Tags: van repairs

Dec23

Broken stuff and grandma?s brownies

Posted by admin on 12/23/11  ~  Posted in: Ethan's Thoughts, Westport

Well, a lot?s happened since my last post ? life in the van continues to be eventful and full of craziness, some good, some not so good.

We?ve found a great spot along the Mendocino County coast that has treated us wonderfully.  We?ve been going to sleep to the waves and waking up to the sunrise over the Pacific for a few weeks now.  We?ve found numerous places to stay at night within minutes of state parks, amenities, etc.  We?ve been spending our days walking the beach, working, and living life as Westfalians.  The beauty here is unrelenting, yielding new and changing scenery with every weather change, every tide.  We?ve driven up and down the coast, checking out beaches, collecting shells, enjoying the constant sun.  All said, life is good.

Unfortunately, not everything is rainbows and gluten-free donuts though.  We?ve had numerous curve balls thrown our way in the last few weeks that have tested our patience with the van, each other, and ourselves.  Let?s go down the list.  First; every time we filled our gas tank we were getting leaking from several fuel lines that are part of apparently unneeded expansion tanks (or something like that), causing a fair bit of gas to drip from the bottom of the van at the full tank ? not good.  We took care of this which required a few feet of fuel line, some hose clamps, a bunch of tools, and the jacking up and removal of both front tires in the middle of a field.  Yeah, real fun.  Nonetheless, the problem appears to be solved.  Second; our speedometer just crapped out on us.  ?I guess I?m going about 55, I?m at the top end of 3rd??  Not good.  That?s on the list.  Third, our sink faucet, which had been giving us some trouble finally died.  Replaced it.  Turned out not only was it bad but so was the pump.  Ordered a new pump.  Waited several days while using a Dr. Pepper bottle with holes drilled in the lid for our ?faucet?.  Major pain in the ass.  Dishes ? not so fun.  Finally, new pump arrived.  Installed.  Defective.  Crap.  It?s Friday night before the Christmas weekend ? I guess we?re back to the Dr. Pepper bottle for another five days ? this will be fun, especially with my parents joining us next week.  Hmmm.  Ok, what?s next??  Oh yeah, the HDMI cable that allows us to play video from my phone, as well as slideshows and video from Shan?s camera got yanked accidentally and busted the end of the cable?AND the brand new LCD monitor.  Called Asus ? closed for the holiday.  So much for movies next week.  Could be worse.  Shipping?s going to be a blast.  We live in a van?forgot to pack the flat panel box and tape gun.  The belt has been slipping on the engine and getting super noisy, kind of like stepping on a flying fox with golf cleats every time we step on the gas.  Gotta tighten the alternator.  Put it on the list.  Tomorrow?hopefully.

Then, to top it all off, yesterday I go to back out of my parking spot and CRUNCH, I back right into a truck that had parked behind me in the aisle.  Bad place to park.  Shouldn?t have backed up without double checking.  Lots of stupid all around.  I get out to look and realize he?s parked in the aisle because he?s just run into someone else and is exchanging insurance info.  Nice.  His truck appears to be fine (at least from the 2nd accident) and he?s eager to send us on our way - I?m guessing two insurance claims in one day would probably not be good for his rates.  Our bike rack is totally hosed.  All bent up like crazy, bolts twisted and such.  We string it together the best we can with some bungees and beat it down to the hardware store.  Ace Hardware sucks but at least they?re everywhere.  Hardware Sales, I miss you so bad it hurts.  We proceed to buy some nuts and bolts then drill, file, bend and twist our bike rack back into shape.  Good as new?sort of.

Well, I think that?s about where we?re at.  Sam got sprayed by a skunk.  Shan and I got in a huge fight.  We?re running precariously low on funds but hey, we?re here, parked next to the beach, listening to the waves.  We?ve just gorged ourselves on Grandma the Great?s gluten free chocolate fudge brownies, which followed Shannon?s meal of crazy delicious bacon, garlic, basil, Portobello, olive oil, handmade pasta, which followed an amazing sunset, which followed a day that started with us waking to the waves crashing into shore.  We bought all sorts of unhealthy food to feast on for Christmas (WWJD indeed) - and tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

Like I said, lots of stuff, some good, some not so good.  Lots of stuff to deal with.  Lots of broken stuff.  But any day that ends with us eating grandma?s brownies on the beach is alright with me.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, we finally got my fishing-without-a-license ticket in the mail today.  $406.  Seriously.

Time for another brownie.  Thanks G?ma!

Dec17

A very busy week

Posted by admin on 12/17/11  ~  Posted in: Galleries, Ethan's Thoughts, 199, Ashland

Well a lot has happened over the last week.  An epic mountain bike ride with some hardcore ?old? guys.  A wonderful Thanksgiving with 20 great folks and a massive feast.  A fuel line and fuel pump replacement project on the van.  A trip to the vet for a busted cat.  I?ll back up a bit?

Prior to coming up the 199 we had been parked at Smith River, just outside Crescent City, CA.  This was a great day gone bad.  Basically I made a critical mistake and it?s probably going to end up costing us a few hundred bucks and a bit of me feeling stupid.  Coming down through Oregon we had looked into fishing licenses and found that they were around $110 for a non-resident license.  Considering we were just going to be passing through Oregon and wouldn?t be staying long enough to make it worth our while, we decided to pass on this outrageous tax.  Instead, we called a sporting goods store and Shannon had the gall to ask what the price of a fishing-without-a-license ticket was.  Something like $30.  Well heck, I thought, at thirty bucks, we could just take a ticket if we got caught and we?d still be coming out way ahead of the license fee.  Total fish caught: one trout.  When we dropped down into California from Oregon at the coast we immediately started back up toward the Oregon border on the 199.  We stopped for the night at the Smith River, still just inside California.  Not thinking about it the next day, I cast my line in the river a few times.  As luck would have it, I hadn?t been fishing much longer than a half hour when a fish and game warden came out of nowhere and slapped me with a ticket.  He couldn?t even tell me what the price of the ticket was, just that I?d receive something in the mail.  After he left I looked up the consequences online and found that I was into it for a minimum of $250 and some had received fines of over $1,000.

Now I?m going to digress here for a bit of a rant.  THIS IS F*CKING OBSURD!  $1,000 for casting a fishing line into OUR rivers!  Ok, ok ? I can understand the need for proper management and protection from abuse, but I?m not gillnetting for the local Safeway ? I?m trying to catch dinner!  This is America for God?s sake!  The land of the free!  Well, apparently not that free.  Not even reasonable.  More like the land of overpriced taxation on just about everything!  And now that I think about it, they just repealed the tax on corn-syrup-based soda in California!  So that?s right folks, you can get your Pepsi and Mtn. Dew tax-free in the good ol? state of California but you?re gonna pay a minimum $110 tax for a possible fish dinner that you?ve got to catch first.  Anything seem a little crazy about this?  Anyway, my mistake.  Shouldn?t have fished.  Lesson learned.  Seriously though, a nation-wide fishing license seems like it would make sense.  I?m sure not going to pay the $5,000 it would cost to fish in every state, that?s for sure!

Back to the story here.  So up the 199 we headed, spent a horribly loud night next to the highway, then beat it to the Applegate Valley, just west of Ashland.  That night, we discovered that Taio was having some sort of very serious problem.  He was making all sorts of terrible moaning sounds and we soon discovered that he appeared to have an abscess on his back flank.  A late night of research in the animal medicine book in our van in the dark, rainy forest.  Not so much fun.

The next day, to the vet.  $290 later, abscess drained, cone on head, drain in leg, up to our friends Barb and Rich?s house to settle down.  That was Tuesday.  Wednesday involved a deep clean of the van, finding a way to semi-permanently attach Taio to the now ?Taio-Blanket? layered front seat for wound draining, spraying the roof with bleach, and preparing for Thursday?s Thanksgiving feast with Barb, Rich, and sixteen others!

Thursday started with a great yoga class with Barb and friends.  Then back to the house for meal and house prep.  A great walk in the hills with Rich and the dogs.  Dinner involved lots of eating, drinking, and great company.  Probably too much of the first two.  A Thanksgiving to be remembered forever.

Friday started with me ripping apart the van to replace all the fuel lines and fuel pump.  This was a long hard day of getting gas all over myself, stretching around manifolds and hoses, cutting my fingers to bits, getting gas in the cuts, and quite a bit of actual progress.  I stopped at dusk and prepared to go out with our friends to a bar in Talent for some good tunes and dancing.  We definitely got both.  The band was called Left and they rocked and rolled!  A great evening of dancing, hot wings, and fun.

Saturday was more van work.  More gas spilling, more finger grinding, and finally, completion.  New fuel lines all the way around and a new Bosch fuel pump.  Several hours later, fire extinguishers in hand, the van started up without blowing up and all seems good so far.  Visual inspections will continue for some time, as I don?t have a fuel pressure gauge to verify my work more thoroughly.  In the evening we went to see our great friend, and equally great jazz guitarist, Ed Dunsavich play at a winery.  The wine was good, Ed was great.

I had been talking to our friend Dan about going for a bike ride with him and a couple buddies on Sunday so, after making a huge vegetable scramble for breakfast, saying goodbye to Max and Heidi, Sierra, Josh, and Reese, I met Dan and we headed up into the hills.  I hadn?t really givin the ride much thought, Dan is in his middle age and some of his buddies older.  CamelBack half full, no snacks with me, we began our ascent? for NINE MILES UPHILL WITH NO RESTS!  These guys were INSANE.  I think we climbed between 2,000 and 2,500 hundred feet in something like an hour and a half.  Up, up, up.  They chatted the whole way up while I struggled to breathe and hold my breakfast down.  These old guys kicked my ass.  The good news was, we got some great views of the valley, ran into more friends on the trails, and got a seven mile ride back down.  Wow!  What a day.  Back in the van I began stretching, took a couple Ibuprofins, ate a ton of food, showered and passed out for an hour.

When I woke, Shannon had done most of the work, including running to the store, to prepare to host Barb and Rich for a dinner in the van.  We did oysters and crackers and Shannon made a delicious Indian curry with quinoa, and a great tomato and cucumber salad.  A great time was had by all as we chatted the night away, which ended with all of us pouring over maps of the area and the continent.  We said our goodbyes, as they would be off to work in the morning and we would be on the road before they returned.

On Monday we got up, spent the several hours required for departure, took Taio back to the vet for a follow-up visit, grabbed some Mexican grub at a local restaurant and headed into the hills to find a place to go to sleep.  Today is Tuesday and we?re finally unwinding for the first time in a week.  The fog just lifted and Shan and Sam are outside in the sun.  What am I doing in here?!  Gotta go!