In the last blog post we left off with the dilemma of a screw in one of our four back tires. Since it was inadvisable to continue down the coastal road, we were headed from California SR 1 to US 101 in the hope of making it to a tire repair center before the tire went flat. We sure didn’t want a blow out on one of the narrow curvy and coastal steep roads.
I drove the car and we started out slowly with Bill listening for any beeps on the tire monitor system signaling a problem. We backtracked on SR 1 to SR 128. So far, so good. Then came SR 253 which was recommended for us to take to US 101. The southern end of SR 128 is also not advised for large vehicles. Highway SR 253 was the scariest drive of the day with descents of 8% and 10% grades. Really steep, but at least they were not uphill. Not good on the best of days and downright nerve wracking with a potential tire problem. Reaching US 101 never felt so good.
When we had a good phone signal Bill was on the phone with several tire companies. Of course none of them had the RV tire in stock and certainly would not recommend removing the screw without a tire to replace it. We continued on, and after almost six hours of driving with rest stops and lunch we arrived at the Petaluma Elks Lodge, a wonderful lodge with full hookups. Jeff, the friendly camp host, was extremely helpful in getting us set up there. Amazingly the tire had not lost air even though Bill noticed a disturbing crack in the tire in addition to the screw. We were definitely blessed to have made it safely. We knew we would have to wait it out until at least Monday.
On Sunday Bill went to sit in on a taping of TWIT (This Week In Tech), one of his favorite tech podcasts which is taped right in a studio in Petaluma. We were last in Petaluma in 2014 and he also sat in on a taping then. After a stressful day on Saturday, he certainly enjoyed the diversion and had lots of fun.
Back on the phone Monday morning Bill found a tire company who could order us the tire. And since the tires were over five years old with almost 44,000 miles on them, we decided to replace all four back tires. We had replaced the two front tires last year. A definite bright spot was the screw was not in one of our new tires.
The tires came in on Wednesday and that day was spent getting the new tires installed and then settling back in at the Elks Lodge.
Before the tire drama our original plan was to stay at a RV park in Pacifica outside of San Francisco for four days. With the delay for the tires to be ordered and installed, we had to cancel our Pacifica plans. I explained the tire situation to the lady at Pacifica and she graciously refunded all our money since we had prepaid the full amount. We were disappointed but we had visited San Francisco in 2014 and done all the touristy things including riding the cable cars, visiting Pier 39 and Alcatraz and driving on Lombard Street, aka “The Crookedest Street in the World”. Over the past couple weeks we have been watching the San Francisco local news. While it is without a doubt located in a beautiful area, it definitely appears to be a city in crisis. With garbage in the streets, rising crime rate (especially car break-ins) , homeless population as well as drug use, it is a city in deep trouble.
One thing we had looked forward to doing again was walking on the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. Since Petaluma was a 35 minute drive to the north end of the 1.7 mile long Bridge, we decided to drive there on Thursday. We drove to the north vista point and parked the car in a free visitor parking area. We were nervous about leaving the car because of all the news reports of recent break-ins in broad daylight throughout the San Francisco area. Signs in the parking lot warned of break-ins. From there it was a quick walk to the Bridge.
We walked to the halfway point, enjoying the spectacular views of San Francisco, Alcatraz and the San Francisco Bay. There were lots of tourists walking and bike riding on the Bridge. In the water we saw sea lions, including this one with a big fish in his mouth. Several sea gulls were diving down fighting him for the fish. On the other side of the Bridge we could see the Pacific Ocean and a viewpoint which we later drove to with the most magnificent views of the Bridge and city.
As World War II approached, the Army made further improvements to the Harbor Defenses of San Francisco. They had plans to install a 16-inch gun high on the hill but when the gun arrived the decision was made to abandon the plan. Thus leaving this concrete mount and tunnels. It had been an easy quick 35 minute drive to the Bridge that morning but later that afternoon it was a slow stop and go, hour and fifteen minute drive back home.
After getting new tires we were ready to get back on the road and continue our travels. While heavy traffic doesn’t bother Bill, I wasn’t looking forward to the drive around San Francisco and through San Jose. We had three route options and after asking for advice from locals we chose the route which took us furthest around San Francisco rather than over the Golden Gate Bridge or through the bay area. Leaving the Elks Lodge we meandered through some vineyards and eventually on the interstate. The worst traffic was around Walnut Creek. We continued around the bay to San Jose, the center of the Silicon Valley. All in all the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. We reached Morgan Hill and were almost at our campground destination when we were stopped by a sign saying the road had a bridge ahead which was restricted to traffic under seven tons. Oops! I called the campground to get their advice only to have no one answer at either number. Not willing to take a chance, we had to find an alternate route nineteen miles out of our way and many narrow passages. When we arrived at the campground and asked about the bridge restriction they told us that was just something the locals put up to keep big trucks off the road. Grrrrr…..
We are now safely at Morgan Hill, California for four days.
Next up: Back to the coast