August 23, Thursday
“Oh please let this work, oh please let this work…” Runs my internal monologue as I turn the key in Bertha and start her up for a test run into the Cascades. Yesterday I got her into a shop here in Redmond, OR where they diagnosed a leaking hose as the cause of my coolant (and overheating) woes coming up to Mt Hood earlier this month.
Let me pause for a moment here and explain how my brain works when something goes wrong on the road. RVers and non-RVers alike sometimes mistakenly believe that I’m fearless, and that’s how I managed to hit the road full-time at the tender age of 28 and how I’ve managed to make this lifestyle work as a solo woman for all these years.
I am not fearless.
What I am is able to act despite my fear. And part of my process is considering that when something goes wrong, that it’s potentially something horribly majorly wrong. I don’t do this to wallow in my misfortune, but to get my brain thinking about what the next steps would be for the worst case scenario. Doing this exercise makes the worst case scenario less scary. It turns it from something nebulous and insurmountable to just another problem to deal with.
So when Bertha overheated due to coolant loss driving up to Mt Hood and again on the way to Redmond for the Xscapers Convergence, I googled the problem and read up on the wide of variety of issues that could be causing it. What I didn’t share last travelogue (two posts ago) is that while Bertha was clearly losing coolant, I wasn’t seeing any puddles on the ground. The mighty Google informed me that could indicate an internal leak: the coolant could be leaking into the oil (coolant doesn’t make a good lubricant, so that’s bad), or it could be coming out the exhaust (indicating a head gasket issue, also bad). And by bad I mean expensive.
Bertha’s oil didn’t look contaminated nor was it higher than usual and I wasn’t noticing white, sweet smelling exhaust out the tail pipe, but I accepted that those were possibilities. So when I took her into the shop yesterday I already had a list in in my mind of what I would do if the problem was something catastrophic, up to and including scrapping Bertha, selling Cas early right here in Oregon, and buying a new vehicle to take to Denver to go pick up my teardrop next month. While that may sound a little extreme for a problem I didn’t understand yet, it reduced the fear a lot. I already had a plan in place for the worst case scenario. It wouldn’t be fun, but I could handle it.
I wasn’t in the shop for long before I was called back into the work bay to witness what was happening. The coolant was leaking from a hose (radiator hose I believe) in such a place that the coolant was getting caught by the trim at the bottom of my bumper – hence no puddle on the ground. When driving, going around curves would cause the coolant to slide off the trim, but when stationary it would pool there.
The hose replacement was relatively cheap and fast, I left the shop shortly after.
But even then I didn’t consider myself out of the woods. The engine did truly overheat once, there could be side effects from that. The leaking hose might have been secondary to another problem.
And so I find myself today, whispering a mantra of hope to myself as I turn Bertha on and point her nose west up into the mountains. We travel up past the town of Sisters and I continue onto 242, a narrow squiggly little road not recommended for RVs, in fact there’s a length limit of 35 feet.
Up, up we go, into a pine forest that is blackened in a large swath from a wildfire last year. The smoke is pretty bad today so the views are nothing to write home about, but that’s not the point of this trip. Farther up the forest disappears under an old lava flow.
The needle on the engine temp gauge never moves. I find myself at McKenzie pass about an hour later, staring at Dee Wright Observatory, an interesting structure made from lava rock. At the top is a dial with hands that point to nearby mountains, it’s a neat place.
Bertha lost no coolant from the drive today. I won’t feel completely at ease until I tow the trailer with no problems, but I’m feeling better. This is what almost fearless looks like – there is still concern for something going wrong, but it does not derail my plans. Instead I use that fear as the tool it was intended to be – to teach me caution, to test a solution before putting all my weight behind it.
* * *
In real time, today is September 6th, I hope you had a great Labor Day Weekend! It’s a very special week for me, because this week the pieces of my teardrop are starting to be assembled! After over 10 months of waiting, the next phase of my nomadic journey is about to start.
I’ll be picking up my new teardrop in Denver, CO later this month, probably the week of the 24th. And now that the time is nearing, it’s time to look for a buyer for Cas. He’s treated me very well as a rolling home, and I’m looking forward to passing him on to some other lucky person or couple who will get to make their own wonderful memories in him. If you’re not interested in hearing the details you can stop reading here and I’ll catch you next post. If you are, read on.
Cas may be picked up from Denver or Leadville, Colorado after I’ve gotten the teardrop, moved all my belongings over, and cleared out the rest – probably near the end of the month. He’s being sold as-is, I’ll clean up after everything is out, but I want there to be no misunderstandings here: Cas is 19 years old, he has been lived in for six years now. He has been to a lot of amazing places and seen a lot of beautiful things, and it shows. All appliances work, there are no major problems. But as with any older RV there are several smaller things that do or will need attention, that’s the nature of RV upkeep. You can click here for his listing on Fiberglass RV with all the details and a bunch of recent pictures.
I made a full video tour of Cas last year, and that can be found here on YouTube. He is a ’99 Spirit Deluxe, you can learn more about the Spirit Deluxe model on Casita’s website. You can also find more about him on the About Page here on IO, at the bottom are links to several posts I’ve written about Cas and full-timing in a Casita.
I’m selling him for $6,500 firm. If interested please contact me using my Contact Form. Alternately, if you’re not interested in Cas but live in or have connections in or near Denver, I’m also looking for a place where I can do this rig switch and would love to have some help in that department!
Thank you everyone for coming along on this journey, and a special thanks to my Patreon supporters and PayPal donators! Here’s to the next chapter!
P.S. – A new YouTube video also went up today, a roundtable with me and two other solo women full-timers answering questions about RV and van living, you can find that here.