Day 29: Inland Northern CA

It was incredibly hot today — over 100 degrees on the bank clocks that I passed (Petaluma, Sonoma, Napa, Fairfield). The dogs were the lucky ones — comfortable in the van most of the day. Wile Mom nearly had heat stroke trying to shoot signs, buildings — and then walking around an enormous pet cemetery looking for nice inscriptions during the hottest part of the day.

Then, everything changed in the blink of an eye. In Fairfield, about to get on I-80 for Vacaville, waiting at a red light. And all of a sudden, Sparkle sputtered and stalled out. She has never stalled before and runs like a top. Wouldn’t restart. Busy intersection — slightly uphill so not pushable out of the way. Waving cars around me as I tried to be patient with AAA. The 800 number is New York and they put me on music for California. Finally, get California folks & they take my info. By now, at least fifteen minutes later, a couple cops come and park behind me and direct traffic around me. I have the dogs out of the van in the shade with me since it’s well over 100 in the van.

It takes about an hour for the tow truck. Then once at the local mechanic, by the time they take my info and a mechanic looks at my van, it’s another hour has passed. They close promptly at 5pm so I’m screwed as it’s now 4pm when they diagnose a fuel pump. They open at 8am — but won’t get the part til 9 or 10. Then they have to remove the fuel tank (after draining it) and it’s not a quick job. With luck, maybe I’ll be rolling again at noon. According to the mechanics, fuel pumps are supposed to be problematic with GMCs (Sparkle is a Chevy but they are really the same thing). They will replace with an upgraded one that doesn’t have these problems. I’m supposedly lucky to get 180,000 miles out of mine.

Ah well. So, at least I was about two days ahead of schedule & I can afford the downtime. I’ll get to bed earlier tonight, too. Maybe even be scandalous and have a beer! I wouldn’t mind so much about my stay tonight at the repair shop lot, but it’s gonna be stifling hot. I don’t mind a little urban camping — but tonight wouldn’t be my pick of nights. The dogs and I are woozy from the heat after being exposed to it for half a day already.

Anyhow — here are a few blog-worthy photos that I managed to get before the big event.

Napa and Sonoma were much too snooty for me and I made haste to get out of those downtowns. Would it be politically incorrect of me to mention how there seemed to be only two extremes everywhere I went: the obviously rich and the obviously much less-well-off farm labor workers. I found it really uncomfortable seeing those rich white folks sipping lattes at cafes while the Mexicans were out in the fields dealing with the grapes and other produce. Although I may be a privileged white girl myself touring the country, burning petrochemicals like crazy, all for the indulgence of taking signs of groovy buildings and signs… but somehow, I do feel much closer in mindset and lifestyle to the working class. Other than these trips, I really don’t spend a dime on food, movies, clothes, etc.

But I digress — here are a few photos from Napa.

Cornerstone Place is one of these wealthy folks places — for shopping, wine-tasting, art-browsing. I was here to photo this tree and then I was OUTTA there. The tree is covered with plastic ballies (yes, like my dogs, I’m obsessed with ballies myself). I didn’t do my homework to find out the meaning (if any) of this artwork:

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At the pet cemetery, there was this reminder of how hot it is. Thriving prickly pear cactus!

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These guys on the premises didn’t seem to mind:

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I have only one architectural shot for you today since my shooting time was so limited. I thought this building in Petaluma made creative use of cinder blocks as detail:

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I should also mention — in case you don’t hear from me suddenly — that I’m also experiencing some computer problems. It seems my AC adaptor isn’t working properly and the batteries aren’t charging so well. It seems to be the plug in the back of the computer is misaligned (or worn out). I have to get the stem in just so on either the battery charger or the wall outlet adapter or it’s not pulling current. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done until I get home & call Dell. So all I can do is be gentle with this plug situation and hope I can get through the next couple weeks.

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2 Responses to “Day 29: Inland Northern CA”

  1. Geez! I’m late posting here but I see that all is (mostly) well. I have no idea how much a fuel pump costs. Ouch!

  2. Debra Jane Seltzer (aka agilitynut) Says:

    Yes, everything is going well now. I really only lost about a half day's worth of shooting time. And $1300 (although a lot, and probably a lot more than it should have been) is nothing really when I think about how many miles I've put into my van over the past couple years. Other than that, the only thing I think I've replaced are the AC and the brakes and maybe a few other minor things. The rest is all religious oil changes & whatever the Jiffy Lubes across the country tell me to replace, flush, etc. My Brooklyn mechanics says that most of the stuff is unnecessary — but I'd rather err on the side of replacing more than I have to if it means better long-term life and fewer breakdowns.

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