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.

And after an hour on the road, I pass through Goldfield. An old town on highway 60 that looked fairly interesting. I think now that I should have left Beatty a couple days early, stopped and stayed here to check it out. It has two or three RV parks. It was still 7 in the morning though and I couldn’t get myself to stop that early. Someday.

Looked 1880ish to me. Might be kinda fun to explore. Spotted a museum too.

But, shelved that opportunity, and soon left Goldfield in the dust.

Thirty minutes later, passed through Tonopah. Bigger, newer. Not that interesting. And soon after, off in the distance is another military preserve on the left, and a giant lake on the right. Walker Army Depot. You can find military installations all over the desert south west. There’s also a chemical warfare storage facility near here that I’m heading straight for. The area shortly before the town of Hawthorne has hundreds of dirt covered cement bunkers where they store chemical weapons. Reminiscent of outside Umatilla, Oregon. But there they have a plant built specifically for destroying the chemicals. Here, I didn’t spot that sort of facility. There probably is one, I just didn’t spot it.Shortly after Hawthorne is this nice big lake, Walker Lake…I suspect that it’s not drinkable without processing…too salty now. Most of it’s water has been diverted for irrigation so the lake is drying up and dying. All the fish are dying off, and the loons no longer stop here.

Heading up into the hills, and it’s starting to look like I’m getting into the mountain created weather. Also, I understand there’s a storm front moving into the area. All along my intended route too.Looked like one of the creeks was getting a bit full. I’d looked at the weather the night before I left on this trip and it looked like I might run into rain near Lake Tahoe, but at least it wasn’t too major of a storm. Nothing like they get on the plains or anything. Clearing up?I found a GPS on eBay that I’d bought and it was guiding me along fairly well, until I got into Mindon. And there it lead me to what was a recently closed road, in fact as I got there, the road crew was finishing the road block setup. Threw me for a loop because I couldn’t figure out how to get the GPS set to take an alternate route. And I am not all that familiar with where I was. I backtracked a bit at that point because I realized I was down to a half tank of diesel, and wanted to buy here rather than in Lake Tahoe and pay their far too high prices. I’d almost forgotten to do that, so the road block ending up helping. After filling up at a casino truck stop with a great price, had a nice lunch, then I sorted out the GPS directions and ended up going further north and taking US-50 instead of what the GPS wanted me to use, NV-757, which is a shortcut. I found out later as I passed that area again, and beyond it a few miles, that the creek I crossed over was raging, and was the culprit in the road closure. It was over banking a few miles up the road so you couldn’t cross it.

The distance from Carson City to So. Lake Tahoe isn’t far, but the road does climb a fair amount. And that gain in elevation brought much more rain mixed with a fair amount of snow. Not enough snow to make me pull over and wait it out as it didn’t accumulate on the roadway, but it was a bit dicey driving a 28,000 lb vehicle pulling a 2,200 lb vehicle on mountain roads in the rain and snow, with often unsafe drivers all around. After peaking the mountain pass, you head down a steep incline to reach lake level, traveling through a tunnel with not much width. And you’re approaching the tunnel at 50 MPH. Turned out that there wasn’t much traffic around me so I was able to drift into the middle of the roadway through the tunnel, taking up two lanes, but at least I didn’t hit the edges of the tunnel with my roof. And soon after the tunnel the road flattened out and the traffic let up enough I felt safe grabbing a quick picture of the lake. Soon after I’m in Stateline, NV. It’s on the southeast shore of the lake. Several large casinos here. Rain was coming down pretty steady. And mixed in was the snow.

More casinos.Just a mile beyond is the California border but if you didn’t know it was there, you’d have no idea. There are no more casinos, that’s all that happens. No small ‘Welcome to California’ sign.

Then I got to the Y, turned onto 89, went the 4 miles to just past Camp Richardson and turned into the Valhalla (one of the homes and properties given to the Forest Service) roadway. There I had to exit the RV, and fiddle with the large and heavy swinging gate. There are 4 locks set up on it so 4 different groups can gain access. Our volunteer lock is a 4 combination lock that you have to fiddle with in the cold, and rain, while fumbling with the cumbersome setup. Eventually, I got it open, swung open the gates, drove through and then had to close and lock the gates. Drive another mile on a paved Forest Service access road, then onto a narrow forest road that accesses the RV park.  And a volunteer comes out to greet me an help me get parked. It’s a tight fit where I have to maneuver around giant trees and over bumpy ground on a narrow road. First though, I stopped on the road and unhitched my car. Left it there while I parked the RV and hooked up the electric. Only have 30 amp here but the EMS (Energy Management System) that’s built into my RV works to prevent me from overloading the circuit. It’ll shed a load if I have too much going at one time. I put one electric heater on one circuit and another on a different circuit and I’m all set. This RV is well insulated (4″ of foam insulation in the ceiling, 2″ in the walls, along with dual pane windows) so even when it got down to 28F at night, it was still fairly comfortable with just the two heaters. Occasionally, I’d fire up the furnace in the morning, but usually didn’t need to.

After I got the RV set up and heaters going, I went out to move the car, and it wouldn’t start. Gah! Battery was down to 10.8 volt again. I have got to work on that! It’s not working like I designed it. I put in a separate charging system from the RV to keep the cars battery topped off when I’m towing it, but it doesn’t seem to be working like I expected. Anyway, strung a power cord over to the car, hooked up my charger, let it sit for 20 minutes, and it started right up. So I moved it to right in front of the RV and let it idle for a while. Time for a look around. I arrived around 3:30 and dusk isn’t until 6:30 so plenty of daylight left. This is right in front of my RV space, the view out my front windows. Think I’ll move over there later so I’ll have a better shot at getting Wifi though the trees. It was snowing, obviously, so I only hooked up to electric. And there is no Wifi here yet, no cable, and only 1 bar on the phone, so I was in sort of a black hole as far as entertainment goes. Wasn’t until the following Monday, after I’d tried the satellite and found it wouldn’t lock onto any of the three satellites, that I remembered the crank up antenna. With that up, I get two stations. CBS and a local station with old sitcoms playing. When I drove in, the volunteer guided me way back there in that open spot just to turn around so I could access my RV spot. Rather cumbersome and there’s all sorts of rocks, stumps, giant pine cone hazards under the snow. But, I made it without damage. Or scrapes on the paint, so that’s good.

I’d finally arrived at Lake Tahoe. My first work shift was to be on Monday following (I arrived Saturday, May 6th). There’s to be a get together meet and greet meeting first, some assignments, and then go to work preparing the site for visitors. The site doesn’t officially open until May 27th, but there’s several access trails and people wander through here, or ride their bikes on the blacktop paths all the time. I was given a key to the doors right off, and on Sunday, wandered over to the Baldwin site (just 1300 feet away) for a look around. Also stopped at the work shop and Bob I., the forest service site manager, was there, so we talked about what he wanted me to do starting on Monday. I let him know I’d handled the golf carts in the past so I got the job of getting them out of the barn, moved over to the work shop, and the batteries topped with water.

On Sunday, I did a tour of the site to refresh my memory. As I’ve mentioned, I volunteered here over 10 years ago, and I was excited to see how my work had held up over all those brutal winters they have here.

First I went into the work shop. This is the building with all the power equipment we use for carpentry and to a lesser degree, metal work. It’s far too small as it’s filled with tons of stuff we need to work efficiently. But, it’s all we’ve got for now.

Outside the back door of the shop is the bone yard. And here’s a look at the gates I made 10-12 years ago. Still standing with little sign of warping or sagging. Back when I built these, the fence posts they attached to were 4″ X 4″. I tried to get bigger posts but the budget wouldn’t allow it at that time. I see that they must have started to bend due to the weight of the gates because they were replaced with 6″ X 6″ posts. Much better. In fact, every post holding the fence around the bone yard was replaced with the bigger posts at some point. Great idea. They also doubled the size of the bone yard. Building new fence to enclose a larger area. The posts should last for several decades before needing replacement. The stringers though, on both the new and old sections of fence, are just 2″ X 4″ and they are laid horizontally. I told them that is a bad way to build a fence in a wet, forested area. They should be mounted vertically to better shed water, and not accumulate snow. Which of course, promotes rot. They are already showing signs of sagging and it won’t be long before the fence needs to be rebuilt. My gate will be fine though.  The new section starts where the fence boards aren’t painted. My original design for holding the gates closed was for a wooden rotating slat, permanently attached to one half of the dual gates, used to lock the gates…but there’s one problem with that. There’s no way to prop the gates open. They are level and plumb and swing easily, but even a slight breeze wants to close them. The removable slat can be used to prop open a gate that’s tending to swing shut. And it’s easier to keep track of since everyone around here knows where it’s suppose to be and what it does. Then I walked over to the Pope pond to see how my pump work was holding up. I’d asked about it and the story was two years ago they had a bad freeze, and during the rapid thaw, the system was badly damaged and had to be rebuilt. But I came over to see if anything was left of my work. There’s no water trickling over these rocks into the pond so the pump isn’t on yet.   Over that way in the distance is the lake. The pond isn’t quite as impressive, but it’s nice.And it is picturesque. The Pope family and friends found this to be one of the best places to hang out, entertain, or just relax. I find it that way too. And there’s the white plastic intake pipe, dipped into the pond. It has a large debris filter on the end of the pipe. And to the left is a bigger building then I recall. Before we just had a little wooden house over the pump. Not a big building.  Time to stop and admire the lake. Pretty big waves today. And here’s the new pump setup. I have no idea why such a big building just for that little pump. The big debris filter that use to be there is just gone. What are they doing about filtering debris? That’s a different pump too. The other pump must have been left with too much water in it and it froze and cracked or something. That’s the pipe that goes up to the intake pipe in the pond.After visiting the pond and pump house, came back up and back around behind the rock falls setup is a fallen tree. Came crashing down just a couple weeks before I arrived. It was such a wet winter with heavy snow and lots of rain that the snow laden tree couldn’t stand in the water saturated ground anymore and toppled over on a breezy day. And a few steps beyond the fallen tree I’m back at the Baldwin house. This is the courtyard where they’d cool down after a nice game of tennis. This land and house was an inheritance from Lucky Baldwin to his 19 year old daughter Jennie who had this house built to her specifications. Then she lived in it every summer for decades. After she died, the family didn’t want the expense of maintaining these buildings so they gifted the land and buildings to the Forest Service. And it’s very expensive doing so, so much so that the FS needs volunteers with carpentry, historic restoration, gardening, maid services, acting, automotive repair, lecturing, and many other talents to keep up with it and the crowds that want to visit this historic place. If you have the inclination, and the talents, are reasonably healthy, you can volunteer here too! Just click on the link: Volunteer at Tallac… So that is the first tour of the Tallac Historic Site where I’ll be volunteering for the next several weeks. I work from 8 to 4 Sunday through Wednesday. The first few days I was here, I set up the 4G LTE network AP using my own equipment and now I’m able to receive Wifi way out here 1300 feet from the source. Which means I’m able to write and publish my blog. Can’t stream, but I’m to busy to want to. So far, it’s been fun being back here at Baldwin house. Next posting, I’ll take you all on a bike trip around the area. Stay tuned! Thanks for visiting.

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One Response to On the road to Lake Tahoe…

  1. Hafcanadian says:

    The solenoids on the HWH hydraulic manifold are a common culprit for slide malfunction. Many just replace them, one for “in” and the opposing one “out”. But you are mechanical enough to disassemble them and clean or replace their O-rings, the most often part that fails. Hammering the connections may indeed reveal an electrical resistance issue, but it could be you’re just temporarily dislodging an internally dirty solenoid. There is a nut on the end of the solenoids that needs proper adjustment, also, using the “wrench” on the reservoir cap.

    HWH ‘s Website has maintenance and troubleshooting info for these units. Our Beaver has 4 slides, 3 hydraulic and one electric. So there’s 6 solenoids, and perhaps a 4th pair for the genset slide… I can’t recall if it’s electric or hydraulic.

    Thanks for that, I’ll follow your advice and remove the coils and give them a good going over. I will read the tech manual too before I start.

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