Saturday, May 13, 2006

Day one

We took off this morning under sunny cloudless skies, perfect temperature, not much traffic and only a couple hundred miles to drive. It was great! What could possibly go wrong? We found out after about 30 miles.

Cruising the east shore of Lake Tahoe, we started hearing sort of a 'tinkle-tankle-tunk' coming from under the truck. It sort of related to the turning of the wheels, but not quite. I found a wide spot to stop and discovered the right rear tire was flatter than a tortilla.

Mrs. G suggested I call the AAA, but I am nothing if not a macho masochist. I can change my own tire, dammit! Besides, AAA's for runnin' outta gas or something serious, like if ya ain't got a spare! I turned to, and with the aid of thirty years as a mechanic I managed to assemble the Toyota jack handle/spare tire lowerer, after first reading the owner's manual to find where they stashed all that stuff. Clever, these Japanese. Got the spare on and noticed something clunky-soundin' in the flat tire.

Now, my tires are OEM, i.e. the ones that came on the truck from the factory, so I headed to Carson City Toyota to find out what to do. They said I had to go to the BFGoodrich dealer, that there wasn't much they could do. I asked them for directions. Now, I like these guys. Normally they treat me real good, but this time those rocket scientists gave me perfect directions - to the Goodyear dealer!

I managed to find the Goodrich dealer anyway, and he told me there wasn't much of a road hazard warranty on OEM tires, and the tire was caca-poopoo. It was, too: the clunky noise was a trailer hitch pin, like is used to secure a hitch in a receiver. I watched the tire man break down the tire and remove it. When I was young and foolish, not to mention broke, I mighta booted the tire and run a tube, but not on a new rig. No reputable tire man would have repaired this one, and even I'm not crazy enough to run a couple hundred miles through the mountains with no spare so it was step up to the plate time. They didn't have the same model of tire in stock, and I didn't want to wait for one to come from Reno, so he re-mounted my spare tire from its steel wheel to my aluminum one, and put a Big O on the spare wheel.

Start (flat tire) to finish (good tire) was about two hours, and I have a nice $190 tire (including two dismounts, two mounts, two balances) that I hope will never touch the ground. I also have the world's most expensive hitch pin! What the heck, I needed one anyway.

The rest of the trip went swell, and we pulled into Bishop about dinnertime. I was beat and there's a Denny's next door. When I get hungry, I ain't picky. Besides, I like Denny's, so there!

I'm staying at the Vagabond Inn. Kind of an older joint, but clean and reasonably priced. Good amenities - coffee maker, reefer (no, not that kind, F-Man!), nuker, etc. The only glitch was getting the WiFi user name and password over the phone out of a desk clerk who sounded like he used to be a Tech Support guy in Bangalore: "'B' as in Victor, 'Ah' as in ahplle...". Works good, though.

I had hoped to describe the run down through the Eastern Sierra altiplano, but I'm beat. More later.

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