motor home grill

Driving Uphill to
Death Valley

ull-time motorhome travelers’ can spot a ‘newbie,’ — or, pilgrim, greenhorn, flatlander, etc.— by their want-to-be outfit, or the attitude when passing by as if driving a sports car.  What a ‘cheechako’ —someone who has never driven the Alaska Highway— needs to understand Mr. Jones is you cannot keep up with your neighbors, or buy your way to respectability by trying to impress a RV lot salesman.

We understand that those showing off a 40-foot diesel (“Sure it costs a lot more, but think of the resale value”) with onboard washer and dryers, as sheepishly demonstrating the stupidity of planned obsolesce on the move.  Before making an investment in longevity, know that many big city RV parking lots that can accommodate “big rigs,” that are by necessity are close enough to a freeway system for their “upscale” cliental, will not admit rigs over ten-years old, even if the odometer only shows 10-round trips from Yelm, WA, to Yuma, AZ.  

If you were smart enough to have reserved early in the season at a higher priced ‘resort,’ to pay by the month, to ‘live’ as a sardine in a tightly packed sea of gated security, know that those who own a zoning gray area, stationary, 399-square foot “park model,” that doesn’t require any driving back and forth are somehow, by their thinking, a step above the,  “overnight transient, homeless, motorhome and trailer trash!”

That’s ‘OK’ for me. I have never been a follower.  I even defied ‘Big Brother’ by ignoring the threats of the consequences of not signing up for a Medicare drug program. Aren’t we supposed to resist our local drug pushers? I choose the life of freedom of the road to escape.  I did pay the price, though, of going across the border to Algadones Mexico to buy Amoxicillin capsules for .05¢ per, instead of a U.S. prescribed dollar each.  This used to be a fun day trip, and a place for low cost senior citizen dentistry, even after 911. Last winter it took two and a half hours standing in line to get back across the border How did I learn to use penicillin without a written prescription? Horse doctoring with horse sense, and doing my duty defending the US in the USAF, where in basic training we were lined up and given an experimental tablet every single day for two months.

Sorry, I wander a bit. My point is this — if you truly purchased your declining asset to see the USA in your Chevrolet Workhorse, or Ford V-10 with a Banks system, then go back to the days when us guys used to brag about the gasoline engines we had under the hood, no matter how new and exciting the body.

A motorhome “box,” to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, is a box; is a box! Motorhome manufactures all seem to copy from each other, clear down to paint schemes, and an industry wide indifference about “bumper to bumper” box warranties that expire long before their superbly American engineered power trains.  

The company that used to be known for, “What is good for GM, is good for the USA ” —thanks to stockbrokers on Wall Street wanting to make a quick “flip” profit— may be taken over by Japan, or Germany, or the big financial dynasty of today, China. Why? They listened to salesmen more interested in commissions, than a TQM product. Want to buy a superbly designed motorhome, and then look for a classic GMC built in the 1980’s.

Now we are getting somewhere. If you, from a true motorhome traveler’s viewpoint, want to distance yourself from being classed as an obedient consumer, then understand that my dingy is a classic 1986 Suzuki Samurai.

Why do I spend so much time taking care of this machine? Because just like a Jaguar XKE, a Ford Thunderbird, or Mustang, a MG TD, or for that matter a Piper Super Cub — they are no longer in production! Why, I don’t know? Ask Chevrolet why they bothered converting the Samurai to a heavier Geo, and then discontinued it all together, when there was such a demand from individuals as me?

Why is this so important to a motorhome traveler? Because weighing in at a bit over 2,000 lbs. curb weight the FWD rig we call “Mikey,” hardly seems to be there when being pulled over a Western pass by “Jedidiah.” We are legal without installing difficult to operate two brakes. And I know our gas mileage went up considerably when we gifted a flat-tow Toyota city style sedan (Casper) to a granddaughter.

You don’t name your vehicles? Or wondering why we follow the more difficult to drive back roads? Or questing the wisdom of having a 4x4 scout vehicle just to make occasional runs to the market, perhaps you have been wasting your time reading this far, as from here on...

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/ Titus Canyon Pass / Titus Canyon Mining History / Titus Canyon Grand Finale / Death Valley Wilderness 4X4 tours /

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