Tuesday, February 25, 2014

North Coast Travelogue: 2/23- 2/24

Headed down to UCSF Sunday. We started on a different route than usual. Instead of going down Henderson to Broadway and then to 101, we went up F Street to Herrick Avenue. I thought it might be quicker. It didn't seem quicker. Anyone ever note the time or distance difference between those two routes?

I was actually surprised the rivers were as high as they were despite the recent rains. We even saw some boats on the Eel River. Still, getting to Southern Humboldt and Mendocino, it was sad to see so much brown. There was a bit of green, but the grass that was growing was awfully short. In patches, too. How can that be? It would be all brown but for a few patches here and there of green. Weird, but sad and scary.

I'd noticed right after we left Eureka that my Air didn't seem to be working right. It seemed a bit warm. I've only used the truck's air conditioner once. I usually just turn the dial on the dashboard button to Air and that's more than enough, even when the outside temperature is in the hundreds. This time it didn't seem cool and refreshing. It felt weak and almost warm. I thought at first it was just me.

I think it was around Laytonville I decided it was getting uncomfortably warm so switched to A/C- the air conditioner. That didn't seem to do any good, either. I mentioned to the wife something seemed to be wrong with the air conditioner. Maybe it lost it's coolant?

As we got into Willits and pulled into the Taco Bell, we heard this buzzing, whirling type sound, as if some pump turned on. I figured it had something to do with the A/C problem since the sound came from behind the glove box where I believe the air conditioner is. When we got out of the truck I noticed there was no pool of water forming under the truck as usually happens when we stop. That's from water condensing under the cooling coils of the air conditioner. Yep, I think the coolant leaked out.

So we drive the rest of the way with just Air on and it just isn't doing it. I was more uncomfortable than Connie, at first. I like to feel air flowing around me. It seemed to get worse when the sun was really blasting us. As we approached San Rafeel, Connie said she was getting a bit warm. Just have to suffer through it. At least it didn't seem to affect the mechanical operation of the truck.

We ended up buying dinner at the Willits Taco Bell rather than do the San Rafael A & W Root Beer. Good decision. Those 7 Layer Burritos really hit the spot. I wouldn't have been as happy with the skimpy A & W burgers and fries.

Later in the evening we thought about maybe having pizza delivered to our room at the Villa Inn next time. We'd never tried that in San Rafael. We checked the phone book and online and it looked like there were a number of places to order from, unlike Novato, where we used to stay. Some were a bit pricey, but Extreme Pizza caught my eye. Maybe we'll try that next time?

Speaking of internet, I don't know if it was my laptop or the WiFi connection at the Villa Inn. What a pain! It seemed to work well for the first hour or so. After that, it took minutes just to check a page. Then it just seemed to freeze up completely. I kept getting a message that some script wasn't running right. 

Next morning it seemed even worse, at least after I got through entering my sweeps. Then it would stall for five or ten minutes on one page. I finally gave up.

Got to  UCSF a bit earlier than usual- a good thing. Parking was fairly tight already, at least for the bigger vehicles. If we had a smaller car we we'd have more spaces available. As it was we found a decent spot. Always a worry for me, and a relief once we've parked.

Being early, we had a little more time to kill than usual so I went out to the truck and brought the laptop inside. I'd e-mailed Antich Automotive the night before asking for a ballpark figure on what it would cost to recharge the cooling system on my truck. I was hoping for a reply (never got one). 

Didn't work. The laptop actually seemed to be working fairly quick compared to earlier in the day, but I couldn't even come close to logging in to the UCSF WiFi. Hate their system, but whatever the problem was, I couldn't log in. The laptop radio showed I was connected  with a good signal. I just couldn't get online to log in. Waste of time.

Got out from the doctor appointment late. To add insult to injury we ran into a traffic jam shortly after getting off the Golden Gate Bridge. Probably didn't hold us back as much as it felt like but, since we were running late anyway, that was a bummer.

I wasn't looking forward to spending five hours or more in a truck with no air, but what else could we do? I ended up just cracking my window a bit. Wasn't really that bad, except the noise of the air and traffic was tiresome. Couldn't hear the radio very well, either.

So glad to get to Cloverdale. That's kind of a sign for me that we're out of Shitsville. Went to the Shell station in South Cloverdale and bought some drinks and food. I'm getting to like that place, but a little pricier than if we'd just bought dinner at the Willits Taco Bell.

Refilled with gas at Brown's at the south end of Willits. I'm tired of the Willits Safeway hassle. Prices are usually pretty close. I noticed as we drove by Safeway that the Arco station across the street seemed to have Safeway's prices beat. I believe they have last two times we went through there. Maybe we'll try that place next time?

We get to Eureka and the fog kicks in bit. Even before the fog kicked in the windshield started steaming up. I was thinking of trying the defroster. I'm not sure how much the defroster has to do with the air conditioner. I didn't want to make things worse, assuming running the A/C could make things worse. 

We really didn't have much choice so I turned on the defroster. I was surprised that I could feel the air coming back on me. I told Connie maybe we should have turned it on earlier when the Air wasn't working well. 

Then we hit fog and I had to turn on the wipers. Problem with that is my truck's wipers are almost worse than the problem as they streak so much. A real pain and, yes, I have replaced them a number of times. Got hard to see, but we made it into Eureka and the windshield seemed to clear up as we got into town.

Then a funny thing happened; As we're on Harris Street and stop at a light Connie says she hears the noise again- that buzzing motor type sound. Yep, I hear it, too. I was hoping the defroster wouldn't cause that same noise. Then, as we turn on E Street, we hear it again. We hear it 3 or 4 times. Then I realize the noise starts whenever I press the brake pedal. When we heard it in Willits I was breaking, too.

Hmmm??? I thought it was the air conditioner. Apparently pressing the brakes does something. I'll have to ask about that when I take it into the shop. The brakes seem to be working fine, but maybe something about the way the brakes work affects the air or fans running? Didn't hear the noise when the fans weren't running.

Oh, well. We made it back. If only there was an easier way to do this.


At 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's still easier than flying United from ACV to SFO. You should probably change the wiper blades every year.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

It doesn't seem to matter if they're new. Seems weird, but they always streak. Funny thing is, the wipers that came with the truck worked great!

I drove the truck for a year, or two or three without a problem. Then, since we were heading to UCSF, I figured the wipers probably needed to be replaced so put a new pair on. Nothing but problems since.

Even went into the old Finnegan and Nason auto parts place in Henderson Center and mentioned it to the guy there. He pointed out some problems with the wipers I was using. I replaced them with a pair from F&N. The problem didn't go away. I can't explain it.

It's not a big problem when it's raining half way decently as the rain helps clear the window. It is a problem when it's just wet enough to obscure the view. Then the wipers don't clear the windshield enough to see well when you have light rain or fog, or even just trying to wipe the dew of the windshield when you first get going in the morning.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Now that you have me thinking about this, I'm wondering if the tension springs on the wiper arm- that hold the blade against the window- are weak and don't hold the blade against the windshield tight enough? Never heard of that being an issue but it's the only thing I can think of.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Streaking wiper blades may be caused by a build up of road film on the windshield over time. You might use some polishing compound on the windshield such as Dupont. This is the stuff that makes a car shine and it also works on glass.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Thanks. Someone mentioned that before. They also recommended sliding your fingers down the wiper blades to remove any gunk on them. That actually helped some, but there was still some streaking.


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