Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sequoia National Monument

So I cruised up to Camp Nelson yesterday at 105 degrees looking for a cool spot. Up the Tule River which is largely inaccessible from the road, past this old town, and on to the Western Divide Hwy. I don't know the exact elevation but it's over 8000 feet or so. I rejected a hike to see the George H.W. Bush Sequoia tree. You gotta give it to Bill Clinton. He made this monument under attack from the same folks Bush supports and won, so he gives the old man a tree. Bush sure never earned the honor with actions in favor of conservation that's for sure. As I passed Ponderosa Lodge my truck hesitated and then gradually lost power. I turned around and limped back to the lodge where it stalled in front of the bar. There was a phone and if you have to break down this was ideal in every way except for a way out. Towing was out of the question this far up from Porterville in the valley.

I went into the store and asked the kid working there what one did with mechanical trouble around here. He looked at me sheepishly and said, "This is a bad place to break down."

"Too late for that news, I just did, I think," I said.

"Ask the guy in the bar."

Right. I thought maybe I had bad ARCO gas or something similar so I bought the only bottle of HEET and poured it in the tank. Then I took out a dirty air filter and banged it around until some of the dust was cleared. It would have to do I thought.

Luckily it started up and idled nice so I took off. There would be no camping up here. I only wanted out at this point. It ran until I started down the grade toward Johnsonville where I again lost power. I was going downhill but you need power for breaking badly. I downshifted, accelerated and it came back and in second gear stayed with me. Once I made it out of the sky road it ran fine. Had it been the fuel filter elevation would have made no difference so maybe it was the air filter after all. It's time for a newer vehicle when that stuff happens.

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