Sunday, January 23, 2005

We are at the north end of Padre Island, at the park service campground in Padre Island National Seashore (map). Today involved yet another ferry ride, as we came across through Port Aransas. The whole ferry rolled left as we embarked -- a bit unnerving. Otherwise, the ride was uneventful. The ferry guys assured us that they carry 80,000 lb trucks all the time.

It is permissable to park and camp right on the beach just south of here, and we had thoughts of doing that. However. this site was the last one available in the paved campground, and we did not want to take the chance that the beach would be too soft to support Odyssey, then returning here to find the site gone. We had good reason to be concerned, as we had pulled in earlier today to the Mustang Island State Park campground one island north of here, only to find them completely full. Many of the commercial parks we passed along the way also appeared full -- it seems we are again in snowbird territory.

In any case, this is a nice spot. We got a prime site on the beachfront side of the asphalt, and we have a lovely view of the gulf along the whole curb side of the coach. The sites here are a bargain at $8 per night (there are no hook-ups), although on-beach camping would be free. (There is an entry fee required to even enter the national seashore, but our annual Golden Eagle/National Parks Pass covers that.)

When we set up for the night, we discoverd the rear leveler is inoperative (though it was working a mere 25 miles ago when we transited the ferry). I crawled under the coach to investigate -- one of the two wires to the actuator motor has snapped off at the motor housing from metal fatigue. I will need to remove the actuator altogether to see if there is any way to open up the motor assembly and repair the wire. If not, we will need a new actuator. The good news is that the rear leveler is the least important, and it "broke" in the neutral, centered position. With both front units still working, we still have 100% of our left/right leveling capability, and 50% of our front/back capability (it's a three-point system, with only one unit in the back). So we can live with this issue until a covenient place to effect repairs.

Of greater concern is that, while I was under the coach, I noticed that the rear end, AKA the differential, appears to be leaking oil. I suppose I should not be all that surprised -- unlike the rest of the power train, this item is as old as the chassis, or a full 20 years this year. No doubt the seals are at end-of-life. Unknown what it will take to get this repaired, but we will probably head for a Freightliner dealer, as they are the official heavy-truck/bus arm of Daimler-Chrysler in the US, and it's a Mercedes rear end.

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