More Van Breakdowns and the Great Beaver Revolution in CA.

Tuesday June 30, 2015 Guerneville CA.

Headed on home

I was up just after five this morning and was on the final stretch to home from east of Reno Nevada. I figured I should have a fairly decent ride home missing most of the commute traffic, leaving at this time. I was watching my temperature gage to make sure things weren’t overheating,  especially on the long hills.

Oh, oh

I was just doing the long one that goes up to Donner’s summit and things were looking good. All of a sudden, the engine backfires once and I noticed my oil pressure gage goes to zero so I pull over to the side real fast turning off the motor that was already dead. Lucky for me, there’s actually a good side area to park and see what the heck happened. I already knew there wasn’t even a click when I turned the key. What the?

It seems my battery is dead. Lucky I have another one I use for stuff in the  van, so I switch them over, noting improvements I need to make to make this job easier. About that time a CHP car pulls up behind me and asks if I need any help. I say no, not yet, but if you see me still here after  awhile, I’ll need AAA and he drives off warning to watch the traffic, which is still light at this time of the morning, around seven. Here’s my van broke down on the side of I-80.deadvan


I try to start the van now with the other battery hooked up and it starts right up. The voltage gage says about 14 volts so I’m thinking I’m good to go, just a battery problem. So I continue down the road and am thinking something else is not right. I need to get my meter out and measure the voltage at the battery to make sure this other battery is charging, so I pull over at an off ramp and put the meter on the battery. Good thing I did, because this one was already down to 11.75 volts which means it’s not getting charged. I look at my volt meter gage in the van and it says 14 volts, but the van is not running. Darn, the meter’s needle was stuck at 14 volts. I hit the gage hard with my hand and white plastic stuff popped into view and the needle whet down to twelve.

So, the voltage gage is shot too, that’s why I didn’t notice the alternator wasn’t working. Bouncing around on desert roads can take it’s toll on things.

Need a new alternator

So the alternator isn’t working. I hammered on it a bit as it sometimes helps, but it didn’t.

I decide I’m going to need an alternator soon and am not by any towns. I continue down the road and pull off at Nyack, a gas station and store. I look for a public phone and there isn’t one. The guy in the store  reluctantly let me use the one in the store, but he wasn’t happy about it, especially when the AAA lady took so long. I guess I may need to think about getting a cell phone just for such things like this, maybe?

So the tow guy is on his way, but it will be up to an hour as things just aren’t that close together up here in the mountains, so I go back into my van which I had parked in the shade and take it easy until he comes about forty five minutes later.

I’m thinking of having them tow me home, but when the tow guy comes he explains after a hundred miles with my policy, it’s six bucks a mile. Too costly, so I ask for a place that would have an alternator and let me work on it, which most tow truck operators know about. He tows me in the direction I’m going to Colfax to a Napa parts store with a bunch of nice guys.

Here, the van is getting hooked up at Nyack to be towed to Colfax. His tow truck was nice and plush and cozy for the ride.towvan


He tows me about forty five minutes or so to Colfax and drops me off saying these guys will take care of my needs and off he goes. I go in and talk with the guys and ask about parking in a shady place to replace the alternator. He says how about right there by the bushes. Looks good.

I replaced the alternator

I replaced the alternator and started it up and put the meter on the battery and it was charging so I was good to go and off I went after thanking the guys at Napa Parts for all their help.

Here’s where I worked on the van replacing the alternator. Good and shady, but the bushes where a bit prickly.fixingvan

The rest of the trip home was not eventful. I watched the temperature gage like a hawk. The  van has been overheating too easily for awhile now, so I’m going to get a new radiator that has three sets of cores. This one only has two cores, so this might help some.

It’s hot around here

Other than that, I was surprised to see how hot it was in our area. Hot, hot, I should of stayed up in the high desert. I thought it was a bit warm up in the desert, but I think it was warmer here.

Something important learned

Good trip and I learned something I think is real important about fish habitat that needs to be implemented in the Russian River water system and throughout the state of California.


In olden days, before about 1812, beaver used to be throughout most of northern California. They were wiped out for their fur which was used to make top hats. The beaver pelts where in such demand, they hunted all of them down and now beaver are hard to find in Northern California.

What the beaver do is this. They build dams in the tributary water ways that help slow the water on it’s way to the ocean. This makes great fish habitat as there is water and plenty of cover from the eco system the beaver makes with it’s dams. This is good for the fish and also good to help retain water during drought times which this state happens to be in right now. And even in non drought times, this slowing of the water is good for all wild life systems, especially if you are a fish.

Look at it this way. Before the beaver was trapped out, the state was benefiting big time from all the little beaver dams. Now, there are no beaver dams and there hasn’t been for just over two hundred years. That’s actually an astonishing fact that if you think on it a bit has some profound implications.

If it was up to me, we’d be planting beaver in all the Russian river waterways as fast as we can and let the beaver do their work for us. A bunch of beaver can do more at minimal cost than any other thing I can think of to restore fish and water in California.

I didn’t expect to learn such a thing on this trip, but what I saw out in the desert where water is not plentiful, but fish are doing well where the beaver are doing their thing was quite a revelation.

Beaver Revolution

Now, I just have to get some biologists on board. :O) Maybe we’ll have a Beaver Revolution in California? :O)

Nice trip, even with the mechanical difficulties.

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