Monday, March 18, 2013

The Journey Begins

This blog is being reactivated and converted into what I hope to be an accounting of the Summit Seeker’s journeys now that we have officially left San Diego behind and have taken to the nomadic lifestyle fulltime.
Apologies for the lengthy post below as I try to catch up on things

Phoenix Arizona

What was originally intended to be a stop lasting just a couple of days, Phoenix turned into our home for about two weeks. The Summit Seeker was in need of some scheduled maintenance, having rolled over 70,000 miles, and I decided to get her the suggested 80,000 mile tuneup since we’d be putting some serious miles on her.  And so we found a Volkswagen dealership in Scottsdale that could handle a rig her size and that is when the fun began.  It seems that replacing new spark plugs revealed an alignment issue with the coils creating an erroneous spark.  Of course a new coil assembly, costing about $500 should take care of it, or we can live with an intermittent misfire.  We opted to shell out the money.  Also, the rear brakes only had a few thousand miles left on them so what the hell, throw in some new brakes as well.  And of course the battery failed its charge test so we opted for a new battery while we were at it.
About 30 miles from the dealership, the Summit Seeker shut down.  Just stalled as if it had run out of gas.  I was able to restart only to have it stall out again, and again.  WTF?!  We made it to the trailhead we were heading towards and called the dealership.  They needed me to bring it back where they would run diagnostics.  Great, a 30 mile drive with an RV that may or may not stall out at any given moment.  Yet somehow we managed it, having to pull over 3 times to restart the vehicle and another time stuck at a stoplight for about 10 minutes before the engine would turn over.  The only saving grace was that the roads weren’t terribly busy and so we only pissed off about 10 drivers in total.
I should add another note here.  The night before, I had stayed up drinking with Chris Rios and he somehow convinced us that we should drive the Summit Seeker down to the Copper Canyons with them.  They were spending the day packing and wrapping up some last minute things while we were stuck in an RV with a stalling issue and still haven’t checked out the route or done any kind of prep for the long trek.
Back at the dealership.  After having a mechanic drive the rig around for awhile they got her to stall.  But diagnosing the root cause was a little tricky since all tests came back fine.  I assured them that this was a recent development and that the culprit had to be related to something they had done.  Evening came with no result.  Not wanting to spend money on a hotel, we asked them to park the RV where we had access to it and we’d spend the night on their lot and have them continue their troubleshooting in the morning. 
The next morning arrived.  This was the day we were supposed to start our trip towards the Copper Canyons.  The Millers had to leave and we were hoping we’d be able to fix our rig and catch up to them when they stopped for the night.  Wasn’t going to happen since the mechanic didn’t find the faulty component until early afternoon and we got the vehicle back just before sundown.  The Millers were already in Mexico!  It seems the coil they installed was faulty and was causing an intermittent short when it reached temperature.  Thanks guys!  But at least we had our home back.
Staying in Phoenix is not so bad.  The trail system is amazing and there are plenty of hills and mountains to keep one entertained.  And so we decided to hang around for another week since Mike Miller was holding a fatass type of running event the following weekend in honor of his upcoming birthday and we wanted to run the 15k option.  It also gave me a chance to ensure the Summit Seeker was fine and healthy enough to continue on our journey.  It seemed to me as if the radiator fan came on and stayed on much more frequently than I remembered but it’s something I never really paid attention to and just stashed the info in the back of my head.
The Old Man race was a lot of fun and I strongly recommend it to anyone that can make it next year.  Although the weather was cold at the start, the gradual ups and downs warmed you up and kept you comfortable as long as you kept moving.  We originally planned on doing two loops of the 15k course but one was enough and we headed over to the Millers for the post race party and to cheer all the 51k runners that finished behind us.

Climbed to the thumb from both sides of the mountain

Pine Arizona

There were more good times to be had during our stay, such as meeting Jenn Penner, a Facebook acquaintance of mine for many years, and running Tom’s Thumb with Rachel Spatz, as well as hanging out at the amazing health club that she gave us passes to.  But time was ticking and our journey had to continue.  Next stop – Pine Arizona. 
Pine is less than 2 hours northeast of Phoenix but is a very different climate.  Elevation of about 5,500’ and lots of pine trees rather than the plentiful Cholla and Saguara cactus that we encountered everywhere in the Phoenix area.  However, you have to do some climbing in order to get up there and poor little Summit Seeker overheated on the drive up.  See, I knew that radiator fan being on more than I remembered was a problem!  Of course now we are in the middle of nowhere and can’t do much about it except pull over, wait until everything cools down, and then continue the journey.  And no driving with the AC on.
Late 2012 we volunteered to help out at the Mogollon 100 race, which takes place in Pine and fell in love with the area. And what’s not to love about it?  A small town with lots of mom & pop type stores and restaurants.  Trails everywhere that will leave you breathless from their beauty as well as their ruggedness and steepness.  Creeks and streams aplenty to jump and cool off in.  Nights that are so dark you can’t see 5 feet in front of you yet skies so brilliantly lit up by the stars. 

Home for the next week

We’ve been here for four days and the trails are kicking our ass, what with the elevation, ruggedness and steepness.  Seriously, can a trail contain any more rocks than what these have?  The plan is to stick around until mid next week sometime and continue tackling these trails as part of our training for the upcoming Zion 100 race and then it’s on towards Sedona for more trails.  We’ve also located 3 sources of free wifi down the road as well as a few faucets where we can refill our water jugs.  There is also a small mechanic’s shop at the local gas station (gas is approx .20c cheaper than Phoenix here!) that I will visit in a few days to see if they can help with the overheating issue.  Otherwise, we’ll just have to live with the overheating issue until we reach Flagstaff near the end of this month.

Happy Trails!