August 10th, 2016
Washoe Lake State Park, Carson City, Nevada
Another belated post. Still trying to get the hang of being without internet for periods of time. Last night was our first here at Washoe. We traveled yesterday from Lee Vining, California, located at the bottom of Tioga Pass, which is the East Entrance to Yosemite. We took a day trip while there and drove to the top of the pass and entered Yosemite. The eastern portion of Yosemite, which is the high country well above Yosemite Valley, is becoming my favorite area. It is wide open country compared with Yosemite Valley but SO beautiful for so many reasons.
The drive north from Lee Vining, following U.S. 395, is beautiful as well. Particularly, the Bridgeport, California and Walker River areas. Once you clear those heading north, you arrive in the Carson Valley at the foot of Lake Tahoe on its eastern (Nevada) side. Carson Valley includes communities of Gardnerville, Minden and Carson City. Washoe Lake is at the north end of Carson City.
As I sit hear looking out the window at the mountains to the west, which are the same mountains that cradle Lake Tahoe, no one would suspect what is beyond. Washoe Lake is at around 5,000 feet + in elevation. The mountains rise another 3,000-4,000 ft. Who would guess that several miles just beyond the ridge line exists a lake that is about 20 miles long and 10 miles wide. It certainly must have been a surprise to early pioneers who passed through this area heading to California, having left the Oregon Trail and heading south and west.
Included in our travels yesterday was another getting to know you episode with our new-to-us Pace Arrow Vision coach. For some time now, we have been experiencing a “Check Engine Soon” light, which we had decided was related to our gas cap not sealing correctly. Our reasoning was due in part to the fact that the engine and drive train were running just fine. Unfortunately, I was not able to connect my diagnostic scanner to the port as yet because the “port” has been hidden somewhere up under the dash near the steering column. I have heard stories that the chassis manufacturer (Ford) makes locating the diagnostic port harness convenient as to its location, and the motorhome manufacturer just wants it out of the way while building the rig. So, they tuck it away. Such is apparently the case with our motorhome. Eventually, I will locate it. I know about where it is. Just haven’t taken the time necessary to get to it.
Anyway, yesterday I had pulled off the highway into a neighborhood after just entering the Carson Valley. The “why” of it is a whole other story for another time. But as I got back onto the highway, the motorhome sputtered, and the overdrive light at the end of the shift column started blinking. I have never seen that particular light blink on other vehicles I have owned with the same setup. After a moment or so the sputtering clears up, and the light stops blinking. So, we continue on to Walmart to re-supply. After shopping, we start to leave. I turn the key. Nothing. I try the “Auxiliary Start”. Nothing.
To make a long story a bit shorter, we go back into Walmart and buy a battery to use as a jumper. We didn’t really have to, we had the Jeep as a “jumper”. But, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra for the road. So, I get out the jumper cables and open the Start Battery compartment. As I go to place the jumper cables, I touch the Positive cable clamp and immediately see that it is just resting on the battery post. Not tight at all. Quite loose actually. I grab a wrench and tighten it and guess what? The engine fires right up AND the “Check Engine Soon” light goes out. Realize that this light and a similar sputtering that occurred at the time, has existed since we bought the motorhome almost two months ago. Has this battery clamp been loose all this time and only made intermittent contact? Maybe. But it is fixed now, and my only problem at the moment is whether to return the battery to Walmart, or keep it as a spare.
Getting back to Washoe Lake, many full-time RV bloggers have mentioned staying at this location. All of them have liked staying here, even though it is dispersed camping. I can see why. It is a nice campground with picnic table canopies and paved asphalt parking pads. A nice setting out in the country, but actually very close to town with all the amenities there. And speaking of the lake, several bloggers have reported in the past that the lake was actually empty due to drought conditions. I can report that it is NOT empty at present. We plan to walk the Beach Trail to the lake this morning. We’ll see whether it is back to full level. I suspect not. But at least there is water in it once again.
EDIT: We have taken our morning hike and discovered why it is called the “Beach” Trail. There really IS a beach, complete with fine sand, sand dunes overlooking the lake, and a myriad of prehistoric sea shells strewn throughout. Amazing further evidence of an inland sea millions of years ago. Also, once we got to the “beach”, we could better see that the lake is quite low. Although it is not empty as has been reported earlier by others, my estimate is that it is probably only about 20% full at present at best. We’re gonna need a lot more snow melt and runoff from the adjacent Sierras before it is completely full once again. I suspect that won’t be too soon.