We're On Our Way Now.
Wednesday night. Thunderbirds are GO!
We headed out of Reseda taking the 405 North out of L.A. Irene drove the Penske moving van, I drove the tippy-tonka towing the horse trailer and Shauna drove the green beetle. Irene's daughter Megan traveled with her and Megan's friend Stephanie went with Shauna. I was by myself. Before we left Irene suggested that we buy a set of radios so we could communicate on the road. That turned out to be the smartest thing we could have done. Without them the trip would have been a disaster.
We really weren't confident about the trucks and we also weren't happy about starting at night but with the temperature what it is during the day and the first part of the journey being over the grapevine (a very long and steep grade) we decided that it was probably best to try this at night when it is cooler. Anyone who has driven the grapevine in the day knows that is is littered with stranded, overheated, vehicles.
There were very few cars going this route at night but there were thousands of big trucks. We just putted along at the truck rate (about 45 MPH) up the grade and down the other side.
Just beyond the grade is a truck stop town called Buttonwillow. We decided to stay there for the night so we checked in to the local Best-Western. When we opened the horse trailer the cats were in an absolute panic. It seems that the giant cat cage had rattled itself to pieces. Parts fell down and the bouncing and crashing just terrorized the poor cats. Scooter (Banda) was spooked but ok however Dolly Rotten had a bloody nose and paw from trying to escape and she'd pee'd all over herself. We checked into the hotel and let the cats out of their cages. Scooter ran under the bed but Dolly (Bert for short) just looked around and settled in on the bed. We brought the quilt from our bed so the cats would have something familiar to comfort them.
Things seemed like they might be ok at this point so we went to sleep. A short while later Bert decided to start howling. This is a cat with a very loud voice and she can howl for hours. Then she decided to have a look outside and jumped in the window. Now we are not supposed to have pets in the room so this presented a potentially big problem. We fought with Bert for a while until it was so late that we didn't care anymore. If we got caught we would just leave. It was almost morning anuway. Needless to say... We didn't get much sleep that night.
Thursday early morning. We packed the cats, rounded up the children and we were off again. Up interstate 5 through central California with a destination of Redding (Northern California) where my sister Judy lives. We drove all day, in the 100+ heat, stopping only for gas and a quick lunch at McDonald's. When we hit Sacramento Shauna called Judy to get directions for the best way to her house. She asked about the cats and got Shauna into a panic about their accommodations. It was very, very, hot and the cats were miserable so we decided to reshuffle luggage and put the cats in the beetle where they could at least have some air conditioning. They were much happier with that arrangement. It also made them easier to get in and out when we stopped.
We arrived at Judy's in the evening time. Judy has cats of her own so her house is pretty well cat tolerant. She has a very nice house with heavy duty window screens so we let the cats out, in our assigned room, and they immediately took to the window to look out. They were much calmer there and settled right in. We spent Friday with Judy and her boyfriend Brian. Brian is a mechanic, among other things, and owns a very nice service shop in Redding. He was nice enough to give the tippy-tonka a look over. There were several minor issues (front seals ball-and-socket joints, etc...) but there was one major one. It turns out that the core-member (or radiator-support) is rotted out. The truck was purchased at a Government auction and had spent it's time on a civil engineering project in Long Beach (on the ocean). The core-member mounts perpendicular to the front of the frame and suspends the side fenders, radiator, front grill and most importantly the front end of the front suspension springs so it is a critical support member. Fortunately all these parts are replaceable.
We ate dinner at Brian's house. He cooked us a wonderful steak diner. Thanks Brian. We stayed the night at Judy's and were off again Saturday.
By this time the cats were easy to get in their cages and much happier travelers however to this day Bert still climbs under the covers every time I start the tippy-tonka (diesel engine).
We drove all day and early evening. We made it to Madras Oregon. We stopped at the Best-Western but it was sold out 'No Vacancy' so we looked around and found a budget place. This was one of the worst places I've ever been in. We then proceeded to find some place to eat. Not easy in a small town in mid-evening (about 10:30 P.M.). There was only one place open. A coffee shop type restaurant. We were the only people there and just barely had time to order before the kitchen closed for the night. Although they were very proud of their food and service there it was marginal at best. But it was still better than nothing.
We really didn't sleep that night but it was alright because we had a really good rest at my sisters house (Thanks Judy) and I really wanted to reach the Canadian border on Sunday Night. I figured that if we hit the border a few hours before they closed, and had a good enough story, then they would eventually want to go home (it is not a 24-hour border) and just let us in. We were after all within the guidelines for visiting and owning property.
So at 6:00 A.M. we loaded up again and headed for the border.