Still with me? Join me on our 2nd day out….
I discovered last night that just because your laptop has a lighted screen doesn’t mean you can type in the dark. A lighted keyboard would help a lot. And cold night air isn’t very conducive to having fingers that can type, even if you can see the keyboard!
Last night we slept on our in-the-van mattress; a futon mattress with widely-spaced coils, and I could feel every one of them! We woke to bright sunlight already warming the earth and the air. A big change from Oregon’s seemingly endless cool, wet Spring.
Due to the heat and the sun (I got my first bad sunburn in years) we were pokey about repacking the van and the trailer. The RV Park owners were very nice and let us leave the trailer while we drove back to the Craters of the Moon Visitor’s Center which I had missed because of the enginer trouble.
Wheaded back to the Visitor Center (about 40 miles round trip). We had bypassed it on a trip some 15 years earlier and I really wanted to find out more about it. Hubby stayed out with the dogs while I did a quick tour of the Center. I learned a great deal about the geology, animals, geothermal history and climate of the area. The lava beds, cinder cones and craters cover all of southeast Idaho and follow a crescent arc all the way up to Yellowstone National Park. The whole area is called The Great Rift and the vastness is astounding. I really would have liked to explore the lava beds, drive the viewing loop, take a cave tour, and watch the movie in the Center but we really needed to move on. Besides it was already getting very hot and I was mindful of hubby and dogs waiting patiently in the van for me.
of the Lava Fields and the extent of the geothermal activity are . We only stayed about an hour and didn’t make the loop drive. It was already past 1:00 p.m. and we needed to return for our trailer and be on our way.
It was 2:00 p.m. berfore we got on the road again so we only traveled 100 miles. By the time we reached Blackfoot, Idaho an hour away from Arco, the van was acting up again. It shut down of it’s own accord and we coasted into the gravel drive of a General Mills grain processing plant. Those fields we saw earlier with young green, grass-like stalks were definitely some type of grain. Wheat I think.
Five minutes later, the van restarted, we proceeded into Blackfoot to find a replacement for the trailer tire that blew yesterday. The engine died again as we slowed to turn a corner just a building away from a Les Shwab tire shop. We coasted into a Walgreen’s and hubby set off on foot to see if the tire shop had an Auto Center. They didn’t but there was a good mechanic just a block away, so he trudged on.
Bill, at John’s Auto & Truck Sales & Repair, left what he was working on, drove hubby back to our van and agreed to help us discover the problem and fix it. We selcom resort to outside help, hubby being a good mechanic himself, but in this case we had neither the tools or the place to repair what might be a bad fuel pump.
Four hours later, after having dropped the job he had been working on, Bill had narrowed the problem down to a bad relay affecting either the operation of the fuel pump or the cooling fans. That was the good news. The bad news was that there was no way to be sure which system it was without driving the van for a while to recreate the shut-down. The good news was that Bill could create a bypass for the fuel relay that hubby could connect. If the bypass solved the problem it was definitely the fuel system. That could mean a new relay or a new fuel pump or both.
The good news was a fuel pump was easily obtained and we would be able to continue tomorrow. The bad news? A new relay, if needed, would take 3 days. Being on a time schedule we decided we couldn’t afford to stick around and opted to continue our journey and take our chances with the bypass. When hubby asked for the bill John, the owner of the shop, had only charged us $60. We were blown away!
Hubby discovered, during the course of his conversation with John & Bill, that John had recently had some type of surgery and had contracted a Staph infection. Before we left the shop we offered to pray for healing and he gladly, if a little shyly, accepted.
We hadn’t eaten a regular meal all day and had done little snacking so we decided we needed some substantial food. We choose a Pizza Hut that we had passed several times. They had been very busy all evening and when we went to the salad bar it was nearly empty and had to wait for them to refill the salad bowl. We sat and talked, making plans for tomorrow’s travel and thought nothing about how long it was taking for our pizza to come. Our waiter came back, apologizing profusely and explaining that their computer had lost our order (which he remembered) and that our meal was going to be at Pizza Hut’s expense. A free dinner! We felt very blessed.
The area around Blackfoot has no campgrounds and no RV Parks. We didn’t want to drive all around town looking for a motel that would accept pets so we did the only thing left that was available to us — set up a mini-camp in Walmart’s parking lot! We’re sure learning to be flexible.
Having nowhere secure to place the various bags, boxes and pillows that fill the half of the van the folded-over mattress doesn’t take up. hubby opted again. to sleep in the back. With a flash of brightness he suggested we use the cushions from our chairs to make a more comfortable “bed” for me in the front. Why do I get to sleep on the uncomfortable bucket seats you ask? I fit better than he does.
The night air was extremely warm so we left the dogs on their cushions in their portable exercise pen and slept with the doors open, confident that our little “instant alarms” would alert us to any intruders. We slept thusly until about 4:30 in the morning when I woke for a nature call. The wind was still blowing like it wanted to roll up the asphalt, I was chilly and the dogs looked cold so I tossed four of them in the van on top of hubby and shut the door. I brought the fifth up front with me. It was a fairly successful night, sleepwise.
Thus ended the second day.