We were twenty three miles outside of Valley of Fire, Utah, and I was drunk with heat. The little “Electric MVP” oscillating fan mounted on the dash beat furiously back and forth, blowing hot air just scooped off the asphalt into the bus. The curtains in the back of the bus waved with the warm wind coming in through the windows, and Laura was sprawled across the bench seat in the back – foot hanging out the vent window, body framed by the orange plaid upholstery, and tank top pulled up. I wasn’t sure if she was sleeping or in some kind of heat coma – it was 103 degrees out, and as we barreled down the highway it felt like we were in a giant oven with an orange flower painted on the front.
Each time we pinged the weather report, the temperatures increased, and I could tell by looking down at my gauges in the dash. The engine was running hot – real hot. I kept glancing down at the gauges, the thought running through my head that this would not be a good place to break down, imagining sitting on the side of the highway, stuck in the desert heat in the middle of the day. The wet washcloth on my head dripped down onto my shorts, and the long white stripes of the highway were slowly lining by. I have a gauge wired into monitor the temperature of each cylinder in the engine, and I suddenly saw its red light blinking at me, and then watched the temperature of two cylinders skyrocket. I looked up at Laura in the rearview, and back at the gauges, and knew I had to pull over. I blinkered and came to a lurching stop, and jumped out to assess the situation. The asphalt was scorching, and the engine bay had to be upwards of 300 degrees. I grabbed a paper towel, popped the hood, and ducked my head inside to see what was wrong.
The carburetor linkage was broken on one side.
We were running on only two cylinders. A metal bracket on the linkage had sheared in two – I couldn’t even touch the linkage it was so hot, and I gathered that the stress of constantly moving back and forth plus the insane temperatures resulted in one broken bracket. I knew we couldn’t get far with it like the way it was – the engine would soon implode. I opened the hatch, grabbed my tools, told Laura what was going on, and set to work.
After 20 minutes of ducking my head in and out of the engine bay, we pulled back onto the highway on all 4 cylinders, thanking God and singing along with the radio as we slow-roasted on our way to the coast. We finally made it that evening, coasting down to sea level, and ended the day with dinner and a walk along Sunset Boulevard in glorious, cool, 65 degree weather.
Guanella took us all the way from Moab to Los Angeles, through the desert in temps as high as 111 degrees, and made it despite the punishment of the heat. We’ve gone over 1000 miles so far, and she keeps faithfully ticking away, mile after mile. For some reason, I’m glad we had that experience driving through the desert, but I never want to do it again (well…without A/C that is).
The adventure continues…we’ve seen some awe-inspiringly beautiful parts of the country, and are having such a blast together tooting down the road.
A photo story of our past few days:
In Arches National Park:
Pine Tree Arch:
Left to right: Lulu, Gabby (in the window) Darren, Lindsey, Laura, Travis, Guanella
Guanella and Lulu were so sad to part ways:
Delicate Arch is down in there somewhere:
Many bugs have rested in peace upon Guanella’s front end:
Who knew a truck stop in southern Utah could be so incredible?
We camped in Zion National Park!
That, my friends, is the desert.
We celebrated because right about here the temp started dropping, oh, 40 degrees or so. Thank you ocean.
Until next time! The adventure continues…