Slab City to Lone Pine: 248 miles total since San Carlos: 895 miles
travel time: 9 hours, 20 minutes (but that includes stopping for breakfast and stopping to fix Flipper once)
I was ready to bug out of Slab City by this morning. Decided to skip breakfast since I planned to stop at a Mickey D’s to take advantage of their wifi. And, since man does not live by wifi alone, I figured I might have to partake of a couple Sausage McMuffins w/Egg. Poor me. Since all I had to do was make myself a cup of coffee for the road and close and latch all the cupboards, I was underway at 6:15. Nice time to travel on the backroads east of the Salton Sea on a Sunday morning. Pretty much zero traffic. And speaking of the Salton Sea, for some reason I had always thought that it was a dry sea. Imagine my surprise to find it both large and full of water. Learn something new every day.
Passed a couple of very large date orchards along the way. An orchard full of date palms seems kind of exotic although I guess it really isn’t.
Once I reached Indio, I had breakfast, posted the blog, and sent and received a few e-mails. Then it was back on the road again. My original plan was to stay at a BLM campground just north of Barstow. But, even with stopping for breakfast, I was in Barstow by 11:30. Since there really isn’t a whole lot to do if I stop that early, I decided to push on. To where? I wasn’t certain. Just figured I’d stop when the mood struck. Met up with Highway 395 which will be my road of choice for the next couple days as I meander up the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Took the 395 Business loop through the town of Ridgecrest just to see what was there for future reference. Remember, this is partly a scouting trip for our return trip this fall. Well, you can find anything in Ridgecrest that you can find in any other town with all the standard chain stores. And, when you’re on the road and avoiding the interstates and big cities, that’s no small thing. However, I decided not to get gas there as it was something like $4.29/gallon. And, although my main tank was getting low, my auxiliary tank still had 30 gallons of good ol’ Pemex Magna sloshing around in it. So, rather than pay the thieves, I just switched to tank #2.
Almost immediately upon switching tanks, I noticed a strong smell of gas. Huh? A few miles own the road I pulled over, checked the switchover valve for leaks (none) and also checked under the hood to see if raw gas was spewing somewhere. It wasn’t. Got back in a drive on. But the smell was still there. It really couldn’t be ignored, even by me, and I’m a master at ignoring things I don’t want to deal with. Pulling off the road was possible but the shoulders weren’t very conducive to a safe feeling, especially if I had to do some repairs. Finally I saw a sign for a Rest Area, 5 Miles ahead. I pulled into the Rest Area and, in my chillful way, had a pickle before I investigated anything. Guy needs a snack sometimes. Once the pickle was gone, I started looking around. A glance under the truck showed a nice little puddle of gas forming on the starboard side. And I could see the gas dripping into it. I turned off the auxiliary tank and the drip slowed but didn’t stop. So, I climbed underneath to see what I could see. What I saw was the copper tubing from the auxiliary tank connected to the copper line to the carburetor by a short piece of rubber tubing that was completely rotted out. That baby was gone! OK, what to do? I managed to stop the drip by closing the auxiliary tank off and then relieving pressure from the main tank by loosening the gas cap. So, obviously I had to replace the tubing. But with what? I figured that maybe I could find some extra tubing length under the hood. You know, some line that was too long and could be shortened. I only needed a piece about 4″ long. I was rummaging through my goodies containers looking for a hose clamp when I spied something that just might work. Long time ago I bought this extender deal for the Schraeder valves on the rear duals. I think the idea was that you could make it easier to check air pressure. But, since I haven’t really had any trouble checking air pressure, I’ve never installed it. It’s a short piece of high pressure rubber hose with a standard Schraeder fitting on one end and, what I guess you’d call a female Schraeder fitting on the other. It looked like there’d be enough hose left to use if I cut the ends off. But would there be? And is it even the right size? Only one way to find out.
So, I cut the ends off, and crawled back under Flipper with the piece of hose and a couple of hose clamps. I’ll be damned if it wasn’t an almost perfect fit. Oh, it could have been an inch or so longer but it works and will continue to work until I get the proper piece of hose. Tightened the hose clamps, opened the valve from the auxiliary tank and waited. Not a drip. Waited a few minutes and checked again. Still dry. Cleaned up my mess and hit the road. I figured that, after all the gas that had run down my arms plus having to lay under the truck, albeit on a nice fabric mat, I really needed a shower tonight. So, I figured I’d go as far as Lone Pine and check into an RV park. But the main RV park that’s listed in the Good Sam book is an “RV Resort” which I try to avoid. Mostly because they’re really expensive. There was a public campground listed jst south of Lone Pine for $10/night. No hook-ups but it supposedly had toilets and showers.
I pulled in to Diaz Lake County Campground around 3:30. There are a lot of people here but there are also a lot of open campsites. It looks like sort of a free for all as far as campsites go. They are definitely not well marked. I guess, if it has a picnic table, it’s a campsite. I managed to get a nice shady spot with a view of the lake. And, after a whole bunch of brigglin’ around, I finally managed to get myself set where I’m level enough not to need blocks. WOOT!
I managed to find the pit toilets but so far the showers have eluded me. I’ve got plenty of water onboard to take a Flipper shower and I may do that. I know that the water in the tank is perfect shower temperature right now. However, if I decide that’s too much hassle, I may just sponge off and hit an RV park tomorrow.
Now that I came this far today, my whole plan is screwed up and I have no idea where I’ll stop tomorrow. I do know that there’s a McD’s in Lone Pine so I might be leaving here early. I’ll know for sure tomorrow morning.