The Adventure that Ended in Tragedy…
During the days leading up to our Fall adventure…
Our adventure was planned for almost a month, and honestly, I was like a kid waiting for Christmas – I counted down the weeks, the days, and finally the hours. We’re getting wiser as we grow older, at least in some ways; we took two days to load the coach instead of one. And I’ve been taking two days to wash the coach for some time now. We may be older and slower, but we still get it done!
I prepped the coach during the week leading up to our road trip, including a full service of the engine and chassis. And as I learned a year ago when I had it serviced, a diesel service is not cheap! At least it’s required only every 15,000 miles instead of every 5,000 miles as a gas coach requires, but instead of something around $100, the cost is several times that. Nevertheless, owning our “short” 32′ diesel still pencils out for folks who put on a lot of miles – as we do. And along with the service, a wheel bearing seal that began leaking the last trip also had to be repaired. We parted with nearly $1100 to get Cecil the Diesel out of the shop! We take her to Mello Truck Repair in Modesto, a firm that also works on RVs, and they are very qualified to service the diesels, unlike many other garages. I’ve taken Cecil the Diesel there several times and have always been pleased with their expertise and service.
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Day 1, Monday, Sept. 25, Home to Gridley, CA via I-5, CA99: 122 miles
We enjoyed a usual morning around the house ’til about 0830 when we began gathering the final “stuff” we needed to load. It included mostly groceries and a few more clothing items. We also shut down the house – the water heater, room fans, AC, triple check that all lights were off, etc. Craig, our very busy son, dropped in before heading to his business in Stockton. He wanted to bid us goodbye, and even helped load a few items. What a guy!
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We pulled out of our little gated community about 1030 and headed north to Gridley where my twin sis, Gale, and hubby, John live. It is a drive of something over a hundred miles and includes the heavy traffic of Sacramento along the way. Once past the big city we turned off I-5 and onto the less traveled CA99 which took us to Gridley.
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North of Sacramento it is mostly agriculture and we saw a lot of it along our drive. The rice was being harvested and that is interesting to this ol’ trucker who used to haul the stuff back in the 70s. A lot of the rice was shipped to Japan back then and probably still is. Rice is big business in the north of the great Central Valley.
We arrived at my sis’s country place near Gridley at 1340, after having lunch at the Safeway parking lot in town. We try to arrive after lunch so as to not burden John with feeding us lunch and dinner. We visited around the living room for an hour or two, enjoying the company and catching up on family happenings. I headed to the coach for my grandpa nap around 1530, and caught a few winks.
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We brought a Papa Murphy’s pizza to bake for dinner. It made for a tasty meal along with the salad John whipped up. We visited over dinner and after the cleanup I headed to the coach to edit photos and begin this travelogue.
About an hour later, Lavonne joined me in the coach. It seemed that I spent the whole evening editing photos and writing the travelogue – which I enjoy doing. Lavonne went to bed around 2200 and I joined her about a half hour later. I slept well, as usual, and it was a quiet night out there in the country.
Day 2, Tuesday, Gridley, CA to Winnemucca, NV via CA20, CA70, I-80: 305 miles
We were up and around at 0530 and it was a cool morning – I even fired up the furnace for a few minutes. After the usual morning chores, we sat at the computers awhile catching up on the news, etc. I dumped the gray (shower) water in the adjacent field and topped off the fresh water so we’d be full for the next few days.
At 0730 John called to let us know they were up and around, so we joined them in the house to begin the morning visit. Lavonne and John whipped up breakfast of some quiche we brought from home, and hash brown potatoes. We had cantaloupe too, and I figured I could have eaten a more heart healthy breakfast, but it was probably better than the usual Mickey D’s we have there.
Gale and I sat at the piano and sang gospel awhile, too. We enjoy the singing as we grew up singing those old gospel songs.
1000 rolled around and we had to bid our goodbyes and head up the mountains to Winnemucca, NV – a 300 mile drive. We shared hugs all ’round, agree we’d had another lovely visit, and then we pulled out of their driveway just a bit after 1000.
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The drive took us the back way out of Gridley to CA70 and on to CA20 which eventually took us to I-80. The drive was windblown and, of course, very mountainous as we ascended Donner Summit at 7227 feet. The wind continued the entire drive, some areas worse than others, but always a headwind or a crosswind. Between the mountains and the wind we got awful fuel mileage.
More photos to click and enjoy!
I planned to stop at a Chevron station in Fernley, NV to fuel up as it was the cheapest diesel I could find online for miles around. It turned out to be on an Indian reservation, so they didn’t have to collect certain road taxes – or so I was told. Whatever the situation, they beat the local Love’s station by 34¢ per gallon. By checking online and shopping price, I saved over $19 on just that one fill up – and I like to travel cheap!
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We pulled to the side of the gas station’s large lot and Lavonne whipped up delicious sandwiches made with her homemade meatloaf. After almost an hour spent there we continued eastbound on I-80 toward Winnemucca.
We arrived at Winnemucca, NV at 1645 and pulled into the Walmart lot where we have stayed many nights. First thing after setting up the coach for the night was to head into the store for some shopping. We count on Walmart for our groceries on these long trips, just as we do at home. Sam Walton opened his lots to RVers very early on as he knew we were good customers. We spent almost $100 for the things we needed! Mr. Sam was no dummy!
Jacks down at the Winnemucca, NV Walmart for the night.
Back at the coach I zapped a frozen dinner and settled in for the evening to edit photos and update this travelogue. I spent most of the evening doing so, and afterward watched a bit of YouTube online a while for entertainment. It’s amazing the old TV shows, the old MMA tapes and most anything else imaginable that is available on YouTube. With our smartphone hotspot and online viewing, who needs TV anymore?!
It was around 2230 that I called it a day and climbed into bed. Lavonne had done so a half hour earlier, and we slept well. Life is good aboard Cecil the Diesel!
Day 3, Wednesday, Winnemucca, NV to Park City, UT via I-80: 381 miles
We were up and around by 0600 after I turned on the furnace and water heater for a while and returned to bed while things warmed up. It was a cool night in Winnemucca in the mid 40s, but not nearly as cold as the predicted low 30s.
We worked through the morning chores, then settled in at the ‘puters to catch up on the world outside while enjoying the day’s first cups of coffee. These computers are our morning newspapers, complete with news, comics and so much more.
I had to tend to the bug collection before Mr. Sun rose. As I washed the windshields I nearly froze to death and my hands were like ice and downright painful – I am a sissy when it’s cold, and the breeze was blowing again, or still, as I dealt severely with the bugs.
After I finished my careful job of cleaning those massive windshields, the sun shined upon them brightly, showing what a lousy job I had done! It was a bit of a spiritual experience because it humbled me.
We pulled out of the Walmart lot at 0800 and continued our trek east.
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The wind never was severe and sometimes was calm – in fact we had a tailwind for awhile. Our mileage improved to over 10 MPG and I was pleased. We could have made the 875 miles from Fernley to Laramie easily without refueling, however, the lousy mileage of the day before gave me pause and I wanted another pit stop to top off the tank.
Battle Mountain, NV had cheap diesel in past trips, so we called the station and their price was only $2.68 per; we definitely would stop! I added 21 gallons to fill ‘er up and we could make Colorado before we’d need more.
After asking permission, we pulled over to the side of the station’s lot and made breakfast. I enjoyed PBJ again – this time on toast with some fruit for dessert. mmmmm. I am easily delighted!
We continued our drive through Nevada and dropped into Utah. By the time we reached the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, it was time for lunch. We pulled into the rest area overlooking the flats for a quick lunch. I don’t recall what I had but it likely included peanut butter! While there I climbed up to the viewing platform and got a pretty good photo of Cecil the Diesel and the vast salt flats. And we continued on.
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We timed our drive through Salt Lake City perfectly so that we could take part in their evening rush hour. But I’ve never found SLC traffic to be too frustrating and we had no real delays.
More to click!
We pulled the long grade up to Parley’s Summit at 7,120 feet and then dropped a bit into Park City, at 7,000 feet, arriving at the local Walmart at 1700. Whew. After the long drive it was good to drop the jacks and be home for the night!
There would be no walking that evening around Park City’s Walmart. As my regular readers may recall, I had a “mild” heart attack back in May before we took our June trip to the kids near Denver – where I wound up in the hospital again. I accumulated more stents as part of the experience and had a tough time at higher elevations during that trip – and Rocky Mountain trips are mostly higher elevation!
Well… the prior night of this trip, after taking my walk and shopping at the Winnemucca Walmart, I had a bit of angina – something I haven’t had in almost two months. One nitro took the pain away and I was fine. But I was reminded the hard way that my cardiologist advised me to take it very easy at these higher elevations as my system adjusts. Park City is just too darn elevated for this old man to be taking a walk.
We spent the entire evening in the coach where we had dinner – I zapped a frozen meal and Lavonne made a tuna sandwich. I spent most of the evening editing photos and writing this much too wordy travelogue. I also watched an episode of All In the Family on YouTube and had some great laughs. That was one of my all time favorite TV sitcoms and the first time I’d watched it on YouTube. I might be on to something! We called it a day and were in bed by 2230 – with an extra blanket!
Day 4, Thursday, Park City, UT to Cheyenne, WY via I-80: 421 miles
It was a very cool night up there at 7000′ in Park City! I set the furnace to keep us reasonably warm and it did well; while it was 40° outside we were comfortable at 65°. Around 0545 I rolled out of bed and turned the furnace up and the water heater on and climbed back into bed while the coach warmed up. And once again the weather guesser was way off – he predicted the overnight low at 33°!