And the road goes on forever...

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Trip South

My mother made us a great Thanksgiving turkey dinner with a bird that weighed in at 25 pounds. We took a break from all the work we were doing to get the RV ready to roll and enjoyed our time with my folks. After a week in Bend, we left for our Yuma destination on a bright Tuesday morning which proceeded to fog up as we neared Burns. Our first night was spent at the Flying J in Winnemucca, NV where it got down to about 14 degrees.
Wednesday, with the car hitched to the trailer since we were in Nevada where it’s legal to double tow, we headed south from Battle Mountain in the early a.m. towards the cute old historic town of Austin, which sits at 7000 feet elevation just below a hellacious pass. We have never stopped to look the town over although we’ve frequently passed through. Part of the problem is that there really isn’t adequate parking anywhere in town for a rig our size plus it is very hilly, which makes for a hard start up for us being so loaded. Later at lunch, just before reaching Tonopah, our cat really wanted out to walk around so we took a nice break.

The trouble started on the long downgrade exiting Tonopah, where our speed built up to about 65 mph and the rig decided to start doing the hula. It took all Marc’s truck-driving abilities and experience to bring it back under control without a horrific accident. We immediately pulled over and checked all systems and tires and he noted everything looked fine. Even with keeping speed down, it happened again before we pulled in early for the day at Bailey’s Hot Springs RV Park in Beatty, NV so Marc could pull the hubcaps and thoroughly check the truck tires with the gauge. He found an inside dual at only 40 pounds. Since we have air brakes on the truck he has the ability to air up tires anywhere so he took them all up to 110 pounds. It was perplexing since we had just purchased these tires all new not 1000 miles ago.

We have passed by Bailey’s many times in the past and not given much thought to staying since we always boondock on our trips south. But at $18/night for 30 amp electric and water (no sewer) and unlimited use of the hot springs baths, it seemed like an appealing thing to do this day with us so shook-up from our near accident. The three private bathhouses of natural artesian hot springs (98-105 degrees) were built in 1906 and the hot water originally powered the steam engines of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. Today the clear, sulfur free water percolates up through a gravel bottom and is constantly refreshed in each bath house where it’s about a foot and a half deep. Bailey’s is short on amenities (gravel-dirt parking, no grass, right on the highway & fairly funky looking) but long on character and relaxation. We’ll stop again.

By morning the dual tire was again at only about 30 pounds of air so we limped our way to Las Vegas, pulling over about every 25 minutes to pump it up. In Vegas, we found a Purcell Tire Shop (specializing in big rigs) off I-15 which was off route for us, and pulled in. After a stay of about three hours and pulling the tire it was determined that the value stem was leaking air. Purcell did a wonderful job of customer service, providing pulling the tire, replacing the value stem, balancing the tire and remount all at no charge. We had originally purchased the tires at Les Schwab in Bend and were nonplussed when we called and they informed us we were “on our own as there was no warranty with truck tires”. Now, to tell a customer they are “on your own” after they have just spent $3000 on tires that have problems from their personnel’s mounting inefficiency did not sit at all well! After many years of doing business with this company this will be the last time they ever see us. But if ever you are in Las Vegas and need tires, we can heartily recommend Purcell Tires at I-15 and E. Cheyenne Blvd.

Dodging afternoon crazy Las Vegas traffic, we made our escape south to spend another night boondocking at a wide spot in Searchlight, NV. This is the third time we’ve stayed here; it’s convenient, if noisy. We had by now unhitched the car, since it was determined at the tire shop that very likely the trouble we were encountering was because all the rear tires were steer tires, rather than traction tires and they were not handling the load. This will be something we need to address in the coming days before we travel again. Leaving Searchlight early I followed Marc south through Needles and onto AZ 95 which flows through the growing city of Lake Havasu and along the Colorado River through Parker. In the afternoon, we rendezvoused for a couple hours with my cousin and his gal who were boondocking in Quartszite. A quick run of another 90 miles put us into Yuma and our lot by late afternoon. We were greeted by all the neighbors with hugs all around and treated to dinner by one set who always take such good care of us and our lot. Thanks Ron & Jan! It was good to be home and the lot looks great.