A Brief Trip after the Major Repair…

A Major Repair + A Quick Trip to Gridley…

As I patiently awaited the return of Big Blue II from the shop after our latest failed trip to Graceland, it dawned on me that perhaps I should begin the blog of the planned trip a bit early. I would include the recent frustrations of aborting our grand trip to Denver and Graceland when the coach overheated. Again!

2018-6-11h lookin' good2018-6-11: Parked at Gale and John’s house in the country near Gridley for the first night of our planned adventure to Denver – and beyond! As it turned out we were there again for the second – and last night of the trip, too.

The coach had overheated twice before. It first overheated – briefly – in January as I returned home from my annual Search for Sunshine drive to Texas. I took it to the shop when I got home, and they guessed it was the cooling system thermostats (most diesels have two) sticking since it overheated only once. But again in April as we returned home from Oregon it overheated again, and only briefly as we pulled up the Siskiyous. I called the shop again and was told it was likely that I just had to manually downshift earlier on those long climbs. I had my doubts, but figured they knew more about such things than I did.

As we began the second day of our second attempt to see Graceland, we would drive to Winnemucca, NV – or at least that was the plan. As we began the climb into the Sierras that day, the big Caterpillar diesel began to overheat again. In disgust, mostly with myself, I simply made a U-turn on CA20 and headed back down the hill. I should have had the overheating issue dug into and fixed when I suspected the shop was wrong about the down shifting, but I didn’t. We had spent that first night with my sis and her husband in Gridley, and we drove back to their place to spend the second night in their driveway, too. We drove a total of only 89 miles that day.

Back home on the third and final day of the aborted trip, I made arrangements to take the coach back to the shop. We would finally get to the bottom of this heating issue – and it would be a big job!

2018-6-21a Radiator & intercooler
This was the bottom of the issue! The folks at the shop dug out the charge air cooler (CAC) that cools the compressed air from the turbo before it enters the engine, and the radiator (rear). Both were mostly plugged with greasy dirt. I wondered how we were able to drive at all without overheating! Note the very large inlet/outlet of the CAC to handle all that hot air.

2018-6-21b fanBig Blue II looked a bit different with her radiator and CAC removed to be cleaned. And she’d be in the shop two weeks.

Meanwhile, back home we learned that the Denver visit would have to be put off ’til September as the kids had a very busy summer planned. So… what to do?!

First, we’d take another trip to my sis’ home in Gridley – again – because their daughter, Jill, and husband, Craig would be visiting from Oregon and we wanted to see all of them together again – like old times! So…

Day 1, Monday, July 2, 2018, home to Gridley, CA via I-5, CA99

We got the coach back from the shop on Friday, which gave me Saturday and Sunday mornings to wash her – yep, it takes two days for this old man to wash the monster properly. She was looking good for our short trip.

2018-7-2a began the day at tire shopBut first things first… I discovered I had a flat tire on Sunday after the wash job was done, so my Monday began at a local Les Schwab tire store, the same one where I bought the new rims. The flat turned out to be caused by two valve extensions they put on along with the new outside rear rims. Both leaked off air; while at the shop, I discovered the outside tire on the other side was also losing air and was low but it was not near flat. With the dual direction air chuck I carry on the coach, those U shaped extensions weren’t necessary. The good fella at Schwab’s simply removed them after finding the tire to be otherwise Ok. He simply added air, put the tire back on and I went back home to pack for our short trip.

2018-7-2b began the day at tire shopRemounting the tire after finding all was well; it was simply the leaky valve extensions that caused the flat.

It was the usual drive up I-5 almost to the Sacramento Airport where we turned onto CA99 toward Gridley. Once in Gridley we pulled into the Safeway shopping center for lunch. At the store I ordered a couple grilled chicken thighs and a coleslaw salad. Lavonne had the deli make a ham sandwich. We also bought some shortcakes and whipped cream to go along with the fresh strawberries we brought from home.

Click to see larger photos and captions:

After our break for lunch, we drove the few miles to Gale and John’s. After setting the coach up for the night’s stay, I headed into the house to join everyone for a warm visit. We hadn’t seen Jill and Craig for almost three years. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and catching up with them and their happenings.

2018-7-2ee Parked in John's gardenParked almost in John’s garden for our overnight visit.

2018-7-2g family and shortcakeA portrait of a happy family at dessert time! That’s (L-R) John, their daughter Jill, Gale, Lavonne, Dale, and Craig. Those strawberry shortcakes were a real treat.

For dinner, Craig and Jill whipped up some truly wonderful hamburgers and along with corn on the cob and salad, it was a very good meal. Soon after the feast I mashed the strawberries and we  enjoyed some wonderful strawberry shortcake.

2018-7-2ef coach for the nightBack in the coach for the evening, Lavonne and I were again online perusing our favorite sites – and I worked a bit on this travelogue.

We spent the night in the coach that very warm evening and night as the air conditioners whirred ’til sometime after midnight. We slept well.

Day 2, Gridley to home via CA99, I-5: Total trip 242 miles.

We took our time in the coach after we were up and around because they were pretty slow getting around in the house. John called sometime around 0800 and I agreed to ride along with him to town and pick up some Mickey D’s for breakfast. We gathered around the table once again for our mostly junk food breakfast.

Afterward I converted our cozy apartment into a very comfortable highway cruiser, and we pulled out of their driveway for home a bit after 1000.

The drive home was unremarkable as we like. It was good to spend time with family, but as always, it was good to be settled in back home!


The short, two day trip to Gale and John’s and the lovely visit didn’t begin to scratch my itch for a long trip – to be on the road for days and days!

To scratch that itch, I decided I needed another chicken run, and maybe find a whole new destination for some delicious fried chicken! It would be a very warm time of year to drive to Kansas, so I looked to Montana where summers are cooler – and discovered the Roost restaurant in Bozeman – a place quite well known all over the area for their fried chicken. My plan would include a roundabout trip that would include Fargo, ND – waaaay out of the way for any sane person heading to Bozeman, Montana. But I needed a long chicken run! Stay tuned, because I’m going to scratch that itch in just a few days…

About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
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