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Waiting with Lewis and Clark

If you believe that all things must be scheduled and everything must fit the schedule, you may not be well suited for a full-time travel life. Likewise if your fear of the unexpected paralyzes you into inaction. To live this traveling lifestyle, I have found that we need to deal with changes in circumstance that arrive like snowflakes in January.

The brake actuator is a highly visible example but far from the only one. In the past two weeks we’ve probably had a dozen small unexpected changes to the itinerary due to weather, road closures, campground closures, mechanical problems, work considerations, and fuel prices. It’s all part of the game.

Today the news is not good. The actuator we have is a discontinued model. The replacement model is not a direct fit. It requires a new bracket and different wiring, and thus it should be installed by someone who knows something about the wiring of an Airstream. But the nearest Airstream dealer is George M Sutton RV in Eugene, about 150 miles away, which is too far for us to go without brakes.

None of the local service centers have ever seen this braking system before. The automotive shops don’t know 12v systems and the RV shops don’t know electric-hydraulic disc brake actuators. So we will have to find a way to telephonically transfer the knowledge of the original installers (Roger Williams Airstream in Weatherford TX) to the local RV shop. I’ve found a local company that is willing to attempt the task.

The other bad news is that the earliest we can get the replacement part is Monday. We were not planning to spend more than about 10 minutes here but it seems we will have plenty of opportunity to get to know the local area. We have three days to wait, and I don’t like to wait, so instead we will pretend we meant to stop in Warrenton and explore some of the local attractions.

Primarily this is the heart of Lewis and Clark country. There are no less than twelve historic sites related to the famous expedition, including the Washington state park we just left (Cape Disappointment) and the Oregon state park just up the road from here (Fort Stevens). We can’t visit them all in a three-day weekend, and Emma would go insane if I tried, but we can at least visit one or two.

There’s also a scenic drive down Rt 101 to Tillamook. We were going to do it with the Airstream, but with this delay it makes more sense to just go down for the day without the Airstream.

Just between you and me, however, I will admit that I really want to hitch up and go right now. I’d like to be at a beautiful beachside state park, which was the major goal of driving down Rt 101 through Oregon. I’d like to be heading relentlessly toward the warmer temperatures of California (even with the wildfires burning down in San Diego County). And as with last summer when the wheel came off the trailer, it’s hard to remain calm in the face of a mechanical problem that has no clear resolution at the moment. We can only trust that things will work out.

I think the Lewis and Clark historical sites will help with this. It will certainly put our current problem into perspective. Those guys in the Corps of Discovery basically floated, rode, and walked from what was (to them) the known world, into a completely foreign land of plants, animals, people, and incredible obstacles. They didn’t know when they’d be back, and they knew their chances of survival were unpredictable. The nearest analogue to that expedition today would be hopping in a space ship to Mars with a big pile of canned food.

So at those times when I feel like I’ve received a sentence to serve under “trailer arrest,” perhaps it will help to make a visit to the nearby site where the Corps stopped for a month to make salt. My worst food problem is finding a grocery that stocks those tasty maple cookies I like. Looking at it that way, things aren’t so bad after all.

5 Responses to “Waiting with Lewis and Clark”

  1. Bill D. (San Diego) Says:

    Well at least the sun came out… and on that drive down to Run-amok, err… Tillamook, you could stop by Seaside and visit the End of the Trail Monument.

    This monument marks the westward end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (the first overland expedition to the Pacific Coast) obtained salt for food preservation by boiling down seawater on this local beach in the winter of 1805–06.

    Or you could erect your own monument back at Warrenton…
    And by the time you get down here, the smoke should clear!

  2. terrie Says:

    hopefully, the brakes will be back and working soon….you are doing a great job at teaching Emma how to look at things from different perspectives…a skill that will serve her always…as it does you…safe travels….see if Eleanor will share a Thai recipe with us…with tofu or shrimp…

  3. Clarke Hockwald Says:

    Hi Rich… sure to visit the Astoria Column if you have never seen it….magnificent views of the Columbia River, and other rivers converging in the same area, and views of surrounding countryside (!

    Visit Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock, Ecola State Park (where some of “Goonies” was filmed)…..south of Seaside. At Fort Stevens Park (I pretty sure) is the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale…very interestting to visit. Of course, you will enjoy the Tillamook factory, and the self guided tour of their facility. They also have a nice on site restaurant where you can eat lunch.

    We spent about a week in the area your in now, and really enjoyed all there was to see.


  4. Barry Says:

    From what I read, it sounds like you are making lemonade! I wonder why the brake actuator installed just a couple of months ago is already obsolete? Or did you get the obsolete one on the back shelf they couldn’t sell a couple of years ago????
    You have faced problems most of us have not, and done well. Enjoy the stay in Warrenton. I am sure there are lots of worse places to stay.

  5. Rich Says:

    Barry, the actuator and disc brake system was installed May 8, 2006 (see blog entry at ), so it was actually almost 17 months ago. At the time it was the current technology, but you know how progress marches on …

    Check tomorrow’s blog entry for some good news on the actuator front.

    Thanks for the praise and the support!