A gorgeous day on I-5 (and a few minor glitches)

Lodi to Bakersfield (3) Gotta thank everyone for all the encouragement yesterday, both on Facebook and as comments on my blog post about the break-in.  I was even surprised at how comforting it felt to have people noticing and sending along good thoughts.  A couple of folks mentioned our good attitude toward it all, but again, as we looked around last night at how unscathed we were, it was impossible to not have a pretty good attitude.

This morning, even though there were huge clouds all around the San Joaquin Valley, we saw promises of brilliant sunlight peeking through.  Although we didn’t get up till 6:30 or so, I had been lying awake since four, watching the perigee full moon through the sky visible below the back bedroom shade.  All sorts of scenarios went through my mind, still trying to figure out just how they managed to do some of the weird things they did.  So yeah, that good attitude held up fine with the lights on, but in the dark of night, not so much.

Lodi to Bakersfield (8) We got up, neither one of us much in the mood for breakfast, and checked out the weather on the internet.  Didn’t look real good for us no matter which route we follow, so we just decided that driving down the open country of I-5 on the west side of the valley was more agreeable than bumping along on my least favorite road, Highway 99, even though 99 would have been a shorter route.  Our latest plan was to amble toward Bakersfield and then check again about the passes, and probably camp somewhere this side of Castaic and the Flying J on the interstate. 

Of course, with so many little things missing, we also decided that a shopping trip to Camping World, south of Bakersfield on 99 was a good plan, and we still hadn’t completely let go of our wish to travel via 58 to Tehachapi and our friends.  Speaking of friends, Loree is at this very moment sitting in Tehachapi, and her photos of the snow there looked a bit daunting.  Either way, a night of boondocking was on the agenda.

Lodi to Bakersfield (10) The drive south on I-5 was actually breathtaking.  With all the storms, there isn’t a bit of smog or pollution in the air, and the wild cloudy skies with brilliant sun breaks only intensified the spring green of the annual grass rangeland of the western perimeter of the Great Valley. I said to Mo, “I have to get some real photos, not windshield shots, this is just too gorgeous>.”  She replied, “Well, I can’t pull over here in the middle of nowhere, but I’ll keep watching.”  In less than 2 miles, we saw a sign indicating a “vista point”.  Perfect!  The exit wound up a high hill right next to the interstate with an amazing 360 degree view of the entire valley north, east, and south, and the coast range rising to the west.  In addition, we found ourselves looking down on the California Aqueduct just below us.

Lodi to Bakersfield (11) A true engineering marvel, whether you love it or hate it, and stretched out to the horizon parallel to Interstate 5, it was all that made California what it is, especially Southern California.  With my 3G connection and 5 bars on the I-phone, I managed to learn more about the aqueduct that I even knew growing up in California when it was being built.  In a nutshell, the magnificent snow melt of the Sierras flows down the Feather River to Oroville Dam, west to the Delta of San Francisco Bay, then south through a mind-boggling array of pipes, tunnels, pumps, over mountains, through mountains and ending up supplying the outrageous water needs of the bread basket of the world in the San Joaquin Valley and the entire metropolitan area of Los Angeles.  I even read that the water Rick and so many others are drinking while supping at Palm Springs restaurants comes from the gorgeous Feather River high in the Sierras. 

Lodi to Bakersfield (20)  Once again on the road, the pavement was smooth enough for me to knit, and the storms coming and going made for great entertainment.  A bit after noon, we thought lunch might be nice and stopped at a quiet rest area with thoughts of starting up the generator and cooking some grilled cheese sandwiches.  Mo said, “Probably would be a good idea to start up the generator anyway, since it’s been sitting awhile”.  UhOh.  Good thing we did.  She started easily and then ground right down to a stop and wouldn’t start again.  Mo checked under the rig for any sign of what might be the problem, but no luck.  She did say that the intruders were messing around in the generator bay, and who knows what they actually did.  The sound felt like it wasn’t getting gas.  Maybe something is cut or gone, but either way it wasn’t something she could figure out so we called Camping World.  Wouldn’t you know, they are booked up until Friday!  We don’t have our battery charge indicator, and certainly aren’t comfortable boondocking without the generator, so Camping World gave us the number of Pacific Power in Bakersfield, and thank goodness they said to come on in.

Lodi to Bakersfield (24) It was another hour and a half in to the shop, and lo and behold, it was a shop dedicated specifically to generators, with Onan on the window signs.  We pulled around to the back bay as directed by a crusty old guy who wasn’t the least bit talkative.  He pulled off the cover to the generator, harumphed a bit about how Dynamax didn’t make it easy to work on, and made some mumblings about us having it in storage too long and the carburetor was probably just glazed up.

Lodi to Bakersfield (27) Mo told him about our vandals, and he crawled under to find the fuel line to the generator was cut.  Seems as though the robbers couldn’t manage to siphon the gas directly from the gas tank, so evidently thought they could get it out of the generator gas line.  Must not have worked, but they weren’t completely awful people because they actually plugged up the cut hose with a piece of pipe so all the gas wouldn’t run out on the floor and cause an explosion.   Our fixer man re-connected the hose, pushed the starter, and the generator roared to life.  Perfect.  Only after all this, did the guy actually start to talk a little bit and laughed with us about the good outcome.   I told him I was part of the RV blogging world and would put in a good word for Pacific Power  on Buck Owens Boulevard in Bakersfield.  Great service where we least expected it.

Lodi to Bakersfield (30) Back on Highway 99, we traveled just a few miles south to camping world to check out some goodies, and found another voltage meter to replace the one that was stolen.  By this time is was after 4pm and we were definitely ready to settle in for the evening.  Looking at the snow ringing the entire valley, we finally decided that we would take our chances traveling 58 directly east to the desert tomorrow morning.  A quick search on Streets and Trips yielded an RV park not too far out of town along our route and within an hour we were parked and settled in, just in time for the huge thunderstorm to hit. 

Lodi to Bakersfield (31) You wonder why I am so amazed at our good luck?  I have had other times in my life where something that looks like a streak of really bad luck is combined with amazing good luck that gets me through it all by the skin of my teeth.  This has been one of those streaks for sure, a time when I know someone is watching over me.  As we left Pacific Power this afternoon, Mo turned to me and said, “How likely would it be for us to just randomly decide to use the generator in the middle of the afternoon?”  How likely that we would be within a few miles of an Onan specialist.  How likely that the vandals didn’t let all the gas drain out after cutting the fuel line, and how likely that the whole thing didn’t just blow up completely.  How likely that we would decide to travel highway 58 and then hear that there were heavy snows and landslides on I-5 and it was closed down anyway!

Yup, so far, this has been one heck of a lucky trip.