Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Years Weekend At The Coast

So 2016 sucked, most people could agree. But really, in a lot of ways it wasn't that bad. I went to Costa Rica with my buddy Biebs; he and I had already been to Nicaragua once (I went back a second time in 2015), was put in charge of a major project at work and managed it as well as executed it until the end, saving the company thousands of dollars per month.

I had few regrets for 2016, and ended it on a high note. I left my job at the end of October as soon as I came back from a business trip to San Francisco and took the rest of the year off. For the new year's holiday weekend, I went out with friends to Neah Bay, Washington at the Makah Reservation and rented a few cabins. I had room in mine, so I invited my buddy Kramer and his girl Amiee to stay in my cabin. Kramer is really his name, its pretty cool. We surfed, explored, and rang in 2017 the way you would when you are miles from civilization.

I decided to go exploring one day, and Kramer and Amiee decided to go with me up to the top of Bahokus Peak. This is where the former Makah Air Station used to be based from 1951-1988. The Air Force operated an early warning radar station at the top, and before they decommissioned the site and turned it over to the FAA, it had been operating a AN/FPS-91A radar inside a Doppler type dome.

I've seen the dome numerous times when surfing at Neah Bay, and always wanted to go explore it. This was a good time as any so the three of us went and checked it out.

Of course there are laws to obey, so we didnt go any further. One of these days though, I'll grab my lightweight helmet and Contour camera and explore the dome.

After the Air Force decommissioned the site and deactivated the 758th Radar Squadron, the FAA took control of the site and maintains it to this day as a civil aviation and the Joint Surveillance System.

Looks like they were pretty worried about people sight seeing that they had to put this bullshit sign up. The easiest way to talk someone into doing something they aren't supposed to do, is to tell them not to do it.

After that, we went and did some more sight seeing and took some photos over Cape Flattery.

After we finished I decided to take a drive and head to Clallam Bay to get some food and drink, if anything was open. If not I was going to go to Forks. Well, Clallam Bay was not happening since it was a Sunday night on New Years weekend, so I headed to Forks, but took more photos along the way.

There is a mountain pass between Clallam Bay and Highway 101, which is the north-south highway skirting the Washington coast and part of the Olympic Peninsula. The mountain pass was pretty icy and snowed in, but not dangerous. I made it to Forks, got some stuff to drink, food and decided to head back to Neah Bay. One problem; my truck wouldn't start.

I'll preface this first, that I knew I was having problems with my alternator; the lights had been flickering lately when driving; including the headlights and accessory lights. On the way out from Seattle a few days before, I stopped at the auto parts store and bought a new alternator to install when I got back to Seattle. Well, it was going to have to be replaced before that.

I got some old chap to give me a jump start and I hit the road. Almost immediately the lights flickering and dimming started, and it got worse. The engine was struggling and misfiring, and the lights were so dim that when there was no oncoming traffic approaching, I turned the headlights off and used my fog lights only. They are only 55watt bulbs but they worked. After a while, even that stopped working. I pulled off of 101 onto the highway that heads through the mountain pass to Clallam Bay and knew I wouldn't make it like this, but decided to go as far as I could. Here is the best part: I had my Contour camera mounted to the windshield and got video of it. The original video was about 30+ minutes but I edited it down to a few minutes.

Failed Alternator by sadtaco
The mountain pass is miles from anything, at least 30 minutes, and there is no cell phone service. Either way I was fucked. If I didn't push it, I would be stuck in a mountain pass in subfreezing weather. If I pushed it I risked driving without any lights or getting stranded somewhere. Fuck it, I had nothing to lose, so I kept going. Eventually I my truck wouldn't go any further, so pulled over about halfway to Clallam Bay, killed all of the accessory power and lights, grabbed my LED headlamp and gloves from my center console and proceeded on.

At Clallam Bay, my truck died but I managed to get a text message to Kramer. He responded and said he and Amiee were on their way to come rescue me. While I waited, I was parked along the roadside out in front of the Breakwater Restaurant and decided to try and push my truck to a rolling start; luckily I succeeded and kept on going. I passed a few cars along the way, who knows what they were thinking; seeing a truck approaching with some dingbat holding an LED flashlight or headlamp out the window. Along this stretch of highway, its a coastal two lane, windy road with uneven surfaces and prone to landslides. Eventually Kramer and Amiee met up with me, but my truck died again. We managed to jump start it, and kept going. Originally I was going to follow them since I didn't have headlights but I told them I was just going to keep going as long as I could keep driving.

We finally made it back to the cabins, had some dinner, and I got to work replacing my alternator. It was about midnight, the temperature was below freezing, but I had to get it done since my buddy Brad was riding back with me. It took me a few hours since it was so cold and dark but I got it replaced and everything was cool. That whole trip from Forks to Neah Bay is about 40-50 miles, and should have been about an hour but lasted 2.5 hours.

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