Wednesday, May 26, 2021

2021 Spring Break to Mexico

 

Is it Monday?  Could it be Monday.  I guess we will call it Monday just in case.  Whatever day it is,  We're rolling at 10:00 SHARP.  Yep, we are returning to Mexico to have my tooth fixed.  I lost a filling and since we went to Mexico a year ago and had some work done and had a good experience, we are going back.

The Vanagon is loaded and ready to go.  I just have to toss the solar shower bag on top but, being over 80 years old now I need some help from my young bride to get it up in place.

We swung by the Skunk Train Parking Lot at 10:00 SHARP to say bye to my Seniors On Bikes buddies and recieve a bag of fresh baked chocolate cookies from Joy as a farewell gift!  Then we head east into the sunshine while the SOBs ride their merry way into the fog.

Today's destination, as always, when we head to the desert will be Firebaugh Exit off Interstate 5.  That's about six hours of driving and enough for one day. 

For some reason I upset a guy in a pickup coming into Willits.  He had to pass me and then slam on his brakes and give me the finger!  I guess he doesn't like following old Volkswagens. 

Fortunately, he had better things to do and we continued on to hwy 101 and then the turnoff onto Hwy 20 to Rumsey Canyon.  Through the canyon to Woodland and onto I-5 for the long trip south. 

Finally reaching the Firebaugh exit we turn off, swing up past the Chevron gas station, Past the idleing semi trucks and beyond to "our spot"!  Our stealth camp halfway to the wilderness.


It is always nice we know we have a place to spend the night.
April 20.  Firebaugh to Doggie Dish

We left our Firebaugh campsite at 8 in the morning. 

We should have stayed on I-5 to Arvin and then up to Tehachapi Pass because as it turned out, HWY 58 was still under construction and slowed us down.  But no matter.  Soon we were driving by Tehachapi, down the other side, around Mojave and to the turn off to the doggie dish.


The dog dish is still there marking the grave site of Sarah, our desert dog buddy of many desert trips.  Because I have turned 80 I thought about reclaiming it from the wild but no, I still might have a few more desert trips left in me.

We decided to move on and get some more miles in towards Yuma, Arizona.

We continue on through Barstow and finally find a turn-off,  It is now 4:00 PM and we're sitting on top of a hill looking over the Vast Wilderness with the freeway in the distance. A little bit of Highway 66 between us and the freeway.


92 degrees in the Vanagon with the top popped and all the windows and doors open.
A shady looking guy drove up to where I was sitting reading my book and asked if I was camping here?   I said "Yep".

Then he said..., They let you camp here?

Then he said this would be a great place for a house. 

Then, this would be a great place for a church. He grinned at me, no front teeth. As he drove away I noticed his little silver Celica had a temporary paper license plate.  Oh boy, another fellow 'merican!

I hope I don't see him again!

We had a nice evening and night.


April 21  On to the KOFA

After a good night's sleep we did the coffee, tea and breakfast and packed up.

Lolli always likes to start walking out while I lower the pop-top and put away a few final items.  Then I start the Vanagon and start rolling out after her.

She was already around the hill and out of sight as I rolled along but when I came around the hill and could see the last of our dirt trail back down to the highway... she was gone!  No Lolli!!

WTF !!

I can see for miles and no  Lolli!!

I see a guy get into his purple colored van beside the highway after his "pit stop" and leave but Lolli would not have left with him even though his van is purple!!

WTF!

I think of that fello 'merican I met the evening before,  but...  come on....

I decide to drive back up to our camp spot. What else can I do?

Sure enough,  I get up around the hill and here she comes.  YIPPIE!

It turns out she had started off walking the wrong way while I was inside the Vanagon putting down the top!

Oh boy, are we very happy to see each other.  Vacation can continue!

We stop in Parker, Arizona for gas and groceries (gas $3.59) $4.39 in California.  Only the best for California!!

I call the Mexican Dental Group, Santi, to see if we can move our appointments up to this coming Monday morning. 

We can.

That means we now have Wednesday evening, Thursday,  Friday and Saturday to "free camp" at our favorite spot we discovered last year, way out in a box canyon that has petroglyphs, Indian bedrock grinding holes and waterfall plunge pools. 

We continue south on HWY 95 towards Yuma to the Stone Cabin turnoff and into the vast wilderness.


Driving along we try a few side trails looking for the "Spiral" we visited last year but can't find it.  Taking a short cut back to the main park road I came upon an elevated berm made by a road grader, went to drive over it when Lolli hollered "STOP"!!  I did and we got hung up half way over the berm!  For about an hour we tried rocking, digging and jacking until two nice Mexican ladies came along in their pickup truck and pulled us off of our predicament.  They were the only people we had seen since we left HYW 95!

Lucky us!!  Because that was it for civilization. Another mile of so we took jeep road # 42.  We followed that road to the end which becomes a box canyon, As we arrived we got a real treat!!  We spotted our first ever Mountain Sheep up on the ridgeline.  They watch us a couple minutes and then faded into the mountain.  

After that real treat we happily set up camp for three days,

April 22.  The water tanks.
We woke to bird song at first light.  70 degrees,  clear skies and a light breeze. Got up to pee and then back to bed.  There had been two groups of coyotes having a sing in the wee hours.  Very Nice.

We finally got up, coffee, tea and breakfast.  I put up the shady boy, opened the back hatch, positioned the Solar shower bag. Dug a four day hole for the shitter. Set out the lawn chairs and Solar panel and are all settled in.

We went for a hike and found some Indian grinding holes in bedrock. 



I hiked up a hill but no cell tower signal available. 

In the afternoon we had three Chipmunks visit. They're a bit shy but that won't last long once they know we bring food!  

The  temperature got up to 93 but it's a dry heat and with the shade and breeze, very enjoyable. 






Lizard on a lava rock


April 23.  Camping at the water Tanks.

Clear as a bell at 8:30, 70 degrees and a light breeze has started up.

Perfect! 

We have not seen a soul since the Mexican ladies until just a few moments ago when two grizzled old farts drove by and waved from their oldish Toyota Jeep with high lift jack and Jerry can.

It looked like they were the kind of guys that would park at the trail head and actually get out and go for a hike.   We'll see.

Yep, they did.

They came driving back about an hour later, stopped and told us about the Bighorn Ram they spotted at one of the plunge pools!  A very rare sighting.

An hour later a retired couple showed up in a Razer with a German Shepherd in back. They stopped on their way back out and we got to  talking. 

They have been on the road five years living in a 40 foot diesel pusher like my sister and her husband useta have.  They have it parked in an RV Park East of Quartzite where they are the managers.   They bought a smaller Chinook motorhome to go camping further out in the vast wilderness and now they tow the Razer so they can go deeper! 

This afternoon the temperature in the shade of the open door Vanagon was 93.  But, it is a nice dry heat!  It has been 70 at night. 

The folks in the Razer said a "cold snap" of 64 degrees is going to pass through this weekend.   We'll see.

The solar shower works great and the Dometic refrigerator in the Vanagon I repaired last year just keeps on keeping cold whether driving or parked with the wind blowing outside.  Perfect. 

Currently,  Lolli is cooking up a package of mushroom risotto with ground Turkey and vegetables. A green salad on the side with avocado.  For dessert we have homemade chocolate chip cookies Joy baked us.

I now know where the north star is when I go out to pee at night.  There are a bizillion stars!

April 4th.  water tanks.
Clear as a bell,  67 degrees at 8:00 and a very light breeze just started.  Three Chipmunks and two Ravens are keeping an eye on us.  No mice.  I finally learned to close the fresh air vent and remove the stair step from the side door when we go to bed. 

We hiked to the end of the road and then up the trail to the first, and then the second plunge pool.  Both still had water in them but about ten feet below the high water line!




Over the years the rocks and boulders that have come down over the falls have pounded "plunge pools" into the bedrock of the stream. Good damn thing for the local critters.  Of course the Arizona Bighorn Sheep hunters passed a law that allows them to build permanent blinds looking straight at the bigger plunge pool.

I wondered what that structure was last time we were here.  I thought it was for environmentalists to count birds.

Silly me!

It's too hard hiking up these rock covered mountains looking for sheep. Much easier to drive out in a 4 wheeler, sit in a blind drinking beer and wait for the shot!

Of course the guy who told me what the blind was for complained about the fire rings tourists leave behind. 


April 24th water tanks

Up at 8.30 for coffee, tea, Cheerios and a banana. Each.

I went through the process of getting to the dip stick on my Vanagon.  Roll up the bed, put up the rear bench, Remove the bed pad.  Remove the engine hatch cover.  Finally, pull the dip stick.  The oil level is right where it is supposed to be and so is the water level.  Excellent! 

We sit around reading our books enjoying the Shady Boy and view. 

Late afternoon we go for a hike


 and Lolli found a cave that had 17 grinding holes in it.  Cool. 







In the evening we drag our lawn chairs over to a left over fire pit and have an evening fire, our first one this year.


April 25th  Leave the water tanks and head for Mexico

76 degrees, clear as a bell, light breeze.

We are being entertained by the little squirrels this morning. They climb to the top of Ocotillo bushes,  look around, chatter and nibble on the flowers. 


I sort of got a photo with the Nikon. 

We are going to have some eggs and ham and then start packing up camp.  This time, when Lolli takes off on her hike I won't lose her, there is only one road in and out!

We left the KOFA horse tanks, rattled out to HWY 95 and headed for the Mexican Border 66 miles away.  We decided to get a couple of Date Shakes at the Date Farm so looked it up and followed Google Map.

We missed a turn and ended up at the Imperial dam RV park where big horn sheep were grazing on their golf course.  Who knew! 

The nice gatekeeper corrected our mistake and soon we were on our way and arrived at the Date farm.

 Closed for the season.  Darn.

We started looking for our camp spot for the night. One nice shady spot behind palm trees failed because of flies!

Continuing along I started to notice the brakes getting soft.

We pulled over into some shady trees that had a bunch of Magpies, doves, and oranges in it.  Very nice background sound and eats.  Out with the jack and lug wrench. 

Once the left rear wheel was off I found the back side of the tire covered with brake fluid!

Well, shit.

We decided to drive on to the Indian casino and see about storing the Vanagon for three days while we are in Mexico.  We would take a room if they had a shuttle to the border in the morning. 

I topped off the brake reservoir with the last of my break fluid, checked Google for the shortest way to the Casino and that gave me a route that turned into dirt and took us up on the berm alongside the American Canal.

We drove past the NO TRESPASSING sign and follow the dirt berm and Google alongside the American canal for 6 miles to where we came to a fence and a railroad track with no crossing.  The railroad crossed the berm and the canal. Well, shit.

Then Lolli saw a dirt road that went down off the berm.   We took it and onward through some trees, around a corner and through a square cement culvert, under the train tracks, big enough for the Vanagon. We finally hooked up with the highway. We were at the intersection of the freeway and the off ramp to the Casino!  Thanks Google!

Carefully using the hand brake and first gear we entered the Casino and Lolli went in to check out the situation. The desk lady said rooms were $107.00 a night but no you can't leave the car and no there is no shuttle. 

So we decided to carefully drive to the Indian parking lot at the border to see if we could camp there overnight. 

Driving down we saw two big motorhomes at the closed RV Park so we pulled in to see what was going on.

They were waiting for the Indian Security  Guard.

He finally rolled up in his golf cart.

"No problem,  Camp the night and walk through the border Monday.  Ten dollars per night." 

Yippee!  We followed one of the big rigs and the old fart driving it turned into the lot  way too sharp and was on the verge of scraping his Toad off on the fence. The Security Guy is running up and down alongside the Behemoth beating on the side trying get him to stop!

The guy stopped and came out the side door to see what all the commotion was about.   He was about eight inches from starting serious damage to his Toad and fence.

Of course the idiot couldn't figure out he could back up a couple of feet and then drive straight.   Nope he had to unhitch the Toad right there in the entrance while we and the other huge motorhome waited. 

We finally got into the secure overnight parking area and found a spot between two big pickups for some privacy, time to take a shower! 

The Solar Shower bag was perfectly heated and by stretching Lolli's bathrobe between the pickup's rear view mirror and the Vanagon's sliding door we had some privacy.  We never did think to look for security cameras.   Oh well. The shower was very refreshing. 

A guy in a Roadtrek campervan came rolling in and set up right across from us and promptly turned on his noisy generator, so we decided to move.

 

We just get set up in a more remote place. He decides to up and move too but at least  further away.  We had a pleasant evening sitting on the blacktop in our lawn chairs watching the moon over all the cars in the parking lot and gradually the noise settled down and we had a real nice night.  

 The Border only a few yards away.

We will deal with the brakes when we get back from the dentist.

April 26  Into Mexico

 I slept really well. In the morning we woke up had some breakfast. 

Walking across the border there are no Mexican guards to say hi, bye or anything, you just walk in and then there are all these different street vendors to deal with. You know the drill, some things never change. 
 
People in the streets that want you to go here go there.  We KNOW where we're going and got there just before 9:00 AM.  We got checked in and it is not until it almost 10 before we get our x-ray exams and the results and what they would do.  Turns out things are going to be more different than we expected. 

I'm going to have my tooth extracted and Loll is going to have three extractions plus a partial made.

They cannot do me for 3 days because I have been taking baby aspirin.  They can't have any bleeding when they extract my tooth. So we made arrangements to come back on Thursday.

We will stay overnight Thursday at a hotel associated with the dental place that looks really nice.  Friday they're going to work on me and Lolli and if we need it they're going to work on finishing Saturday and so we'll either stay there one night or two nights. I want to stay two nights, I want to have a pleasant night in Mexico with Lolli while we're in town.

So, back out of Mexico to deal with the brakes on the Vanagon.

 

We return to the Vanagon and I find a place on Google to work on my leaking brake only six miles away in Winterhaven.  Off we go, staying off the brakes as much as possible.

The first brake shop's tube bender guy was off for the week. They recommended the guy across the street.

The guy across the street was busy but recommend the shop just down the street.  All the time I am trying to not use the brakes. Driving like an old fart and using the E-brake a lot.

The third guy said he couldn't do it so he didn't know but he thought maybe the guy on down the road at the Goodyear tire shop could do it. 

So we ended up at a Goodyear tire repair place and he wasn't too sure about it but I said I would take the tire off and they could take a look and if it had to be replaced or repaired would they let me stay the night in the parking lot if they had to order one.

He would!

I drove over to where we could camp for the night out of the way, jacked it up. Lolli and I removed the lug nuts, I pulled the tire off, borrowed an 11mm wrench from the shop and got to work.

Note. I had every wrench from 22 mm to 8mm but no 11mm.



I could not get the connection loose from the backing plate so one of the guys, actually the manager of the place, came over and gave it a try.

  He got it loose but the other end of the line was really  stuck! 

I had some WD-40 and we sprayed the connection and finally after a bunch of wrestling around got the rest of the brake line loose. 

I walked the brake line two blocks to NAPA and they had a ten inch long brake line.  I bought it and a container of brake fluid.   11.00 bucks.

The manager was gone by the time I got back but one of the guys came over and bent and installed it.

I poured the brake fluid in the Reservoir and we did the pump three times and release, etc, etc, etc, 

Perfect! 

Lolli and I put the tire back on, lowered my jack and put away my stuff.

I went in to pay but there was no bill.  The guy said, forget it!

I guess they wrote us off as entertainment! 

YIPPEE! 

On the way out of town we bought two cheeseburgers, a bag of fries and a chocolate Freeze.

I also and bought a bottle of Gnarly Head Merlot for our evening celebration! 

What a day. Totally different than we had planned. 

Now we are currently camping at the Kokopeli spiral.





Back to Mexico and our dentist tomorrow. Thursday. 

April 29th

Another clear morning with the temperature at 71 at six in the morning. Gonna be a warm one. 

Coffee,  cereal,  packed and on the road by 8:00.

We checked into the Indian parking lot, into their overnight parking for two nights. 20 bucks. Perfect. 

Walked thru the border and to our hotel. Signed in for two nights and then went to the hotel restaurant for some snackage. 

Lolli is now showered and ready to meet her fate at the dentist at one o'clock, half an hour away. 





I have the afternoon to wander the streets and look for a wall charging wart for Lolli's cell phone.  Also a six pack of dark Mexican beer.

 30th Algodones, Mexico

It is a hot one today.  Currently 78 degrees at 7:30.  S'pose to get up to 103 by 2:00.  We'll see.  Good damn thing we are ensconced in air conditioned comfort!  

We checked into our hotel yesterday and it is fine.  Lolli had three teeth pulled and it went well. They use good drugs now days. We even went out for dinner, loll had an omelet but we both had a margaritas. Good ones!  


The kind you think you are doing fine but life is getting funnier and you discover you can't walk. 

Perfect, because our room is just upstairs!  ðŸ™ƒ

Well, time to go have breakfast and then it is time for my tooth extraction at nine. 

We're staying one more night and then it's back to the Vanagon and head north towards Shoshone. 

Gonna be a hot drive,  looks like. 

We'll see. 

April 30th  wrong way on HWY 62

It is actually Friday night.  We are enjoying the air conditioning. It  got up to 104 this afternoon, but it is a dry heat!

We are out of here tomorrow morning, back over the border and on our way to Parker and beyond. 

Lolli got her upper plate finished and no pain from the three extractions. 

I was at the dentist at nine Friday morning ready after three days of no baby aspirin and hit another glitch.  They discovered I am taking Alendronate for Osteopenia and I will have to be off Alendronate for three months before they would pull that tooth out!

I got  my money back having paid up front last Monday. 

I'll talk to the VA when I get  home. 

Anyway, we are now on Vacation.

May 2nd

Clear as a bell,  74 degrees at eight in the morning.  The wind is blowing like mad.

We took a wrong turn yesterday day at Parker and instead of being close to Shoshone this evening we are close to 29 Palms!  Almost a whole tank of gas going in the wrong direction!!  It was 104 degrees in the Vanagon while driving but with the windows down and a spray bottle it was tolerable.  It is a dry heat. ðŸĪŠ

Now  we are back on track and are at the Crowbar Cafe in Shoshone, Ca. Our original destination yesterday. 

Currently 95 degrees and windy but it is a dry heat.  There was a motorcycle club stopped for lunch and liquids at the Crowbar Cafe but they were mostly in the bar part of the Cafe and we managed to get seated in the Cafe.  Nice.


We decide to stay at the Shoshone RV Park.  Mostly because of the the hot windy day and the RV Park has shade and showers, a laundry and a mineral swimming pool!


We have a great time here at the RV park but almost check out when a motorhome and another couple in a pickup pulling a trailer rolled in and eyed the space right next to us.  But soon they find a spot more to their liking across the way.  Woot. So we decide to stay another night 

The weather guy says only a high of 94 degrees in Death Valley today so we are packing up and will cross DV and Panamint Valley to Lone Pine.

We do the laundry, have another nice float in the mineral pool yesterday afternoon,  take fresh water showers afterwards and did a lot of book reading in our camp chairs in the shade of the singing Tamarisk trees.  They make a pleasant "white noise". Every day has been windy. 

They have a good museum here in Shoshone and the nice lady attending is the same lady that offered to pull us out of the Amargosa River a couple years ago. I should have taken her offer but she couldn't do it until she got off work at 5:00.  So I called the expensive tow truck from Pahrump.  He didn't get to the Vanagon any sooner.

Anyway,  Carol said I wouldn't get stuck this year because it has not rained in over a year.  Not one drop!  No desert flower bloom like I experienced in 2005.  But we aren't going to the Ibex Dunes this year anyway.
May 5th Shoshone to Mahogany Flats

8:30 in the morning, clear as a bell, light breeze, 68 degrees in the Vanagon,  33.6 in the refrigerator and we are camping at 8,133 feet!!

From Shoshone I decided to drive north to Death Valley Junction and then west down thru Death Valley towards Lone Pine. 

The National Park now charges $30.00 per car entrance fee.  Good thing I had my Golden Age Passport with me ðŸ™‚

No charge.   Carry on.

While driving in the 94 heat, with the air conditioning on; open windows and spray bottle, I asked Lolli about Mahogany Flats?  She said I'm going wherever you want to go. 

My kind of woman!

So we took the turn off to Skidoo and on up the hill to the Charcoal Kilns and then the last 9 miles uphill to Mahogany Flats. 6 miles in 3rd gear, 2 miles in 2nd and the last mile in 1st. It is a rough, bumpy, dusty climb.

Good ol bus.  

A bumpy dirt road but what a campsite.  High on the dividing line between Death Valley and Panamint Valley.   Pine trees and Juniper trees for shade and awesome views down onto Death Valley and Panamint Valley.  I camped up here before when I hiked to Telescope Peak back in 2005.

There are only 10 campsites spaced out of sight of each other and one well maintained pit toilet.   No water and....... wait for it.....
.
Wifi!

Ronnie is very happy.


I'm thinking we will stay here a couple days.  Then on to Lone Pine for some groceries. 

May 6th

68 degrees at 8:30, clear as a bell, a bit of a breeze,  38.5 in the refrigerator.  Perfect.

We did see a Western Tanager up here, a very colorful bird. 

We have been walking and reading mostly.   I still like to take a nap in the afternoon. 

I checked the oil yesterday and the Vanagon still does not need a drop! Good ol bus. 

Mahogany Flats is the trail head for the seven mile hike on up to Telescope Peak. 11,033 feet. I did that hike in 2005 and spent the night up there but those days are over for me now.  Just walking up to the pit toilet gets me huffing at this altitude.  ðŸ˜›!


Most of our fellow campers are young folks who are up here to spend the night in order to get an early start on climbing Telescope Peak.  Round trip takes all day.

Here is looking down towards Panamint Valley.


We are getting low on milk so are gonna pack up and rattle down out of here and mosey on to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills.   Find a place out there to spend a day or two. 

As we were getting ready to leave Mahogany Flats I met two young college geology students who had hired an Uber in Las Vegas to drive them to Badwater, Death Valley, over 200 feet below sea level. From there they hiked to Telescope Peak, over 11,000 feet up!!

It took them four days!  They crossed Death Valley at night to avoid the heat and then up and up.  They were out of water when they reached Mahogany Flats at 8,000 feet and got some from a camper.  Then on up to Telescope Peak. Now they are looking for a ride back to Las Vegas offering 200 dollars for a lift.   Unfortunately we are heading the other way, it would have been interesting to hear their story.  Talk about trusting your fello 'mericans!

So down into Panamint Valley we go and then up out of the Valley on to Lone Pine. 


We buy some groceries and head for the Alabama Hills but the afternoon is 90 degrees and it is still windy.   I decided to get higher into a cooler temperature so up Whitney Portal road we go.  Good ol Bus.  It is quite a climb up a switchback road.

At 8,000 feet we come upon a nice campground, Whitney Portals Family Campground.  $30 dollars per site, $14 for those with a Golden Age Passport.  Woot!  We find a perfect campsite alongside a stream with no neighbors! 
  


We decide to sign up for two days.   Spread some of our stimulus money around!

Huge Pine trees, white granite and clear blue skies. 58 degrees this morning when we got up. It might get into the 70's today. 

May 8th
Clear as a bell,  no wind,  58 degrees in the Vanagon at 8:30 this morning. Yesterday's high was 68.

All we did yesterday was sleep in, read our books and go for walks around the camp ground and look at the house sized granite boulders that arrived among us campers sometime in the past and maybe some more if we have a little earthquake before we get out of here!

There are some summer homes built in amongst the rocks more trusting than I!



And we looked at the various camping vehicles and tents. 

Our closest neighbor has a Mercedes Sprinter type camper that cost $140,000.00.  We know because we asked him and his wife and got the tour.  It has all the bells and whistles, four wheel drive, solar panels, lithium batteries instead of lead acid, front winch, indoor shitter and shower and so on.  It was twice as big as our cozy little home.  I wouldn't trade.  For one, it wouldn't fit in our garage! 

Mostly young families are tent camping,  a few fishermen working the mountain stream for trout and are getting a few, limit five, and mountain climbers who park here to climb on up Mount Whitney.  No Behemoths. No camp site could take them!

Next we are going to head north on HWY 395 to Bishop.  Lolli wants to do some shopping and the Vanagon is ready for more gas, propane and drinking water. 

Bye bye, "Range of Light!


May 8th.
Here we are overlooking Mono Lake.   No buildings or anything in sight but beautiful long needle Pines, Mono Lake off in the distance with snow capped mountains beyond.  And, four bars of cell coverage!  Woot!  Who'd a thunk it!



Temperature in the Vanagon was 50 degrees and 30.6 in the refrigerator!  We are camping at 7,000 feet. Clear blue skies and no wind. 

There was no swimming or wading in the stream at Whitney Portal campground, the water is snow melt!  And there will be no swimming in Mono Lake because it is a Dead Sea like Salt Lake only brinier.

A couple miles before we reached this campsite the exhaust pipe broke just ahead of the muffler!  I think the soaking the Vanagon got in the Amargosa River in Death Valley several years ago is catching up with us.  I  can finish our trip with the noise but I need to fix it somehow so the muffler doesn't come completely loose and drag on the ground. 

Fortunately,  I have some stainless steel wire in my toolbox and I am hoping I can wire it together well enough to get us to a muffler shop in Carson City, Nevada. 


Lolli had some aluminum foil and I had some duct tape, so I wrapped that first around the hole,  Then the wire.


We'll see.  

Lolli always gets a photo of me under the Vanagon almost every trip we take!  It is the old Volkswagen way.


Being as it is Sunday we are gonna stay another night here. 

May 10th
42 degrees in the Vanagon when I got up to pee at three in the morning! 29.8 in the refrigerator!

Clear skies, no wind, up to 62 degrees in the Vanagon now after making coffee and tea and the sun shining on the pop top.

I wrapped the hole in the exhaust pipe with layers of aluminum foil and then duct tape but the most important thing was the stainless steel wire I used to hold up the input end of the muffler to the Subaru exhaust manifold.  Without that the muffler would soon be dragging down the road.  I hope my fix can hold together until Carson City, Nevada, one hundred miles from here.  Google says they have three Muffler shops.   We'll see.

Yesterday we enjoyed the surrounding beauty,  the peace and quiet.  Only one car drove by, a lady from the nearby town of Lee Vining.

I fixed the exhaust and we read our books. After lunch I took a nap, Lolli took a shower and then we went for a nice long walk over to and through a burnt area.  Surreal. 



Today we are off to the muffler shop.

May 11th
The aluminum foil and duct tape blew out within one mile of driving.  It got loud but the stainless steel wire held it together.  We stopped at an automotive repair place in Lee Vining but he said he was busy.   He recommended a shop in Gardenerville, 90 miles up the road.

The shop in Gardenerville could do it but their welder was gone this week 

Goggle highly recommended a shop in Carson City and gave us directions. 

We found the shop and I went in to talk to the owner.  Turns out he doesn't do mufflers anymore since he got a pacemaker.  He says the welder frequency messes with the pacemaker. He didn't know of any other muffler shops in town, most cars have stainless steel exhaust systems now days.

Back to Goggle and the next highly rated shop I called before driving all over looking for him.  He asked what I'm driving? 

I told him a 84 Vanagon with a 91 Subaru engine.

He said, bring it on over and I will take a look. 

We did.  He did. And an hour and a half and $279.00 later the Vanagon is as quiet as a church mouse. 

We are back on the road.  First on the new 395 HWY along the western side of the valley between Carson City and Reno and then onto Interstate 80 heading west.  We happen upon a dirt bike and snowmobile staging area past Donner and that is good enough.


I have used staging areas in Oregon before.  A place to park overnight and usually a pit toilet, they are usually for snowmobilers and empty in the summer.  Sweet!

We woke up to 4 sprinters, one converted ambulance, a small trailer and a Subaru that had pulled in after us. Come to find  out they are a climbing group.  Nice folks.  They did not park near us and were quiet. 

Time to pack up and roll. 

We left the parking area and continued on interstate 80 to the turn off onto highway 20 and on down out of the Sierra mountains into the Central Valley of California.   A stop at Granzella's for coffee drinks in Williams and on across and up towards the coastal range.
We decide to call it a day at Walker Ridge, one of our traditional stealth camp spots.  It is perfect as always.  


A great temperature to sit out and read our books, take showers from our shower bag and eat  dinner. Also a great night to sleep with the sliding door and the back hatch open.
Lolli saw one snake slither under a rock.  She said it was banded black and white.  Goggle says it is a California King Snake and not venomous. Of course we didn't have Google at Walker Ridge so Lolli kept her eye out and I went Sssss! every now and then.  After all, it was Lolli's 74th birthday! 

Off to the dented can store in Willits in the morning so Lolli can do some shopping and then on over the hill to Fort Bragg.  Only 22 miles to home when I took this photo!

 It is good to be home.  Looking forward to getting on the e-canon tomorrow and catching up with the SOBS.

The Vanagon returned in better shape than when we left! 

 2,282 miles this trip!

Good ol' Vanagon