08-22-2022 A Slow Start

It is hard to stay calm. I am sitting in the morning sunshine pouring in through the front window of the MoHo. I am doing everything possible to keep the stress of the coming day from taking over and ruining small delights like the morning sun. We have an appointment for a MoHo repair at 10 am I guess it is time to backtrack and start from the beginning.

Mo and I did so much to prepare for this trip. We were both totally aware that planning a cross-country adventure during this time of year would be challenging. We just didn’t know quite how challenging. As I mentioned in my last post, we have been dealing with issues with our water system. Our hopes for a completely repaired and functioning RO (Reverse Osmosis) unit before we left did not happen. We are lucky this year. The well is producing a bit more water than it did last year, and when I use water directly from the untreated cistern it fills up more quickly than usual. I have been watering the entire property with untreated water, avoiding the plants most sensitive to the salt in that water.

Our water system guy installed the new RO motor but discovered another fault: the solenoid was faulty and the system wouldn’t run. John bypassed the solenoid, so we can manually “make treated water” when needed instead of the system running automatically as it has for the last 6 years. Mo and I can handle this, but with our departure occurring before the new solenoid arrives we had to find an alternative.

I spent Saturday morning showing our house sitters how to run the system, check for faults, make water, and where to do the hand watering. Had to show them how to turn on all the timers once the system is repaired, hopefully in the next few days. It is a lot to ask of a friend, and we are so lucky that Maryruth and Gerald live close by and are willing to watch the property during the day when daughter Deb is at work. We are even luckier that my eldest daughter Deborah has stepped up to the plate, agreeing to stay at Sunset House and commute to work in Medford every day after she handles the daily watering, returning at night to be sure all is well and spending the night so that the house is safe. She lives an hour away and is basically giving up her home life to do this for us.

When Mo and I reserved this Adventure Caravan Rally in New York City three years ago, we had no idea of the complexity of leaving our home during the heat of summer. We should have. We talked often about canceling the trip, but knowing that our days of driving cross country in the MoHo might be coming to an end, we decided to do the trip.

On Sunday morning, our scheduled day of departure, Mo and I were more than ready to go. I had so many lists with items marked off. The freezer was full of food, and all meds and dog needs were covered. We laughed often during this preparation time about how we seemed to think we were heading into Antarctica and wouldn’t have a store available for two months. We planned to leave at 10 am so that we wouldn’t arrive at our planned boondocking site in the high desert too early in the afternoon. We knew it would be hot. We were ready. Mo closed the gate behind the MoHo at 10:00 AM, exactly as planned. Everything felt good.

Our first indication of any sign of trouble was tiny. Highway 140 east toward Klamath Falls has some steep grades going up the west slope of the Cascades. The air was on and as usual, when climbing a steep grade, I turned it off. Then when we were on the level, I turned it back on again. The fan was acting funny. The air was cold, but the fan would switch between the upper vents and the vents near our feet. Not normal for the air conditioning system in the MoHo. We started to get a bit concerned about crossing the country for the next 8 days in August with a faulty air conditioning system, knowing from experience that getting any kind of appointment for RV repair often takes days, even weeks. Little bits of stress crept into our optimism.

Continuing along Highway 140 through Klamath Falls, we enjoyed seeing familiar territory where we once lived. At the southern end of Klamath Lake, we finally saw hundreds of pelicans grouped along a low island just beyond Howard Bay. It was a good sign. At least the birds had found somewhere to be. With water in the refuges of the Klamath Basin at historic lows, the birds using this corridor of the Pacific Flyway have to be creative to manage their journey.

We enjoyed our first stop at a tiny park a bit east of Klamath Falls. The grass was green, but the air was hot. The air conditioner was still acting funny, but the MoHo felt cool. We ate our lunch inside rather than at the lovely picnic tables. Once again on the road, with Mo driving, we turned off the air conditioner whenever there was any kind of incline. Didn’t seem to help much but we continued onward.

Fueling in 95-degree weather in Lakeview, we continued east on 140. Our destination for the night was a wide place on the road between Denio and Winnemucca, where we planned to boondock. Heading up the first steep grade toward Warner Pass, the temperature gauge on the MoHo went all the way to the top. Mo found a place to pull over, a bit sketchy but we managed to get the car unhooked to make the grade easier to pull. Pulling back out onto the highway, with me following in the car, I was shocked to see Mo pull over almost immediately. Another somewhat sketchy spot to get into, but she managed. The engine heat was off the chart.

Lucky for us, there was shade. We wondered if it was possible to limp our way to Winnemucca and maybe find some kind of help. We looked at each other and actually laughed at our stupidity. Lakeview was only 11 miles behind us. We decided to boondock right where we were. After a bit of jockeying, we managed to get level enough for the night but didn’t open the slide. Dinner was easy, a big salad with pre-cooked chicken I had ready.

The night was dark and beautiful, with barely any traffic after ten or so. The stars were brilliant. We were lucky enough to have a slight signal, enough to get information about the two possible repair shops in Lakeview. Our plan was to leave at daylight and be parked in place when Lakeview Auto Repair opened at 8 AM. Somehow we had enough signal to watch a show on Hulu on the phone to take our minds off our problem, if only for an hour.

The next morning we backtracked down the hill to Lakeview, hoping against hope that we could be seen by someone who could help us. Lakeview opened, and a really nice guy was very kind when he said, NO absolutely NOT, he is NOT allowed to touch motorhomes, not even to look for a minute. He pointed us to Max’s Farm and Truck Repair just a mile or two north on the highway. Pulling into the shop, I was encouraged to see lots of trucks around but not a big line of motorhomes waiting for service.

The owner said, sure, he could check us out. After a bit of fiddling around, he decided that the problem was with the AC fan belt. The part was available, and he told us to return the next day (today) at ten.

Wildgoose Meadows RV Park is just a bit north of the shop. Pulling in early in the morning wasn’t a problem because they had an after-hours box with clear instructions and a map of available sites. Within minutes we were settled into a full hookup site with nice shade and a spot so level we didn’t have to drop the jacks to level the rig.

With an empty day of waiting ahead of us, Mo said, “Was there any kind of map or information on the board about local things to do?” I said, “Yeah, but Hart Mountain is just 40 miles away”. It was a no-brainer. Hart Mountain is one of our favorite places in Oregon. A day trip to see the view from the overlook, look for pronghorn antelope, and maybe drop my legs into the healing spring was the perfect way to take a bit of a mental break from the worries about the overheating MoHo.

As always, the first views of the magnificent low profile of Hart Mountain opened my heart in ways I have never been able to explain.

Passing the Hart Mountain campground, where we have stayed a few times, we continued up the steep gravel road to the Warner Wetlands Overlook trail. Mattie seemed to remember the trail and let the way. She is a great trail dog, rarely straying off the trail when we are hiking.

Sadly, the Warner Wetlands were completely dry. Dryer than we have ever seen them in the years we have visited Hart Mountain. The short hike was great, though hot and when we returned to the Tracker, we were grateful that at least the air conditioning was working in our tow car.

Continuing to the main park road, we reminisced about all the side roads we have explored in this area. We saw more antelope than we saw back in the spring of 2020. Perhaps because the moms were no longer giving birth as they were back at that time. This lone buck was completely unafraid, standing on the side of the road, munching away, completely ignoring our car as I took photos through the window.

We traveled the gravel road toward the Hot Springs Campground, taking a side road down to the hot spring. We walked to the main meadow spring and I was thrilled to see it in perfect shape. Water was bubbling through the sand in the center and when I sat on the edge to soak my legs I could feel the heat and minerals soaking my skin. What a delight.

By the time we walked back to check out the main developed spring, there was no one there. We only saw one camper in the Hot Springs Campground and found an empty table along the creek for a light lunch. The trip back to our RV park seemed long in the late afternoon, and we were worn out but still at least somewhat refreshed by our visit to a favorite spot.

It is now 9 AM. Photos are processed, the blog is written, and it is time to cut the power and pack up the MoHo for her trip to the garage. The good news is we are at the moment only one day behind on our trip. If all goes well, tonight we will be in Elko, Nevada, where the Iron Horse RV Park was happy to move my reservation to tonight instead of last night.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story. I don’t yet know the ending. Calling out to all the powers that be that the repair goes smoothly, everything works, and when we head up Warner Pass again there will be no trouble.

(A bit of a preview, now that I am finishing this blog post on Tuesday night, in Elko Nevada. Everything isn’t perfect, but things are looking up.)

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

One thought on “08-22-2022 A Slow Start”

  1. Oh no…what a stressful beginning to your well-planned trip! I’m impressed at how you adapted so quickly and made the best of a challenging situation. Such a great idea to revisit one of your favorite places. Hart Mountain is truly magical. We haven’t been in years, but I’ve always wanted to return. I’m glad to see it’s as beautiful as ever.

    I hope that that the rest of your journey is uneventful, except for grand adventures. How lucky you are to have your wonderful daughter Deborah looking out for your place while you’re away. Safe and happy travels!


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