Wednesday, March 21, 2007

California Trip Summary

I'm home again, for a couple of weeks at least.

We left at the first of the year, heading to Amarillo on January 2, where we stayed in our RV parked at my sister's house, visiting and caring for my parents. My mother was recovering from an infection. But then, the blizzard was coming and we had to get out of town and head south quickly, or we'd be stranded too long for Mary Ann to make her conference in Palm Springs.

But the RV wouldn't start. Walter, my brother in law, crawled under the RV with a couple of screw drivers and shorted the starter relay to get it cranking, and we headed south, chased by the swirling snow. We made it to El Paso where the weather was clear, but again it wouldn't start. Thus began my 5 day stay in El Paso while parts were ordered. Mary Ann took the Jeep and moved on to Palm Springs, and once the parts arrived and the RV could move, I followed.

After her conference, we stopped two days in Malibu and then headed north all the way to Oregon on I-5, discovering also that the propane heater in the RV was in the process of dying. Resolved to camp only where there was electricity, we moved on to Crescent City and spent a little more than two weeks while she photographed the seacoast up into Oregon and the Redwoods. And I discovered that the Jeep's clutch was wearing out. After all, it had 250,000 miles on it, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We had it replaced and then we moved down south along the coast.

Westport kept us four days with the dead whale and more scenic surf photos to fill Mary Ann's memory cards. Reluctant to leave, but knowing we had deadlines we moved south again. That's when the starter turned on -- and wouldn't stop. It sounded horrible and I had to cut a wire to the relay to make it stop. But with the engine running and knowing it wouldn't start again without repair, we changed course to Oakland where we left the RV at a truck service place and for the next 8 days we toured San Francisco on a day by day basis, never knowing if the RV would be fixed that day or not. Of course, Mary Ann can take pictures anywhere and that's what we did.

With the melted starter replaced and some transmission control cable changed as well, we knew time was getting short so we drove to San Simeon where the Elephant Seals lived. It was only a three day stay, but it was mating season, and the 5000 pound giants were very active and very photogenic.

And then on to San Diego where Mary Ann took photos of the newborn Harbor Seals at La Jolla and we took a one-day nature cruise to the Coronado Islands. And then it was time to head east. We drove 30 miles out I-8, and then had a fire under the engine hood. It was a little one, and I didn't even know it was a fire until later, but with only 5 cylinders working, we limped back to civilization and put the RV in the Dyno Shop for diagnostic and repair. (They discovered the fire.)

That left us another couple of days on the coast. We drove in the Jeep up to San Clemente for one night and down to Imperial Beach for another. And then the RV was fixed. (Best mileage I'd ever gotten after their tune up. Over 8 Miles per gallon!). And we had to head back east for real.

We were two nights on the way, one stop at Texas Canyon in Arizona, and the second night at San Antonio, NM, where we checked the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge -- sadly depleted of cranes as they had already begun to move north.

And then we were back at Lake Tanglewood outside Amarillo for another visit with my parents. We were there 6 nights and they were so much improved that we finally made it back to Hutto.

Just in time to clean out the RV and put it in the shop. To be fixed: Leaks in the roof, the heater, the motorized step, the transmission noise, the loose bumper, the leaking plumbing, the satellite dish and a long list of other minor issues.

I just hope it can all be finished quickly. We have a trip coming up soon.

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