Our First Month in USA. Part one.

Yes, it’s already a month. Sorry for the amount of time it has taken to post an update! So here’s some of what has been happening…

Sunrise over the desert
Sunrise, midway at a rest stop three hours from Prescott, AZ.

We have been in the USA now for almost four weeks. Time has passed by so quickly. Wow, almost a month has gone and it seems like so much has already happened. There is so much that I should have written about before but days have been full and busy.

Our journey from Hong Kong to America was easy. A few delays but nothing to worry about. We arrived in San Francisco at night and we were picked up by our very good friends. A late night supper, tea and catching up and off to bed with us. The next day the adventure starts with a twelve hour drive to Arizona to stay with family and see for the first time a house our friends had only just bought, a few doors down the street from Mom.

Departing from Hong Kong
Arriving at San Francisco.

Setting off around noon I was driving the family RV. A big 1997 RoadTrek, only been with the family for a year or so but it has been a good and faithful home to them for trips around California and beyond.

All packed and ready to go to Arizona.

Later in the afternoon after a few hours driving we made a stop for a break and some shopping for snacks and food for the trip. We planned to make it a two day journey. 

Two six hour days of driving is much nicer than trying to struggle through a long twelve hour day of driving. For me in a new country and a big RV. Our friend was driving with his wife, two kids, two cats and a dog in the car so better to drive half way and get a good rest.

Taking the exit to Los Angeles.

Pulling out of the car park from the shopping break the drama began. A car behind honked his horn at me but I thought nothing of it. Everything seemed fine to me. Next, after we had entered the freeway a car passed us and a lady was waving at us and pointing to our rear. I don’t remember now, is that when we started to get the shaking and vibrating? We had shaking and vibrating. We are driving a big vehicle, over twenty years old it’s normal to get some shaking… isn’t it? This was not normal. Not at all. 

We had heavy vibrating all through the van, and it was worse when we braked. We had to stop. We called to our friend ahead and told them we had to stop. They were ahead of us and pulled over onto the shoulder and waited for us. We drove slowly along the shoulder. Big clouds of dust behind us as we drove at around 30mph until we reached our friends. Driving at that speed seemed fine but maybe driving on the gravelly shoulder just masked the shaking. Pulling up behind our friends we inspected the RV. Smoke. 

Sun setting on a distressed Road Trek

Smoke and a burning smell coming from the rear left wheel. Seemed like we had cooked the brakes but I have no idea how that happened. 

Fire extinguisher on hand I handed over the driving to my friend and we nursed it slowly to the next exit where we could at least be off the freeway and away from the cars and trucks passing us at 70+mph. 

What to do? Is it safe to continue driving? Where can we find a mechanic? Where do we go from here? It would cost a small fortune to have it towed from where we were. Night was drawing in and we could see the traffic on the freeway was easing. We decided to drive it back up the freeway to the town we had just passed. Bakersfield, CA. We found a Love’s stop with an Arby’s and a mechanic. But the mechanic was already off. We had a fast food dinner at Arby’s and were lucky to get the last two rooms in the motel over the road. At least we had had food and now secured a safe place to rest and sleep. The kids were exhausted and the pets needed food and care.

Next morning I slept in late while the RV was driven to Wasco for the first time. Not the last time unfortunately!

The first time I met Fernando was that afternoon. He had worked on the RV for most of the day and had replaced many parts of the brake system. We were all set to go some twenty-four hours after the initial breakdown.

It happened again. Not too many miles down the road, again on the freeway we had the heavy vibrations on braking. Braking from slower speeds was fine and for many miles on the freeway there is often no need to brake. But it was clear – vibrations throughout the vehicle when we braked. This time there was an exit ahead and we called the other car and told them we had the same problem and were leaving the freeway at the exit. Fortunately the exit had a big area where we could safely stop and consider our options. Lots of options but none were ideal. 

Finally we decided to rent a Uhaul truck. We would drive the car to get the Uhaul from the closest depot, drive back to the RV, transfer our bike and all the luggage from the RV into the truck and then drive back in a three vehicle convoy back to see Fernando in Wasco. From there we would leave the RV behind and take the Uhaul to continue our journey to Arizona.

Transfer from Roadtrek RV to a Uhaul truck.
Packing the Uhaul outside Fernando’s workshop.

The rest of our drive to Arizona went well. I was pumping myself full of caffeine energy drinks and we drove on until around 2am in the morning when we decided to take a rest at the next rest stop. We would sleep until we felt well enough to carry on. Our Uhaul truck didn’t have reclining seats so we slept outside on a picnic table. An hour later, 3am and we were awake and felt good to carry on the drive. We were eager to have this journey over! We didn’t want to spend yet more money and time in a motel. We drove on again fuelled by Monster energy drinks and snacks. Come 6am the sky was brightening and we made another stop for a power nap. The last stop of the journey we finally made it to our destination at 9am.

Monster sugar-free energy drink. Helps keep me awake!
A power nap in the comfort of camping chairs.
Picnic tables at the rest stop.

One night in a motel and one night on the road. One RV broken and left behind, one Uhaul truck to be returned for an expensive one way rental.

It was so good to finally arrive. Food, a shower and a safe place to sleep. The comforts of home. Bliss.

Finally arrived!

We wouldn’t see the RV again until after three weeks. And we wouldn’t become friends with Fernando until then.

During our time in Arizona we had a lot of fun. Good food and drink with good friends and family. We rode our bike around Prescott, AZ taking in some off road trails and getting in some exercise. We took a trip to the Grand Canyon with yet another rental car and spent three days there. We went down to Phoenix and reached our first state capital building! And all the while we were helping with the renovation of the new house. Ripping out carpet and removing old floor tiling. A bit of manual labour, it felt good to be able to help out and join the massive effort of turning a house into a home. We celebrated a birthday and played football in the mud. And we watched, safely indoors, as the storm clouds rolled in and the rain and hail came.

Ripping up old floor tiles.

We are thankful that on our rides we have been blessed with good weather and the thunder and lightning that threatens always passed us by.

Watching the approaching storm. It passed us by and we stayed safe and dry.

We finally named our tandem. 

Our tandem bike is called Johnny Blessing.

Three weeks later and it’s time to return to the RV.

Hailstones. Glad we were indoors for this storm.
Our first proper eat out meal. A giant burger that I finished!
Yummy burger with blue cheese.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Gale

    Why do we name our tandem “Johnny Blessing, JB”??
    I wish to remind ourselves to be grateful for everything we have, everything we are experiencing is a blessing. We are grateful for we are very much blessed in many ways.
    So whenever we introduce JB, we will also say our live is full of blessings.

  2. Kitman

    good job, good memory , good life.
    To make your dream come life, to make your life meaningful, we must use lots of effort.

    You do it.

    1. 2wheels2seats

      Thank you Kitman. 你都可以做到㗎,只要你有信心有信心!

  3. Sue weber

    So happy to hear you are in the US. When will you come north to Minnesota? Hope to see you soon

    1. 2wheels2seats

      Hi Sue! Not sure, hope to make it before it gets too cold but we are moving so slowly at the moment.

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