Our First Month in USA. Part two.

Nighttime over Lake Kaweah

On the morning of July 21st we went down to the Prescott, AZ Uhaul depot and picked up our truck. We had booked a ten foot truck but they only had a 15 footer available so we took that. The size refers to the length of the rear cargo compartment. 15 foot is huge and our bike and luggage looked lonely in the back of the huge empty space.

Loading the Uhaul. I think it should all fit in.
Our bike is long but the Uhaul is longer!
All packed and ready to go
Saying goodbye to good friends

We also found out the 15 foot truck is bigger all round. The whole thing is bigger and we discovered that the fuel consumption is very high. We spent $200 just on fuel driving from Prescott, AZ to Wasco, CA.

We took the drive easy, my right foot pressing the gas pedal lightly and finally managed to achieve 9.4 MPG. Rather than doing the drive in one go we drove until we were not far from Wasco and stopped for the night at the Loves stop. I slept in the back on a sleeping mat and with a sleeping bag. Gale slept in the front across the three seats. It was a good idea. We slept well and were fresh and awake for the final hour that took us into Wasco.

Taking it slowly. Trying to get 10 MPG.
Sun setting over Wifey.
Oral hygiene is important.
Setting up to sleep in the back of the truck.

There we found the RV. Parked already out on the street where Fernando had parked it ready for us to pick up. We transferred the bike and our gear into the RV, dropped off the Uhaul at the depot just around the corner and drove off for lunch. 

Lunch was nice at a small Mexican store which had a bit of a cafe restaurant inside.

After lunch we headed out. 

Our plan was to take the RV first up to Sequioa National Park and then into Yosemite before we dropped off the RV back at San Francisco. However in our experience the RV doesn’t like plans.

Just a few miles out from Wasco we could feel the RV was not running right. We were driving through some roadworks at around 15 MPH and we could feel it “pulsing” as if the brakes were being rhythmically gently applied. We turned onto to highway and tried the brakes harder… Vibrating and shaking. I couldn’t believe it! It makes me question myself. 

“Do I know how to drive?”
“Is it something I am doing wrong?”

Fortunately we have not gotten far from Wasco. We call Fernando but he is in nearby Bakersfield and won’t be back for an hour. So we stop next to a farm where they are growing almonds. Miles and miles of almonds. Gale heads out to take some pictures and we try a few. Starting off again we hear loud squealing from the rear left brake. It’s binding on. My head hangs feeling sad, frustrated and annoyed. We message Fernando, tell him we are stuck on the side of the road and our location. He’s a great guy and agrees to come find us.

Gale found almonds
Lots and lots and lots of almonds!

An hour later and Fernando arrives. He looks at it, tries to drive it and confirms that the brake is binding on. He pulls out his tools and gets to work trying to see if there is anything he can do now on the side of the road. In the end all he can do it put on a pair of mole grips on the brake line to isolate the brake and we drive off back to workshop. He follows behind and watches in case the grips fall off. If they come loose it’s likely they brakes will lock on and we are going to cook the brakes again.

What am I doing wrong?????!!!!
Prepared with mole grips.
Back at the shop and mole grips still in place.

18 miles. That’s the amount I had driven the RV from and finally back to Fernando’s shop.

Fernando worked on the brakes for the rest of the day. Replaced the brake cylinder and flushed out the brake lines. Seems like the fluid is flowing well and cleanly. But he’s is having trouble reassembling it all. Maybe it’s the pads. But as it’s getting late we can’t get pads until the morning. With the RV jacked up in the air and having spent a long hot day in the almond grove and then in the workshop we decided to go to nearby motel. It wasn’t great but we had a shower and a comfortable bed to sleep in.

waiting patiently.
A naughty brake cylinder.

Next morning we stayed in the room until the staff came to kick us out as we were past check-out time. We headed to the Denny’s over the road for breakfast and unlimited coffee refills. Oh and wifi. Wifi in Denny’s is good and fast. And we waited for good news from our new friend Fernando.

Breakfast at Denny’s
We have Denny’s WIFI

Finally he contacted us and asked where we were, he was driving the newly fixed RV to pick us up!

It’s fixed! Thank you Fernando.

So we had a newly fixed RV and after dropping Fernando back at his shop we finally headed off to Sequoia to see the trees. The trees. They truly are amazing and just a short walk around some of the paths took us over an hour as we admired their size and majesty. We saw General Sherman the largest of the trees, It’s not the tallest, nor the widest tree. But by sheer volume of it’s huge trunk it is the most massive tree in the world.

The trees!!! The massive amazing sequoias.
At peace with the trees.
Too many trees?

We spent three nights in and around the Sequoia National Park. We couldn’t find any space in the campsites so we were forced to stop and park the RV in places we could find. One night at the recreation park overlooking Lake Kaweah, one night at a large turnout where we had a beautiful view of the tree covered valley. The final night at one of the visitor center car parks in the adjacent King’s Canyon National Park.

RV at the recreation ground at Lake Kaweah
A bike ride in King’s Canyon National Park

We went for a bike ride and a swim in the King’s river before we finally said goodbye to the giant sequoias and headed out towards Fresno where we could restock and turn towards Yosemite.

Bathing in the King’s River.

We have a theory about the RV. It doesn’t like places ending in “o”. Places like Wasco, Lerdo and Fresno… Coming into Fresno it happened again. Braking, vibrating and shaking. Arghhhhh!!!!!!

We went shopping for food but we were not sure what to do. The situation was not serious, we could still drive, but should we continue into Yosemite?

We decided to play it safe and we will have to go to Yosemite at some other time. We will head back to San Francisco to return the RV to it’s home.

The saga of the RV still is not yet finished. I’m writing this in Hollister SVRA. A nice campsite up in the hills behind Hollister and we have been here for a few days already. Tomorrow we will have to take the plunge and drive the RV the two hours back to San Francisco. Driving here from Fresno I felt safe and knew the brakes would stop us if we really needed them to. But I did brake only gently and as little as safely possible. From speeds above about 50mph it’s clear that even a light application of braking power brings vibrations. So I have been using engine braking and the big RV’s aerodynamics to slow us down. Afraid that heavier braking will result in the brakes locking and another roadside call for assistance, this time out of range of the trusty Fernando.

Hollister SVRA campground