Friday, July 24, 2009

Overheating, Bad Tires, Worn Out Wipers - What's next?

Monday, July 20, 2009 – We pulled out just after 6:00 AM to fill the motorhome and have it to the Freightliner shop for our 7:00 appointment. They checked out the radiator cooling fan, the thermostat, and coolant levels and everything appears to be in working order. Due to all the dirt and gravel roads in Alaska the air filter was completely clogged with dirt and dust so they changed the air and fuel filters and did an oil change and sent us on our way. We finally pulled out of Prince George just before noon and headed south towards Vancouver. Just as we got on the road we came across a young couple, Samuel and Kate, who were trying to get to Kelowna which was right on our route so we gave them a ride. We continued down Highway 97 and it took very little time to discover that the heating problem persists. We had to stop several times for the engine to cool down and finally told Samuel and Kate that they might be better off and get home quicker on their own so they left us. Fortunately, they got picked up by someone else in just a few minutes. Since we had already been held up for 4 ½ days we decided to make it a long driving day. We finally pulled into a rest stop about 9:00 PM and stayed there for the night.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 – We pulled out of the rest stop about 6:30 and by going very slowly up the grades we were able to get to Surrey without overheating. The drive is a beautiful drive along the river passing through relatively low mountains and forested areas. Along the way you pass through 7 tunnels and a series of small towns. We arrived at the Dogwood Campground in Surrey by 10:00 AM and as soon as we got set up we got maps and drove about an hour into Vancouver. We got tickets for the Hop-On and Hop-Off Trolley and took the narrated tour around the city. We learned that Vancouver is a huge city with 2.2 million people and the third largest population density just after Mexico City and Manhattan, New York. We also learned that Vancouver is a huge filming center being third after New York and Los Angeles and that my favorite movie, “Pretty Woman”, was filmed there. We returned to the campground and took a quick orientation drive to figure out the location of the caterpillar repair center as we have an appointment with them in the morning to try once again to find out why we are overheating. We made dinner at home and tried to cool off – it was 103 inside the motorhome when we got back from Vancouver.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 – We left the campground early for our appointment at the CAT repair center in Surrey, BC to try and repair the continuing overheating problem. They determined that the diagnosis from Freightliner in Prince George was completely wrong and that the sensor that controls the cooling fan is not working. They did not have the part but were able to disconnect the sensor and allow the fan to run continuously and keep the engine cool so we could continue on our trip. The US/Canada border was only about a 15 mile drive from Surrey and after a 30 minute wait we crossed the border at Blaine, WA. We had heard so many horror stories about border crossing but with a total of 8 crossings during this trip we had not one single problem. We continued to drive south on Interstate 5 all the way through Washington and into Junction City, Oregon to the Country Coach factory. When we arrived we discovered that the on-site factory campground is no longer available and their operation reduced even more than we imagined after their recent bankruptcy. We ended up parking in the parking lot at the company headquarters and quickly drove to a Mexican restaurant where we had eaten on our last visit. We “dry camped” in the parking lot overnight and were able to get a satellite television signal for the first time in weeks so we were able to watch our local hometown news before going to bed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009 - When we woke up this morning before 7:00 AM we were told that Country Coach no longer offers any kind of service and we were directed to some other businesses in the area. We called a couple of the repair companies and could not get an appointment for today but we were able to get one for 8:00 AM tomorrow. I had noticed that our front tire looked a little worn on the outside edge so we stopped at Les Schwab Tire Center and had it inspected. We were told that we needed to replace at least the two front tires very soon and since Oregon does not have sales tax we would save well over $100 by getting the tires while we are here so we had it done. They said the wear pattern on the tires indicated an alignment problem so they sent us to a brake and alignment company nearby. Unfortunately they had no appointments available for almost a week so we decided to wait until we get home for that service. We dropped off the motorhome at a very nice campground called the Premier RV Resort where we will camp for tonight and then headed off to take care of some errands. In addition to the overheating problem we wanted to take care of some small do-it-yourself type repairs. We needed to replace clips for two of our drawers so they don’t open while we drive and we needed new wiper blades. The drawer clips were easy but it took several stops before we were able to get the right size of wiper blades. We completed our projects once we got back to the campground, went to the Jacuzzi for a while and made some of the halibut we caught in Ninilchik. If we can get the other repair done in the morning we will once again be on our way home.

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