April 15, 2024

Stuck on a Mountain

As the blog title suggests, it has been an exciting time in California.

After filling up in NV (gas prices in CA were higher), we started our drive to Cali. The drive started with the dips on the road on 120 West, that made us feel like we were going on a roller coaster. We then drove around Mono Lake and through a few small towns. We stopped for lunch in a parking lot and enjoyed the view of the mountains. After lunch, we followed our Google Maps GPS up into the mountains. The road we took passed by the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, and we saw Marines repelling off the mountainsides. We saw the warning signs on the road and a semi-truck turnaround but didn’t think much of it. After MandDy successfully made it to the summit of Sonora Pass (elevation 9700), we started our downhill journey. Let’s say that didn’t go well.

We made it less than ½ a mile, and we smelled the brakes even though we were in 1st gear Rob knew we couldn’t make it without losing the brakes (not a good idea). We pulled off the road, detached the Rollerskate, and let the brakes cool. We moved MandDy to a better spot one turn further down, but the breaks were still squishy. This pull-out was flatter and longer, and we decided then that we were in a BAD situation. Rob took the Rollerskate and drove 20 minutes down the mountain to see if the roads got any better, and I stayed with the MandDy and the animals. When Rob got back, he said, “that is a steaming pile of fuck no.” Luckily we had strategized for an emergency before we left and were prepared to load everyone, yes, all 7 animals into the Rollerskate. We then drove almost an hour down the mountain to the Ranger Station to get a cell signal to call AAA and reach out to Dyne. We wanted to put her on standby to come to rescue the animals just in case this was a super long process.

Amazingly, just an hour later, we met our guardian angel, Clay from Vic’s Towing, in his pink heavy-duty tow truck. We explained to him exactly where MandDy was, and he asked a few questions so that he could be prepared to rescue her. We attempted to follow him back up the mountain, but he hauled ass in his big truck. Once we made it back to MandDy, we watched as he secured her to his truck, and he explained that it would be a slow journey down and that he would have to pull off a few times. We were okay with anything this man needed to do. All the while, I am thanking God that Rob followed his gut and didn’t try to make it down the mountain.

I got the dogs out at one of the pullovers and walked down by the river. A few years ago, this mountainside was devastated by wildfires, and the path down to the river was damaged. Luckily, I got a beautiful sunset picture of the dogs. Clay shared multiple stories of his 30 years as a tow truck driver in this area. Two and a half hours later, we made it down the mountain to an RV repair shop in Sonora.

During our drive, I reached out to the campgrounds that we were staying at the rest of the week and let them know that we had to cancel due to breaking down, and we decided that if MandDy were driveable, we would head straight to Dyne’s and completely forego our trip to Yosemite. The sun had gone down by the time Clay got MandDy to the drop location. Rob tested the brakes, and we decided not to overnight in the RV repair shop parking lot and head to Vacaville (116 miles). We arrived in the early morning hours, got the dogs and ourselves inside, and decided to transition the cats inside in the morning when there was more light. Tuesday, we cleaned things up, moved the cats, and contacted a local repair shop that would look at MandDy’s brakes.

For now, we are holding tight at Dyne’s house and will reevaluate after hearing back about the brakes.

For future reference, we may need to find another way around when signs start using descriptive adjectives like narrow, steep, winding, 26% grade, and mountain pass. We also need to trust the truck GPS directions more!

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