2019-08-12 Eureka and Points South

Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura
I found this bird resting and waiting for the local fishermen to clean their catch at the shore of the Klamath River Mouth in Northern California. Considering the events that followed, I thought this image was a fitting lead in to the story.

… and then it happened.

My stay in Crescent City was a good one. The harbor had been especially rewarding. I enjoyed the birds I met and the weather was lovely.

Driving south on Highway 101, I stopped when the scenery demanded I take pictures. A beach called “False Klamath” was the first such place to draw me in. Just north of this beach a landslide compromised the highway, and the demands of construction reduced the road to a single one-way lane managed by traffic lights at night and flagmen during work hours. After the long wait for this section, the pullout leading to the beach was a welcome site. While enjoying the scenery here, I was approached by a young man whose eye was caught by the Samurai, and he told me of a road (Requa Road) a few miles south that led to a coastal perch overlooking the Klamath River Mouth. I’d been to the south side of the river mouth in September 2017, and I remembered taking some nice images of River Otters feasting on salmon. I followed this young man’s advice and found the road and the overlook. I was not disappointed.

Further south is a meadow known to host a small Roosevelt Elk herd. I stopped to stretch my legs. While I didn’t see the elk this day, I found four fledgling Barn Swallows perched on a “Wild Elk” sign and spent 45 minutes parked while taking photos of the parents bring in food for the young birds.

Later I tried my luck around Eureka, but there was a bright midday sun, and those few birds I found were not especially cooperative. I captured a few images, but none of the images were much to brag on. I left Eureka resolved to make it to Fort Bragg for the night

Crap! There’s been an unusual vibration noise on the Samurai on this entire trip. I thought it was something to do with the new tires I put on before the trip; it started after I got the tires mounted. Yesterday 137 miles south of Crescent City the U-Joint behind the transmission gave out while I was at cruising speed driving south on the 101. There was no place to get off the traffic lane, and by the time I found a wide spot there was a lot of damage underneath. The shaft thrashed around like a Waring blender until it bound up on the frame and locked the Samurai, frozen in place. There was still one wheel intruding in traffic. I walked down the road to what I felt was a safe distance and called AAA to request a tow. There was confusion about my location, and it took several hours before the tow-truck arrived on scene, even though I gave them the roadside mile-marker number (30.3). 

While I was waiting for the tow and sitting 150 feet further down the road, a CHP officer showed up and offered to help. He placed cones to direct traffic into the next southbound lane. Then he surprised me by asking if he could crawl under the rig to see what might be done. I had left many of the tools I used to carry behind years ago, but I had a set of metric combo end wrenches. He used then to disassemble the rear U-Joint, then kicked on the driveshaft to dislodge it from the bound-up position. We then picked up the pieces and pushed the Samurai down-slope to the safer location I found earlier.

Through this I gained a new respect and appreciation for the CHP. I recalled the Rodney King episode where officer Stacy Koon of the LAPD called the CHP “AAA with a badge”. This coming from a “Psychopath-with-a-badge”. After all the dust settled and Sami was safely back on the road, I called the CHP to find out the officer’s name and how I could send a letter to his boss praising the commitment to safety this young officer displayed.

I called my nephew in Central Point (Medford) and we decided on a plan for me to get towed back to Crescent City (where I am as I write), and he’d borrow his Mom’s big truck and pull his trailer from Central Point and carry me and Sami back to get the work performed by local Samurai specialists at a shop called Trail Tough.

This was not how I planned this day! I tried starting the engine and it wouldn’t fire. I later learned the flailing drive line broke a brake line and the wire to the electric fuel pump.

After getting the Samurai back to Central point I learned the Samurai specialist (Trail-Tough) was booked six months out. While they could provide the parts I needed, they could not do the work. Luckily there was a wide selection of good shops in the area. I booked a slot with the first one I found with an opening on their schedule. Not only did I get all the obvious damage repaired, I had them do a full safety check. When the dust settled, I had one of the front U-Joints replaced and had all the wheel bearings cleaned, inspected and repacked in new grease. I got away a little lighter in the wallet, but otherwise in good shape.

On the road again!

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