Friday, May 6, 2011

A Rocky Start

We are parked on the street near some hotels in Bakersfield, CA, where I am borrowing a bit of wifi. The good news is that the drive from Godfrey's home in Santa Clara and here was smooth and easy, if a bit hot and dry.

You might be able to tell from the tense look on my face in the photo above that there is bad news, too. The satellite dish didn't stow properly first thing in the morning and was badly damaged by the trees lining the roads between the Elks lodge and Santa Clara. I followed our standard pre-drive check list and heard the darned thing stow fully against the roof. It makes a distinctive "clunk" at that point, and I couldn't see anything sticking up above the roof. Starting the engine may have caused it to start to re-deploy, however. We've noticed before that odd electrical things sometimes happen when the big Detroit comes on line.

I noticed that trees that shouldn't have touched the roof were making strange sounds above my head, so I checked again at Godfrey's house. Now I could see the dish from the ground: not a good sign. I called Sean in a panic to say, "I broke the dish!!!" At first glance, it seemed that just the reflector itself was a bit banged up, so we manually stowed it and after a few deep, cleansing breaths, got underway.

Once we arrived safely and without further event in Bakersfield, I climbed back onto the roof in the 96 degree weather as Sean walked me through testing and calibrating the dish. It failed the motor tests, which made us think it was a bad sensor. That would be a fairly easy fix. But as I watched the dish try to move, I realized that the thick metal plate bolted to the back of the reflector looked a little too much like a potato chip and was actually binding the motors.

You may recall that we've done some major repairs on the dish before. Sean squirreled away some spare parts, and thinks he may have another mounting plate. But there are so many nooks and crannies on the bus that finding that piece, and then disassembling 52 nuts and bolts on the roof is going to take too much precious time right now. So I sadly stowed the dish safely against the roof, turned the motors off completely, and will try to find a no-contract-required aircard somewhere along our route. Since we won't be camping in remote places but staying close to the interstates, that will keep me online for a while.

Godfrey was nice and calm through all this, which was a great help. Your words of support in the comments have been cheering me up all day, too. We walked over to Black Angus and split a very nice prime rib dinner. A glass of wine rounded off the square corners of the day. On the way back to the bus, we stopped in one of the hotels for a cup of coffee, and he caught me feeling a bit better:

In the grand scheme of things, whacking the dish and losing internet connectivity is a minor and rather First World problem. I hope that's the worst that happens on this trip. Onward!

All photos by Godfrey DiGiorgi


  1. Virgin Mobile has a 79 dollar air card that accesses 2.5 gig at 3g speed for $50. NO CONTRACT!

    They turn your speed down after the 2.5 G, but you can pay for a month and then leave it off for several and then come back again when needed. You own the air card.

    Just an idea, Your mileage will varry.........

  2. Hi Louise,
    Glad to hear Opal is making it around being blind and all. Mojo had 2 bouts of "canine distublar disease" the result is that he's 95% deaf. We both teach disabled skiers (blind, deaf, quads, para's, development) not a big issue for us, we now have an awesome harness made of neoprene for Mojo. In the winter he's not in need, he's completely unaware of bikes and he sniffs 100% more that he can't hear, hence his unawareness, so during the spring, summer and fall it helps. Years ago you wrote that Opal enjoyed his ears being rubbed, Mojo is so into that.
    Go gettem tiger,
    Kelly, Rocket and Mojo

  3. Louise,
    You go girl! Take your time coming across, I-40 was shut down both ways just east of Little Rock, AR yesterday due to flooding. Once you get over this way holler if you need anything. (I'm right @ 2 hrs east of Memphis now just off I-40 (12 miles) @ exit 108.
    Your welcome to park here if ya want we only have 15 amp power service so far, but we have dump & water and nice little friendly town!
    Be safe and enjoy the drive!
    Bryce aka "BK"

  4. OK I'll say what Sean doesn't dare say: WIMMEN DRIVERS!!!

  5. Oh wow Louise, I'm so sorry, I know I'd feel pretty crappy if that happened to me. See, that's why I don't drive the darn rig! But I do think you are a rock star for driving yourself.

    One time our dish didn't stow properly either, it was kind of cockeyed and hanging off the side of the rig. We happened to notice it before we rolled away but until then we didn't even think to double check that it aligns properly when it's down, just that it's down. Thank you for the reminder to always check this.

    Looks like the MiFi is working for you. Yay! It's good to have redundancy, we've found ours to be indispensable.

    Safe travels.


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