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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Walk Route - Phase 1; SAM's batteries

Good Even'n...

OK, looks good for a April 20 departure date. Friends John and Joanne have offered to carry SAM and me in their pickup truck from Bellingham to the Peace Arch in Blaine, Washington (Wa). The Peace Arch stands astride the USA and Canada International Boundry. SAM and I will begin our journey from beneath the Peace Arch, not 100 yards from Salt Water flowing into Puget Sound from the Pacific Ocean. We will walk through the town of Blaine, a beautiful seaport once boasting one of the largest Salmon canneries in the world. Today, it is a sleepy village welcoming visitors into the USA from the grand city of Vancouver, B.C., site of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Our route takes us down the old US 99 Highway - which runs from deep inside British Columbia, Canada all the way to South America. Our first stop will be Ferndale, Wa, 13 miles South of Blaine and site of large oil refineries processing Crude brought in by oil tankers from Alaska's North Slope. Twelve miles further down old US 99 is our home, Bellingham, Washington...currently developing the last deep-water seaport on the West Coast of the USA. Home to Western Washington University and numerous light industrial companies, Bellingham has been often referred to as one of the finest places in the USA (perhaps the World) to live and work. SAM and I will stop for the night for one last sleep in our own bed. In the morning of Day 2, we are off again down old 99.

As we travel, our Blog will introduce you to individual towns and by-ways. For now, let me take you through the first two months of our 6 month journey to Key West.

We will bypass Seattle walking on US 9 on the East side of Lake Washington. We will stop for the night at the home of Dale Maynard, my Nephew who has worked many years with my Company in New York and Bellingham. Moving down US 9 to Kent, Wa., we will cross the Kent Valley to again pick up Old 99 through Tacoma and on to Olympia, Centralia, and Longview. Paralleling I-5, we will walk through East Vancouver, Wa, crossing the Columbia River on the I-205 Bridge Bicycle Lane into Gresham, Oregon (Ore) where we pick up US 26. We will follow US 26 over Mount Hood to Madras, Ore, then South on US 97 to Bend, Ore. From Bend, we head East on US 20 thru Burns, Ontario, and on to Mountain Home, Idaho.

Our route then takes us South and East fairly paralleling I-84, to Pocatello, Idaho.

From Pocatello, we prefer to walk US 30 all the way to Little America, Wyoming. The Wyoming DOT says we can legally walk I-80. If that is indeed so, we will walk I-80 all the way from Little America to Laramie, Wyoming.

If that is NOT so, Farson, Wyoming via Kemmerer is our next destination, high into the Rocky Mountains. At Farson, we must make a decision to walk over 8,000 + ft passes to Lander, Wyoming, then South on US 287 to Rawlins, Wyoming; or, alternatively, Google says we can walk the Old Oregon / Immigrant Trails through very high mountains all the way to Rawlins. We are having trouble finding the condition of this long desolate stretch of road, but it would be shorter by many miles than via Lander. If push comes to shove, I just might drive out that way to see for myself...which would delay our departure...; snow in the high mountains may prohibit this, tho.

Either way - Lander or Little America, our intermediate destination is Rawlins, Wyoming. From there, we walk US 30 paralling I-80 - or on I-80 itself - to Laramie, Wyoming.

From Laramie, we continue over the last big Rocky Mountain hill on US 287 to Fort Collins, Colorado, continuing South to Golden, Colorado for a couple cold ones at the Coors Brewery West of Denver.

So, this is our general route...in need of some fine tuning as more information is gathered in the 4 weeks remaining before departure. Our ongoing route will be the subject of later Blogs.

Today was a day of discovery. SAM has been experiencing some inconsistencies with the performance of her Hub Motor (on the front wheel). After consulting with the factory representatives by phone, we decided it was a battery problem. The motor controller has a low-voltage auto-shutoff, which has been haphazardly interrupting current to the hub motor.

Remember that each battery pack has three (3) 12 volt batteries wired in series to create 36 volts needed to run the hub motor. So, I removed SAM's battery pack and had all three batteries load tested. Sure enough, battery # 2 produced only 3 amphours - whereas it should produce at least 11 amphours. So, SAM received a new 12volt 12 amphour #2 battery. By now, I'm getting pretty good at changing out the battery packs. Upon energizing the system, SAM's hub motor purred like a little kitten. I felt like such a proud Papa.

Battery #2 failed back in December. Constant recharging kept the pack running...sort of...but finally gave up the ghost. The "failure" story is VERY exciting, but will have to wait for a later lonely night on the road to Key West.

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