Since Christmas we’ve been through a dozen different landscapes, wild camped under the most brilliant starry skies, and had another mechanical breakdown.
On the way from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, in a very empty part of Nevada, Hanna started really laboring up hills, to the point where she conked out. Luckily we just made it to a petrol station before the engine stopped. The guy there said there was a diesel mechanic 3 miles up the road. Before getting a tow we tried Hanna to see if she’d start. She did and so we limped the 3 miles to the diesel mechanic and arrived just as he was shutting up shop for the evening.
We stayed overnight in the car park of the garage, ready for the mechanic first thing the next morning. He was a lovely guy (normally they only work on trucks but the boss was away and he took pity on us). It turned out there was air in the fuel lines. We had a spare fuel filter, so he replaced that in the hopes that it was the problem. Hanna started up perfectly, and so we set off once more.
It was all going well til we hit the hills before Flagstaff, where Hanna started labouring once more. We parked up in the Flagstaff Mall parking lot and Mark set to, checking everything he could to do with the fuel system. After about 3 hours out in the freezing cold he found a wet flexible hose which he tightened up. Hanna started up once more, although Mark wasn’t convinced that he’d found the actual problem. I was fed up with the cold and just wanted to get to the warmth. I persuaded Mark to let us drive the 2 hours to Phoenix so we could see a mechanic there instead. Safe to say, we made it half an hour down the road before Hanna gave up completely. So, towed back to Flagstaff and another garage car park we were (after spending another freezing hour in the dark, with the towing guys loading Hanna up – they had to disconnect the drive shaft because she’s a rear wheel drive).
Andy at High Mountain Diesel was fantastic. He went through the entire fuel system, replacing all the flexible hoses, until he found the problem – 22 years of gunk blocking the intake filter on the sender unit in the diesel tank. Luckily for us Andy is a proper mechanic – find and repair, rather than find and replace – so, after a day and a half in Flagstaff, he got us back on the road on New Years Eve. The one big ‘ouch’ was that we forgot to ask him his hourly rate, which turned out to be $130 plus tax!
As you can probably imagine, our savings have been dwindling faster than we hoped due to Hanna’s various mechanical issues. Luckily I rediscovered a brilliant website that I came across, back when I was researching in England all those months ago. It shows free camping places throughout Canada, USA and some of Mexico. I wish I’d remembered it earlier! It’s saved us loads on camping fees this last month, and given us the confidence to start camping in more unusual and wild places.
We’re now staying near Tehachapi, north east of Los Angeles, seeing Mike and Lizzie (my Godfather and his wife), who I hadn’t seen since I was 4. We’re also awaiting parts for our longer term mechanical issues (namely: a tendency to overheat and a speed wobble). We want to get sorted before we head south into Mexico’s warmer weather and bad roads next week.
Mike and Lizzie’s place is utterly beautiful. It has the most phenomenal view, with elk and deer that roam up to the house, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, brilliant blue jays and an abundance of little birds that flock to their feeders every day. It’s been such a luxury to sit by the wood burner, looking out at all this and then watching films in the evening on a full size TV 🙂 It’s been intermittently clear and sunny, snowy, foggy and generally pretty cold but I’m pretty sure this will be the last time we hit weather like this for the next year (I can’t quite believe we’re going to be warm for that long – bring it on!!)
Now we’re getting ourselves ready for Mexico – sorting out insurance and adding a bit of extra security to Hanna, genning up on the border crossing procedures etc. Our final planned stop in America is a visit our friends in LA, before hopefully meeting up with our Hymer friends Jurgen and Clemencia so we can head into Mexico together.
We love to hear from you so please leave a comment if you feeling like saying hi 🙂