Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shakeout road trip #1 : 1877 miles (Part 1)

Back at last!

On April 12th, 2015 , Disruptive Wind's "great white" Sprinter van left our headquarters and has yet to make it all the way back. We ARE back in the Gorge area and FINALLY I have carved out a piece of time to post.
I was hoping to post while in California but health challenges and vehicle break downs meant I had no time to spare.
Here is a "brief" version of our saga:

The original plan was to leave in March to attend the swap meet in San Rafael, California by 101 Sports. It was obvious that we were not going to be ready and so I worked at the lab and shop instead.

 New goal: the Crissy Field (San Francisco Bay) swap meet on April 18th. We made plans, commitments, and paid for camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Tried to keep it mostly a secret as I really hate letting folks down when plans do not pan out. Frantically finished tax preparation and filing which was quite complicated due to the large amount of R&D expenses. Ended up "donating" a bunch of money to our governments for expenses I ran out of time to process. Got to get on the road!
Well, the new generation of prototypes were anything but complete but I threw a number of them in, along with a bunch of parts and tools. Threw in a bunch of parts and tools for the van as well.
Lack of good sleep, lack of exercise, too much stress, and lack of time took it's toll. Instead of leaving on April 12th as hoped, I was in a serious health crisis instead. Found out the van was using oil at a really high rate so stocked up with over 6 gallons (26 quarts) of oil as well.  Ended up in the hospital and was discharged April 14th in a fragile state. "NO WORK" says the doctors so we took that as YES for the road trip R&R (rest and recuperation). Emma, I, and our 5 dogs left that very same day and drove south on I5 (Interstate freeway 5) until well after dark and then "rested" at a Rest Area by 7 Feathers Casino. Oil use was high but the van ran well and strong. It was a cold night and chilly morning.
Headed out and toward the coast via Grants Pass and Cave Junction. The van did really well on the hilly and curvy roads and we were soon at the sunny coast of California! Stopped at Trees of  Mystery for lunch, to stretch, and to warm up in the sun.

Looking pretty good after being under anaesthesia only 24 hours before!

The wind was nuking as we drove by Humboldt Lagoons and I could easily have rigged up a 4 meter something and windsurfed there in what looked like steady wind with a perfect direction. We did see someone who had loaded up a special cart with all their gear for a trip down an access trail to a launch. Further down the road I saw a launch right off the road with a zero carry. They must know something I do not, or are planning a down winder? Anyway, we were a heck of a long way from Samuel P. Taylor, where we were already paid to camp and meeting friends as well, so on down the road we had to go. On my list as a place to come back to "next time"!

Many miles and hours later it became obvious we were not going to make Samuel P. Taylor that day. So we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and head over to Highway 1 instead in hopes of camping near Fort Bragg. That road from 101 to 1 turned out be be very steep and winding but the van did fantastic and the scenery was beautiful. Got to the coast in time for an awesome sunset!

Good decision!
Emma worked her smart phone magic as we drove and found us a great place with gluten free pizza in Fort Bragg. Very busy, but entertaining (watched a couple on a "blind" date that was going well) and good food:  Piaci Pub and Pizzeria.
Late, full, and tired, we are back on the road looking to camp after putting a few miles in first.
The road became very  STEEP and WINDY. Going up one hairpin turn so steep and sharp I can see the gouges in the road, the check engine light comes on. Engine running badly, we are down to 4 cylinders from 5 and the transmission is dropping in and our of gear. If  I try to press on the accelerator pedal too much, it makes a horrible, throbbing/ shaking , feel / noise as if is one is driving over the "rumble" strip (wake up!) on the shoulder of a modern highway. Later I find out that the transmission is supposed to do this (to deal with less power and to keep the driver  from over-stressing the engine). At the time, I thought we were doomed. We limp down the road, devastated at our fate. A long ways from home. Doomed! Nothing to be done right now, at least we are moving. Saw a sign that said "Beach Access" and turned off Highway 1. Drove until the road ended in a big gravel parking lot with lots of broken glass from break ins. Completely empty and dark. Scary but no signs we can see banning overnight parking. We are "broke down" anyway. Exhausted, we sleep.

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