roger July 19th, 2011
Well, it seemed that way at least.
We have been lucky in the sense that I can pretty much take time off of work for traveling whenever we would like. Roxie's work was the same way since she worked 'per diem'. That meant that we did NOT have to go camping during the high times of travel. We didn't have to go during a major holiday weekend. Well that has changed. Roxie's new job no longer gives her that level of flexibility. So that means we have to be like the rest of the general public and take advantage of the holidays given.
Roxie found out that she had a 4 day weekend for the 4th of July. She wanted/needed to get away for a bit so I tried to find a spot on the coast. We thought it would be good to get away to somewhere that is cooler. I was able to get reservations at the Pismo Dunes Ranch RV Resort. We have stayed here before and it is a simple RV park. Not as crowded as Pismo Coast Village nor as noisy as the one between highway 1 and the railroad tracks. I reserved that spot starting on Saturday as it would have been too tough to get everything going on Friday and we would be getting in there when it was dark.
We left around 10am, naturally, on Saturday. We stopped in Hanford to get a replacement tire on the trailer. I always find it easier to get a tire on the road since the trailer is already hooked up. We got some groceries, had a bite of lunch and headed off. It is only about 150 miles from us and a very familiar drive. What could go wrong? Don't ever say that.
The temperature was about 100-106 during the drive in the valley. We left Kettleman City and there is a small hill to negotiate. Near the top I noticed puffs of diesel exhaust coming out of the truck. Each time there was a drop in power and eventually a puffing sound was emanating from under the hood at the same time. We crested the hill and descended. Now the mind games start. What is wrong with the truck, is it damaging it more by driving, how can I fix it, can AAA tow us home if needed, etc. I know we had two more grades to cover on the trip.
Hill number 2. This time I opted to try it without the A/C on. It might have been hot for a bit but it will help the diagnosis. Luckily I got behind a slow truck. This kept our speed down but it still was doing it puffing pattern for a bit but not the whole hill. Hill number 3. Left the A/C on and it puffed a bit near the top but we were over the last hill. Yes, we did have the Cuesta grade by San Luis Obispo but we were going downhill on it this time.
We got to the campground around 3 and setup. Boy, my mind was churning. We went out to eat at F. McLintock's in Arroyo Grande. We have gone to the one in Pismo before but this one was more local and a much different ambiance. It was good. However, we got back to the trailer and my mind was going again. I got on the internet to research the truck problem. I found a lot of doom and gloom, stories of replacing turbos, EGR valves, repairs over $3000, ouch!! I tried to analyze what was going one.
Over the last many months I had noticed the truck getting a bit more sluggish. I used to be able to take off very quickly getting on to a freeway, etc. That was not happening anymore. I attributed it to the truck getting old. But 104K miles should be a drop in the bucket for a diesel. Drawing an analogy to the human body, it seemed like there might be a blockage somewhere. I heard someone mention on the 'net that their solution was a fuel filter. It made logical sense to me. It could have been starving for fuel when it really needed it. Around town it did not need high volumes of fuel but under hard acceleration or heavy load (towing on a hill) it could not get what it needed. Also, I could not remember the last time I changed both filters (yes, there are two). So I thought $100 would be a good investment to see if it helped.
I found a JiffyLube in Oceano that was open on Sunday on a holiday weekend. They replaced the filters. Immediately I could feel the difference in acceleration. I was cautiously optimistic about the solution. It also helped put my mind at rest. We made a picnic lunch and tried to go downtown Pismo. Our son Aaron and granddaughter Paige were there in his truck. No way! Too much traffic. We would have a hard time finding one spot let alone two. We thought we might try Avila Beach but it seemed even worse. Everyone, including us, wanted to go to the beach. Aaron suggested going to Oceano beach, where you can actually drive on the beach. He has a lifted F250 with large wide tires. I have the stock narrow tires. We had been on the beach before with our friends the Chen's earlier in the year, so I didn't think too much about it. Although I did bring my tow strap.
We needed the strap right off the bat. We were looking for a place to park where Paige could play in the water and on the beach. Aaron turned one way and I followed and instantly got stuck in the soft sand. We attached the tow strap and Aaron pulled me out. We went the other way on the beach and drove down to find a spot. We pulled in and settled in. Aaron was a bit concerned with the tide as it looked like it was getting higher. I check the tide schedule and we were already 30 minutes past high tide so we were OK.
We let Paige play and get completely soaked for about 1 1/2 hours. We all got burned which was surprising since we never saw direct sunlight due to the fog bank that was there. I forgot to mention that the temperature was 65 for most of the time we were here. A far cry from 100+ degrees. Aaron had to head back home after the beach but he had to pull us out of the sand two more times for good measure.
Roxie and I thought we would go down to Pismo for the night to get something to eat. The parking was abysmal. This is where I thought the rest of the populated world was since it was so crowded. Since we were eating a bit early we were able to walk right in to the Pierside restaurant. Roxie wanted to do Splash Cafe but it had a line around its' corner (not surprising). Dinner was OK, nothing special.
Monday. 4th of July! Roxie has started a walking regimen at home and we brought our bikes here. I thought we could take a ride out to the ocean and back for a bit of exercise. I had looked it all over on Google Maps and I know Roxie had ridden horses (with Hannah) from the campground. We started off. It was a good dirt road. Some parts said no vehicles but that would mean cars, etc. The wide road turned into a narrow path. The dirt turned into sand. We were riding but had to start walking. The plants were over growing the route. Mosquitos were flying around everywhere. We were pushing on. We got to the sand dunes and stopped for a bit. I saw about 20 mosquitos on Roxie's back biting the heck out of her!
I checked Google Maps and we were off in the weeds somewhere. Well duh! I went up a dune to survey the situation. I noticed the creek we were near turned in front of us and headed south (we were heading west). The only options were to turn around back through the mosquito nest or cross the creek. We chose the latter and found a shallow place. Took our shoes and socks off and crossed. It was only about 8 inches deep. Put our shoes back on and walked the bikes to the beach. On the way we had to go under a 'fence' and noticed there was a sign on it to stay out since it is a bird preserve. Great. We were also violating the law. We headed north on the beach, riding, to the entrance. We were then able to get on city streets and make a loop About 4 miles total. Roxie now calls this the bike ride from Hell! I thought parts of it were fun.
We thought we would head downtown for lunch and see how things were. Mistake! The traffic was really bad so we bugged out of there. I wanted Roxie to get her Splash cafe fix and we know there is one in SLO so we went 15 miles up the road. The plan was we go by Mo's BBQ and I would get what I want and take it to Splash Cafe so Roxie can eat there. Interestingly she found something at Mo's and she really enjoyed it. Now what? We still went to Splash and got some frozen clam chowder and two bread bowls for her to bring home. We went back to the trailer and took a short nap since we knew we might be up a bit later than normal.
We know that Pismo Beach sets off fireworks from their pier and we figured that it would be VERY crowded. It was. We didn't even try to park within 5 blocks of the downtown area. We parked about 8 blocks away, grabbed our aluminum chairs and headed out. We needed to eat dinner and were looking for somewhere. We found it about 3 blocks into the walk. We found Giuseppe's Italian Restaurant. We know there is a Rosa's in Pismo, like in Visalia but that was a bit down the road. We went in a side entrance so we did not do a "Beverly Hillbillies" on them with our casual attire and chairs. The food was good, but Roxie really liked the dipping sauce they put with the bread. It was balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and grated parmesan cheese. I admit it was very good also.
Down to the beach! We made our way through the throng of people and ended up on the beach to the north of the pier. There were more people than I have ever seen during the DAY on this beach. We had to wait about 30 minutes for the show to begin. This was the first time I have ever watched 4th of July fireworks wearing a coat! Roxie was freezing since she was not as prepared. The fireworks show was impressive because they had SO many in the display.
After it was over Roxie said we should go up a set of stairs and through a gate. I saw it said No Trespassing but a lot of other people were doing so also. We ended up in a gated condo community. All the gates were locked. We could not get out, as about 30 others could not either. Luckily a resident was leaving in his car so that opened up the flood gates, so to speak. We made it to our truck and then more fun was to be had. The police department decided not to let us, or anyone else, go south. We had to go north about 2 miles before we could get on 101 southbound. From the time the fireworks were over until we got on the freeway, we had used about 1 hour. We slept good that night.
Tuesday the 5th, time to go home. We packed it up, hooked it up and cleaned it up. The big test was ahead. How would the truck work up the Cuesta. I had trepidation coming up the grade. I gained as much speed as I could in the run up and tried not to push it too much up the hill. Normally I would do 65 up the hill with the trailer. This time I kept it at 55. The truck did just fine. What a relief.
We pulled into Paso Robles and thought we would stop for lunch. They have a very nice downtown with some interesting restaurants. The drawback was the temperature was over 90 and climbing there. We decided on Basil Thai. It was good and odd at the same time. The soup was the odd part. This was the first time we had a soup based on coconut milk. Not my cup of tea but the main course, a variation of drunken noodles was good.
The hill climbs on the way home were uneventful and I hoped they would be. We always hate going home but it is a necessary evil. It doesn't help a 40+ degree temperature increase. All in all, it was nice to get away.