Sunday, August 16, 2015

These Go To Eleven

Day One : Here We Go Again
Day Four : Venturing Fourth
Days 5-6 : Pleading the Fifth
Days 7-8 : Lucky Seven
Days 9-10 : Niner Niner

The Trinity River was the boundary of the campground property
August 5th, day eleven on the road. Mom had said that the longest she and dad had been away at a time was two weeks. Considering we were still in California, I had a strong suspicion we would be exceeding that number.

Since we'd decided that Yosemite and Sequoia National Park were too far south, the only thing on our itinerary was Wendover, Utah, so we continued on CA299 eastwardly, aiming for I-5. Sadly, after we were well out of the area, we realized we missed a chance for mom to get a Passport stamp in the Shasta-Whiskeytown area.

Once in Redding, we saw a sign for Lassen Volcanic National Park, and on a whim, decided to go. This took us out CA44 and through some road construction, where we learned that at least a few California construction companies like to use metal strips in the pavement as a "rumble strip"warning of a flagger ahead. Those metal strips felt like hitting curbing, they were so nasty.

We started our visit to Lassen by stopping at the Loomis Museum and visitor center, where we learned that the volcano last erupted 100 years ago.
An old seismograph at the Loomis Museum site
A lot of the cones were not visible except by hiking, so they were out. However, we made a few stops along the way to see various features.

Summit Lake
A neat flower neat Hat Creek
Raker Peak, from near Hat Creek
Reading Peak, from Kings Creek

Kings Creek at the Upper Meadow
Lassen Peak, with the Eye of Vulcan staring down
The Emerald Lake with Lassen Peak in the background
Both mom and I were vastly amused by the name of the most geothermically active area in the park, Bumpass Hell. It was named for a guide who had the misfortune of slipping and burning himself in the area not once, but twice! The second time, the burns to one of his legs were so bad, he needed to have part of the leg amputated.

When we came to the Bumpass Hell parking area, I suggested stopping, but mom thought it looked too crowded. I figured with the magic placard, we'd be able to find something, but she obviously didn't want to stop, so we continued on.

With Diamond Peak behind us, and looking into the Little Hot Springs Valley and across to Bumpass Hell, we made a quick stop.
A photo posted by Karen (@kiirenza) on
As we approached the last scenic viewpoint and parking area, the Sulphur Works, we couldn't help but notice a construction barrel and tape blocking off a section of sidewalk and part of the road. As we drove by, we saw that it was because one of the mudpots (fumaroles) was bubbling out of control, spewing out onto that sidewalk and onto the road. Of course, that meant we had to stop and gawk.
There should have been a footnote : "See how Bumpass Hell got its name."
blub blub blub
blub blub blub

I actually said to mom, "Be quiet, I'm going to take a quick video" because I wanted just the blub blub blub of the stinky, hot, mud pit. And by "stinky," I mean a serious rotten eggs stench because it was belching hydrogen sulfide vapors. Though, we both made the comment simultaneously that maybe this would have been a more appropriate spot for the "deposit."

We looked at some of the other areas, but just the one mudpot was super active, then we made a stop at the southwest entrance visitor area to see if there was a different Passport stamp. While there, I found an adorable tortoise puppet that I had to buy to go with the red-bellied turtle I'd already purchased at Reptile Gardens.
Hoosier Bear with his new friends
The clerk also told us that there'd been a mild earthquake the previous day, and that's likely why the mudpot was so active. Normally, the sidewalk doesn't need to be block.

We left the park and continued east on CA36 until Susanville, where we met up with US395. We knew that would take us into Nevada and to I-80. However, once we got away from some more construction, it became clear that there was something wrong with the RV. Any speed above 55mph resulted in violent shaking, especially from the rear. I suspected a missing wheel weight or some other tire-related issue, and pulled off the highway to look. I didn't see anything super obvious, but as we entered Reno, we stopped at an RV body shop.

I told mom to let me handle it, because the last thing I wanted was for someone to take her for an expensive ride, preying on her lack of knowledge. After I explained the issue, when it manifested and what I'd already looked at, the shop manager told me that it definitely sounded like a wheel weight, but he couldn't fix it. He suggested I go to Les Schwab Tires down the street in the suburb of Sparks.

The guys there also agreed it was likely a wheel weight or something similar, and they could look at it right away. Turns out that, yes, there was a wheel balancing issue, but not because a weight had been dislodged.
That isn't good
Not only was part of the tire gouged out, but the belts were giving way. The surface of the tire was lumpy.

So, a new set of tires was purchased, and we were back on the road less than two hours after stopping. The RV park search began, and we ended up stopping in Lovelock at a very sketchy place, the Brookwood Motel and RV Park. The bathroom smelled horrible, and I was literally scared to shower in this place. I don't think it actually exists as a motel any more. Thankfully we were only there one night.

And the next day would be salt flats.

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