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Humboldt Bay

Despite the problems, this was one heck of a fun trip. We visited the towns that surround Humboldt Bay: Fortuna, Ferndale, Loleta, Eureka, and Arcata.

Prodll.jpg, 35kB My brake controller
Near Grizzly State Park, about 30 miles from Fortuna on hwy 36, the road took a steep downhill plunge, without an end in sight. If the road had had a straight section, I can simply let the trailer increase speed, where the wind resistance alone will slow me down. My 10 ft box will usually max out at about 60 MPH. But at slower speeds you have to use your brakes, causing a lot of heat, and to keep that heat down, your speed must be VERY slow. Two different, and totally opposite courses of action! You must make the decision early and stick to it.

When I came over the hump, at first glance with some straight road ahead, I decided to let it loose. The trailer lunged forward, and increased speed faster than expected. And to my surprise, it's terminal speed was clearly going to be much more than 60 MPH. Way faster! This hill was really steep! We were going way to fast now to simply "switch tactics" and apply brakes. I had made a big mistake in letting this thing get so fast, and the situation so far out of hand. My brakes were starting to fade. I could feel it! I only hit the brakes for a short time; Keeping the brake stabs hard but brief. While off the van's brakes, manually hitting the trailer brakes with my hand on the controller. But not too hard, because one of the two wheels on the right side of the trailer seems to skid. Alternating back and forth. While one is hard on the other is cooling. Finally speed down to 50 and ok to shift into second. I am gaining. Overdrive off and air conditioner on, still not enough, as I can see a sign that says slow to 35 MPH curve. Entrance speed about 45, and during the curve my braking is done. I am as carefull as a ballerina in the curve; smooth graceful movements, and a scary but steady sway. Don't care about flying dishes in the cupboards, just so long as the trailer has a steady sideways pressure. As soon as the curve straightened up, and before the next curve, I applied hard pressure to both van and trailer, as this was my only chance before the next fast approaching curve. I was gaining on speed reduction, but I was loosing on fade. And now the steering was starting to shake. What a scary mess! All things considered, I am loosing! Especially, if the grade increases or the curves get tighter. It was then, up ahead, that I saw a possible turnout.

I made a snap decision, right or wrong, I am ending this...
With no one behind me, I applied everything I had to the brakes. Constantly calculating: "will I be aby to stop when the turn out comes?". Feeling the throbbing brake pedal, I carefully sensed how hard I was pressing. It was 500 feet. It was 400 feet. As the area along the road approached, the answer was yes! And yes again. And yes again...

Somehow, I had managed a full stop. But at what cost? I used my last precious spare head room to completely stop. My final gesture. The front brakes on the van were smoking. Smoke was coming out of the finder wells. Linda said, "We are on fire!" But I calmly told her, "Don't worry, I have a fire extinguisher." I hopped out without the fire extinguisher. No way was I going to chill my rotors. That would have warped them instantly and drastically.

I got out the infrared gun thermometer. The gun read 800F degrees. I could not believe that! For these fronts to be so hot; Somebody (of the wheels) is not doing their fair share:

After one minute...
Trailer Back Right: 190°F degrees ---- Trailer Back Left: 129°F degrees
Trailer Front Right: 200°F degrees ---- Trailer Front Left 147°F degrees

Van Back Right: 320°F degrees ---- Van Back Left 331°F degrees
Van Front Right: 562°F degrees ---- Van Front Left 600°F degrees

There are a lot of lessons here:
Clearly, from the readings, I had not enough brake adjustment to the trailer brakes. That is my fault.

The trailer should, theoretically, be pulling to the right, as both right brakes are higher than both the left brakes. I had noticed the right was first to skid. It could turn dangerous.

The van's breaks read ok: the drums in the back are the same heat. And the discs in the front are the same heat. So the rest of the braking problem has to be operator error. (That is me.)

Relying on the wind to slow you down is a stupid idea, and relying on such automatically excludes your real brakes. It does not matter on the STEEPNESS of the grade if the SPEED is low enough. And I know that, but my brain was fading faster than my brakes. Later, when my head clears, I am going back to plan-A: keep the speed down on grades.

DisksVented.jpg, 28kB Vented disks
But, we were alive and well.

We sat along side the road for a long time, about 40 minutes, letting everything cool down. The doggies got to pea a lot and sniff under the green bows, in a beautiful world of their own, in the beautiful redwoods, totally unaware of the present dilemma of their masters.

After I pulled the rig back out unto the road, the brakes felt good again. That was good; However it now was now clear, that I had made yet another wrong decision: It was not good to have stopped. The curves were over, and clearly, that was "the worst of it". If I had not stopped the brakes would have not gotten this terribly hot during the stop. They would have began to cool on their own. I felt defeated and tired; No more decisions left in me. We needed a place to rest for the night.
RULERMAR.GIF, 1.6kB According to the Grizzly State Park web site, Grizzly is never full, and usually sparsely populated. Grizzly was our next stop, a strategically well planned stop. I was really counting on it, and my nerves were shot.

Then the State Park sign for Grizzly came up just where the GPS had predicted it would be.

Grizzly was turning away a camper shell as I pulled up. Not a good sign! I forgot that it was Labor Day weekend, and as a consequence, suffered the same fate: Turned away. But it was beautiful redwoods, and we were going down the road not knowing what we were going to do. Little consolation, but beautiful scenery.
RiverWalk-Sign.jpg, 86kB
Riverwalk is conveniently right off the freeway. It costs $48 a night and is the most costly place that we have ever stayed. We took two nights here only because I was so tired, and everything else was fully booked. I forgot that it was Labor Day weekend. The place has everything; including a laundromat, store, playgrounds, and a small restaurant.

I thought I would try out their store: I needed toilet paper back in the RV. I was charged ten bucks. Linda pointed out that we did not need "RV" toilet paper because of the special capacitive sensors that I had installed. The old standard sensors were simple contact buttons that are shorted out by toilet paper. Pretty smart, for a girl!
...But by then I could not take it back.

RiverWalk-Space.jpg, 60kB My modest HideOut Space.

Riverwalk is terribly expensive. Neighbors are close, although neatly stacked. Riverwalk is "metropolitan". The freeway is a few hundred feet away and soft traffic noise can be heard as a constant reminder. Breathtaking, beautiful motor homes slowly roll in with striking display, and others roll out with an unforgettable remembrance.
This place is busy!
Everyone gets up early with the sounds of loud diesels, eager to get back to the road. Apparently, I am the only one capable of affording more than one night here.

We are not like anyone else here: we never use hookups, and never spend this kind of money. What are we doing here? Clearly, some of the motorhomes are worth several hundred thousand dollars. So, I tried to hide behind this bush.

Noisy-Lamp.jpg, 21kB Wonderful lamp, wonderful pole too.

I am not used to using full hookups, and when I heard this terrible buzzing going on, I thought that something was wrong! Had I wired something wrong? Because it was me that had wired this trailer! I checked the whole trailer; Getting down on my knees, listening to all runs of wiring, listening to every device that I had invented. Then I discovered the noise was coming from outside.

...It was this buzzing light on a pole!

Normally, I don't get too thrilled over a defective light, but this time I was happy and relieved to see it. So, it is true: Buzzing lights can make you happy.

HeatLamp.jpg, 37kB Warm-spot lovers.

We never use full hookups. But when we do, we might as well use the free electricity. Here is a heat lamp that had to be turned off after a couple of hours because it was heating the 21 foot trailer to 80F degrees inside. Why use your own resources, like propane, when you do not have to.

The infrared heat is quiet and feels good. Some say "therapeutic". I carry the bulb around in the van, but never use it.

Bean.jpg, 39kB


My ceiling

Compass.jpg, 37kB CompassAnt.jpg, 17kB

I modified a compass to read from beneath, placed on the ceiling. Now, I know the direction of the antenna.
The requirement is that the north end of the needle must be painted red on the underside. This will not work if the needle is only painted red on the top side! The compass is not upside down because of the needle support bearing requirements. It is upside right, and read from beneath. This idea has turned out really good.
Nav5.gif, 5.0kB The operation is so different from all other compasses that I have seen. I use this thing a lot.

The south end of the compass also points directly where mid sun will be: The center of it's arc, and the sun's highest point in the sky. The sun will rise and fall equal distances from this noon position. Or roughly, East and West directions. Actually, here in northern california, True North is about 16° or 17° degrees to the left of the Magnetic needle. But it is close enough, with just a glance, to see where the tree shadows will fall. This compass is really handy for the solar panels.

The parking and positioning of the trailer is important if you are independent and use solar. I depend on this compass, and I use it a lot.

I do also have the other type of compass: I also use the ordinary "backwards reading" compass in the van, but it is not handy - at all! Unfortunately, that is all money will buy for an automobile.

There are two types of compasses:
The forward reading compass, and the backwards reading compass. Airplanes use the backwards reading compass; and boats use the forward reading compass. Hikers use a map compass, like this one, which is a forward reading compass. The backwards reading compass displays the heading toward, or nearest, the viewer. The foreward reading compass displays the heading at the far end from the viewer, similar to the map compass. Foreward reading compasses require a clear horizontal area, and must be read from somewhat above. A seated pilot with an instrument cluster horizontal to the eyes can not use a (non electric) foreward reading compass.

Compass-Both.jpg, 8.4kB A few rare maritime compasses can simultaneously display the foreward heading on the far side, and the foreward heading also on the near edge. These are bidextrious, and are the greatest! These compasses have graduations of fine precision on the edge, yet an overall intuitive feel.

My "upside down" compass has a wonderful intuitive feel. I guess, I am the only person in the whole world who has one. Love it!
As far as I know, no amount of money will buy you a compass for your car or RV that is not a backwards reading compass. So, you will have to buy a map compass, and probably modify it as I have done.

...Or instead, conversely, you could modify your RV; put pontoons on it, and turn it into a boat.

...Or, you could keep your RV, cut a big hole in the center of the dinette table, drop a maritime compass into it, and go tell your wife.

RULERMAR.GIF, 1.6kB I liked the off-air channels better than the park's cable because the park only had 720 resolution, while off air had a few 1080 channels that filled the intire screen. It is your decision: quantity of channels vs quality of channels. You would think that with such high end clients, the park would have payed the extra money for more 1080. But, then again, these expensive motor homes each proudly sport their own dishes. They probably have more money than the park.

LightHouse-CountyFair.jpg, 58kB
The Ferndale County Fairgrounds...
Great place! Only $10.
In addition, the people seem happier here too; I think because we share in the "bargain". Bargains are like candy to an RVer! And can make a Red Neck grin.

GPS-HumboltCountyFairgrounds.jpg, 25kB GPS Coordinates: 40°:35:12 N; 124°:15:48 W
GPS Coordinates: 40.59° N; 124.26° W
Nav5.gif, 5.0kB
GPS Coordinates: 40:35:12 N; 124:15:48 W
GPS Coordinates: 40.59° N; 124.26° W

County-Fair.jpg, 59kB
This is the front entrance to the County Fair. The fee is only $10.00. The view is of pastures, and a more welcome "natural" experience than the expensive, and "regimented", parks.
CountyFair-Space.jpg, 55kB
Here is my rig, van and trailer in reverse order.
As you can see, you can pick a more free and personal space.
There are a few spaces here on the pavement, or you can have a spacious one in the field to the south. Also, the urban air feels natural: And you can feel and hear the ocean. The closest "city thing" is just a little town, and even that is more like some kind of warm memory.

Fog usually comes in during the morning, but the sun sporadically shines through. Perfect! I like both at the same time. Even though there is shade and fog, we have plenty of light for charging. The amp meter swings back and forth between 5 and 10 amps most of the day. At night we watch TV and have all the comforts of home. We stayed here a week, and never lacked for anything.
Blff-Callie.jpg, 50kB Bluff-Cal-Lex.jpg, 38kB

The bluffs above the Ferndale beach, all just a few miles from our RV. The doggie on the left has seen the ocean for 10 years, while the doggie with the brown ears has only seen it for the second time.

The town of Ferndale is only about 4 blocks away down the street, and the big malls of Eureka are 19 miles away. Linda loves to shop, and spends hours without buying a thing. I can't imagine a word to describe this "girl thing". But that is just the way they work. Got to keep her happy...

A trip to Eureka is always worth a day of it. And while there, take her to the Sizzler to eat. There will be benefits later.

DumpFlower.jpg, 41kB DumpSite.jpg, 54kB
There is a dump here, but it is not easy to see. It is behind this building. Not only is it nothing to brag about, the dump is the worst that I have seen, it borders on unsanitary. The dump is almost full.

Tank-Fresh-13.jpg, 25kB
After a week, here are my tank readings...

BBALLBLU.GIF, 139B The fresh water started out at 70%. The full capacity is 60 gallons, so that is about 42 gallons of fresh water. Now it reads 13%. But sense the accuracy is only plus or minus 7%, the tank could be empty. And indeed, later when traveling light with 13%, we found it to be really empty. We had to refill with fresh water.

Despite misleading advertisements, the SeeLevel system is not accurate. It jumps in 7% steps, sometimes 6%; nothing in between. That means it could be one step above or one step below; or a spread of approximately 13%. If I had designed it, it would have been accurate to 1% or 2%. But I am not pursuing the matter because the level of the coach is critical. Just a couple of degrees off level, in either dimension, is at least 2% in gallons. "Level" kind of over powers accuracy.

In any case, our fresh water can easily go a week.

Tank-Gry-55.jpg, 28kB
BBALLBLU.GIF, 139B Grey is a 30 gallon tank.
It reads 55% full. Showers are the big one here. I can shower with about a gallon or less. Linda takes... Well, I don't know. In any case, we could go almost two weeks.

Tank-Blk-31.jpg, 28kB
BBALLBLU.GIF, 139B Black is also a 30 gallon tank.
It reads 31%.
We can go more than two weeks.

Ferndale-Fense.jpg, 62kB
Ferndale is a quant little town of two story houses, styled victorian. Well maintained yards. The town truly looks lost, somewhere back in time. The town may be lost, but that is where you go to find yourself.

Me.jpg, 22kB
When I was "scoping out" places that were up ahead on the internet, I overlooked Ferndale as such a bargain. I love paying only ten bucks and being this close to the ocean. Linda adores the ocean, and the woofers bounce around and seemingly can't live without it. I don't bounce around much, but will pay the ten bucks in a heart beat.

NorfolkPine.jpg, 56kB
I think it is a Norfolk pine.
...If not, it is still a prehistoric pine type.

Sun-Under-Fog.jpg, 30kB
This is the view from my RV window of the sea, four miles away. The fog has remained over head most of the day, and now looks as if above the sun. But far out to sea the air is clear, and the sun peeks beneath the thick, dark fog.

Sun-Fog.jpg, 19kB
On closer examination, remnants of fog can be seen across the face of the sun too.

Sun-into-Kitchen.jpg, 54kB
A lot of warmth is produced from the sun, and even at this low angle, it's effect is pleasant.