Friday, October 5, 2012

Topping up

We are at the Elks lodge in Vallejo, California (map).  We've been here since early yesterday afternoon, and, frankly, we had already decided to just continue on all the way to Redwood city yesterday.  As luck would have it, though, the decision to stop here got made for us.

We had an uneventful drive out of Reno climbing the east side of Donner Pass  With the new radiator we are now able to climb at full power without overheating, although to be fair, the east side of the pass is the "easy" side, as you are starting from nearly 5,000' to begin with.  Donner pass itself is quite scenic, whenever you can divert your attention from the road directly ahead of you.  And, again owing to the new radiator, we were able to make most of the western descent on the retarder alone; I barely touched the brakes the whole way down.

West of Auburn you are more or less finished with the grade, and can breathe easy.  Of course, that's when the trouble started.  We were driving merrily along when, in a routine mirror check, I saw smoke coming from the left side of the bus.  Slowing down so I could put more attention on the mirror, I noticed it was coming from the water bay and it looked more like mist than smoke.  We pulled off in Penryn to check it out.

It turned out the fresh water pump was busy emptying the entire fresh tank into the bay.  The pump is connected to the fixed plumbing via a short length of flexible reinforced vinyl hose, and after nine years the hose has become hard and simply popped off the barbs on the pump.  Of course, the inside of the bay was now soaking wet. and we had to turn the pump off, and thus had no fresh water capability.  Plus, we were now out of water, whereas we had come over the hill with one day's worth, just in case.

That pesky hose

Before this happened we had been ruminating about stopping here for the night, just to top up the batteries with the 30-amp electric hookups and fill the water tank without having to find a friendly spigot elsewhere on the route.  Now needing to fix the water plumbing, and learning there was a Home Depot and a Lowe's within a mile of the lodge, we decided to make it an early day and stop here for the night.

Home Depot no longer sells this hose by the foot, so even though I needed only ten inches I had to buy a package of several feet.  I also bought a fresh barb fitting for the end opposite the pump, and within an hour I had the water system back together and both water tanks filled.  As long as we had the scooter out for the hardware run, and not really enough leftovers for a full meal, we also ran out to Olive Garden for dinner. Louise also got her hair cut and is quite unhappy with the result.

Today we have just an hour's drive to Redwood City.  Now that it's mid-day we should also have fewer issues with traffic than we would have encountered yesterday afternoon as well.  Yesterday, we got stuck in a slight rubberneking backup due to an overturned big rig on the eastbound side -- the backup in that direction extended for many miles.


  1. Sean -

    How long are you & Louise going to be here in CA? If it's going to be a couple weeks, maybe I could meet you two for a visit.

    Give me a call - my number's in my profile on either BNO or BCM.


    1. RJ, we are "here" until late November sometime. Right now, we're taking care of bay area visits and errands. At some point we might take a week or so and travel a bit further afield. No plans to head that far south, though, at least at present.

  2. You guys are parked less than 10 miles from where my bus currently sits, getting engine work done. Later this month, I plan to drive it up to Coburg, Oregon to get the conversion process started in earnest. I cannot wait.

    I return to the Bay Area from Germany next week...don't know what your schedule is, but would love to see the bus in person and possibly talk about electrics (I'm a total newb at this).

    We've talked on BCM, I can PM you my contact details there.

    1. Malcolm, we are in the bay area now, mostly on the Peninsula or in the south bay. Drop me a note -- my email is on the "Who we are" page.

  3. We were there last December. At the time they were talking about closing the lodge. We used that as our base station to explore San Francisco. Glad they are still open. Steve

    1. Steve, the lodge is in bad shape, and I am surprised they are still open. They had no open hours the day we were there, so we did not see the inside. Many RV spots seem to be occupied by long-term tenants, never a good sign. We were glad it was there, though -- it's a great location.

  4. Last year we were in Auburn getting repairs on our coach done and took a day trip to Reno in the toad. We stopped for coffee and fuel near the summit and and took a small side road looking for a place to walk the dog and near a small meadow we stopped and followed a trail to a stream.

    About 30 yards into this meadow we came across a 3-4 ft stone cairn or pyramid, very nicely built with a plaque on it stating " at this point the Donner party took a wrong turn on the trail during a snow storm"..of course that resulted in them being separated from main group of wagons and led to the historic events as we know them today. We were quite stunned to have found this marker seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and it certainly set our minds a reeling.


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