Westward to Oregon

After full preparations including loading the 13 year old, 94,000 mile Holiday Rambler with all necessary items, and leaving home ready for the adventure of the Pacific Northwest, we made it about eight miles and a fuse blew. One that provides the Air conditioning blower with it’s power. No way we travel without AC…. or Heat.

After a few hours of diagnostics, blower motor removal and a helpful Auto Zone counter-man, taking the old blower to the warehouse, to find correct new blower [cross reference to 2004 Chevy S-10], we returned home, and are spending another night in home bed.

I had forgotten my little Craftsman ‘Lion’ drill and always need a drill. The 20 minute trip return to home was needed anyway. :>)

I installed the new blower motor [contortionist style] and tested it for 15 minutes while cleaning up my tools and mess.  Draws less amperage and so far works ok,…. but we have been at that rodeo before.

The new bypass relay was burned in the overload process, so now the blower motor is direct wired with the speed control, but no ‘off’ position. After 13 years and 94,000 miles, surprises are around each corner. Better to have this one near home.

Early tomorrow, we try it again.. Must have been a reason for the Lord to Not desire us staying at the Farmington Sam’s Club for the night?

Reason for driving the 200 mile remote highway across the reservation tomorrow,….. rather than today?

Tomorrow we leave earlier, breakfast at McDonald’s, then drive on our way and stay somewhere in Utah for the night.

Reason for Everything, every delay. We just do not know it.

After finally getting the new blower motor and replacing it in the AC-heater under navigator’s feet side of dashboard, we left again for our ride on toward the Pacific Northwest.

We often stay in Walmarts along the way, another night at Ogden Utah one night and Green River State Park in Utah another night, we rolled on toward Idaho and Boise, Walmart ‘camps’.

Goal along the beautiful Columbia River, was one night at Memalose State Park near The Dalles Oregon. Big dam on the Columbia River. Our ‘New’ Garmin said to take it’s choice of highway.

BAD choice. Garmin took the coach up over a mountain with no turn arounds and far from the State Park. In the process of the thousands of feet altitude, low gear climb and low gear descent on twisted old highway, the two engine exhaust ‘donuts’ burned out… Again.

Loud and with carbon monoxide odor while we drove and an emergency night with little sleep at a KOA. These things deprive me of sleep as I imagine All sorts of mechanical horrors. After a crawl under inspection, we drove on toward Portland in morning, accompanied by the exhaust roar and stink. TA fuel stop advised of nearby Ed’s Muffler in Cheshire for repair, we gladly detoured. Shannon crawled under and swapped out the ‘Wrong’ flat styled donuts ……installed by the muffler shop in New Orleans.

Cost in New Orleans was $300…..Cash.

Cost at Ed’s was $129 and on credit card. Shannon gave me two spare donuts ……for next time. Ed even came out and thanked us for our business. I bought them their three Starbucks frappes for their fast attention. note: Turned out that Shannon’s recommended donuts were not correct, too thin, unlined and caused further problems later.

Stay away from sleazy New Orleans, unless risking it is your idea of thrills. One last time in New Orleans, porn sites infected our computer.

As we approached the coast, Costco in Warrenton [outside of Astoria] let us stay for the night after fuel fill. State Park of Cape Disappointment in Washington State opened in morning. Crossing the 5 mile long bridge from Oregon Astoria to the Meglar Washington side, the blower fan blew off the shaft and was destroyed in the loud bang. No AC/heat blower for a while. Had fun in tow car, exploring up north along the Long Beach Peninsula up the southern coast of Washington.

Auto Zone of Warrenton [near Astoria] Oregon ordered a free replacement, shipped out of Portland, it arrived on Tuesday, in time for leaving our stay back in Fort Stevens Oregon State Park. Explored around Astoria for a day while waiting for new blower. Fort Stevens is historic. It’s countless concrete structures, originally built for guarding the mighty Columbia River, are still intact after well over a hundred years.

The first electricity was installed in Fort Stevens following the Civil War. The large diameter, old DC wires for powering the huge rifled cannon drive motors and ammo lifts, are still hanging from the ceilings. The famous attack on US soil by a Japanese submarine, lobbed a few cannon shells at the fort during WW II. No response from fort gunners, as the there was no danger.

Continued south along Pacific Ocean coast and a one night stay in Kelly’s Brighton Bay Marina. Kelly’s daughter boiled up a two pound Dungeness Crab and two pounds of ‘Steamer’ clams for our supper. Enjoyed the rare feast in our coach and observed the seagulls roosting for the night on the breakwater in front of the coach. Comforting to see them fly for a nice evening’s sleep. We were 20′ from the bay, windshield was our viewing screen, as the sun set with a colorful show of dusk.

Left Brighton Marina after a day and half of exploration in nearby small villages in the Honda. Tillamook Oregon one night stop, dry camp at Tillamook River RV with No facilities $25. Fell off edge into thick blackberry bushes while hiking. Took a while to crawl back out of the thorn infested hole. Navigator pulled out the stickers while I moped in bed. Discovered Ashland Hotel RV near Fred Meyers store, with overnight fee of $16,…. facilities included. Will stay there next trip. Tillamook McDonald’s has RV parking… free.

Dumping of holding tanks too expensive in EPA controlled Tillamook Valley [Tillamook Cheese Factory]. Saved our dump tanks for Newport Oregon Marina, where we are staying for three nights. Wireless Fi is obviously available :>) We will explore the area tomorrow. Lincoln Oregon is back 20 miles and Honda will suffice for backtracking tomorrow. Nice laundry facility at this marina RV park.

Beautiful sunsets each night. Red and green lighted Newport Bridge is a magnificent Gothic structure built to specs by master engineer Conde McCullough back in the 1930′-40’s, he designed and had bridges all finished along the coast within a couple of years or less….each. Formerly ferry systems or long circuitous routes were the way across coastal rivers. Today the same projects under Govt EPA rulings and legalistics would take a half century. Even longer.

Drove around the Newport harbor this afternoon. Sea Lions at the harbor commercial marina [fishing boats] were barking as usual. Way too many Sea Lions. They take over the docks. Cover the harbor jetty rocks. We can hear them ‘singing’ at night, even across the bay, their endless ‘barks’ can be heard. :>)

Have been hunkering down in our Newport RV Marina of this harbor town for the last days. NOAA has a facility here, near the oceanic research center and aquarium. We have experienced rain, cloudy dark days and wind, with few sparse minutes of sunshine. Wind is really brisk,….. to say the least.

Driving rain is noticeable… and loud. Trees are bent over level on high cliffs near the ocean. Many in clusters are broken off from extremely high winds. They look seriously distressed from the winter’s endless ocean wind. The waves have been eroding of this fascinating shoreline for millions of years. The ‘Haystacks’ of volcanic rock are stretching for endless miles offshore. Scenic for picture taking :>)

Navigator injured her back and stayed inside, watching TV, recuperating for all of yesterday and has only left the coach for brief periods of time, washing of clothes, etc. Temps are in the 50 ish range at night, 60-70 days. With the coach facilities convenient, it is cozy good to stay and recuperate.

Today we drove north in the Honda, back to visit a few thrift stores and antique shops (bought another old bronze boat prop]. Goodwill is big in Lincoln and apparently a popular place for locals gathering on Saturdays. Returned home for fish and chips/oysters for our late lunch.

Set traps and caught the mouse that had stealthily crept up the shore cable and water line, deep into the coach guts and vitals during an overnight stop days ago. It had eaten into my cereal stash …which I had to replace. Navigator sent a pic of the little cutie to family and friends. She had heard it noisily browsing at night.

I was busy cleaning out the cabinets and washing all of the canned goods after the mouse intrusion. Discovered sagging cabinet floor and braced it back level. Too many pots and pans that we never use. All bouncing as the highway miles of bumps and rolls.

Morning chores will finish replacing the AC/heat blower under the dashboard, dumping the holding tanks before leaving for Winchester Bay Marina for another night and brief exploration of the little tourist area. Coo’s Bay follows with one night before Brookings Harbor Marina RV, our last scenic stop along the coast.

The small, mild climate harbor is a brief, calm weather respite for ‘Grizzly’ and other big 90′ footers from TV’s ‘Most Dangerous Catch’. They like Alaska’s Aleutian’s and the Arctic Ocean for serious fishing, but like the much cheaper docking in pleasant Oregon for repairs and a few hundreds of tons of easy fish, from local fishing grounds offshore.

Left our night in Winchester Bay and arrived in Coo’s Bay and an ‘Old Mill’ casino RV lot for one night. It was a logging mill before it was a casino. WIFI is a perk, as is the chance to empty the holding tanks

[note: Hillary’s campaign bus dumps her ‘sh–‘ onto the street and into the local storm drains, where it spreads into the environment and water table… note You Tube],

otherwise a Walmart lot would have sufficed for a night just as well and saved $15. We had stayed in this parking lot on the bay side, before the casino became established along with their serious RV park. It did not cost anything in years past and we could observe the bay.

We did locate a couple of charity thrift stores and find a few little items for resell and personal use. Shark vacuum cleaners, such as Navigator and others in their line, are excellent and compete with Dyson for power. LOTS cheaper btw. Found a Meade spotting scope in a case, like new for about $100 less than Ebay and saved shipping. Removed the resident spider from inside and it works like new.

Coo’s Bay still does lots of logging. The numerous piles of logs, being delivered and shipped, are a few stories high along the bay side. Great stacks of wood chips are accumulating for uses in industry. Several old museum style tugboats from years past, are on display along the riverwalk.

Japan owns their own forests, purchased long ago, they continue their harvest and reforesting their Internationally owned forest land. They have factory ships that process the logs to order, as they are shipped. Even cities along the US coasts are customers for the japan owned log products, cut and planed to order.

The new LG Trac Phone from Fred Meyers [a Kroger affiliate], is 4 G most everywhere we have traveled. Costs far less than the other smart phone that we are toying with. LG Trac only cost $9.99 and the plan is for 90 days at $30. Great deal btw,

it is voice actuated and does more than the other phone, which only has 2 G most of the time. Our old basic ‘flip’ phone was nearing it’s yearly contract end and the yearly cost was almost as much as the smarter little Trac Phone contract… ‘Open’ phone with SIM choice option. Navigator with her online tinkering, even has gotten it to retain our old number, or so she assumes.

Our little Charleston Marina fish shack on the docks, was closed today. We used another tavern style restaurant nearby, not too bad, but a little more costly. The weather is rainy and much colder than average for this time of year. That is according to the locals, they should know. They lament the fact that they went from summer, directly to winter ‘climate’ this year.

After checking the morning forecasts, discussing our options, we may possibly proceed directly south to California, to escape the wet rainy weather. Brookings Oregon and the marina RV on the shoreline, is usually our next stop, but with current rainy conditions, it is not a really great place to enjoy the area. I like to hike, but not in the rain. Navigator can comfortably remain in the coach with it’s facilities, but that is not why we travel.

The last time we stayed at the Black Rock Reservoir in California, we watched our favorite mountain lion prowl around the campsite. Lots of deer, so the lion was not hungry. The deer walk up to the coach and peek into the door. I saw the nocturnal ‘Miner’s Cats in northern California, while on night hikes wearing red LEDs. Animals can not see the red LEDs, but I can see their eyes reflecting the ‘glowing coals’ in the darkness. Wild and a bit skittish, they look sort of like ‘ring tailed’ house cats.

Medford Oregon inland is usually along our path, in order to catch Interstate 5 south. Even Medford is getting rain. When it rains here, everything gets wet… and rusty.

After experiencing a lot of wet, windy and dismal weather this last week, the type that ensures the growth of lots of Pacific coastal forest,… think Lumber,…. we are in the ‘Banana Belt’ of southern Oregon. With afternoons of sunshine and a bright blue ocean view from the front of the coach, the Ocean view stay is now sunny and pleasant.

The coach is parked on the ‘front line’ 100′ feet from the ocean waves. A beach is visible between high tides. A breakwater somewhat deters the big waves from splashing on the front of the coach. Night is great sleeping with the rhythmic sound of the big waves roaring against the shore line and nearby rock jetties.

As winter storms increase, the front line will be off limits for RV parking. The fence behind us is braced against the winter winds. Crabbing is in progress at this time. Various methods are used to catch the crabs. A ‘butterfly’ trap is thrown by heavy line, rod and reel.

Baited with nicely rotting bait, the crabs enter the butterfly. When reeled in, the butterfly closes and a crab of the acceptable size is retrieved, if lucky. The local nearby fishing pier is busy during crabbing season, as well as salmon fishing. Seals take advantage of the catch and steal the fish from naive fishermen and women.

Crab ‘pots’ are common. Large traps resembling cages and carried off shore by boats, they can gather a number of crabs overnight, or day. When retrieved, they contain lots of crabs… if lucky. Salmon will begin their up river spawn run soon. The salmon are quite large, often exceeding two feet in length. Chetco River had a record spawn run, a couple of years ago.

Already a lot of small boats are lurking in wait for a few early running fish. A sailboat is heading out from the harbor this very minute. The weather is great and the brilliant blue seas are mild today. Several larger [up to 90′] fishing boats of the ‘Most Deadly Catch’ type {Alaska], are heading out at this time. Crab ‘pots’ are being set locally at this time. Crab brings lots of cash… for the fortunate.

Bandon Oregon is a touristy little village a bit north of our Brookings harbor on the Chetco River. A small open craft with three men, [not from the area], set out from Bandon Harbor two days ago during the large waves. As they attempted to ‘cross the bar’ [the often dangerous area just off the harbor entrance not protected by the rock jetties], where the out flowing river meets the incoming tide.

The small open craft [18′ to 21′] was tossed, swamped and capsized, drowning the three men [apparently not wearing life vests] before the coast guard could rescue them. 6′ to 8′ breaking waves were reported by the 47′ coast guard cutter.

Daily visits into town are planned. Three charity shops are targeted for our visits. So far our trip has been fruitful with finds. Nice Shark vacuum cleaner and a beautiful compact Meade Cassegrain telescope are our charity thrift treasures. Using the 90 mm telescope to watch the boats setting out from the harbor today.

The St Georges Lighthouse is visible on the southern curve horizon of the Crescent coast, six miles off landfall from Crescent City California. It was quite dangerous, killing a couple of lighthouse keepers and seriously injuring others, while they were being transferred from tenders to the dock in wild weather. Today it is restored by Lighthouse aficionados.

The ‘Harbor Cats are still in residence here at the marina. The lady that maintained them for years has passed away. Fortunately for the feral cats, their are others that care for them, bringing feed and neutering them as required.

I will check out the ‘Jetty Cats’ one evening. Their eyes glow like burning embers when the LEDs of my headlamp illuminate their crevasses, their haunts. They are a different colony and somehow reside among the massive jetty rocks. Assisted by the same ladies, they survive the harsh winters.

We packed up and left Brookings Oregon, driving south and again having the California Border Patrol board the coach and peek into the refrigerator, then through California’s Jedidiah Smith Redwood Forest narrow twisting mountain highway [quite scenic] we crossed the state line again. We passed through Grants Pass Oregon into Medford.

Crossing state lines is the only short way to get from southern Oregon into the inland sector. Navigator is not appreciating the narrow twisting highway, especially when greeted by a big fat speeding logging truck or another motor coach. The alternative is to backtrack to Coos Bay and then into Medford. Highway 5 is the other way south toward home.

Medford also has the Klamoth Falls route eastward. We spent the night at Walmart near Eagle Point. It is the newer, quieter store, 8 miles north of Medford. Left this morning eager to proceed across the wide open western USA toward home, we began to climb the pass. One big roar and the donuts instaled by Shannon at Ed’s in Cheshire, blew out on the exhaust exhaust header pipes… AGAIN.

The carbon monoxide filled the cab as navigator called muffler shops. None open on Saturday. Monday earliest. We returned to Walmart and verified with salaried manager for another two nights stay. Looked into having the catalytic convertors cut off and straight pipes installed this time. Possibly the ‘Cats’ are clogged and back pressure is destroying the exhaust donut seals? note: illegal to cut off cats.

We looked at smaller motor coaches today, but the concept of downsizing on this trip is not doable with the amount of ‘stuff’ we have accumulated in this coach over the years. Hopefully the exhaust seals will hold after this gastric operation.

Monday morning. After an additional couple of nights spent in Walmart ‘camp’ of Eagle Point [N of Medford] we located a man that knew what was happening with the exhaust system donuts. A couple of phone calls, two helpful advisors that were booked up for weeks, and one caring man willing to do the actual repair.

Along the coastal route, we stopped in a small antique shop that also deals in coins and bullion. He said all ‘stuff’ is being cleared out and only coins and bullion are his business. No longer remains a viable tourist trade in this Obamaconomy, he is shifting his business to tangible assets, silver, gold coinage. Sold in national coin shows, he sees profits in the future for coins [rounds] over ‘stuff’. He had a display of old smooth worn nickles. Not even silver, … Each sold for a dollar.
While in the Oregon coin dealer’s shop, he mentioned Oregon’s legalization of ‘substance’ abuse [Colorado did likewise]. His comment of sarcasm, was that ‘with this present government now in power, it will soon become mandatory for everyone’ .
So many strange happenings across this USA of today that we are no longer surprised. We are surprised at the large number of Trump signs. In a liberal mentality such as Oregon, it is interesting. The media would have everyone believe that Trump is a lost cause and only Hillary can save the deliberate sinking of the USA.
Morning and we will know our fate in the hands of muffler experts.. Drove the tow to the two options for repair. One looks as small as the other, but with a higher roof. We are taking the closer first. After telling our desires, we will know the plan. Hopefully a relatively quick repair and we will be on our way again.

The problem was originally from New Orleans. The donuts replaced…. for $300… by the good old cajuns, were wrong. They lasted for 3,000 miles, blew along the Columbia River and were replaced at Ed’s Muffler in Cheshire, with another set of really wrong donuts…… that lasted only 400 miles.

Apparently the linked chain of errors that caused all of the problems are now solved and Alex from ‘American Iron Exhaust systems’ came to the Walmart lot, surveyed the situation, as I told him about the conversations with experts, he found the correct parts, crawled under the coach and replaced the blown donuts… for only $100. I gave him the new set of wrong spares that Ed’s gave me. Lots of prayers connected us with Alex.

Catalytic convertors were fine, according to his basic tests of hand pressures. He is fairly confident that the new, obviously thicker, metal lined, graphite impregnated donuts made by Victor in USA, will last for a while. Big guy, he crawled under and quickly swapped out the parts. We happily left Walmart at 1 PM for Klamath Falls Oregon.

Through some beautiful mountainous valley country with hay, horses, cowboys/girls, cows and ranches stretching for a hundred miles or more, it is pretty. Desolation, with few other vehicles on this highway, but pretty. High mountain passes, but pretty. As the engine revved louder and louder, climbing higher and higher, I cringed at the test for the exhaust system.

All seems fine as we camp tonight in the Lakeview County Fairground RV lot. $10 for the night, including to dump tanks, fresh water fill and a quiet night with fairground wifi in their vacant lot. No fair or other venues going on, so no one is here. We are all alone in the fairground tonight. Freezing is possible tonight in this high mountain valley.

Lakeview, a forlorn ex logging community, formerly surrounded by forests, with no close forests remaining, once was on the shore of a large lake that extended south into California. Due to droughts and heavy demand for water from California, the lake, like the forests, is now far out of sight of ‘Lakeview’. There is a National Forest ski area on the remote highway between here and Medford. Slim chance that skiers would travel that far to ski. Must be a desolate ski slope as well.

We would not recommend this route [highway 140] for anyone that was concerned with being away from civilization for days at a time.

Just in time, storms are hitting the coast.
It froze in Lakeview Oregon the night of our Lake County fairground ‘camp’. The heat device that keeps the ‘basement’ water pipes from freezing turned on and did the job. We pulled out of the fairground, unknowingly with a 60 gallon tank full of brown rusty water….. after paying the $10 they stated.
It showed up as a dark amber flush water in the toilet. When no campers are using a facility, things get rusty. Lakeview is in dire straights and no relief in sight. They are using all of the liberal “Save the Earth” suggestions that Oregon demands.
One small wind turbine spinning and sun tracking solar panels minimally help provide a bit of ‘clean green’ electrical energy. Too bad their water system is Ka-ka. Horse trailers stop in here and stable or swap horses. Tough as nails, survival oriented, ranch women are the horse ‘swappers’ this evening.
A few log trucks are working the forests… distant from the mill in Lakeview. Most of the little town is shut down since the Liberal agenda is in charge. Democrats have a super majority in Oregon, from governor, the house, the senate..
We have noted this self imposed ‘depression’ as we cross the mid section of Oregon, away from the scenic touristy coast and the busy shipping port of Portland on the Columbia River, where outside money keeps things running and prosperous for those involved.
Crossing the ‘Range and Basin’ geologic formations of the great American western states, we grind the coach up… and down many mountain passes. Astonishingly beautiful scenery.
When on top, we see the valleys stretch to the horizons, with high mountain backdrops. Without irrigation, these valleys would be arid desert, just as is much of New Mexico. This part of Oregon really looks like our home. Vegetation and all.
Interesting to drive open highways all day and see significantly less than 50 other vehicles over the hundreds of miles driven. Most remote small settlements we see on our travels, are boarded up, abandoned little ‘has beens’ of dreams and little families, businesses, all leftover from prosperous years ago.
Do not attempt this crossing with less than full fuel tanks. Only two or three well prepared, international style touring motorcycles are noted. No fuel thirsty Harleys. One important fuel station in the middle of nowhere, still listed on Garmin, had been closed years ago.
So much for the ‘new’ Garmin. The latest and greatest that has taken us across some archaic highway…. highway not even in use today. Who diabolically programs these things, ISIS?
Elko Nevada Walmart was our night stay. Up on a ridge above the small city, it was quiet sleeping. Fewer customers, fewer cars and trucks in the parking lot were noted this crossing.
The western states economy is definitely not “Recovered, robust”, as described by certain political wanna be’s. If not for government and govt contractor vehicles noted every several miles across Nevada, there would be far less traffic.
We always look forward to crossing The Great Salt Lake Desert, southern end of the actual Salt Lake that has a substantial amount of very salty water.
Comparative [to what we have experienced from Oregon’s midsection] lot more traffic across the 40 miles of ‘Desert’ salt. At least we sometimes see vehicles a mile or so apart.
Flooded sections along side the highway were fairly common today. Must have rained recently. Still fascinating every time we cross this ‘toxic wasteland’ [EPA’s description?]. We curiously tasted the roadside salt on one previous trip. It will really burn your tongue.
Several deep tracks where sleepy drivers ran off the razor straight highway and got stuck in the wet mushy stuff. Many other places where curious individuals did circular burn outs across the dry salt, for kicks.
Formerly Lake Bonneville, filling the entire valley with a beautiful lake, countless thousands of years ago, it’s long term process of drying up, was an ecological disaster, not fixed by political promises… and ever more taxes. No SUVS involved.
Morton Salt has big plants processing the endless supply of white stuff near Salt Lake City.  Piled in snow white mountains, it is a picture in itself. We turned south and stopped to refuel at Spanish Fork Costco. Lithium, used in rechargeable batteries involved in all modern devices, is processed from deeply situated salt brine deposits, south of here in Nevada,
The business and residential corridor leading north from Spanish Fork, up through Salt Lake City to Ogden, is a multi lane 70+ mph freeway of prosperity leading for 100 miles. Lots of Costcos. Countless Walmarts.
To say it contrasts with, poverty obvious, liberal economics based Oregon, is an understatement. Noted a billboard near militarily relevant Wendover Utah. ‘No private Drones’, under penalty of law. Dugway Nevada is another govt supported facility.
We drove on to Green River State Park, on the Green River of Utah. The famous Powell expedition passed through here to map and document the Grand Canyon. Their story is told in the little museum near the campground.
The Green River is not green here. Carrying sand and silt from the iconic badlands of ‘Wiley B Coyote and Roadrunner’, it stays perpetually brown.
First chore was to drain and flush out the rusty amber coach water system and refill with clean water. Nice quiet night, with fewer campers, fewer travelers on this return trip…. after school started.
A passing train or three, was a nice little comforting lullaby. Talked to a few adventure seeking travelers with trailers. Mountain biking the surrounding national park trails is their fun.
Driving up and over Soldier Summit, down through the beautiful canyon with tree colors changing, is always a pleasant time… except in a rainy deluge amidst traffic… at night.. This trip was exceptional. Colors were primarily yellows and golds. Energetic, enthused hunters were not present in the canyon this trip.
Long ‘Coal’ train, climbing the canyon with ‘helper’ engines….. from the little town of Helper is busy. If coal is further demonized by liberal politics, even that remaining prosperity and important source of low cost energy will be a scene from the past.
Moab Utah is a busy, prosperous, expanding little tourist town with international visitors year around. The Utah badlands are the attraction. A massive national park surrounding, it is covered in trails and challenges for the adventuresome. Rentals of all sorts of vehicles keep the entrepreneurs busy outfitting the tourists. McDonald’s was our lunch.
Four Corners, where states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah all converge, is along this route
Destination Farmington New Mexico Sam’s Club lot, for last camp. Fuel was $2.01. Could have possibly made the distance to Albuquerque, but more restful to sleep one more night, then make the long home run today.  Nearby ‘Freddies’ steak burger and a chicken sandwich sufficed for our supper in the coach.
Our home state is still interesting as we note similar rock formations along the route from NM’s north west corner. Farmington NM [2nd largest NM city] is a bit sluggish as the oil/gas prices govern much of it’s economy. Still surprisingly bustling.
Well ‘service’ business [well pump maintenance] is strong no matter what price fossil fuels bring. The Four Corners coal fired power plant delivers low cost energy in large amounts to the western USA. Now attacked politically as ‘dirty’, it faces shutdown.
Anyone that ignorantly professes political faith in solar and wind electrical generating, has No education in the ‘laws’ of physics. They are Not sustainable.. without copious amounts of fossil fuel, nuclear and hydro powered generating stations.
Boom Bust, is the history of Farmington. Situated in the middle of Indian Reservations and oil/gas fields, if one venue lags, another picks up the slack. Mormons settled this area since the beginning and still govern it ‘conservatively’,… like they do prosperous Salt Lake City.
A few more hills to climb, I note a faint exhaust rumble from the ‘doghouse’ engine cover. Fuel costs are $1.91 at Warrior Fuel in Bernalillo north of Albuquerque. Indian tribal owned, like their nearby casino, it lacks a significant bit of state, county, municipal tax bite common everywhere else.
Arrived home after another rewarding adventure. Good to be home. Memories are now rehashed and the hours of routine, punctuated by seconds of shear terror, as we pass inches from speeding log trucks on narrow mountain curves. Repeatedly this scenario is experienced on a couple of forest highways so fascinating to travel.
Now we unload the ‘stuff’ and ready for storage, drain, blow out the water lines of the coach for winter, add anti freeze to drain traps. Change oil, grease the 13 fittings.
Noted the the now familiar, faint exhaust rumble and carbon monoxide odor of another set of failing ‘donuts’….again, as backed coach into driveway.
Maybe weather will stay mild for my personal attention to the recurring problem.
We are fortunate to make it home over a thousand miles, on the third set of better exhaust donuts installed by Alex in Oregon Walmart parking lot. Prayer works.
As luck would have it, the chain of events began in New Orleans and were made worse in Cheshire Oregon. The flange studs had come loose and dropped out from the manifolds, after all of the tinkering. New set is ordered from AutoZone. New graphite packed, steel  lined donuts from NAPA, as factory originals. Finally I will have control of the process. Hopefully I can do better :>)
Added note:

After lying semi-awake a few nights, figuring what to do about the recurring problem with the exhaust manifold donuts, I decided to crawl under again and remove the two new ones that I had ‘squished’ mistakenly [ignorantly] during installation.

As I figured, they were deformed and would not have lasted any distance. I reinstalled the proven durable set. Those installed in Medford Oregon by Alex, [working on the pavement in the Walmart parking lot]. I also ordered a carry spare donut from Auto Zone,… just in case.

During this last repair, I also replaced the two missing studs and nuts, that had fallen out after loosening during the repeated heatings and coolings of each days travels from Oregon. The ‘Help kit’ studs by Dorman, I had acquired from Auto Zone.

After Alex installed the durable donuts, I should have been re-tightening the flange retainer nuts each morning, before each day’s hundreds of miles of driving, until they had settled in and retained their ability to stay tight.

This time, with new studs and nuts, close attention to torquing the nuts in sequence, after greasing the outside of the header pipes, [those sections in iron flange retainer contact], to allow smooth, even pressures, I hope the system will retain it’s tension and alignment. I will drive to the local station for a top off of fuel for winter storage tomorrow.

After return and cool down, I intend to re-tighten the nuts. By doing this a couple of times, the system should stay tightly sealed for more extensive trips.

A wash and wax, before storage in the back yard, should be the last item before spring travels.

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