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Category Archives: Burning Man

Here is a tip for cleaning lawn chairs, hammocks, etc. after Burning Man: use a coin operated car wash!

We set up our incredibly dusty folding chairs and hammocks in a bay at a local car wash here in Winnemucca. We pulled in our vehicle as well, so that we could rinse our bicycles without taking them out of the bike carrier. Five dollars and ten minutes of washing time later, everything was remarkably clean. Jeff said that there is still a thin film of playa dust on some of the surfaces, but I think that pretty much everything is cleaner than it was when we left Boston.

Next time, I plan to bring along a spray bottle containing a vinegar and water mixture. The vinegar probably would have cut the playa dust to the point where there would be no playa film left behind after the vigorous car wash rinse.

(Oh, that reminds me… we forgot to lube the bike chains after the wash. Well, I think that can wait until tomorrow morning…)

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We made it to Burning Man. And back out again. Under our own power. Two days late, but infinitely better than not at all! Yay! We’ll blog about our adventures at Burning Man and afterwards some time soon, but I just wanted to write a quick post to let folks know that we made it.

As for photos, mine are still trapped in my camera, but I hope to post some in the next day or two.

And as for the RoVerhauler, since Reno, she seems to get happier the more we drive her. We had no problems going from Reno to Black Rock City and back. She was even able to sustain 65 mph going up hills from Reno to Winnemucca, with no black smoke. Her temperature did not get into the danger zone either. Once again, Yay!

The Rocky Mountains still stand between us and home, but all indications are that the RoVerhauler will be up to the task. We’re going to try to do the bulk of our driving during the cooler hours of the morning. If we see signs of black smoke, we’ll swap in the spare air cleaner. If she gets too hot, we’ll find a spot to pull off and give her a rest.

Our friend Mark invited us to a BBQ here at the Winnemucca RV Park, so I’m going to sign out for now.

We picked up the RoVerhauler from Cashman Cat about an hour or two ago. We are planning to leave Reno for Black Rock City early tomorrow morning. I have my fingers crossed that we make it in to Burning Man by mid day tomorrow and back out again under our own power.

The RoVerhauler may need to go back in to Cashman Cat when we return from Burning Man. They addressed the transmission linkage problem, put in a new air filter and restored the drive train, but we still may have a low power issue. Jeff or I will write up more details about the repairs soon, but I’m too tired to concentrate on that right now.

Too tired, and too angry. I’m sitting here in my hotel room in the west tower of John Ascuaga’s Nugget, overlooking a giant parking lot that is less than 1/3 full and has AMPLE space for the RoVerhauler. There is another parking lot at the other end of the property, on the other side of the Nugget parking garage, that is *totally* *empty*. They say that we cannot park there because that is the valet parking overflow lot, but let me repeat: that lot is TOTALLY EMPTY. The Nugget is not allowing us to park the RoVerhauler in either of the adjacent parking lots. They told us to park in a small “RV lot” under the bridge on the other side of Victorian Ave., but when we pulled into a pair of front-to-back “pull through” spaces in that lot, our tow dolly was blocking the aisle… the spaces were not long enough for the RoVerhauler and the dolly.

We ended up putting the RoVerhauler in a lot that was across the street from there that appears to have some overflow parking from the rib-fest, but that is not a Nugget lot. The night staff here at the Nugget, both at the front desk and at the security phone number, have been pleasant, but totally unable to deal with the situation and unable or unwilling to escalate it to a manager who has the authority to say that it is OK to park in either of the verboten lots.

Grrrrr. It just does not make sense. They are turning someone who had been a loyal customer into someone who will speak ill of their facility and who will not stay here again. Oh, well… too bad. For the RV-ers among you, be forewarned and do not count on the Nugget to be an RV friendly facility.

Well, enough ranting. Back to our regularly scheduled program. 🙂 We are unlikely to be able to post again between tomorrow morning and Labor Day, but will let you know how the RoVerhauler performs once we are back “on the grid”.

We’re not wasting all of our time sitting by the pool here in Winnemucca. Along with our more serious problems, I’d noticed a dribble from the sewer drain pipe while we were sitting in the rest area waiting for the tow truck on Friday night.

The problem was due to a stress crack in the sewer pipe. Fortunately, the crack was in a reasonably accessible spot near the end of the run. John, who along with his wife Liz owns the RV Park, coached me through the replacement of a length of ABS pipe and the endcap for the drain. The job went fairly well though we did have a little spray when I first opened the “drained” pipe (the small hose drain and end valve were both partially blocked and there was quite a bit of “water” pressure in the system.

Did I mention they have really nice showers here.

Anyhow, that job is done and I’m sitting by the pool where we just met another couple heading to Burning Man. Rachel and Anthony (aka Apple Man) hail from Calgary and just got married last week. They’ll have another ceremony on the Playa at Burning Man.

Last night we met a couple from Ontario traveling with their son and one of his friends. They’re attending Burning Man for the first time and we gave them some pointers about what to expect.

One of the best things about this mode of travel is the people we’re meeting in these RV parks. They are definitely more “social” than hotels and motels.

***

Back at the rig. I just put the sewer system through it’s acid test. It passed with flying colors. I went so far as to locate all the fancy hardware to make the proper connections as opposed to just sticking the “slinky” hose down into the drain. We look like we know what we’re doing now.

Here I sit in the RoVerhauler in the Winnemucca RV Park, enjoying the cool, dry evening desert air. This is a delightful place… lovely pool and gardens, nice people, a beautiful setting with big sky and lovely mountains in the distance. I’m feeling great; however, the RoVerhauler is not too happy right now.

What is wrong with her? Well, for one thing, her driveshaft has been removed so that she could be towed in here by a big rig tow truck. We have a new buddy, Leland, from A-1 Towing. He dropped the drive shaft in a rest area about 20 miles out of town to tow her to the local Freightliner shop yesterday evening and to the Winnemucca RV Park this morning.

She needed to be towed primarily due to a problem with her shift linkage. The transmission seems to work just fine once she is in gear, but it has been getting harder and harder to get her into a given gear. I suspect that this is due to a mechanical problem with the linkage, and I am hoping that it is not something more serious. If this was her only problem, we might have been able to fix it ourselves.

In additon, we seem to have lost the flywheel cover somewhere along the road. Jeff noticed that oil was dripping out from under her when we stopped at a rest area on what we thought was our final stretch of road before Reno. Little did we know… We had a brief panic during which we thought that the bottom fell off the transmission, but a mechanic who happened to stop by the rest area took a peak and reassured us that the problem was not that drastic.

On top of that, we had been suffering for two days with awful, and I mean AWFUL black smoke pouring out of the exhaust. At first we thought it was just that the RoVerhauler was not tuned for altitude. The problem seemed to start on I-80 right outside of Cheyenne, WY, and it got worse over time. We also experienced a significant loss of power going up hill, especially on long climbs. I thought we’d be reduced to about 45 MPH uphill, but we were lucky to get 16 MPH on some of the steepest summits, with a long line of unfortunate vehicles trapped behind us in some of the construction zones.

Our current guesses are either that a stuck fuel injector is dumping too much fuel into the engine (Boston Freightliner had warned us that one injector was ailing, but said that we could deal with that when we returned home from our trip), or that we are having a problem with the turbocharger, which would be a real bummer because they are expensive and we have a brand new one (approximately 2 weeks old, installed by Boston Freightliner).

The black exhaust smoke was so bad that a police officer pulled us over yesterday to see what was going on. Jeff explained that the Rockies had been rough on us and that we had taken in the RV in Elko that afternoon, but the mechanic could not diagnose the problem without tearing into it, and unfortunately the problem was not something obvious. The mechanic had said that we had a decent chance of making it into Reno and having the problem worked on there.

The officer warned us of Nevada’s “no visible emissions” law and told us that there were no guarantees that we would not get stopped again, but he allowed us to continue on our way since we had a mechanical problem. He was quite polite and treated us well, even thought Jeff told him that we were on our way to Burning Man (we have both heard stories of police harassment of burners on the road, but my 4 years and Jeff’s 5 of coming out here, neither of us have experienced that).

One bit of advice: if you ever break down in one of these small towns, don’t do it on a Friday. We’re stuck here in Winnemucca at least until Monday morning. Despite our best efforts, we could not find a mechanic to look at the RoVerhauler over the weekend. We are planning to check in with Speedy, the mechanic recommended by our RV park… his shop opens at 8:30 AM on Monday… at which time, if things had gone as planned, we would already have been setting up camp on the playa at Burning Man. 😦

The Rocky Mountains really gave us a challenge. It took a vast amount of strength and endurance to get this far. Even if the RoVerhauler had been working properly, it still would have taken a lot of energy, but with the problems we were having, the drive was significantly more challenging and draining than it should have been. Even though we slept in places that might have allowed for wifi access, we did not even have the bandwidth left to write about what was happening. Please accept my apologies for the delay in posting and the flurry of posts tonight.

What can we do? We are stuck here. We must be patient. If we are lucky, the RoVerhauler will be repaired on Monday or Tuesday, and we can hit the playa on Tuesday or Wednesday. If we are less lucky and an obscure part needs to be brought in or something, the RoVerhauler may be stuck here longer. If that turns out to be the case, we may just buy a tent here in Winnemucca and throw that and our food and water into FINSUP and hit the playa without our beloved rig. We’ll see what makes sense come Monday.

BTW, I have to give huge props to Liz and John Wells, the owners of the Winnemucca RV Park. They have been great. They have given us a warm welcome and made us feel right at home. They have done wonders for our spirit with their advice and friendliness. I would gladly stay here again, although I hope that next time it is by choice!

Anyway, Jeff and I are exhausted but recovering, and the support we have received from friends back home, burners we have met on the road or here in Winnemucca, and the locals as well have given us the hope that we will get through this and make it to Burning Man.

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Michelle recovering from the ordeal

This turn of events has forced us to slow down, which those of you who know us know is not entirely a bad thing. There are many less pleasant places we could be stuck.

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The view from the pool, Winnemucca RV Park

Well, I was hoping to post more pictures tonight (I have taken TONS of them), but Jeff seems to have fallen asleep while I have written this, and I do not yet know how to post them, so once again, I’m promising photos “some time soon”. I’m off to meet the Sandman myself momentarily… I can barely keep my eyes open. Good night! [We’re back-posting photos to the blog as we can–Jeff]

Our Itinerary:

Week 1: on the road from New England to Reno; stops in Elkhart, Indiana (RV Hall of Fame) and Cheyenne, Wyoming; provisioning in Reno and a bit of relaxing too. We’ll be staying at the trailer park where we first set eyes on each other three years ago… how romantic!

Week 2: Burning Man! Need I say more? Burn, baby, burn!

Week 3: Back to Reno in time for the Patagonia outlet sale on Labor Day, a late lunch at the giant Rib-fest at the Nugget, a detailing at the Mission Car Wash, and a couple of days of R&R (rest and recovery) before we hit the road for Moab.

Week 4 (and the latter half of week 3): Wending our way to Moab via the Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, etc., whatever catches our fancy. We have no set plan, other than an arrival date in Moab.

Along the way, we’ll be looking for places to drop the kayak, mountain bike, hike; seeking hot tubs, wineries, swimming pools, glass studios, etc., looking to meet new people, make connections, have fun and get away from it all.

Week 5: The 60th anniversary of Land Rover at the National Rally in Moab. Off -road driving, mountain biking, hanging with friends, relaxing.

Week 6: The marathon in reverse: Moab to Massachusetts. Possibly a brief micro-visit my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephews in Chicago or my buddy Bill and his family in Ohio. Back home just in time for the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch at MIT.

And then we rest! (Yeah, right…)