Sunday, June 15, 2008

Finally warm in the John D. Rockefeller Parkway

We are still at our near-secret free camp site in the J.D. Rockefeller Parkway, a mile or so from Flagg Ranch.

When we were passing through Flagg Ranch Tuesday, we thought we might stay here for a night if we found a nice spot. When we arrived at this perfect spot here along the river, we decided immediately to stay at least two nights, and we set up the hot tub. On Wednesday the forecast was for more miserable weather Thursday, and we decided to delay our departure for Yellowstone until Friday morning. And by Friday morning, as the weather was improving dramatically, we decided it was so beautiful here, and free to boot, that it made no sense to battle our way through weekend crowds into Yellowstone, and we just decided to stay until Sunday.

Unfortunately, tomorrow (Sunday) we will, indeed, have to leave this spot. When we left Colter Bay village, we figured to be in Yellowstone in a day or two at the most, and so we put in less than half a tank of water. Then, once we were here, we figured to be here only two or three days, and so we were not ultra-conservative with the water, as we are when we know we need to stretch it. Consequently, we are down to the bottom of the tank today -- after our post-hot-tub showers tonight, we've got enough left to flush the toilet and do the dishes for another day, but no more showers until we fill the tank.

Yesterday a Park Service ranger came by -- the first official presence we'd seen here. He chatted with us briefly, checked all four picnic tables for bear warnings and all four bear boxes for securement clips. He also checked the bear-proof doors on the trash receptacles, as well as emptied then into his unmarked pickup truck. Today he was back briefly, in the full-zoot law enforcement ranger truck.

We've had the place mostly to ourselves until yesterday. The young family has been here the whole time as well, but today saw four other groups come in and set up camp (in the remaining two sites -- there seem to be "boundary" issues). Also, we've seen other cars and even rigs heading down the road. Our own scout of the road on Thursday revealed that it is closed past Camp 4 -- the ranger told us a culvert is washed out. This area, Camp 1, has four sites, and camps 2-4 have two each, for a total of ten open right now. Camps 5-8 are each a single site, bringing the capacity to 14 sites when the road is open. We figured Odyssey could make it into any of the sites in Camp 1, Camp 2, and Camp 4. Camp 3 had a bus-trapping mud puddle on one entrance and low trees on the other.

So unsurprisingly, I suppose, these free camp sites do fill up on the weekends when the weather is nice. The ranger did tell us that it's usually possible to find at least one site open, though, on all but the biggest holiday weekends.

Flagg Ranch next door is also at capacity for the weekend (at least as far as the cabins are concerned -- there appears to be plenty of room in the RV park). They're busy enough to require reservations for dinner, which we discovered when we wandered in Thursday night. We ate there again for breakfast this morning and dinner this evening -- another consequence of not planning on being here this long is that we are running low on fresh food. The little store here carries only packaged items, at a significant markup.

Speaking of the store, which is also the gas station, they did not have any fuel hose, which forced my ongoing Webasto diagnostics in a different direction. I spent most of yesterday taking the whole thing apart, so I could move the control box from behind the unit, where I could not reach it, to the front of the unit, where I could. This let me stick my meter on various signals while the unit went through its cycle, and I discovered that, indeed, the flame sensor is indicating that the flame is going out, at which point the igniter system kicks back in. You can hear the igniter coil firing pretty regularly after the unit has run for several minutes. It seems the flame dies down momentarily, the sensor catches it immediately, and the igniter gets things going again as long as any fuel is still flowing.

As luck would have it (we keep a spare seat available for Heisenberg, or was that Murphy), we could not get it to fail completely while I had the meter on it. But it seems clear that, at some point, the flame goes out long enough, without being restarted, that the system declares itself out of fuel and locks out. This, combined with the restriction gauge evidence, pretty strongly validates my suspicion that we have inadequate fuel flow due to some kind of blockage. I am back to needing a length of ¼" fuel hose to confirm this conclusively, at which point the onerous task of finding and repairing the blockage will begin.

At least we are now at a point where we don't need the heat -- today it was in the 70's here, quite a change from our arrival. I took advantage of the nice weather to install a new hour meter on the Webasto (the little LCD one that is built in to the external relay box supplied by Sure Marine gave up the ghost -- I added an electro-mechanical one elsewhere in the system). I also finally managed to install a delay timer in the battery-tie relay, to give the main engine a minute or so to warm up before connecting the house batteries to the giant engine alternator for charging.

When we got back from dinner we stowed the scooters, and after our evening soak, we drained the hot tub back into the river. Tomorrow morning it should be thoroughly dried out and we can deflate and pack it, then get on the road. Our destination is the Madison campground near the west entrance to Yellowstone. Everything between here and there is still closed.

1 comment:

  1. Sean, I'm impressed with your ability to diagnose problems and doing your own repairs. That is a major talent!

    I can do very minor diagnostics and repairs which is not good owning a motorhome.

    Anything more than a screwdriver and duct tape, I'm lost!

    I truly enjoy reading your blog.



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