In the weeks we spent at Cal Expo RV Park (click here to read our review), the trees outside went from fully clothed in deep green leaves, to the splendor of fall colors, to brown and bare, stripped by the strong winds gusting around Sacramento and all of central and southern California earlier in the week. But Friday dawned calm and quiet, and as soon as Odel returned from his last physical therapy session, we bid goodbye to our view and hit the road.
Our drive down the center of California on I-5 was uneventful. Early on, just south of Sacramento in a wetlands preserve, we spotted several small flocks of Sand Hill Cranes, plucking snacks from the fields; after that, there wasn’t much of interest (unless you are interested in feedlots and dormant orchards). In spite of the recent strong winds, a light haze of smog hung over the valley. Only the merest hints of green grass are beginning to show on the hillsides, marking the beginning of California’s rainy season.
We were glad to leave I-5 at Santa Nella and head west. Our target? Salinas, California (think John Steinbeck), where the Salinas Elks Lodge (click here to read our review and see photos) is well positioned for visits to Monterey, San Juan Bautista, Santa Cruz and Pinnacles National Monument.
We arrived by 2:30, unhitched, set up Scoopy and… Jules wouldn’t start! I had moved the Jeep about 10 feet after we unhooked (no problem); Odel moved it another 10 feet to the front of the motorhome. After that, dead!
The last time we had this problem was back in June, in John Day, Oregon. Somehow, it seems related to towing… a short somewhere? Something to do with the transmission setup for towing? We’ve towed many, many miles since then with no problems at all. Two non-mechanics can spend a mighty long time discussing possibilities - likely and unlikely - to no avail.
A jump start was effective last June, but we went ahead and replaced the battery in John Day – so this battery is now just 6 months old. A jump worked again this time, and we let her run for 30 minutes or so, but with last nights temperature in the mid-30’s, we weren’t surprised when we needed a jump to start again this morning.
Our drive over to Monterey recharged the battery, and our lunch of clam chowder (Odel) and a panko-crusted cod sandwich (me) recharged us. We spent the next couple hours wandering along the wonderful bayside recreation trail, taking occasional advantage of the many trailside benches to watch the bikers, walkers, kayakers, scuba divers, pelicans and gulls… all the lively and colorful sights of a beautiful, busy waterfront on a bright, sunny, cool and calm day. We put all thoughts of vehicle troubles on hold to enjoy the ambiance of a lovely spot on a lovely day.
Whoopee, Jules fired right up when we turned the key, and we’re back at home now. Odel is recharging the little Jump-N-Carry, the self-contained jump starter we ordered off Amazon after our John Day experience. We have plans to hike at Pinnacles National Monument tomorrow, a rather out-of-the-way spot, so want to make sure we’ve got the juice for a jump if we experience any more problems.
In spite of the annoyance, it’s nice to be heading off once again. Warmer weather beckons!