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Friday, January 30, 2015

Southbound and Out


All of us together, FINALLY!
Utterly elated, relieved, and rejuvenated we phoned James when we knew the car was ready and told him to get ready! We were out! We tossed all our junk in the car and finally jetted out of Corvallis around 10:30 pm with Tahoe in our sights. Navigating cloying banks of fog and steep passes we cruised through the night, rolling into Tahoma, CA in the late morning sunshine

James and his girlfriend, Meghan, have a little love loft nestled amongst massive cedars and ponderosa pines eight blocks West of sapphire-blue Lake Tahoe. With a bathroom, quite literally a one butt kitchen, and a small room with a tiny loft it does not take much from the woodstove to heat their nest.  As we parked the car, a slightly hung-over James Teeter, replete with pajama pants and bleary eyes meandered out of the house

“LET’S GET PACKED!” Brian, Josh, I excitedly exclaimed.

“Whoa” James replied, “Let’s just chill out for a moment.” After a cup of coffee we headed out on an allegedly “half-mile” hike down to the lake. An hour and a half later we were back at the cabin laughing and relaxed, the majestic pine forests and pristine water rekindled our sense of purpose. We did not need to be rushing. Nature reminded us to enjoy the moment.

While we were a week and a half behind schedule, we were together and in exactly the right place. We quickly realized that our roof rack needed a few modifications so James and I scurried off to the plumbing office to cut and rethread our galvanized pipe. A few hours later after bolting pipe to the car and sealing with Lock-Tight, our roof rack was ready and our gear was organized and loaded into the car. 
Organized in boxes
All the gear



We stopped to say a quick goodbye to Ms. Meghan, James’ lovely lady, at Alpenglow outdoor gear shop where her boss pulled out a bottle of Fireball and encouraged us to take a swig for the road. James, the driver, abstained and the rest of us drank a little liquid courage and off we rolled down to Bridgeport hot springs in the eastern Sierra-Nevada.


After a couple hour soak in the springs, my hands resembled my great-grandfathers’ so we headed back up the steep hill and camped for the night. The temperature dropped to the low teens and we were damn cold. Nobody slept well and we packed up as fast as we could in the morning and cruised towards Bishop, CA.






In Bishop, James, Josh, and I took a trip down memory lane, stopping at Josh’s favorite Chevron to fill the gas tank and at Joseph’s market to grab some food. This time Josh chose not to purchase any Peach Snaps and was able to hold it together at the Chevron. Always a good sport, Josh posed for some photos.

Josh at his favorite Gas Station
Best,
    Elliott

Monday, January 26, 2015

Failure to Launch

Corvallis, Oregon sits an hour and a half south of Portland, Oregon in the heart of the bucolic Willamette Valley. Situated on the edge of the Coast Range, Corvallis is 45 minutes from the rugged Oregon coast and an hour and a half from the stunning Cascade Mountains. The Willamette Valley itself is blessed with deep loamy soils. These soils were deposited when ice dams on prehistoric Lake Missoula periodically broke, sending torrents of water rushing from Montana to Oregon, forming the Columbia River Gorge and turning the entire Willamette Valley into a backwater. These soils support a diverse and successful agricultural industry. The Valley is the backbone of Oregon’s grass seed and nursery industry and Oregon is the world’s largest exporter of each. Additionally, the Willamette valley produces a multitude of small fruits (shout out to Papa Bear Finn!) and other produce. Corvallis is a magical town, with a burgeoning farmers market and bike lanes on 96% of its roads. The city has been rated as the safest city in the country in terms of natural disaster potential and crime and consistently ranks highly on lists of the top ten most livable places in the U.S. Oregon State University is located in Corvallis and is one of few (3?, 4?) land, sea, air, and space grant institutions in the country. The campus is filled with lush greenery and is one of the most beautiful around. Josh, Brian, James, and I met in McNary Residence Hall on campus

BUT we hate Corvallis. What? How? To the reader Corvallis sounds like heaven. However, after getting stuck in Corvallis for a week and a half Brian, Josh, and I were done with Corvallis. Let’s rewind.
On Friday, January 4th, Josh and Brian met in Scappoose, Oregon where the Burb has been living for the last few months. Joel, the mechanic whom we were working with in Scappoose gave the vehicle back to them and said that after looking over everything, we only needed to replace a right caliper to keep the car from pulling to the right. Thanks Joel! They made the repair and packed up the Burb, putting our gear, our hopes, and our enthusiasm into the car. They drove onto I-5 only to have our hopes of fixed brakes quickly dashed. Turns out, the brakes were still pulling to the right way too hard. With some consternation Brian and Josh pulled into Corvallis where we were lucky enough to have a have a send off dinner with a variety of excellent friends and family. After saying our goodbyes we were left in a classic car jam. The next day was Sunday. No one is open on Sunday. 

Frustrated, we packed up as much as we could and readied an escape plan. We would get the car in ASAP on Monday, have tire issues remedied, have the  brakes sorted, and have a mechanic take a quick look at a starting issue and in no time we would be on the road. Or so we hoped.

Upon calling my good mechanic friend, Jack Hurley, he offered some recommendations on the right people to look at the rig. Of course his two recommendations were busy until Thursday, way too slow for us. Luckily, the second man recommended we head to J and H Auto in Tangent, OR. Thank goodness for his recommendation because we connected we talked with our soon to be savior, Jason. We explained our troubles and he said he would be able to get a look at the car the next day. A small delay we thought. We were sure we would be fixed up and headed to Lake Tahoe to pick up our fourth compadre, James Teeter in a day or two.

On the way to the mechanic we stopped by South Pacific Tires in Albany where our dear friend Mark Yeager met us and introduced us to Gary, a real chip off the old block. Mixing crude jokes with a brusque manner, Gary and his crew looked over our tires and kindly suggested that we replace two of them with decent tires, our 8-ply worn tires were going to be no match for the journey ahead. After some hemming and hawing we, intelligently upon a week of driving in Baja experience, decided to purchase the better tires. Gary was kind enough to put up with our cheap-butts and gave us an incredible deal on tires that will hopefully keep us safe and sound throughout our trip!

After dropping off the car with Jason and explaining the situation, we headed to run errands in Corvallis. One day turned into two days turned into three days. As it turned out, Joel hung us out to dry. Not only was there issues with the brakes and starting, but we also had a sneaky leaking gasket head, burning through 4 quarts after 100 miles of driving. He spied a hole in the air filter compartment among some other small fixes. All were issues we had been counting on Joel to check over. What a learning experience for us, fleeced by a shoddy mechanic. Fortunately, Jason identified the issues and went above and beyond our expectations.
Jason first believed our trouble was with the mass air flow intake, after some more tinkering he diagnosed the issue as one dealing with the distributor. Finally, Jason figured out that our computer was at fault. However, to understand the skill required to do this, you have to understand that the motor doesn’t match the car which doesn’t match a ton of the other parts in our car… meaning Jason had to sort through a clusterF*&^ of moving pieces and parts to get down to the Heart of the Matter as Don Henley might intone. 
Jason when he first saw the car... Ah the surprises to come

In addition to the general difficulty that our car presented, Jason’s shop went a person down when a relative passed away unexpectedly. While Jason tinkered and diagnosed, we slowly went crazy in Corvallis.

The first two days of delay were a blessing as we ran a variety of errands and gathered our final items. However, by Thursday we were antsy. Heck we were a whole colony of ants ansty! We wanted the car and had no more tasks to do in Corvallis. 

“I am soo sick of Corvallis. I love it here but I have never, ever wanted to leave so badly,” Josh exclaimed every few hours. 

We eventually accepted the reality of the situation, Jason was fixing the car and it would be done as soon as it was done. Learning lesson, be careful when purchasing a worked on used car with odd features.

Strawberry Hill
By Friday we were toasted. We wanted to be headed south! We were tired of calling James and despondently muttering, “well we hope we’ll be there tomorrow…” Luckily Corvallis truly does live up to all the superlatives used early in this post. On Saturday we headed out to the coast with my parents for some morning tide-pooling at Strawberry Hill followed by afternoon mushroom hunting in the misty coast range. We found enough hedgehogs (dentinum repandum) and yellowfoot chanterelles (cantharellus tubeformensis) to make some tasty venison-sautéed ‘shroom quesadillas! We finished the weekend with a couple rounds of disc golf. At that point we were ready. So ready. SO SO ready. 

On Tuesday evening with Jason working his butt off until 7 30pm, we got the car. When Jason gave us the rundown, we couldn’t have been more excited. He was able to magic the car together and get us on the road. If you ever need anything done, there is not a harder working, generous, and knowledgeable mechanic in the Corvallis, Albany, Tangent area. Jason fixed the big issues and dealt with all the small issues, even encouraging us to call him if we run into trouble on the road. Jason is a true class act.
Jason after finishing our car late in the evening! Thanks so much!
Best,
   Elliott