Day 474: The Walmart Battery Tug-of-War

We woke up to another cold morning, this time in the parking lot of the Walmart of Susanville, CA:


Last night I attempted to exchange our RV batteries at Walmart. Since we live in an RV, I scan and throw away everything.  Unfortunately, Walmart changed it’s policy a year or so ago and now requires the original receipt.  This seems silly to me, as the Walmart register system knows from the barcode if the receipt is valid, to prevent people from returning the same item twice using one receipt, for example.  If the barcode is scanable, and the receipt is valid, why does the kind of paper it’s printed on matter?

When I called the Susanville Walmart from the parking lot, for whatever reason they said that a copy of receipt would be fine, so I took one of my two batteries in for exchange, as this has gone wrong too many times to go to the trouble of removing both batteries from the RV.  When I took in the battery, they said that since the battery didn’t say “2 year replacement” on it, the battery had no warranty at all.  I knew this was wrong, and eventually persuaded them to attempt the exchange, which of course worked.

The folks at the service counter weren’t sure this was OK, so they wouldn’t do the second battery without talking to the store manager.  This morning, I took the second battery in and the store manager was there.  He had a battery tester, which they didn’t use last night.  Thankfully the battery tested as bad, and he allowed me to exchange the battery.  So we now have two new batteries, and these batteries now have original receipts which I will be putting in ziplock bags and taping to the batteries.

After installing the new batteries, we drove southeast to Reno.  There, we topped off our diesel and refilled our propane at an incredible $1.86 per gallon!  We then continued on to overnight at the Walmart of Fallon, Nevada.  See the trip map for driving details and our current location.

Day 473: Lava Beds National Monument

Shabbos in our dispersed camping location near Tulelake, CA was nice and quiet, but also quite cold.  We woke up on Sunday to mid-20s and a bit of snow on the ground.  This would have been a perfect PPG site if it wasn’t so cold and we weren’t on a schedule today.  I was able to pull 1.5 Mbps WiFi from the Lava Beds National Monument visitor center, 10.1 miles away!  Gotta love our homemade WiFi antenna:


We drove the mile or so from our camping location to the Petroglyph Point unit of Lava Beds National Monument.  Petroglyph Point is the largest rock art site in California.  This small mesa was at times an island in Tule Lake, and Native Americans would paddle out in canoes and carve symbols into the rock.  These carvings are thought to be 4,500 to 2,500 years old.  Unfortunately, it has been savaged by modern graffiti:





While driving to the visitor center, Trish read an article about the history of the Modoc War, which occurred in the Monument in the late 1800s.  We finally reached the visitor center, where the kids worked on their Junior Ranger badges and received their badges:




Lava Beds National Monument has the largest concentration of lava tubes in North America, with several hundred caves having been discovered so far.  Trish and I had explored a number of the caves here back in 1999, so we decided to take the kids to the largest and most challenging cave in the park, Catacombs Cave, with over 8000 feet of passageways.  We hiked to the entrance, where lava blocks were lightly dusted with snow:


Down we go:



The cave starts out with reasonable clearance:


There were a number of spots where the passageway was less than 2 feet high, which required crawling:




The caves here are a network of tubes laid down in successive lava flows, with ceiling collapses that allow entry to tubes under one another.  Here we drop down a ledge, walk across a second tube in the next level down, and back up the other side to a third tube:


After we had had our fill or crawling over rough lava, we made our way out:


We traversed the area in red.  At the end of the cave (on the right side of the diagram), there’s a passageway that leads to the other tube network, but the connecting tube was less than 12 inches floor to ceiling, and we couldn’t tell how long we would have to go on like that, so we turned around.  We probably explored about 4000 feet of passageways, which took us a couple hours.  Numbers on the diagram detail floor-to-ceiling height.  Click on the map to view it full-size:


Trish and B had had enough of caving, so we decided to head out.  I noticed that one of the tires needed replacing, so we quickly swapped in the spare in the parking lot.  The kids helped drop down the spare and stow the worn out tire:


Meanwhile, I jacked up the axle and swapped the wheels.  With a dual-axle RV, it makes life easier to drive up onto something so the wheel to be replaced doesn’t need to be raised up much to be removed:


The kids make an excellent pit crew:



After completing the swap and taking on water, we drove south to overnight at the Walmart of Susanville, CA.  See the trip map for driving details and our current location.

Day 471: Over the mountains to California

This morning, for the first time on our trip, we were told to get out of a store parking lot.  While the night manager at the Albertson’s of Ashland had said last night that we could stay until 9am in the parking lot, at 6:30am the day manager knocked on our door and asked us to leave.  Good thing, too, as there were only 50 or so empty spots in the lot when we headed over to the laundromat.

While doing our laundry, we looked at the map and realized that all the roads east to our next destination, Lava Beds National Monument, require tire chains.  We picked up a pair for the rear axle of the truck and a pair for one axle of the RV and headed out.  Rather than make the crossing on Highway 66 as we did on Day 65 when we came through travelling west to Ashland, we took the slightly longer but better Highway 140 from Medford to Klamath Falls.

Right at the summit on Highway 140, the rain turned to snow.  Fortunately, we descended the other side before there was significant accumulation:


We continued southeast out of Klamath Falls, Oregon to end up on this wonderful patch on BLM land near Tulelake, California, just across the border:


Good Shabbos from near Tulelake, CA! See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 470: Visiting Stout Redwoods Grove

Today we said goodbye to the Lucky Seven Casino and started driving inland.  We decided to visit the Stout Grove again.  To see even more photographs of the grove, as well a diagram showing a Giant Redwood towering over the Statue of Liberty, see Day 76.

Unlike last time, we dropped off the RV at a day use lot and drove in with the truck, rather than bike in.  We walked around the loop, marveling once again at the giant trees:







Continuing east, we stopped in Medford, Oregon at Trader Joe’s to buy kosher meat.  Unfortunately, since our last visit they’ve switched to doing kosher meat as a special order item, so we were only able to get two packages of beef.  We will have to call ahead going forward.

While Trish and B were at Trader Joe’s, M and I went to the nearby radio shack to buy a replacement audio cable.  We saw the new LittleBits display there:


Tonight we are overnighting at the Albertson’s of Ashland, Oregon.  See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.