Friday, November 16, 2012

Welcome to the Hotel California

Leaving Death Valley, we had a decision to make. Where should we go next? We could actually continue on my original plan and go to Mohave National Preserve, etc. before we go into Baja. But, we wondered, since we were in Westy central, if we shouldn’t try to find a slider door handle. I think our experiences so far with the missing handle tipped us in the direction of finding someone to sell us a handle. Thus, we drove to the nearest McDonald’s in California to get internet and determine our most appropriate direction.

 Supposedly Mt Whitney is in the range behind us. Not sure if we saw it, though.

I guess I should elaborate on our experiences of the missing door handle. It hasn’t been too bad for me most of the time. If it is cold, or I am not properly shod, I just climb from the front to the back (or vice versa) inside the vehicle. Not the easiest thing to do, but sometimes more desirable than the alternative. About the only time I have been using the sliding door was when I went out to pee or when Jonathan needed me to open the door.  Well, the former created a situation for us one morning that I forgot to tell you about in the previous post.

The first morning in Death Valley, Jonathan and I both got up about the same time. He got out of bed first, put on shoes, and ran to the restrooms down the way. I was a bit slower and left the van a few minutes after him. To give me credit, I did remember that door handle was missing so I planned to go in through the front door. To my downfall, I forgot to account that the front door was locked. When I came running back from the restroom (with wet hair I might note—trying to tame and clean it a bit), I found Jonathan attempting to find some way to break into the van.

I will give the van credit for being hard to break into without damaging the vehicle. Of course, I don’t have any experience picking locks, so I wouldn’t know about that part, but otherwise, it was pretty difficult. Let’s just say that after about 10 minutes of trying and several broken tools later, the Amazing Jonathan got us back inside the van. We didn’t even have to execute Plan B of waking up the other Westy owners in the campground to ask to borrow their handle for a bit. Man, did I feel a fool though.

It is also important to note that the only one capable of opening the slider from the outside or front of the van was Jonathan. I am apparently not strong enough to open it except from the back interior of the van. So, unless Jonathan wanted to continue being responsible for opening the door when we were both outside, it was probably a good idea to get the door fixed.

While were in McDonald’s, Jonathan pulled up the Samba and several other websites to see who was near that might have a handle they could sell us. Through the Samba, we found out that Ed’s Used VW Parts was about the closest shop that had something. After verifying he had the handle and that we could do local pick-up, we moseyed on down to his shop. Ed set us up with a handle and turns out he also had a manual window regulator that would allow us to fix Jonathan’s window as well. He gave us a good deal for the pair. Thanks, Ed!

We left Ed’s shop at about 2:30pm on a Friday. You wouldn’t think that there would be that much traffic, but apparently all LA-ers get off early on Fridays to head to Vegas for the weekend. Well not all of them, but the rest do OHVing (Off-Highway Vehicles). Needless to say, the outbound traffic from LA was atrocious. Although it wasn’t the kind of traffic where you are completely stopped for hours, it was some long distances of stop and go traffic. It took us 3 hours to go 100 miles.

Speaking of southern Californians liking off-roading, we are currently camped at one of the designated Off-Highway Vehicle recreational areas. So, I can’t complain too much about them. The camping is free so long as you follow the basic rules and regulations. Although, they aren’t too far from the major roads, the location isn’t too bad.

This is the OHV SRA we stayed last night.

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