Day 1, Wednesday, December 9, home to Tulare, CA via CA99: 152 miles
The awful Covid pandemic has, sadly, gotten much worse lately than it ever has been. Presently spreading with over 200,000 new infections daily (U.S.) and over 2000 deaths daily attributed to it (per Johns Hopkins University), we cancelled our annual Thanksgiving with family. We missed the main meal and family get-together at our son Craig’s place in Stockton, and also missed visiting my twin sis, Gale, and her hubby, John, in Gridley the next couple of days. Even so, my dear Lavonne and I enjoyed a full Thanksgiving Day turkey spread at home, but nice as it was, it certainly wasn’t the same. And in all probability, we’ll miss Christmas with family, too. Nope – this sort of Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t work for us.
On top of the Covid fears, I’d also discovered that my heart arrhythmia had returned. My regular readers will likely recall I’ve had years of heart issues and arrhythmia is but the latest. It cleared up very nicely with medication the past several months, but I noticed it had returned just a few days ago. My arrhythmia doesn’t bother me much except that occasionally I feel palpitations. Likely as not, it would clear up within a week, or so I’ve read.
Day after day and week after week spent only at home, afraid to visit anyone or go anywhere, was getting me down. So I decided to just take a day or two to travel aboard Big Blue to just get away for a while. I desperately needed to hit the road!
Big Blue was looking just fine, having been cleaned pretty well the week of Thanksgiving in preparation for the planned and then aborted travel. I charged the batteries and had the fridge cooled down the prior couple of days and Big Blue was ready to roll.
It was a bit before noon that I idled Big Blue up to the house from our community’s RV lot on Day 1. I loaded the relatively few things I’d need for a night or two on the road. After loading, I grabbed a quick lunch at home, then bid my dear Lavonne a warm farewell. As most normal people, she would not find such a trip entertaining, especially in December, and chose to stay home. I pulled away from our home a bit after 1300 hours.
I planned to drive about 150 miles south to Tulare’s Walmart lot and spend the night there. A Panda Express is part of the Walmart anchored shopping center, and I was overdue for a Panda Pig-out.
The drive was unremarkable, as I like. CA99 is not a pretty drive, and the traffic is seemingly always heavy as it is a major north-south thoroughfare from one end of the huge Central Valley to the other.
Did I mention that CA99 is not a pretty drive? It certainly isn’t.
After dealing with the heavy traffic nearly the entire drive, I was very happy to pull into the Walmart lot at 1600 hours. I powered down the jacks to level the coach, powered out the slides, and was home for the night!
I must have a screw loose (there are rumors to that effect) because once settled in for the night, in a Walmart lot of all places, I was absolutely delighted to be there for the night aboard Big Blue! I began editing photos and writing this travelogue as I enjoyed some good coffee.
Big Blue parked for the night at Tulare’s Walmart lot. Hooray!
I “exercised” the diesel generator, which I had serviced recently, for a couple hours, as suggested in the owner’s manual when it hasn’t been used in some time. I certainly didn’t need to run the air conditioners, but I did run the water heater on electric (instead of its propane option) to put a bit of a load on the generator since it was running.
It was a cool evening aboard (for the Central Valley) but the heater kept me cozy and warm. I headed for the shower at 1730 hours, having warmed the bedroom and bathroom zone of the coach to 78° so this sissy wouldn’t get cold. I really like the two zones the forced air heater provides aboard Big Blue. Each zone can be heated to different temps as one desires. It works very well at night when I can heat just the bedroom and bath overnight, saving the propane and batteries by not having to heat the entire coach.
As I promised myself the entire time I planned this trip, I ordered my Panda Pig-out online after my shower, and picked it up just a short walk from the coach at 1810 hours. I am addicted to their teriyaki chicken, and as always, asked for extra teriyaki to douse my white rice. I also ordered a double of their delicious orange chicken. I was a very, very happy camper as I sat down to my pig-out. And it was as delicious as I knew it would be. I don’t allow myself such food more than about every two or three weeks, but when I need a Panda fix, I simply can’t resist it.
A Panda Pig-out and a night aboard Big Blue – this here fella is one happy camper!
After dinner I spent the next couple hours or so on this entirely too wordy travelogue. How do I find so many words to describe a simple 150 mile trip?!
My evening wound down as usual, enjoying my time aboard Big Blue, visiting favored websites, and watching silly videos. There was one notable event during the evening – my heart rhythm kicked back in! Yesssss! I checked my pulse occasionally during the evening, hoping to discover that my heartbeat was back in rhythm. Finally, during the evening sometime after dinner, I found my heartbeat was in perfect rhythm once again. I took that as verification that indeed, I did need to hit the road once again, and when I did my little heart was so happy that it got its rhythm back. Of course, prayers and the medication I take for arrhythmia certainly didn’t hurt any!
This happy camper headed to bed at my usual 2330 hours. Life is good!
Day 2, Thursday, December 10, Tulare, CA to home via CA99: 153 miles
I rolled out of bed a bit after 0630 and turned up the heaters. It was too cool in the coach for this ol’ sissy, so I climbed back in bed for a few minutes while things warmed. A bit before 0700 hours I got up to greet the new day.
After morning chores, I sat down with the day’s first cup of coffee at the laptop and perused the comics, news and other sites I visit each morning. I considered my day, and planned what might be my destination if not home. I decided that I’d drive north to the little town of Turlock and stay at their Walmart for a second night on the road. Although Turlock is just 30 miles from home, it would be another night aboard Big Blue, which I would surely enjoy again.
I walked into the store a bit later for some shopping, and discovered that the Tulare Walmart was no Supercenter, and their pickins’ were pretty slim. They had groceries, but they had relatively few compared to the larger stores. I found less than half of what I shopped for, then headed back to the coach.
After putting the few things away, I set the coach up for highway travel, and at 1030 hours, I headed north on CA99 toward Turlock. I wanted to fill up with fuel, and I saw relatively cheap prices the prior day as I headed south. I also wanted to fill the propane tank.
About 20 miles into the drive I stopped at a gas station selling Diesel 2 for $2.80 per, a considerably better price than the prices near home. After pumping on something over 60 gallons to fill the tank, I continued north.
I stopped again at a Love’s station near Madera to fill the propane tank. When the attendant began pumping on the stuff, a leak suddenly developed somewhere along the hose to the propane tank. He turned off the pump at once, and my trip was over. I’d have to get that leak fixed before I could feel comfortable overnight on the coach. Now, the leak wasn’t from the tank, and it wasn’t leaking once he shut off the pump, but something had to be fixed. Rats. I could only head home.
I continued the drive on CA99 to home, and arrived a few minutes before 1500 hours. I greeted my dear Lavonne with a big hug and kiss, and told her about the propane leak. I then unloaded the coach, dumped the holding tanks and filled the fresh water tank at our community’s RV dump. My little adventure was done. While I was disappointed to miss out on a second night on the road, I did have a grand time while it lasted. I also put over 300 miles on Big Blue, and operated most of her systems – the jacks, the slides, heaters, generator, etc. It’s good to use them regularly.
I failed to shoot any photos worthy of posting during the drive home. I guess I had other things on my mind. And, as mentioned earlier, CA99 isn’t what one would describe as a beautiful drive.
I called my favorite diesel repair shop, Mello’s in Modesto, and made an appointment for the coming week. Joey, one of the owners there, understood the issue well. That shop has proven over the years to be very competent.
After all was said and done, in spite of the disappointment, I had a good time for one night. I enjoyed a Panda Pig-out, spent two days and one night on the road, and rolled up 305 miles on Big Blue’s odometer. Oh – and my heart found its rhythm during my short adventure! I can’t complain.
The repair shouldn’t be a big deal, but with the propane tank between the chassis rails to keep it safe in an accident, it’ll likely be quite a job to track down the problem – probably a leaky hose between the filler valve and the tank needs to be replaced.
In January I’ll be heading into Texas for my Annual Search for Sunshine! Stay tuned…
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.