Sunday, March 23, 2008

More lessons learned

I finally arrived in northern California late this afternoon. Here is what I learned on my latest road trip:

It is very easy to get lost in Tucson. Fortunately, once you find the freeway, all is well.

Gas in Arizona is different from gas in California. When I tried to fill up in Ehrenberg, Arizona on the way home, I had vapor lock. For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, the gas vapor in the tank causes the new gas with which you're trying to fill the tank to foam and boil out of the filler neck. I managed to put $17 at $3.07 per gallon into the tank before giving up. My tank holds 72 gallons.

When your engine is losing power and your oil gauge is fluctuating wildly, you look for a place that has oil. I saw a sign for a "travel center" and took the Morongo Valley exit as directed. The travel center is in Twenty-Nine Palms. I made it to Morongo Valley traveling 15 MPH behind a hay truck. The good news is that Leo and his shop, Leo's Auto Repair, is in Morongo Valley. He added six quarts of oil, charged me only for the oil (very fair), waited to be sure I could start the engine, and I waved good-by as I went back to I-10 to look for gas. As I left the small town, I passed my nemesis: Rocky's Pawn Shop. On the way to Tucson, I made fun of his billboard. It had a picture of a smiling woman and the caption said, Rocky's Pawn Shop. It's the only place I go.I thought, "You need a life." I mentally apologized to the shop to avoid more bad karma.

I found a gas station, pumped very slowly and thought I had added $60 in gas. I took my receipt and noticed $6. On to the next station.

There are two 210 freeways: a local version in San Bernardino/Redlands that leads to Pasadena, and the correct I-210. By the time I found out where the correct freeway is (many people in many businesses in San Bernardino have no clue what Camping World is or where it is located either in English or Spanish), and found Camping World in San Bernardino so I could boondock for the night, it was two hours later than I planned.

It's hot in the Arizona and California deserts in March. It's so hot, the adhesive on duct tape melts.

It's windy in Arizona and California. When you're headed west, you have headwinds that make your mileage worse than it usually is. Crosswinds don't help much either because you feel like you're traveling sideways just as much as ahead.

The generator door repair is still in place but has at least a couple of pounds of duct tape hanging off it.

Because of the vapor lock problem, it took 20 minutes to pump 30 gallons of gas VERY SLOWLY. By the time I gave up, my hands were shaking so badly, I picked up the menu in Denny's and the waiter brought me coffee and ice water immediately without asking. I was either in serious need for caffeine or had just experienced a traumatic event (true on both counts).

I stopped at the Apricot Inn and was going to get some gas until I saw $3.68. I decided to have some warm apricot pie and raspberry iced tea. Both were delicious.

California roads suck. I-5 is so bad (how bad is it?), the vibration shook all the screws out of the air conditioner shroud and the screws, shroud, filter and both vents fell to the floor. The TV bounced so much, it warped the hinge on the folding shelf, allowing the weight of the TV to loosen the Velcro and drop the TV on the bed. Neither of the appliances is permanently damaged.

I bought gas in California and was able to pump it into the tank at normal flow. Maybe the vapor lock problem is gone.

Big motorhome windshields attract every suicidal insect for miles. I'll face cleaning the critters off the glass tomorrow.

It's good to be back in northern California and have the day off tomorrow to R&R.

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