Sunday, September 1, 2013

Greetings, All.  Sorry this is so long coming.  I started an update a few days ago but couldn't post current photos.  Somehow that draft disappeared while I was downloading and reorganizing the photo database.  So this is a new start from when we were in Seattle at Sully's.  It's a long tale.

On Wednesday, 14 August,  SHE and I "saw the sights" in Seattle, primarily Chinatown and Pike Place market:

 SHE'd have bought all the flowers if we were at home!

 I couldn't catch the flying fish on film as well as the clerks caught them in their hands!

Kinda killed my appetite for King Crab!

Because SHE's not fond of high places, we skipped the Space Needle.  There are months worth of places to see and things to do in Seattle, but this was not the time for us to do all that.

As planned, Sully's muffler installer friend showed up at his place on Thursday, 15 August.  He installed the flexible couplings I've needed and welded some of the joints where I'd used band clamps.  The flexible couplings are shorter than any I'd been able to find.  Naturally, not all went well:  SHE started the engine 5 times during the installation to check for leaks.  The engine always started on the first rotation.  Until I tried to start it for the acceptance check -- then no startee!  Since the fuel pressure gauge on the dash registered 0, the problem was pretty obvious.  A trouble light attached to the fuel pump leads quickly showed that the EFI was calling for the pump to run and the absence of pump noise confirmed pump failure. Fortunately, I had a spare, so 15 minutes later the problem was corrected.  Darned pumps do that at times!  We'd wanted to take the Sullivans out to dinner that night, but Karen insisted on fixing us a wonderful dinner.  Can't beat these GMCer cooks!

On Friday, 16 August, we moved back to Lewis-McChord Joint Base to await our reservations for the Boeing Plant tour on Monday, 19 August, the earliest we could schedule.  That let us visit the commissary (military grocery store for those of you with no military knowledge), do several loads of laundry, and relax for a couple of days in a cheap, full hookup, campground.

Our Boeing reservations were for early afternoon, so we missed the heavy Tacoma and Seattle traffic.  The tour was very interesting, more for the plant itself than for the airplanes.  That 98 acre plant is the world's largest by volume -- 471 million cf!  <>
Since all the viewing is from glass-enclosed balconies, we really saw very little work in progress -- I have to presume there was activity inside the wings and fuselages because there were probably no more than a couple of hundred of the 47,000 employees visible to us.  Very clean, neat, complex facility -- but not many folks in evidence -- and a large percentage of those sitting at computers.  Since all electronic devices are prohibited on the tour, I only got one photo, a poor one, from the parking lot as we departed:

From there, we proceeded via the Deception Pass

which is the only bridge connecting Whidbey Island to the mainland, to NAS Whidbey Island, a favorite stop on our trip to Alaska in 2000.  Since that visit, they've reportedly spent $3.5 million refurbishing the campground.  A lot of that must have gone into the reportedly required studies because of the location inside the airfield's traffic pattern.  That field was in intensive use.  I'm guessing that the F-18's are about to deploy to sea because there was a LOT of high-noise traffic as they conducted "field carrier landing practice".  For us USAF types, that corresponds to "touch and goes in gear-down patterns".   It's a very nice campground set right on a cliff overlooking  the Strait of Juan de Fuca.   The prevailing wind is on-shore as the tree shows:
What a view!  Quite a bit of distant barge traffic and ferries between Port Angeles, WA and Victoria, Vancouver Island.  Walkers and fisherman well-populated the driftwood-strewn beach below the cliff behind the fence.  The paved walking path runs 3.5 miles from the base gymnasium through the campground to a wooded hill beyond.  Wonderful place to spend time.

On 22 August we reluctantly left the West Coast to move inland.  We found a nice, though old, campground, Alpine RV, just beyond Marblemount, WA, in the heart of the Cascades.  From there, we visited the little town of Concrete, WA, site of two big Portland Cement factories dating from the early 1900's until the 1960's.  Exploring some of the interesting byways in the area, plus lots of laziness, kept us "busy" for 2 nights there.

On the 24th, we headed on to Richland, WA, where my cousin Ray Pope lives.  The closest person I ever had to a brother, he and I get to spend too little time together since he moved to WA many years ago to work at Hansford.  We had a wonderful 3 days together before he had to have minor surgery.  I didn't want to disrupt his recuperation from that, so we left on the 27th.

After a short drive, we found Hot Lake RV park near Le Grande, WA.  It sits right beside a "lake" which is spring-fed with 180*F water.  The park has two hot tubs which are filled with water warmed from that lake.  The 104*F one provided a very relaxing evening after our arrival. After two nights there, we headed on toward Boise.  Unfortunately, the trip was not uneventful.  There are several long steep grades on I-84.   Near the tops of those grades, the GMC would begin to miss and die.  On one of them, I actually had to pull over and stop for about 30 minutes, only a couple of hundred yards from the crest.  After that event, I discovered that when I turned battery boost ON (the combiner failed right after I left GA), the fuel pressure -- and the engine -- would become erratic.  When I left the boost switch in Normal, no problem.   Hmmm...

On the north side of Boise, at the airport, lies Gowen Field, jointly occupied by the Idaho Army and Air National Guard.  There are 7 very nice full-hookup RV sites there, which cost us only $10 per night -- half of the cheapest we've seen since leaving GA.  Adding to the economy is a free laundry a couple of blocks away.  We signed up to stay through Labor Day, figuring we'll avoid problems finding a campsite.  On Friday, the 30th, I checked all the batteries, under load, carefully and found them all good.  So I replaced the fuel pump which I'd installed at Sully's. There are some strange voltage readings when the boost switch is operated and I suspect that the pump was failing, causing those indications.  A parked engine run seems OK, but I won't know whether I've corrected the problem until we hit another steep hot grade.

Since they allow vehicle washing here, yesterday I scrubbed the coach and the toad, which both of them needed very badly.  We've enjoyed some good restaurant meals and enjoyed a little sightseeing in Boise, but nothing worth recording.

We'll leave here on Tuesday, 3 Sep.  I haven't yet decided the route, but we'll probably steer clear of mountainous terrain as much as possible.  The GMC isn't running quite as well as when we left GA, but I can't do anything with the EFI because the computer that failed is the only one I have along with an RS-232 port.  I may try to find an RS-232 to USB adapter in Boise today.

Just to show I didn't forget, here are a few photos from our visit to Butchard Gardens in Victoria, Vancouver Island:

More later.  Hope we'll see lots of Y'All at Branson.

Ken H.

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