In this post, I am going to combine the last couple of days so I can finish this up and also because there is not as much to talk about. Just the really, really ugly part of the trip on December 31st.
Check out time at the campground was 11:00 a.m. so we got up and got busy. We fixed a nice breakfast of pancakes, sausage and eggs. Then we put the camper back on the truck, made sure the site was clean and headed out. Matt has cousins in the Sacramento Valley and his grandfather is in Chico. We decided that we were so close that we would head that direction for a visit. We got to Chad and Denise's house at around 12:30 or so. Soon after we arrived Chad's sister Kami and her family arrived. They stopped by on their way home from spending a few days playing in the mountains. We had a nice visit with everyone. It was so great to see them all. We really enjoy their company and don't see them often enough. Chad and Denise's little boy Jacob just recently turned one. Wow has he grown since we saw everyone at the family reunion this past summer. We ended up staying for quite a long time just relaxing and visiting. Unfortunately, that meant there was not time to stop and see Grandpa. We really have to get down there sometime again soon. After a quick stop at one of the local produce stands for oranges and grapefruit, we finally pointed the truck to the north and started the long trek home. We decided to just drive until Matt got tired. He decided that we would stop at the rest area just south of the Siskyou mountian pass for the night. As we pulled off the freeway, we heard a funny sound that we could not identify. It obviously was coming from the tires. At first we thought it was the road but it turned out to be much worse. After we got the kids into the camper and settled, Matt did some investigating, thinking that perhaps the tread had separated on one of the tires. What he did discover scared us pretty badly. Apparently, four of the lug bolts holding the right rear tire on had sheared off! We had just spent several hours traveling at around 70 mph. Oh how scary that thought was. We decided to go to bed and figure out to do the next morning.
New Years Eve Day started out with Matt trying to figure out how we were going to deal with the tire issue. In the meantime I was working on cleaning up the camper a bit. Apparently I bumped a tube that carries propane to a heater we don't use, loosening a connection and releasing propane into the camper. This ran us all out of the camper. I sent the kids to the truck to wait and discussed our options with Matt. He had decided that the best option was to try to get back to Yreka to find a repair shop. Yreka, via the scenic highway that runs on the other side of the river from the freeway, was about 10 miles away. At 8 to 10 mph that is a long trip. The scenic route is just that, scenic and there are a number of narrow bridges, steep drop offs and sharp corners that were enough to send me into a catatonic state. Unfortunately we got oh so close but not close enough. The last of the lugs gave out about 4 miles from town. Luckily we were going really slowly so when the inevitable happened, we were stopped almost immediately. There was a man who lived right there who was quite prepared, called CHP for us and set out cones and flares to warn drivers as they came around the corner. He also gave Matt the number for a tow company. Matt called and the tow truck was soon on its way. A CHP officer soon arrived too and helped with directing traffic. When the tow truck arrived it was clear that it was going to turn into a long ordeal. The truck was totally not going to be able to take care of the issue. The driver immediately called back and had another truck brought out. This one was a flat bed that they were going to try and put the truck up onto to take it to the repair shop. I had my doubts that even this truck was going to work out and low and behold, I was right. I got to take care of and try to entertain the kids in the cab of the tow truck as the two tow truck drivers and Matt tried to get our camper/truck up onto the flat bed. All they really succeeded in doing was wasting a lot of time and messing up the bumper of the camper. After a couple hours of sitting on the road side, a repairman from the repair shop came out, knocked out and replaced four of the lugs, put one of the tires back in place and we made a very slow caravan to town. He only did four because that was all he had on hand at the shop. They had to call around to other shops and get the other four brought over. So finally after many hours and several hundred dollars, we were finally able to get on our way again. We went back out the scenic drive, found a particularly scenic spot, made and ate a very late lunch then turned the truck back north.
We decided to head to my mom and dad's to pick up Emily's canary that she got for Christmas. Mom and Dad have an annual New Years Eve party that we enjoyed. It was so nice to get out of the truck, relax and chat with friends. Most left before midnight but one neighbor hung around. David and Jessie ended up crashing on the coach before midnight arrived but Emily made it to celebrate the coming of the new year. We popped some champagne while mom and I campaigned with Matt for us to stay the night and head home in the morning but he was rather adamant that he wanted to head home. Since he was driving, I would end of sleeping the whole way, there were animals at home that needed care and it had been a long and harrowing day, I gave in so home we came. We pulled in the driveway at about 2 a.m. By the time we got animals checked on and got settled in it was 3:00 a.m. before I finally fell asleep again.
We spent New Years Day hanging out, relaxing, doing a bit of laundry so everyone had clothes to return to school and work while we watched football. The kids activated their Webkinz accounts and got all set up. I can see this being a serious addiction, if not for them then for me. Some of those games are fun! It was a pleasant and relaxing day.