Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Odyssey....

 7:55 am - Sunday - July 11th - Seal Rock, OR - 54° F, 94% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the east northeast......partly cloudy....sunny this morning...forecast high for the day is 61° F.  On this date in 2014 TLE and I were eating dinner alfresco at Steamers Bar and Grill in South Lake Tahoe, CA......↴

I will begin today's blog post by going back to Thursday to catch you up on the events of the last three days.....during that time we traveled almost 1,000 miles, went through multiple highs and lows emotionally, endured 114° F temps, and slept in other people's beds way too much.

Thursday was day four of my work week, and the day we would once again travel south into California to get our 2001 VW Beetle smogged, so we may renew our registration for another year.  

I spent the entirety of my shift mowing and trimming grass along the pathway down to the beach gate, the entire WDS plant, and around the gravel settling area.  I was determined to not allow it to get as long as it did last time.  I was home by 1 pm, just as TLE was heading down to the office to complete her split shift.  She would return at 3 pm, at which time we would begin our drive down to Yreka, CA.  While she worked I got packed, and loaded our things into the car.  I took time to clean the windows of the car, and check the coolant and oil levels.

As you will recall we travelled down to Redding on June 24th to get our car recertified for California.  Unfortunately, I had cleared a 'check engine' light just prior to our drive down there not realizing it would also erase all the data fields which are populated by numerous electronic engine monitors.  When this happens it takes a lot of driving at different speeds for different durations over many miles without the use of A/C, or cruise control to repopulate those fields.  The 400 mile drive to Redding, CA was done at mostly constant speeds with the use of both A/C and the cruise control.  When we arrived in Redding on the 25th those data fields were all empty, so we had to spend a second night and then do a 'cold start' first thing in the morning following specific instructions......

.....which we followed religiously.  When we returned to the shop that Friday morning all the data fields had repopulated except for the 'Air Injection Monitor'.  We were given another set of instructions at that time, and they also required another 'cold start'.  For clarification, a 'cold start' means the car has been sitting with the engine off for 8 consecutive hours.  Since it was now Saturday (June 26th) and the shop would not be open on Sunday we drove home determined to return in a couple of weeks after completing the new 'cold start' instructions, which we did.

So, fast forward to July 8th.....we left Seal Rock a little after 3 pm, and after an uneventful 5.5 hour drive arrived in Yreka, CA (100 miles closer than Redding) at the Budget Inn.  The high temp Thursday in Yreka was only in the high 90's, but promised to get to 104° F on Friday.  It never occurred to us we would not be able to get our car smogged in Yreka as every shop we have ever been to took 'walk ins'.  We arrived at the A-1 Auto Repair shop just before their opening time of 8 am.  When they opened I went in to get the process started, but was startled to be advised they were no longer doing smog tests even though they advertise that fact on their website, and on the side of their shop.  

I love this view as we come into Florence, OR

Okay, well, there are 4 other places in town who also advertise their willingness to do smog tests, but just like A-1 Les Schwab Tire Center was no longer doing them.  The we went to another place just around the corner, and they ended up being closed on Fridays, and the final shop only did the tests by appointment, and they had no availability until Saturday.  Well, we did not want to spend a whole day in Yreka twiddling our thumbs so we found a place about 33 miles south in Shasta Lake City which would take us at 9 am.  I should have asked them if they were authorized to test SoCal vehicles, but I didn't.  We made it to that shop by 8:45 am, only to be advised after he looked at my registration that he could not perform the test, and that I would have to drive down to Redding to get that done.....DOH!!!

Mt. Shasta once again....oh well....

Man, Friday was turning into a disaster quickly, but TLE and I regrouped mentally, and started the 60 mile drive to Redding.  We figured we would be there before 10 am, and get our test done before noon, and be on our way home back to Seal Rock, OR shortly thereafter.  After all, the data fields were all repopulated (the guy in Shasta Lake City confirmed that), and we had no check engine lights!  Then Mr. Jello reared his ugly head.....about 50 miles north of Redding the dreaded check engine light came on (we have had this periodic problem over 7 years with 'knock sensor one, low voltage''s a common problem with 1998 to 2002 VW Beetles).  We've had both knock sensors and the wiring to them replaced over the years, but it keeps coming back.

We arrived at A-1 Smog and Repair around 9:45 am, and handed them our papers from our prior visit from two weeks prior.  When the lady asked if we had any check engine lights I had to answer 'Yes'.  Of course they cannot test the car with a check engine light on, and she advised their repair shop was booked all day Saturday.  I explained to her that we had driven 400 miles to get the test done, and could they work us in?  She called her service manager up the front and I explained our problem once again.  He asked what the check engine light was for, and when I advised him he said "Well, it's only a one hour job....I'll work you in today, we'll get it fixed, and get you on your way home!"  He then got on the phone and ordered the new knock sensor advising it would be an hour before it arrived, then another hour to install it, and then drive it around to repopulate the data fields once cost to replace the knock sensor, and wiring - $265....not too bad.

I asked if they could drive us over to the local movie theater chain (Cinemark 14) at the mall so we could kill some of the time seeing a movie, which we haven't been able to do since we were in Ramona back in late 2019.  He agreed, so we were dropped off at the theater around 11 am, at which time we bought tickets to see "The Hitman's Wife's Body Guard (Samuel L. Jackson, Selma Hayek, and Ryan Reynolds).  This theater has those nice electric leather recliners, and you get to choose your!  By the way, do not waste your money on this flick.....what a dud, but it did kill two hours.  When we called the office to be picked up Sherry advised Gabe (the service manager) was out driving the VW to repopulate the data fields, and he would pick us up in 10 minutes, which he did.  He dropped us back at the shop, and went out to continue driving.  By this time it was around 1:30 pm, so we settled into the waiting room to await the results.

Gabe returned to the shop about 30 minutes later advising the fields were still not all populated, and offered to let us take the car out and follow a specific driving uphill at 30 mph for 10 minutes, then another 10 minutes at 45 mph, then stop and sit at idle for 5 minutes, then return to the shop.  He suggested a route which took us up to the Shasta Lake Dam overlook and then back down to the shop.  We were back from that drive around 2:30 pm, handed car keys to Gabe, then went back to the waiting room.  He came back a few minutes later to advise there was still one data field not populated, and said they would run some software which would force the final field to be populated.  By the time that process was done it was around 4 pm, and they close at 5 pm.

The software application was successful, and they pulled the car into the service bay to await its turn (one car was ahead of us at that time), and left the engine running so as not to undo what had been done.  While they were waiting, the owner of the shop saw the car was just sitting there idling, and turned off....DOH!  Big mistake, and of course, we were right back where we started.  They ran the process again, and actually stayed open until 5:30 pm, hoping to get us passed, but the second attempt to force the monitor to run was not successful.

TLE and I had already decided we were not driving home Friday night......we were we reserved a room at the Travel Lodge across the street around 4:30 pm.  When Gabe returned to advise us we would have to run another driving sequence from a 'cold start' Saturday morning we were a little crest fallen, but we were staying the night anyway, right?  He then handed me a handwritten driving sequence for Saturday morning....

.....he advised the shop was not open on Saturdays, but they had a second shop a few miles away, and he had already called them to let them know to expect us.

We headed about one block over to the Travel Lodge, which cost us a pretty penny....the temp was at its high.....114° F.  We checked in, put our bags in the room and headed directly to a local micro brewery.....Final Draft Brewing Company.....4 stars on Yelp with 539 nice to walk into a restaurant and see nary a mask being worn by anyone!  TLE and I ordered a pint of their Attitude Adjustment Porter - Imperial/Double (10.1% ABV!) to begin the festivities, and a plate of their Dirty Fries (house smoked brisket, sidewinder fries, pico de gallo, feta cheese, cilantro, and garlic aioli) for our appetizer.....OMG....OMG!!!  For our entrees we ordered the Crowd Pleaser Burger (moi), and Smoke Brisket French Dip (TLE), plus another round of their 'Attitude Adjustment Porter'....of course.  It was the perfect way to end a very frustrating day with numerous highs and lows.  We were home by 8:30 pm, and in bed by 9 pm...totally whipped.....

The Dirty Fries....OMG!

.....Saturday morning we were up at 6 am, and out the door by 6:30 am to run the new 'cold start' driving sequence Gabe had given us the day before (above).  After running south on I-5 and following the instructions to the letter we stopped off at a Starbucks to get some coffee and breakfast sandwiches before heading over to A-1 to get our test run, and hopefully be on the road home by 9, or 10 am.  About 9:40 am Tasha (the office lady) advised us one field was still not populated (the catalyst monitor), and handed me another set of instructions......

....note the 'No cruise control, No A/C' this time the outdoor temp is 98° F and rising.  No 'cold start' is required for this monitor, so TLE and I head out the VW and get on I-5 southbound to Red Bluff.  We were to run the sequence above three times which took us 20 miles south to Red Bluff where we turned around (after stopping at a Rest Area to go to the bathroom, and let the car idle for 5 minutes), and did the sequence two more time (we threw in one extra for good measure) back to Redding and A-1.  We arrived back around 10:20 am at which time they plugged in the car immediately to be sure the data fields were all populated, and they were!  Wait, what?  At last success?  Well, not so fast still has to pass the test, and that began almost immediately....

.....finally in the service bay and actually plugged into the computer....they are running the test!  I felt like I was back in school awaiting test results to see if I would pass the class.....I hate that feeling, don't you?  It took about 40 minutes, but in the end we got the desired result.  Around 11:15 am Tasha called me up to the desk and showed me the results......

.....I felt like crying.....after two trips, four days, and a $1,000 in costs (gas, hotels, repairs) we passed the stupid smog test.  In all we've spent exactly zero dollars on maintenance the last two years, so average the $1,000 over two years and it comes to $500 per year....not too bad if you look at it like that.  Within 5 minutes (11:20 am) we were on the road for the next 8.5 hours to get home by 7:45 pm....we should have been home by 6:30 pm......

Back in Oregon again....

.....we were 14 miles outside Reedsport, OR (on US-101) on US-38 when the traffic stopped suddenly, and we sat there for almost an least we were in the shade.....we had hoped to be home by 6:30 turned out there was a nasty accident about 1/2 mile ahead that took an hour to clear.  Once we got going again we were home within 90 minutes.  We left Redding in our rear view mirror with the temp reading 111° F, and arrived home to 61° F.....a 50° differential in 8.5 hours!

.....what an energy draining three almost seems like a dream as I sit here at my keyboard around 10 am on Sunday....we're glad it's over, and we are good for two more years.......sigh.

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  1. Another cost of being a Calif resident, but it's done!

  2. What an ordeal that was for you. I have 2 vehicles registered in Fl. No inspections there!!!!

  3. Good grief, Clarke! What an ordeal. Glad you and E were able to maintain a positive outlook.


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