Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Oh ho ho. What fun we have had today.

Okay, lettsee. Last night, after sitting at the parking lot in Hood River, we drove as far as Pendleton. Got there at around 9 p.m. and drove past one rest area with the promise of finding one 28 miles down the road. What they failed to mention was that it was 28 miles, 8 of which took you past the Blue Mountains. I had always heard them talk about Pendleton and the Blue Mountains on Oregon Public Broadcasting, but no one I talked to ever knew where they were. Well, they don’t have peaks and are just sloping very tall hills. But they are tall, and we didn’t realize we were even ascending until we saw chain-up areas. Whoops. So, we pulled off at a View Point (had no rest rooms or anything) and decided to sleep there for the night.

I did not sleep well. I have been backwards and forwards with people on line about RV camping at rest stops. Some say it is the worst idea - noisy, not safe, “why sleep there - that’s what RV parks are for” etc. Some people say that truckers get mad at RVers who park there (we parked in a car spot just to be safe.) And some people have no problem with it.

Well, it was loud, what with trucks careening up and down the hills all night, and pulling off to rest, and the cats were restless, and my brain kept playing tricks on me. Finally, at 4 a.m. I decided to voyage up the hills. I told Donnie nothing would make me happier than for him to continue to sleep while I drove. I have a really hard time sleeping while in motion so the fact that he could do that really made me feel good. Plus, then he would be fully rested to take over later in the day.

I actually had a wonderful morning. Made it up the Blue Mts with not a thermal problem in site. In fact, I was actually chilly, as compared to the heat the day before. Kept the temp right around 180. Of course, I was going slow as well. Down the other side was fun because I found I could coast down a grade of 6% with just the weight of the vehicle carrying me down. It was a pretty morning too.

I got us all of the way to Ontario, the last big town in Oregon. Then Donnie took over (it was around 9:30 a.m.), we had gas station breakfast, fed the cats and started driving again.

It heated up almost immediately. 85-90+ degrees at least by the time we reached Boise. Bertha was huffing and puffing. We stopped at a few rest stops between to try to let her rest and recover. She was just overheating. Finally made it to Boise and had to get our oil changed. We were talking with two of the garage guys at the gas station – one listened to my engine and knew right away about my engine noise (the noise that originally sent me into a tizzy when the RV just died in the middle of the street. The noise turned out not to be related to the RV dying, but still remains. He said it sounded like a rocker arm or lifter. He had rebuilt a 440 engine in a 30 foot motorhome, so I was pretty sure he new what he was talking about. Donnie wanted to ask him more, but said that the guy seemed pretty sweaty and cranky. The other guy we talked to was about the overheating prob. He use to be a bus driver and said that we should wedge a piece of wood under the hood (we had been traveling with it popped but latched) and tie it with a tie down or bungee. He also said that if we let up on the gas going up hills and let he transmission downshift, the fan might work harder.

So anyway, we decided to wait out some of the heat, so we found a park in Boise. Even there in the shade it was hot, but I still was able to sleep for one hour. Donnie put the “BERTHA II” cut vinyl Dan made him on the tire cover along with a Cleveland Brown’s Dog symbol. Which is so fitting since Bertha II is named after Donnie’s friend Nick’s temperamental female pitbull.

Then we took off again, and soon pulled over at a rest area to dump our grey and black water tanks (to get rid of some weight), to fill up with some more fresh water (for safty and to rig up the block-of-wood-under-hood deal, since a.) it was 3 p.m. and hotter literally than hell. I think it could have been over 100. And b.) Bertha was really heating up. We did that, and it worked really well. We made it to Twin Falls, ID. The cats were all but melting. I dowsed them up with water, but really felt horrible that they looked so uncomfortable. We have a fan, but no ceiling AC (not that it would have done us any good unless we were pulled over at a place with electrical hookups) and the Freon in the dash AC that Donnie had had refilled all leaked out since the guy who did it forgot a seal. Add that to the fact that, with all the overheating issues, it probably wouldn’t have been good to tax the engine further with an AC compressor, and that is why we were making do with a fan. It was rather unfortunate.

So anyway, fueled up at Twin Falls with gas for Bertha and tuna fish sandwiches and milk for Donnie and I, and then, it was about 8 p.m. We are now cruising down the highway, hoping to keep going through the night. It is pretty flat, very cool and dim. Well, will get downright dark soon, but that’s what headlights are for.

Hope we make it to Wy by tomorrow.

No comments: