Stayed in Seaside for a week enjoying the cool weather but my daughters plans had changed as her and her band had been invited to play at a blues bar up in Portland, Duff’s Garage. So, traveled back to PDX and parked at my regular RV park on Sandy Blvd (see last post). Called up Margie and talked her into coming along and driving me there since I don’t have a car. Some of Shelly’s high school friends were there as well. It’s a fairly nice bar in an old industrial area on the East side of Portland and from the looks of the area if we hadn’t arrived early parking would have been a little difficult…as it was, we parked just a few feet from the front door. Nice.
Anyway, here are some pictures of the evening.
Mush gets ready for her set.
Arriving in Portland, OR, I headed straight to Rolling Hills RV Park on Sandy Blvd. Right next door to the Stagecoach Tavern and very close to TJ’s house. Spent a week there visiting with friends and having a good time generally, except for the god-awful WiFi at the park. It’s sucked for the 6 years I’ve been coming here and they seem to be unwilling to modernize it. It’s an old 11MBPS system! And there is only ONE directly connected antenna. On the offices roof, and that’s 50 yards from the first RV spot, through lots of trees. All the other antennas are ‘repeaters’, the old style so they only have half the bandwidth (so, no more then 5.5MBPS). Sometimes, late at night or early in the morning, the signal is good enough but nearly all the time, it’s barely adequate. Then, one of the nice RV spots I found open is way far away from the single BR available for RV’ers. Annoying.
But, with all it’s faults, it’s certainly convenient. Close to my friends, close to shopping, close to a nice bar, nice flat cement pads, good water, cable, lawn & a picnic table at your site, stocked loaner library, etc., etc.. So, despite the faults, I stay there often.
All parked and snuggled in.
After leaving Ely, I headed due North on US93 with a destination of Glenns Ferry, Idaho. I’ve visited this town before, years ago, and always remembered it fondly for some reason. It’s not very big but it was pretty friendly last visit. This time I had a plan…rent a space large enough for a shop and design and build a level system that would operate my propane injection system on 5% grade hills. So I wouldn’t have to do it using the Off/On switch on hills. So, with nice weather, not to hot, not to cold, off I went.
Lonely roads here in Northern Nevada…
I finally felt comfortable enough with the RV that I decided it was time to head north. My plan was to avoid that steep hill where the engine had blown the last time. Once burnt, twice shy. The plan was to head west on I-40, maybe visit Hoover Darn, skirt the east side of Las Vegas on SR-93, and head due north to Ely, Nevada. I knew this would be an interesting trip as I’d never traveled this exact route before but knew from research that the roads I was going to be traveling were pretty remote. There was a long section where it was reported that the cell phone wouldn’t be working and if I had a problem in that stretch, it’d be a long wait before someone would pass by and be able to relay a message. But with the potential of some excellent views along the highway and little traffic.
On SR-93 after leaving I-40.
As you can see, some of these roads are pretty stark. When I’m in areas like this, it’s fun to reflect on how the Indians must have perceived travel though desert like this. Did they have enough incentive for discovery to make a journey like this on a lark or were they forced by conditions at their old homes? Or both, or some other reason…like adventure or curiosity.
I spent a few days at the caverns and enjoyed the area immensely. Weather was fine, though a little warm in the afternoon, and the services like WiFi left a little to be desired but still, I enjoyed it enough that I spent several days there.
Grand Canyon Caverns RV park.
After that little trip to Walnut Canyon, I settled into a RV spot in Flagstaff at Black Bart’s RV Park & Restaurant. It’s a great location, not right in town but close enough to everything that it’s convenient. When I’d stayed here back a couple weeks before, there weren’t too many campers so the WiFi was…acceptable. This time, it was awful. So, with their permission, I moved around and tried several different spots to see if I could get a better signal. It wasn’t signal strength that was the problem, it was too many people trying to get on-line and download videos and such. I did find a place just 40′ from the only outside antenna they had and I’d get 5 bars of signal, but it hardly ever got above 1MBPS. Very annoying. When the conditions were just right, I could get 11MBPS from the hotel across the freeway! In fact I spend most of my on-line time on that hotels free WiFi.
All parked at Black Bart’s.
It might not look it, but it was a bear getting the RV level. The spot had a big slope to the left in this picture. It was quite a step from my steps to the ground. Had to be careful.
Nice town, Flagstaff…I spent some time driving around town in my rental car and visited a few places here and there. Couldn’t get too interested in the touristy thing since I was worried about my RV and whether or not the shop was going to try to claim it was something I’d done to the rig that caused it to fail again. Another week passed as NAD worked on it. I’d go over and visit now and again and volunteer my computer expertize but there wasn’t much they needed along those lines. (Lots of pictures follow…)
So, my rig is in the shop and I’m at a motel where I couldn’t get WiFi. The next day, I moved to another motel and was offered a weeks stay for a nice low price (amount of which I can’t remember now). Anyway, since I no longer had my kitchen, I had to eat out. There were two bars within walking distance but neither had food, then there were several fast food joints and a couple restaurants. I tried out the Long John Silvers and damn, fish was soooo salty I had to gag it down. Terrible. So terrible I emailed the company a complaint.
Anyway, I also found a car rental place down the street. Get this, $8.95/day. For an older but well maintained car. I’d checked with my RV insurance and they didn’t cover insurance for a rental and I totally forgot my Visa Platinum card did so I paid another $12.95/day for insurance. I called NAD a couple times per day and they were working on the quote but didn’t tell me that it was going to cost $6500 until the 3rd day. I winced. Told them to hold off while I tired to find that much money.
I was under the mistaken understanding that I couldn’t pull that much out of my 401k for some reason so I finally called them (I’d just been reading the rules on their web site) and learned that I’d gotten it wrong. I could pull out as much as I wanted, at any time. Huh. Well, that cleared things up. So, I got that ball rolling and called NAD and told them to go ahead and start on the engine. Went into the shop and they showed me the burned piston with the broken valve imbedded in the top of it later that day so I knew it was bad. They also insisted I needed a new turbo. So, without much for me to do, I asked the shop owner if there was anything I could do with their computers to pass the time. Scott let me work on their shop computer which had gotten clogged with a bunch of useless sh1t that didn’t belong on it. Took me around 3 hours of work. Since it is out in the shop it was filthy too. Cleaned the outside too. Handed him an invoice for the amount of the work and he kindly took that into consideration on the final bill.
Sitting in the parking lot, ready for the techs.
We headed out of San Tan Valley, AZ around 10am and skirted Phoenix. Headed up into the mountains on highway 87. It was kind of cool and there were dark clouds here and there but I’d checked the weather the night before so I knew it wouldn’t be too bad of a trip. This route was a short cut to Winslow. And since we planned on heading east a bit then north, in order to visit some ancient Indian ruins, it would cut over 40 miles off the planned trip. As we headed up into the mountains, it got colder and colder until it was very close to freezing outside. The RV was running fine. Shortly before we got to the summit, it started sleeting, then snowing so I was going pretty slow. Probably averaging 35-45. Right after the summit, I began to hear a weird noise from the engine. Opened the drivers window and poked my head out to hear better. Crap, something was seriously wrong. So, I pulled into a ranger station hoping there might be someone there. Left the engine running while I checked it out. Really sounded bad. Clattering valve or something. Walked over to the ranger station to see if anyone was a motor head but the place was all closed up for the season. By now I knew my engine was having serious problems and we were 60 miles or so from Winslow. But, it did start up again. Didn’t run fine, but at least it started. I already knew I’d lost power so I couldn’t go much more then 45MPH on the straights. And I might do even more damage to the engine trying to run it. But, we had scaled the summit and were on the downhill side. Crossing my fingers, we set off coasting much of the time so maybe, I thought, I’d be able to make it to Winslow.
Since Stacy was visiting her aunt, and it wasn’t convenient to park my RV outside her aunt’s house for any length of time, I was staying in the Indian Skies RV park in Coolridge, Arizona. My spot was back in the transient area so my space, although nice and flat, was on gravel rather then a nice blacktop pad. But I had a piece of cardboard so I climbed under the rig and checked out the parking brake, filled the transaxle, and checked it over. Didn’t look to bad under there.
A couple days after I got there, the weather changed for the worse and the wind picked up very suddenly. Before I knew what was happening, my awning sprung loose and wrapped itself up inside it’s cover. Unfortunately, it also rolled the pull cord up inside it’s cover. No way to pull it out. In fact, I could barely see it poking out of the awning. I let the wind die down over the next several hours while I debated what to do about it. The next day was nice and calm with the occasional gust out of nowhere but it was quiet enough that I went over to one of my neighbors and asked to use his ladder. He came over to help after I explained the situation and it was very helpful to have him there. I had to climb up to the roof line and did my best to unroll the awning…finally it gave enough that I could worry the pull rope out of there. Took about an hour of working on it to get it out.
There were a couple wind storms that happened when I was there, including a wall of dust that swept through the area a time or two. The kind of wall of dust you see off in the distance that look like the pictures of the Dust Bowl during the 1930′s.
After staying at Indian Skies for 3-4 days, I headed over to join Stacy and her family for dinner at their place and on the way, one of those wind storms picked up and blew dust over the road so thick that I couldn’t see well enough to pull off the road. Yikes. So, with my headlights on, I crawled along the road only being able to see around 12′ ahead. The section I was on was a two lane road without much of a shoulder so I just stayed on it going perhaps 15MPH. I thought at the time that I should get my air filter checked soon as I could but, I quickly forgot. Plus, had a schedule to keep. Had to get Stacy up to Coeur d’Alene by a certain date and all. After dinner I headed back to the RV park and since that storm had already passed though, didn’t have to fight with any dust.