August 31st, Friday, the first day of the Labor Day weekend. I’m expecting the roads to fill up tomorrow. The northbound traffic was picking up tonight and the campgrounds were full. I’m alongside the road on a cross street of Hwy. 1, the coastal highway in California. CA doesn’t have as many state parks as Oregon did and they’re real specific about “Day Use” parks and their closing time. It seems that I won’t pay to use a park lately unless I’m with somebody. Can’t justify it.
I saw a sign out front of a little restaurant along the Avenue of the Giants (Redwoods) that said, “Stop In and Eat or We’ll Both Starve.” Another sign kinda tells the story of what the coastal highway, Hwy. 1, is like. Pretty, though. Most every view of the ocean looks like a postcard. It feels like driving one of those video games, especially at night.
So far California’s been pretty much like most other states, with the little towns, the farms or ranches, the buildings. It’s just that all the ones along this road all have a view of the ocean. The prices seem higher already. And a legendary tradition seems to be coming to a close. The infamous California license plates, blue with yellow number and California embossed across the top, are being replaced with the new printed plates with the design at the top. Like Minnesota’s name with the trees and lake on it. I’ve seen Illinois and Tennessee like that, and now California.
Before I forget, I wanna make a list of mechanical “difficulties” I’ve had with the van. Aside from the oil I’ve gone through, I’ve used a lot of gas, getting about 14 mpg. The gas gauge is a little off and doesn’t say empty when it runs out, it says about 1/8th. Through most of the trip the motor’s run pretty hot, about 230 degrees (using some water running that way), and boils over at 250 degrees. The weather and terrain doesn’t seem to matter one way or the other. But since the real cold stuff along the northern Pacific coast and the slow curvy driving have kept it down to 195 degrees or so.
And all the time I was with Violet, the shifter would occasionally stick in first gear. I thought I fixed it by tightening a real loose nut on a shifter arm while in Golden, CO. But it got real bad in downtown Seattle, of all places. All I could do was hop out right in the middle of the busy intersection, crawl underneath, and jerk the shifter rods around until it got back to normal. (Conveniently, the van rides high enough so you can get under it without jacking it up.) It hasn’t done it since, but I’m not sure what it is. It’s got to be either in the shift column or the innards of the tranny.
I had a bolt fall out that holds the window track in the driver’s door. Fixed that after a week or two. Now the side door is another story. The bottom dead-bolt rod was scraping on a screw that holds the paneling on. In Pueblo it got cocked in there and wouldn’t close, so I forced it shut. While waiting for the Eastwood movie to start I fixed it, but it has since then fallen right out of the door. Gotta work on that, I guess.
And then there’s the damn blinker that won’t shut off because of my “custom” steering wheel! I think I’ve gone through entire states with my blinker on. Had a guy on a motorcycle wave at me and it took a while to figure out he was telling me my blinker was on. I had just fixed the backup lights before I left but they haven’t worked since.
And then there’s the jack and tire wrench I had to buy because I couldn’t find the ones I had when I left.
That’s it so far, but Blue seems to be getting better with age.