Jun 16, 2012

Cheaha to Clay county

As I was saying…something strange happened with the van. Not being a mechanic means that every time something happens you have to research it, ask a bunch of questions from people you don’t know and then sort out what is relevant, what isn’t and what is bullshit. 100 heaping spoonfuls of thanks to the guys on the Vannin website, really without all their advice and help I'd have never made it out of Toledo short of spending a wad of cash to do so.

 When my original mechanical work was done on the last van the thermostat didn’t seal correctly as it was leaking out a very small but noticeable amount of antifreeze. I kept an eye on it and my dads cousin Harry and I attempted to fix it again while I was in Thunderbay. Harry even went as far as buying a really nice chrome housing for it from a performance shop…only to have it begin leaking as soon as I left. Then boom…and when  put the parts onto this van I told myself that there was no way I was going to have this one leak. So I caulked the shit out of it using grey ultra rtv…and in doing so I believe that I got some on my thermostat because I had been running hot since I left Toledo, temp needle on the high side of ¾ for the most part and not really moving around much no matter what the conditions. 

 But as I chugged along through Cheaha *note*…my gas mileage had been just awful since the Dragons Tail….I was getting about 100k’s less a tank than I should have been. I was just looking for a spot to flip plugs, check my rotor and cap, do the timing and look for the problem.

 After I saw that the Cheaha state park campsite was full I really didn’t know what to do but drive towards the nearest town for a bunk down…suddenly my temperature gauge just dropped right off through the floor…and then slow rose to just below ½. I freaked out…what could cause such a thing!!! I stopped, checked it out…everything seemed kosher and it was running the same…so I couldn’t do much but keep an eye on it. Someone has suggested it may be my temperature sending unit…but I am leaning more to, rookie thermostat install and it’s finally opened up allowing all the way for the 3cores of my oversized rad to work properly. A new temp sending unit is 5.99 if they have one in stock…but for now I’m going to leave it alone. 
It is gorgeous country

Cheaha State Park

damn autofocus

Back on the road after a nice book reading session by the river

 Anyway I had seen on my Alabama state map a place called Clay County Lake that I thought I might check out after taking the scenic road through the park. So scenic is the road and so backcountry that highway 218 literally ends. Just like that…you are driving along at 50mph, you look over and see a sign that says “218 ends” and then 1 second later you are barrelling down a gravel road slowly trying to bring the chariot to a halt. I had a long way to reverse by the time I got her settled down and then had no choice but the drive back up the 218…and then over to clay county lake. 

 At the lake I met, Bubba John (avid burning man attendee), Shirley and Gene (lake hosts) and Sonny (who helped fix my timing). I had seen Sonny in town riding a 150 scooter so when he arrived at the lake and seemed like he knew a thing or two about engines…I gladly accepted his help. He adjusted the timing after I changed out the plugs, cap and rotor. It ran so much better…it’s kind of like a guitar. If you know how to tune one but don’t have a reference to E…you can have a tuned guitar..it’s just tuned all wrong. Welcome to how the van was…everything was in order, it was just singing in the wrong key.  

 I can’t tell you details (sworn to secrecy) but needless to say I spent a couple of nights in the comfort of Delta Alabama, got some wonderful hospitality from Shirley and Gene, got my van fixed up, met a great contact in Bubba John and then headed on my way. 
Can you hear it....silence

can you say...yes please!

self shot

little nest tucked away under the dock roof

This...this is Alabama!

Sonny was the guy who adjusted my timing...great guy

Assuming the position...

Gene and Shirley little guy

No ships here...but the song is fitting..

an unlucky one

who doesn't love turtles?

the only fish I saw being caught...and it wasn't mine. Big ol Bass though, great catch!

 John and I fished for a bit before I left just a few hits for both of us but no bites. While I was leaving there was a guy who had caught a 7lbs bass from the small lake…that was a great looking fish!!
 The meeting of Shirley and Gene was fantastic though. They moved there 15yrs ago after applying for the job of lake hosts. Their house is a state house, they don’t get paid to take care of the lake but they live there for free. Then there is a little store front and whatever they make from that it all theirs. 

 On Thursday they close the lake and I was lucky enough to get permission to be working on my van in the shade…and I have to tell you…they are two of the luckiest people ever to be able to have a day where they can lock the gate and just enjoy the lake.

 Bubba John was so great, he pushed me hard to get to a burning man as he believes I am already living the life and most of the 10 principles…maybe one day I will get there but for now it’s cool that without trying I am already part of a movement of people who are looking for change. 

 After getting some great “been there done that” advice from Gene on which roads to take I headed off towards Mobile down the #9…

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