San Diego, California

25th September - 10th October 2011

As soon as we arrived at Diane and Graham's house in Pacific Beach, we unloaded what we needed from Harvey and parked him outside Dave's Lamont Street Auto Repair, ready for urgent attention early on Monday morning. Dave and his mechanics, Al and Zurfin leapt straight into action to diagnose Harvey's ailments. We had already concluded that Harvey's back brakes needed total replacement and suspected that the weird whirring noise from the back axle on acceleration could be a worn differential. His team of doctors got to work, dismantling the rear axle and carrying out a much needed major service.

A couple of hours later we got a call from the garage. Dave asked us to come and take a look at the air filter they had replaced during the service. It seemed that Harvey had been gasping for breath for some time due to an attempt by a mouse to build a nest inside the air filter. On holding the filter up to the light, it was almost completely clogged with bits of nesting material the critter had collected. No wonder Harvey was wheezing his way up hills! A hazard of spend so much time out in the woods!

We hoped the new filter would dramatically improve things. Meanwhile we'd sat for a while and recovered from the shock of hearing the cost of the necessary replacement parts for the diff and brakes and got the parts on order. Harvey was going to be staying at Dr. Dave's hospital for a couple of days.

Meanwhile we had a lovely place to stay and could enjoy the company of Diane and Graham for a while. We kept ourselves busy riding our bikes to the beach to check out the eye candy, taking walks, taking shopping trips and catching up on internet chores.

The end of the week arrived and we got a call from Dr Dave, he needed to talk to us about something. Uh-oh, that didn't sound good. We wandered down to the garage, only a couple of blocks away and again prepared for a shock.

Keen to check that the diff was now good as new, Dave had himself taken Harvey on a test drive and was wondering if we'd noticed that Harvey was running a little roughly and suffering a loss of power. Well, yes, we'd noticed that and had hoped that the service and air filter would cure the problem. Apparently not. Dave demonstrated how Harvey's V6 engine was only really running on 5 cylinders, the 6th suffering a serious loss in compression. Harvey was going to need a valve job to keep running!

As we already owed a substantial sum for the brakes and differential repair, Harvey was lucky that we didn't really have any choice but to proceed. Now the repairs were mounting up to almost one third of what we'd paid for him in the first place. Still after 40000 miles of loyal service on our adventures, we'd grown to love Harvey and hoped that this repair would give us another 100,000 miles at least!

So, Harvey was to lose his head for a while whilst the valves and valve seatings were all sent away to be remachined to become good as new.

Headless Harvey

Hope Zurfin can remember how it all goes back together!

Unhappy as we felt, it was Friday and Friday meant Happy Hour with Di and Graham's friends Frank and Wendy. We all met up at PB Bar and Grill to drown our sorrows and soak up the beer with the 50 cent burgers. At least Di and Graham had been expecting to put up with us until our niece Kate's engagement party, still a week away, so we weren't going to be homeless!

Early Saturday morning found us all at Kate and John's new house helping with party preparations for the following weekend. We were assigned various tasks including gardening, painting, electrical work amongst other things but with many helpers things got done quickly. Later we cycled down to Pacific Beach to check out the live music and stalls at the Beach Fest.

Pacific Beach Fest 2011.

Di and Graham kindly lent us their car to visit the city's beautiful Balboa Park. The Park had been constructed for a Fair on the opening of Panama Canal, the hope being that San Diego being the US's southernmost west coast port, it would attract a lot more trade from the new canal. As it turned out, most shipping bypassed the city, heading for larger port of Los Angeles instead, but at least the city was left with some stunning buildings set in a gorgeous park. Once we got our bearings in the huge park, we enjoyed walking in the Botanical Building, the Desert and Rose Gardens and visited the Museum of the Photographic Arts. The park held so many excellent museums and the San Diego Zoo and could have kept us busy for several days if we'd had the stamina!

Botanical Building

Spanish Style Buildings in Balboa Park.

By Thursday Harvey was ready to be discharged from Dr Dave's. We were instructed to take him on test drives before heading out on our big trip east, just to check all was in order. Early next morning we set off along Interstate 8, hoping to test out the reassembled engine both at high speed and on steep hills. The landscape to the east of San Diego provided both. The difference in power was amazing, Harvey drove like a brand new RV, could accelerate well, maintain a good speed uphill and stop on the way back down too! It was miraculous. The loss of power must have crept up on us gradually, so we'd just adapted our driving to match.

Things were going great until Christine started her part of the test drive. Back on I-8 headed back to town, suddenly the red "Check Engine" light came on. We figured it couldn't be anything serious, as Harvey was still running at Warp factor 8 and not making any peculiar noises. Dave asked us to bring him straight back to the workshop and leave the motor running, so they could check out the error messages. It turned out that two hoses on the exhaust sensors had been replaced the wrong way around. This was quickly rectified and Harvey was good to go.

Dave, Al and Zurfin saying goodbye to Harvey.

Sunset at Pacific Beach.

Di and Graham at the beach.

Friday evening found us warming up for party mode. This time Happy Hour was at the Cass Street Bar and Grill where we enjoyed the fish plate and the famous oriental salad. Before we knew it, it was time to start partying again the next day at Kate and John's engagement party. The theme was Mexican, a margarita maker was on hand, a keg of Mexican beer and a genuine Mexican Taco stand. It was great fun and Kate and John's beautiful new home was packed with happy crowds of their friends.

Before we hit the margaritas!

Standing in line for Tacos.

Phil and Christine tasting their first ever Taco.

Toasting the Happy Couple

Once the party was over, we had to get back on the road, we had just over three weeks to get back to Florida for our flights back to the UK and it was going to be a trip of around 3000 miles!

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