Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wending Out Way Down California

We are parked at the Arabian RV Oasis in Boron, Ca. in the high desert country west of Bakersfield. This is a Passport America campground where we are staying for the half price rate of $12. We are headed to the Palm Springs area and wanted to get over half way which we did.

We looked at a couple of options in leaving the San Benito TT park. The obvious and easy one was to head north through Hollister and west on 156 to I-5. This was the way we came in. But we didn't like heading north to go south. So we looked at the alternative of taking highway 25 south to highway 198 west. This would save us over 40 miles and some fuel and time. There is a sign just where we would turn on to highway 25 saying "tractor semis with king pin to rear axle over 30 feet not advised next 50 miles". Well, we are not a semi so the warning does not directly apply, but generally roads that are not good for trucks are not good for large RVs either. But the sign did not even say that semis were forbidden to use the road. We talked with a couple of RVers who had driven the road in RVs notably smaller than ours who just said that it was a winding narrow road with no shoulder and you had to go slow. We've done that before. So we took this more difficult route. It was curvy and slow but little traffic and no real problem. The worst part is that a steep grade of about 5 miles starts on 198 just after the stop sign meaning that we had to go up with no momentum, and did most of the climb between 15 and 25 miles an hour.

We had a problem that was unrelated to the route. We have a Brakemaster system that uses the bus air brake system to control the brake pedal on the Camry and stop it proportionally. On our first stop to check things we found that the connecting air hose had come lose where it connects to the car. So we pushed it in and left again. There is a light on the bus dash to indicate when the car brake is applied. We now watched this carefully and after the first stops it did not come on. So when we found a good pullout we checked again. We found that the quick connect was not locking. We sprayed a lot of silicone spray on it and it seemed to loosen a bit but not fully lock. We did the best we could at pushing it on and hoped that it would stay. We were really not too concerned about the towed car braking system not working as we are within the weight capacity of our bus brakes even with the car behind. But a few states require such a system. We don't recall if California is one of them but it would be logical as there are a lot of mountains. And the way our system is set up our car brake lights don't come on unless this system is working. Fortunately, it stayed hooked the rest of the day without further intervention and we hope that it will continue until we get to Palm Springs tomorrow. Then we will look at finding a new connector for the end.

Once we hit I-5 we had several options. Our GPS recommended taking I-5 to I-10 in Los Angles. We did not want to take this route. There is a hard climb called the Grapevine on I-5 and we preferred to avoid this especially in the heat of the day as these old buses have a tendency to overheat in such conditions. And we also prefer to avoid going through large and unfamiliar cities with our bus-car combination whenever possible. So we decided to take highway 58 out of Bakersfield. There is a climb through Tehachapi pass which we are pretty sure is easier than the grapevine. And the only other city on the route is San Bernadino which we recall as being relatively easy to travel through.

We made it through Bakersfield easily which is notable only because we were there once before and somehow made a wrong turn in heavy traffic causing frustration and delay. We made it up the hill in mid-afternoon. We stopped near the top for a few minutes to let the engine cool. It was easy driving in the high desert.

We had originally thought that we might just park for an overnight in a Walmart or rest area. But recalling that it is Halloween we decided that might not be the best plan. We could have gone to the Soledad Canyon TT park which would have been only a few miles from a reasonable route. We spent a couple of weeks there 4 years ago and it is a nice park. But we decided that for one night we would be better to stay somewhere right on the route which would be an easy in and out.

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