Friday, April 01, 2011

It Rains In Oregon

Our driving time yesterday was 9 hours 3 minutes and we covered 517 miles. Our average speed was 57.1 mph. It was a long day of driving but we did make it to the coast and to a campsite at Beverly Beach State Park. The day turned out to be a very good driving day. We drove down to the Tri-Cities under partly cloudy skies. When we hit the Columbia River we turned west and drove along the north side of the river facing very little wind.

We stopped at the Stonehenge Memorial and let Kobi out to run while we took some photos and a much needed break. When we loaded back up we immediately crossed the river to Biggs and caught the freeway into Portland area from there. As we drove through The Dalles, we debated whether to stop at one of the campgrounds at about 3 pm, or continue on to the coast and hope that we could find a place to stay for the next two nights. Linda made a couple phone calls and found out that there were some spots available, but we were three or four hours away and it could be a little bit of a gamble to get one.

We tossed the dice and drove on. One of our rules of the road is to make sure we fill the truck with diesel whenever it gets down to just below half a tank. We filled up in the Tri-Cities and then we started thinking about it just outside of Portland. We spotted a sign around Brooks and pulled off the freeway. I wheeled across traffic and turned into the station and then we saw the lines!!! Cars and trucks were backed up everywhere! We looked at each other and Linda said, “Oh, we’re in Oregon and you can’t pump your own fuel.” They had two guys out trying to fill about 14 vehicles at a time and it looked like they were refusing to run or panic. I was stuck. With the camper, pulling the Jeep, we could only find a slot with diesel and settle in and wait.

Once we were in line, Linda took the opportunity to go to the bathroom and also grab us a couple SUBWAY sandwiches. By the time she returned I was being filled and it gave me time to munch down the sandwich. It took me about a minute to accomplish that because I was starved. We both finished off everything as we wound our way through the traffic mess and back onto the highway.

We wound our way past Salem and through Corvallis on down to the coast at Newport. We got to Beverly Beach and pulled up to the Ranger’s Office. Linda registered us and we found our site. The only thing we had energy to do after our set up was to walk Kobi, pet him a bit and go to bed.

The next morning we ate breakfast and packed up the Jeep for the day. We had set up a rendezvous with Linda’s sister and her family at the Hatfield Marine Science Center sometime around 11:30 am. We were a bit early when we pulled into Newport, where the science center is located, so we drove out to the jetty and walked on our first Oregon beach of the trip. After we played in the sand and rain, we drove over to meet the family. They were inside the center when we arrived and it was great to see everyone again. The kids are growing so fast it is amazing. Linda was beaming; I can tell she misses everyone.

We spent a little over an hour looking at the exhibits that Oregon State University has provided. The kids were real good and it was fun to watch them interact with the exhibits. It was about 1:30 pm and everyone was getting hungry.

We loaded up and drove to old town Newport where we planned on eating. Old town was packed! There were people everywhere. I guess that when the rain stops everyone does their best to get up and out. Linda wanted clam chowder; she kept saying it with a New England accent. Then she would smile and laugh. She must have said it a hundred times; I stopped laughing at about twenty. We got a table overlooking the bay at Mo’s Annex. The food was good, Linda got her chowder and I had fish tacos.

Full of sea food we walked around town looking at the sights. Al Dee lead us to a couple of geocaches which were located close to some good views of the Newport Bridge. Once we found the caches and took the view photos it was time for the family to head home. I could tell Linda didn’t like saying good bye, but we quickly climbed in the Jeep and worked our way back home. We ate dinner, played cards and went to bed. It was a great day of family and actually some sun.

Early in the morning the new inverter let out a low beep. I turned it off and looked in the operational manual for an explanation of the noise. A low beep meant that that 12 volt input was low. I noted that and then within the hour I noticed that the refrigerator had a fault indicator, a “C”, in its LED panel. I looked this up and it said that there was low 12 volt power supply. I had to think about what this meant! I figured that either the batteries were bad or something was not letting them charge. Earlier I had repaired our sound system by replacing a fuse that must have went when the inverter burned out. I figured that we needed to get things fixed, but didn’t know the best scenario to get the problem repaired. We got ready for the day and as we used the bathroom and the fan, the power was drawn way down. I figured it must be the batteries.

I pulled the batteries and loaded them into the Jeep. We stopped at the camp host and asked where we should go to get the batteries checked. Our only choice was to drive to Tillamook, 25 mile south. We went to an RV place and the repairman checked the batteries. They were still good. We talked through the system and possible reasons for the power drain. At first he said that it probably was the fuses and those were about $130 each. I about passed out. I once again explained that we had TC with a Charge Wizard inverter. That changed everything; he thought we were talking about one of the huge motor homes.

He went through all the possibilities again and said it was most likely two 30 amp fuses located on the Charge Wizard. Off we drove back to our camper. Within a minute I located the two fuses. Pulling them out took a bit due to the confined quarters, but I was able to struggle through the fix. Once they were out I knew that this was the problem and I replace them with good fuses. I put everything back together, loaded the batteries back into their compartment and connected all the power back up. What do you know, everything worked. All appliances were back to normal and within a few hours the batteries were functioning normally. I learned quite a bit about our camper and that was good. We found that when we spiked our power that one day and fried the inverter, we also took out three fuses that did not show up until the power in the batteries got very low. The experience was very frustrating and took about four hours of our day, but now I know exactly where things are and how better to diagnose future problems.

We loaded into the Jeep and drove into Manzanita, did some tourist shopping and had a snack. We found out that the Lady Zags were still playing in the tournament and then returned for a long walk on the beach. Both Linda and I were beat after our anxious morning of repairs. We ate and went to bed.

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