We only got a few hours of sleep, but woke up with the sunrise and headed down the hills towards LA. This day would be a day of errands and checking final items off the list.
We write Rosa to let her know we will be in oceanside this evening, put out an SOS on the samba for any solar experts and head for the coast. We realize quickly that with the reward of cooler air and the promise of the ocean also comes california traffic. cant have it all right? We check a few errands off the list and before we even get out of LA we get word that a well respected solar guru is in oceanside as well! We put a hold on the list of errands and head straight to Mark's house.
Like most VW addicts, his house is easy to find as you arrive because theres several sitting out front. Marks particular strain is the synchro, and we had much jealously looking at the multiple synchros in the driveway. We also got to meet Mark, who happens to be staying here for a while and helping out with a rebuild. We haven't yet gotten to check out his blog in detail (www.lucysbigadventure) but he and his lady have been touring for about 10 months in their own vanagon. Mark load tested our batteries and checked out our system with a few recommendations, but we can't tell much without a full charge so he lends us another trickle charger and sends us on our way under the understanding that we will return in the morning for further inspection.
We make our way to Rosa and Patrick's (otherwise known as the (2ndspring ranch) where we are treated like royalty, fed a feast of food and tequila and where we enjoy much stimulating conversation about travel, retirement and life. Rosa and Patrick are in the midst of planning their own big adventure, we could talk with them for much longer but are still hoping to get our solar resolved, pickup new surfboards and head for the border so we can call it a night and depart for Mark's early the next morning.
Back at Mark's we test out the new batteries but one still hasn't gotten a full charge, so we leave the batteries at his place to complete the effort and head out to tackle our other errands. We rapid-fire hit the surfshops in oceanside and surrounds hoping to find the perfect (and perfectly cheap) boards for our trip. he drive up and down the coast is amazingly beautiful and we are so excited to be back on the coast but a bit frustrated that we have yet to put our toes- much less the rest of our bodies in the ocean. Feeling pretty good about our checklist as the day proceeds, but less good about E and the way the engine sounds. We have a rattle that is getting worse rapidly and despite my crawling around under the bus can't find any possible source.
As we pull back in the Marks are already discussing said rattle and while we have good news about the state of our batteries we may have worse news in the bus. Mark2 takes a look at the engine and decides to go put his grubbies back on for a better look. We're stoked at their willingness to put their own projects aside and help out, but our hearts sink a bit at the fact that there's even something that needs attention (we did just leave the mechanic 2 days prior) and that we are indeed stateside for yet another day. Mark2 pulls off the belt, does a bit of yanking and aha. Bearings are shot, we need a new alternator. This sounds traumatic to us, but the Marks seem excited by the very idea. Not a big deal apparently, and while in our minds this is clearly something that requires finding/scheduling a local mechanic…before mark2 even gets done describing the process Mark1 has returned with the location of the nearest shop and an alternator on hold. There seems to be no question to these two that we are obviously replacing the alternator ourselves, and that we'll be back in the driveway in the am. They watch over our shoulders as we put the tin and belt back together, which is really the first time we've done anything other than check the oil and adjust the idle on engine. I realize that not only do we lack knowledge and experience…the real problem is that we've been actually afraid to go in there. Afraid that we are going to mess up the part of the bus that seemed to be in good shape when we bought it and so far is getting us where we need to go.
Since we are hitting the parts store, the Marks go back and forth relaying a list of must have tools, parts and replacements before our trip. Some of this we have in a list we already started, but all stuck somewhere behind a to-do list item called "VW kit" that keeps getting pushed further down the list. We again thank them both for their willingness to help out wayward travelers and wonder how long it takes to adapt this fearless do it yourself attitude.
Tomorrow should be an interesting day…