Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Where is the warm?

Odometer 36577
Trip miles. 229

Medford, OR

Monday Dec 2, 2013
We woke up to more rain.  In fact it rained all night.  We wanted to get an early start in order to get to  our friends Jim and Sara's house in the Merlin area, in time for lunch.  We had a quick breakfast and were ready to roll by 8:20- not a record, but not bad for us!

The trip down Interstate 5 was pretty miserable as it managed to rain steadily until we got to Canyonville, and we had drizzle until we reached the top of Sexton Pass.  By the time we rolled up in front of Jim and Sara's house we had finally out-run the rain and it was dry, and had been dry there all day.  Sara had prepared a delicious lunch for us, and we got to see all the improvements they had made to their property since we were last here in July.  The time we had to spend with them was all too short, and by 2PM we had to scoot. 

We headed south to Medford, a distance of only 40 miles and headed right for Walmart in order to get our prescription meds transferred and a 30 day supply in hand.  While waiting for the prescriptions, we fueled up the bus and the car.  The bus took 60 gallons at $3.72 per gallon.  Interestingly, the distance from Port Orford to Salem is exactly the same as the distance from Salem to Medford, the total was 458 miles which means we got 7.66 mpg.  Too many passes and a lead foot- we should have been able to get 8-9 mpg.

Our good friends Mark and Carolyn had invited us to mooch-dock at their house for the night.  They have a great RV space and a power cord, which is heaven for us!  Mark had prepared smoked pork ribs, baked potatoes and a killer salad for dinner.  Mark actually smokes the meat right there at home, and man- that was a treat! 

Mark and I have been friends forever, and it doesn't matter how much time has gone by since we have seen each other- we pick up like it was yesterday.   The evening slipped by much too quickly- we said our good byes and  by 9 PM we were off to the coach for a good nights rest. 

We slept-in til 8 AM because we wanted the Siskiyou Pass out of Ashland to have a chance to melt off before we headed south into California, and because we still had one more pharmacy prescription that didn't get filled at Walmart.  I called my good friend Doug who is a Superintendent for Adroit Construction, and asked if I could swing by his project site and see him for a few minutes.  Doug is building a new Walgreens in Central Point.  Doug gave me a tour of the project site and we agreed to stay in touch.  By noon Walmart called and our prescription was ready.  We had already left our space at Mark and Carolyn's and were sitting in the Walmart parking lot having a Subway sandwich when we got the call.

At 1 PM we were on the interstate, and heading for California.  we still weren't sure whether we would be heading over highway 89 from Mt. Shasta City to Susanville, or down I-5 to Red Bluff.  Our preferred route is through the Sierras and down through Nevada, but a web search showed temperatures in Nevada to be in the single digits and low teens at night for the next several days.  By the time we got to the turn-off for California 89 we had decided to go through California, where the overnight lows are in the low 30s.  Our coach is not well insulated and the underfloor plumbing is prone to freezing- so we are staying as warm as we can.

Joan and I feel blessed to have such great friends.

Odometer 36773
Trip miles 196

Corning, CA

Tuesday Dec 3,  2013

We woke up to clear skies and freezing temperatures.  Several precautions we had taken had kept us from freezing up. Last year we bought a Pritt heated hose at Camping World, and a 200 watt mini heater this fall.  We use the mini heater which is the equivalent of two 100 watt light bulbs in our water hook-up bay and we either drain our waste tanks just before we go to bed or pour RV antifreeze into the grey and black tanks.  We left the park at our usual 9 AM (we are retired and not on a schedule after all) and pointed the bus down I-5.

California is a long state.  We drove 300 miles and pulled in at the Summerville Almond Tree RV park near Coalinga covering only 1/3 of the length of the state in around 6 hours.  

Odometer 37082
Trip miles. 309

Coalinga, CA
Wednesday Dec 4,  2013

We took the same freezing precautions as the night before and Wednesday morning the thermometer showed 28 degrees.  

While having breakfast we experienced a partial power failure.  By that I mean all of our outlets went dead.  The microwave powered down with my bowl of cold oatmeal in it.  Try as I would, I could not discover the problem.  I checked the pedestal and there was power there, I checked all the breakers in the panels, and none were tripped.  I checked the surge protector that is hooked into the main line of our incoming power, and all it's status lights showed power on both sides of the 220V supply wires.

No time to check it out further, we had to get rolling.  We set a goal of getting as far as Needles, CA some 6 hours away.  We decided to fuel up at the Shell station just outside the RV park.  The diesel price was $3.98 cash and $4.09 for credit.  We had just paid $3.72 at Fred Meyer in Medford- the trend isn't going our way.

We stopped just outside of Bakersfield for lunch at Subway, and snapped this photo.

Yikes!  $4.35 for diesel IF you pay cash- can't even use your debit card!  Now we are glad we filled up earlier this morning when we did- we still have 77 of our 90 gallons of diesel left.  We lucked out on the sandwiches though- Subway is running a special for this month- $2 for certain 6" subs.  We got two 6" cold cut combos for $4 bucks!

After lunch we began the dreaded climb up the Tehachapi grade to Mojave.  The last time we climbed this "hill" we were in a 1993 Safari motorhome with a 4 cylinder diesel motor and it was a slow climb at 35- 40 mph.  This ascent is 22 miles long with pitches varying from 4 to 6% on a highway that is two lanes in each direction.  The hazard is getting stuck behind a truck- or a truck passing a truck and losing all your momentum.

Well I'm happy to say our current motorhome (2003 Itasca (Winnebago) Horizon) made this ascent a breeze!  Our Caterpillar 330 HP diesel allowed us to stay in the zone all the way up.  The "zone" for climbing we learned in Freightliner's school, is 1750 to 1900 rpm.

Joan was reading up on the local area, and discovered that the Borax mine in Boron, CA has a fantastic museum and observatory.  We thought about it for a second and decided- yeah why not.  We even considered staying the night at a local RV park since It was 2:30 already and if we spent an hour at the mine it would be quitting time for a couple oldsters like us.  We took exit 196 off California highway 58, and the entrance to the mining operation was a couple miles north.

At the guardhouse we were directed up a road that took us to the top of a nearby hilltop where a beautiful visitor's center overlooks the refining plant and the huge open- pit mine.

We had a huge lot to turn around in.  We were one of 3 vehicles- no line or waiting here!

This picture doesn't do it justice, it is the largest open pit mine in California, and it's dimensions are measured in miles.
In the lobby of the visitor's center is a big chunk of Kernite, one of four boron containing minerals found in the deposits here.

The mine here provides 47% of all the boron used worldwide.  The Borax Company has a rich heritage starting in Death Valley with the iconic 20 mule teams, pulling two 25 ton wagons of ore, and a 1200 gallon water tank through temperatures reaching 136 to 150 degrees in the summer.  More ore is mined in one day today than was hauled in 5 years by mule team.

It was about 4 in the afternoon when we left the visitor's center and we drove south back to the interchange.  We had decided to stay in the local RV park if we could find a grocery store some where in the small town of Boron.  Since we knew it would be getting below freezing tonight, we really wanted a good 50 amp electrical hook up too.

Finding neither, we decided to travel on to the town of Barstow.  

Your Traveling Friends

Joan and Jeff


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