9/17/19 – Day 14 – Malta, ID to Tremonton, UT – Triple Drat!
Well, I made it to Tremonton; but it wasn’t easy. After pulling up to a traveler’s service station in Snowville, Utah, where a delightful young woman named “Dem” helped me, I noticed that my repaired rear tire was losing air. I reasoned it was the valve stem that wasn’t fully seated in the inner tube nipple. I didn’t have the tool to screw it in all the way. Dem ran into the station and came back with two tools that would work. I chose one, went inside to pay for it, and was able to get the stem to fully seat. Two young guys came by to coach me on how to do it as they asked questions about Sunride. As they left they said, “Good luck Mr. Sun.” (I was wearing my “Mr. Sun” baseball cap.)
As I was pumping up the tire with my hand pump, another man came by to tell me there was air close by that I could use to save having to hand pump. I told him I didn’t have quarters and my pump worked fine. He offered to give me the money to buy the air. I told him I had the money, I just preferred to use my own pump that had a gauge for getting the exact air pressure I wanted. It was a really good hand pump, one lent to me by the owner of Bad Boyz Bike Shop in Vancouver, Washington where I live. Larry, the owner, is the great grandson of Chief Joseph. When I first learned of it, tears of admiration welled up in my eyes. Chief Joseph is a legend in the Northwest. He was gracious to the new white settlers and even converted to Christianity when he learned about Jesus; but by the end of his life he renounced the faith after seeing treaties broken and the discrepancy between the person of Jesus and those proclaiming to be His followers. The town of Joseph, Oregon is named after this great, great man.
Larry gave my bike a final check up before I left Vancouver. He suggested I carry a 45 to protect myself. I told him I would never shoot anyone but he said just having it in a holster on your belt keeps the bad guys at bay. “No thanks, Larry,” I told him, “I’ll stick with my bear spray.” His contribution of the pump, however, proved to be a truly valuable one. Super compact for travel, it unfolds and rests on the ground where you can stand on the flap that pops out from the base and pump easily.
With the valve stem fully seated, and upon Dem’s recommendation, I had a very late lunch at the Ranch House Dinner. I decided on the roast beef and mashed potato special of the day. It was so delicious I could have licked the plate. My server brought me glass after glass of sweet tea while I charged one of my batteries at the table. I went out to check the charge on another battery that was hooked up to my solar panel. At 3 p.m. I was still getting 125 watts, while my plug-in charger inside the restaurant was getting 100. In an hour’s time I would store up 225 watt hours, about 8 miles of range. I wanted to be sure I had enough to make it to Tremonton. I stretched out on the sunlit grass next to Sunride. A curious fellow named Andre strolled up to inquire. He asked all the usual questions I was now accustomed to answering, then suggested I patent my idea. I told him I didn’t think most people would want the solar panel. Its only purpose is to extend range for a long trip. “You’d be surprised,” entrepreneurial-minded Andre explained, “What you have there is just plain cool and people love cool stuff. I’d get a patent on it.” Off he went, as soon would I.
After 10 miles on the freeway and noticed when I ran over the washboard grooves in the pavement the front tire bounced harder than the back. I got off to check and sure enough my back tire was losing air. I pumped it up and went another five miles. The tire was low again. I had a slow leak that was worsening. By the time I reached Tremonton, I had to pump every two miles, at least one hundred pumps by hand. It took well over 1,000 pumps to get the last 20 miles. I barely had enough stored energy because soft tires don’t get the distance that hard tires get. It was after 8 p.m. and dark when I arrived at my hotel. Thank you Larry, great grandson of Chief Joseph. Your pump saved my life!