nice, and rather expensive. And both with evidence of the very wet and brutal winter they’d had here. I would have played a round but I was still looking for golf shoes and a glove that I like.

Later on I went to downtown Stateline and just a couple blocks from city center is a public golf course owned by the city that I wanted to check out. I’d decided to go ahead and play there despite not having the shoes or glove. But it was closed ! (mid June) because the poor winter weather had saturated the ground so the trees were still unstable, there was standing water here and there on the course, etc.. That made me sad. Oh, well, some other time.

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Working around Lake Tahoe…

My secondary reason for volunteering at Lake Tahoe was to use the physical exertion needed to help get my body back in shape. I’ve been too sedentary the last couple years and I had my bike stolen last August so I’m not even getting that exercise. That’s the secondary reason…the primary reason is to help make the historical buildings and artifacts on site attractive and interesting to my fellow citizens for years to come, and while doing so, making them safe from the ravages of time.

But back to the secondary reason for volunteering here, exercise, and the first week, I really felt all that walking in my hips, ankles, and knees. I’d go home after my shift and would be exhausted, collapsing into my chair and just zoning out for an hour. All that physical activity though really paid off because after the first week, my hips were feeling pretty good, another week and my ankles were fine, followed by my knees feeling better the week after. That activity really helped limber up the body framework.

And then, one evening after work I was driving towards town, and there’s a Thrift shop I pass by and outside there were nearly 25 used bikes for sale. And damned if the guy didn’t have a dual suspension bike in really excellent condition. I test rode it and everything worked, but it had those stupid plastic pedals. Had him change those out for metal pedals, paid him $78 (that sort of bike was $150 and up retail) and now I have a comfy bike to ride. Also stopped at the KMart and bought a new heavy cable lock for it. I do have the U bolt lock but those are so cumbersome, and with this style bike, there’s not a good place to attach it to the frame when I’m riding, and a cable lock is so much more convenient.

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One of my projects at Baldwin was to sand and repaint a Forest Service sign. But that wasn’t keeping me busy enough and I decided to donate a saw cover to protect the big chop saw Bob (a FS employee who had been with the FS for decades. I believe he’s in his mid-70’s but he’s not slowing down any) bought and donated to the FS because he felt the volunteer crew needed it, and the FS didn’t want to buy one for over $300. Since he’d done that, I thought I’d donate a cover for it.

Here’s a shot of the shop a couple weeks into the 1st session. Very crowded with stuff. You can get 3 or 4 guys in here working with the power equipment though.

And our tool room.

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More from Lake Tahoe…

Just a week and a couple days after arriving at Lake Tahoe, there was to be a field trip for the volunteers. We were to make our own way to Virginia City (VC). A field trip is something the FS does once each 5 week work session for the volunteers. Sort of a way to say thanks for all our hard work with a day off, and to give us some insight on the area’s history. This trip was around 70 miles round trip with no transportation provided and most car pooled it…but those were people over at the Baldwin RV park, while I was in the Tallac RV park. There were just me and Steve & wife at this park, and they weren’t going. So I drove by myself. Took the car naturally, and it’s a pleasant enough drive on good road. As you approach VC, there’s a Y with a sign saying that trucks and RVs should take the alternate route because the road is so steep. And boy, is it ever. But, eventually, I made it up into town, and parked in a paid parking lot right next to the Bucket of Blood saloon. My dad once owned a bar in Seattle named the same. I wondered if it was here that he got the name? He use to travel extensively as a long haul taxi driver.

Well, I’ll never know the answer to that at this point, but it’s interesting to think about. After we arrived, our guide Ellie gave us free rane to roam around the downtown area to take advantage of the opportunities to shop, eat, gamble. We’re to meet later and go to the cemetery as a group to explore.

First, I have to pass through Stateline on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Past all those casinos…

Then there’s this tunnel. When I came through there a week ago it was during a heavy rainstorm mixed with snow.

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Enjoying Lake Tahoe…

The next day at Lake Tahoe, the snow had already begun to melt, and I did another walk around but this time took a look at the Pope estate. The pond I showed pictures of last time is on the Pope Estate and these shots are again of the pond and just a bit further inside the property. And in better weather. Although a coat was needed, the warm sun helped to lift the spirit.

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On the road to Lake Tahoe…

After 15 days in Beatty, it was time to head on to the Tallac Historic site on the south western shore of Lake Tahoe where I’ll be volunteering. There are 4 sessions from May 8th until September and if you want to help, check out the FS website. The sessions are 5 weeks long, but they need volunteers so they are flexible with start and stop times. Myself, I plan on being here 7 weeks, maybe 8. One husband and wife team just left after 4 weeks as they had other commitments, another couple put in 3 weeks. The work is varied and nearly everyone has skills that are needed. I (like nearly everyone else) have several skills so I do a bit of everything. Whatever they ask me to do here. But I’ll get into that in more detail later on.

Again, on the travel day, May 6th, I had a long way to go, and scheduled myself to leave Beatty RV Park at 6 AM. I’ve been waking up at 5 ish for months now so it’s not a hardship. Seems to come with age, getting up real early. This trip is 330 miles. Traveling through some remote areas, over desert, up and down mountains. My favorite type of trip.

My Journey RV is working very well when on the road, but as I’ve mentioned in earlier postings, sometimes the slides just won’t operate after I’ve been parked for several days. And this morning was no exception. The slide wouldn’t pull in. So I grabbed my trusty rubber mallet and headed straight out to the controller assembly under the LR slide and thumped it a few times. Still nothing. Hmmm. Clocks ticking…this time around, I buried half my body under there getting a close up of the guts of the HWH hydraulic slide manifold and wiggled and tugged at the wired connections and the connectors. Viola’, it worked, the slides started working again. So, OK, now I know what to fix. When I have the time and inclination, I’d pull all those connectors under there apart and clean them. Maybe add some dielectric grease to protect them from road moisture. They are relatively protected by the design of the chassis but still need a slightly better cover or something.

After that little hiccup, I was still able to get moving and on the road by 6:15.     Just 5-10 miles from Beatty, this wide spot. Looking around, I could see that this was once a very busy one of those roadside business with the fuel and cafe ready for the weary traveler. It has seen better days as it’s looking a bit run down. Still hanging on though. That peak in the distance is rather unusual too.

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Gila Bend to Beatty, Nevada…

Eventually, it was feeling a bit too warm in Gila Bend, so I headed off to Beatty, Nevada and the coolness it’s elevation promised. A couple reasons to do so other then the better temps. One was that I could give the V-Spoilers I’d installed in Mexico a good work out on a 440 mile trip with nothing to distract me from my observations…in other words, I wouldn’t have a friend following me on this trip. In addition, the car was running well, and I didn’t feel the need to do any more work on her for a while. Finally, I’d applied and been accepted for a volunteer position with the Tallac Historical Foundation which works with the Forest Service maintaining the several properties on Lake Tahoe given them by families, mostly because they couldn’t afford to maintain them any more. Built at the turn of the last century, I’d enjoyed working there several years ago and was eager to revisit some of my repairs. To see how they’d held up. And Beatty was a way point on that travel route.

First though, the trip up to Beatty was a trip through many and varied topographies, with various weather events. So it should be the great test of the V-Spoilers I hoped for. And there were to be a couple weeks hanging out in Beatty. Weather looked nice didn’t it? This is just a few miles north of Gila Bend. I’d left at 6 AM because I woke early. Had a long trip today so the earlier the better.

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Messing around in Gila Bend…

So it was quite comfortable in Gila Bend, and since the Holt’s Shell is a Passport America park, the cost was only $13/night. And initially, I paid for 3 nights. But the WiFi was good enough that I kept extending my stay. Meanwhile, I figured since I had so much room at my site, I could finally work on my car’s tranni which if you recall had issues. Usually a ‘thump’ when it up shifted from 2nd to 3rd and rarely from 3rd to 4th. Since I’d been having trouble with the tranni since just a month after I bought it in August of ’16, and was using a work around to keep driving, I felt that this was a good place and time to work on the issue.

First though, to give an idea of where I’d parked and the work space I had, a few pics:

There was enough space to work on the car on either side, or right in front. What I did was move around to the passengers side closer to my tools. But in any case, here’s a shot of the desert where you can walk your dog if you have one… Weather was really nice and mild. I’m like 40 miles from Phoenix here.

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Back in the US of A…

It had been enjoyable in San Felipe, but now it was time to head back north as the weather changed. It was averaging mid 70’s in SF and though still comfortable, I wanted to take a meandering trip north to stay in the moderate temp zone. I also really wanted to get the car’s transmission issues taken care of and wanted more nearby resources. Either I was going to work on it or I wanted to find a shop where they spoke English. There’s lots of great mechanics in Mexico but I wanted to take a more hands on approach with nearby parts or easily available parts via eBay or Amazon, and hiring a mechanic I could direct on the work was a backup plan. BTW, San Felipe has a newer Autozone store and they can get practically anything.

My friend Dawn was having a bit of trouble with the people she’d hired to watch her B&B for her up in Vermont so she’d planned on leaving SF on March 27th and sort of asked if we could caravan because she’d never traveled that route alone before. That date suited me fine and since we were heading the same direction, seemed like a good idea. The last couple days I was in SF I was busy with the various necessary preparations, and had a visit by a couple of blog readers, as detailed in my last post, but eventually the day came.

Did get an early start, but before I even left the RV park, at 6:30 AM, I had to stop and spray lubricant on one of the front jacks to get it to retract all the way. Usually a sticky jack will eventually get to the stored position due to vibrations caused by the engine but this time it hadn’t budged by the time I reached the exit so I had to stop and work on it. After I sprayed and levered it to the top of its travel, that silences the alarm and I can drive on in peace.

Many of you readers probably haven’t driven in a Mexican town, but if you do you’ll find that many streets are narrow, potholed, unsigned, so leaving early in the morning in my big RV towing a car was a bit of an anxiety reducer for me. Though nearly all Mexicans are tolerant of RVs on their roads, still, I like to be polite by getting out of town quickly. The light traffic of early morning helped.

Fifteen minutes later and I’m parked along the road opposite her hacienda waiting for her to join me. Weather was very nice. The trip up to the border takes about 2 hours. We’d decided, after considering 3 other crossings, that the best one for us would be at Mexicali East. It’s a straight shot from here, and the route bypasses most of the Mexicali downtown area. And there were mechanical things to consider on Dawn’s rig and she wanted to cross the border as quickly as possible for the available RV services in the US if needed.

She was late. I saw some movement of an RV over that direction and took this telephoto shot trying to catch a picture of her rig, but missed it. 

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