I left home at 7:15am on Friday November 16th, 2007 with high hopes and anticipation. Little did I know…
I enjoy the drive down state highway 95 and chose that route rather than going through Oregon. I had to make a stop in Lewiston, Idaho and that turned out to be a serendipitous, lucky decision. While pulling the very steep and long Midvale hill in central Idaho, I developed a mechanical problem. I didn’t realize there was trouble until Weiser, Idaho, but I had difficulty shifting from 4th to 5th as I crested out. I put this off as an error while depressing the clutch pedal. But, when I got to the stoplight in Weiser and tried to downshift, I found I was stuck in 5th gear! Nothing I could do but shut the engine down or I would run the red light and cause an accident. I was then able to get into 1st gear and start the engine without the clutch depressed. This allowed a slow painful limp across the intersection when the light changed and a ignominious retreat to the parking lot at the local Stinker gas station. My proud pickup had gone as far as it was going to go.
I won’t go into the pain and angst of trying to find out what was wrong, except I wasn’t sure if the problem was transmission or clutch. I found a local repair shop three block away and an RV park across the street. The owner of the shop was kind enough to tow my truck and park my trailer and I settled down to a weekend of nail-biting wondering if my trip was over. Of course the shop closed for the weekend and transmissions repairs run in the $2500-$3500 range on that transmission and clutches run close to $1000. Gulp. Two days of fretting.
Monday morning at 9:30am I walked over for the bad news. Turned out it was good news. The pilot bearing had seized and nothing else was damaged. The owner had an expert mechanic and he had the transfer case, transmission, and clutch out in less than an hour. Parts were being shipped in from Boise and I would be back on the road that evening. Awesome! Parts in at 2:00pm, truck keys to me at 4:40pm. $640.20 for the bill. The people of Weiser were very nice to me and sympathized with my plight. I was loaned a TV and everyone was more than hospitable. If there is such a thing as a good place to break down, I had found it. Thinking of breaking down along the maxipista in Mexico left me a little green and weak kneed. This diversion had turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
On the road again on Tuesday morning, I was prepared for some serious windshield time after pacing and "Walking in Weiser" (In my email to my friends, I had signed "Ken ‘Walking in Weiser’ McIntyre". That moniker brought some humorous responses.) The trip down 95 to Nevada was a cinch except for a lot of ice in southern Idaho. There were rigs off of the road left and right, but I took my time and had little problem. While considering my trip I had chosen a route I had never traveled, south from Battle Mountain, Nevada. This route was beautiful, peaceful and interesting. The only grade was a serious pull east of Austin on highway 50. I never saw an RV on the whole stretch from Battle Mountain to Tonopah.
There is a quaint, historic cemetery on the western edge of Austin that lies on either side of highway 50.
I was trying to make time, but I just couldn’t resist the temptation to stop and have a look. There was a hard, lazy (too lazy to blow around you so it blows right through you) wind howling and I was freezing to get these pictures, even with a heavy coat on. Lots of miners and pioneers buried here. Quite the scenic view for any ghosts that happen to be a hanging around. Those ghosts would be white because of the frost condensing on them.
Back in the rig and south to Tonopah. It was dusk as I pulled in and I settled in an RV park on the south end of town. There was no question I would need power to run heat all night long. It was positively cold. The only thing I could find of interest was the huge copper cooking pot hanging in the restaurant at the Ramada Inn.
Cannibals would love this rascal as it’s big enough for two at a Amazonian potluck dinner. I believe it was used by a laundry back in the mining days.
I’ve run out of time. Next, Death Valley.