Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Wait, this isn’t Utah

I had it all figured out. I would spend time with a friend in Flagstaff, travel across the Navajo Nation, then turn north into Utah, explore Butler Wash and the canyons of Comb Ridge, then go northwest to Goblin Valley and more canyon hikes, then north to the Wedge and Little Grand Canyon, then onward to my sister in the northern part of the state. After that, up to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington before crossing to Vancouver Island and finishing up the summer with a slow meander down the Pacific Coast.

But things happen. I make dubious decisions. Plans change.

It all started during the drive from Yuma to Flagstaff and the stops between. Something was off with the Rolling Steel Tent. Going uphill I’d press on the gas pedal, the engine would rev up, but the van went only a tiny bit faster or got bogged down by the incline. I’d need to have the engine howling in second gear just to keep moving forward. My amateur mechanic self was convinced the torque converted was going bad. Or something.

So during the days I was snowed in I decided I should return to Yuma and, if the torque converter was bad, have it replaced under the parts and labor warranty from the mechanic who last worked on the transmission. If I could make it back. At least the trip would be mostly downhill or flat.

I wanted to avoid I-17 because of the steep uphill grade out of Camp Verde. Besides, the last time I took I-17 it was stop-and-go for about 25 miles. So I took Lake Mary Road south to Highways 87 and 260 to Payson, then I continued south on 87 but, to avoid the grade over the north end of the Superstition Mountains I too 188 past Roosevelt Lake to Globe, then US 60 around the south end of the Superstitions, where I camped for the weekend.

The van was doing its disturbing thing during the Flagstaff-to-Payson leg of the trip, but by the tine I reached the moderate climb out of Roosevelt Lake things seem mostly okay. But when I suspect something isn’t right I keep looking for signs — and anything can be a sign. Was that it? Or was that normal? Do I even remember what normal is like?

The drive from Phoenix to Yuma seemed, well, normal. Had the Rolling Steel Tent cured itself? But that was cruising on mostly flat land at 70-75 miles per hour and the problem had been showing up in the 45-60 MPH range, with hills.

I showed up at the mechanic’s Monday morning expecting to be out of my home for a few days. But at least a hotel would keep me out of the 100° heat. Money would be an issue, especially if the mechanical problem was something unrelated to the previous work and therefore not covered by the warranty.

I spent a few hours semi-relaxing in the rather nice waiting room, then the mechanic informed me he hadn’t been able to duplicate the problem I had described, and everything seemed normal. Well………. okay then.

So, there I was in Yuma, in the hot, dry desert that I normally love, but the idea of going to Utah for more desert — even though it has red rocks and slot canyons and hoodoos and ruins and other cool stuff — just didn’t appeal to me.

After mulling it over last night I decided to do my summer travels backwards, starting at the Coast. Man, I’ve been missing the ocean.

Oh, and the Rolling Steel Tent performed like a champ over the mountain range that separates the desert from the coast.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that's good. I hope the mechanic drove your van east from Yuma into the hills to check out what might happen there. I hope all of your journey is pleasant without any glitches. And I'm glad you decided to do it backwards--seeing the ocean can fix a lot of internal problems. :)
    Linda Sand