Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ahhh... cool at last

We are at a small turnout at the junction of Anvil Rock Road and Fort Rock Ranch Road, just off I-40 about 13 miles west of Seligman, Arizona (map). It was a dark, quiet, solitary spot, with only perhaps a dozen vehicles passing by on Anvil Rock, and far enough from the Interstate to muffle the sounds. It was listed in our Day's End directory, along with two spots at this same exit closer to the freeway, where some trucks spent the night.

Friday night I went outside just before midnight to start loading up the scooters. It was still in the 90s; the National Weather Service had actually issued an excessive heat warning for Las Vegas Friday that did not expire until 7pm. I had reasoned that, as with the previous day, the morning temperatures would escalate rapidly and I wanted to get this done in cooler temperatures and not in full sun.

As I was working, though, the winds picked up quite a bit, blowing people's furniture around and sending dust and detritus flying through the RV park. This was the beginning of the arrival of a system carrying monsoonal moisture into the area, and by yesterday morning temperatures had plummeted -- it was 83° when we woke up, and barely 90° by noon. That made me a bit sorry I had loaded the previous evening, but at least it was done and we were ready to roll. I managed to get in a midnight swim as well, a nice cool-off after loading.

Yesterday we cleared out of the park at 11 and headed for Ted Wiens Tire across town on Blue Diamond. On the way we passed the Silverton Casino -- they've finally bulldozed their RV park and erected a parking structure and another casino building. When we pulled in to the tire bay we found our two tires sitting there waiting for us:

Not those tires, of course -- although I think they would give us some better off-road performance. It took them perhaps half an hour to swap out our two tag tires, and I was thankful that it was so much cooler while this work was getting done. As always, I watched closely as the jacks were placed, and took lots of photos to document the tire condition.

One of our old tires (the one that prompted the detour to Vegas) looked like a racing slick -- completely smooth around the entire circumference.

I was very pleased, though, to see how even the wear was from side to side; perhaps we have finally nailed the alignment issues. The other side had a little tread pattern showing, and wear was heavier on the inside shoulder. This was the one on the bent axle we just had fixed in February, and it had also itself been a take-off, so I am not reading too much into the uneven wear.

The tires that Wiens put on are five year old (date code 1204) Michelin traction tires. I would have preferred rib tires on the tag axle, but these were the only take-offs I could find anywhere from Las Vegas to Holbrook, and they at least had a closed shoulder. I would say they have 20% tread left, and the sidewalls show minor weather checking. They should be good enough to get us through perhaps another year, 20k miles or so, at which time we'll just move the steer tires back to the tag, and put fresh rubber on the steer axle. We just put new steer tires on back in March, and at only 6k miles, I was unwilling to consign them just yet to tag duty.

We escaped the tire shop for just $350 -- Rick the truck-tire salesman (who came down with the tires from a different store, which had no Saturday hours) took a liking to us and gave me the large-account pricing, waiving the disposal fee on our trades, which are actually great candidates for regrooving or retreading -- the casings are in perfect condition and less than three years old.

Now that we have legal tread on all eight wheels, we are again ready in the event we get a disaster call. Hurricane Bill has turned into a non-event for the U.S., and nothing else is yet brewing in the Atlantic or Gulf, so we can continue east on a very leisurely pace.

It was only 1:30 or so when we wrapped up at the tire shop, and we arrived in Boulder City just after 2. We had been toying with the idea of waiting somewhere in that area until nightfall, mostly to avoid the traditional hours-long slog through the checkpoint and down the hill to the dam, with a bonus of seeing the dam in all its flood-lit glory. But the prospect of spending six hours hanging out on the Nevada side was unappealing. We did have a nice visit with fellow bus owners and blog readers Van and Cheryl (hope I got that right) in the parking lot of the Welcome Center there before girding ourselves and heading to the checkpoint.

Much to our surprise, there was no line at all for the checkpoint, and after the inevitable Odyssey body-cavity search, we absolutely flew down the hill and over the dam -- I simply do not know what happened to the usual Saturday traffic. Folks coming the other direction did not have it so good (also unusual) -- the conga line extended from the dam crest all the way up the hill to parking lot 14, probably a 45-minute or so wait to cross. As we went across, we could observe great progress on the bypass -- the concrete arches spanning the gorge are complete, and the vertical towers for the suspension nearly so, as well as approach decks on either side. Impressive.

The speedy crossing put us in Kingman around 5, and we opted to pass straight through the RV-unfriendly city and continue here for a quiet night in relative cool at 6,000'. Today we will continue at least to Winona, where it will also be cool, or perhaps to Holbrook. Where and when we progress from there will depend on the weather forecast.


  1. Not to be too nosey . . . but what happened at the dentist? Hope you are feeling better!

    Really love your blog.

  2. @Anonymous: Turns out I had a gum infection. The dentist did a deep cleaning in that one spot, then prescribed a medicated mouth rinse. Things seem to be much better now, a lot less pain. The downside is that the rinse has made my tastebuds go dormant. Everything tastes very bland, but that should go away when I finish the meds.

    Thanks for your concern!

  3. Glad to hear you are on the mend. Sounds like a slightly unpleasant but easy fix. Having just gone through my first root canal I've become hyper-focused on all things dental.

    I've been reading your blog for some time. It has given me many ideas for future adventures. How to address health issues on the road would be a concern that could easily be overlooked.

    Steve (was @anonymous)

  4. We call tires that look like that 'Maypops'

  5. @OTCW: True, if they were car or light truck tires.

    Heavy truck tires like this one are often marked as "regroovable" (as this one was), which means that when the tread is completely gone, you can put the tire on what amounts to a huge lathe, and cut a new set of grooves into it to a certain depth, and run the tire another several thousand miles.

    FWIW, I don't know anyone who does this -- many shops will "retread" such a tire (involving gluing more tread onto the casing), but few have the equipment to re-groove.

    But as both a retreadable and regroovable "casing", this tire was far from dangerous. Without any tread pattern, of course, it has seriously compromised wet traction (although this actually improves dry traction), but the tag axle only serves to carry load, it has no role in moving or steering the vehicle (and a very minor role in braking -- many tag axles have no brakes at all, although ours does).

    That said, if you go back through the archives you will see where we've actually worn tires down to the belts, at least partially, and that potentially is a "maypop."


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!