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RiverCat Journal: Baker Grade

Posted by on April 24, 2012

Current Venue:  Las Vegas, NV
Campground: The Hitchin’ Post


“Don’t Overheat.  Turn off A/C next 15 miles.”

That was the sign I observed Sunday in the middle of a brutal desert just outside Baker, California — not a very likely place for me to turn off the air conditioner.  But what does it mean?  There doesn’t appear to be any big mountains, anywhere.  I’d soon find out.    I noticed my temperature gauge was heating up — off with the air conditioner.  Before long I’d see several big rigs and a few cars on the shoulder…

And yet, still I’m only looking at a straightaway that simply doesn’t look that steep!  But here’s the thing.  It’s miles and miles of a steady 3000-foot ascent with no break (nowhere to gain momentum and speed) — in a hot, hot desert.  Before long I’m at a crawl.  I watched my engine try to overheat again.  I tried to downshift, thereby making my tranny very, very angry this time.  Nothing was working. I watched the engine tried to overheat again at 35 mph but was afraid of pulling over because I didn’t think I could get enough momentum again to get over this hill.  I was very much at this thing’s mercy.  Over 15 miles of this.

Long story short, I barely made it — but not before having a nervous breakdown.  I’d find out later Baker Grade is so notorious for breakdowns that it’s actually a major testing ground for new prototypes.

I pulled into the campground just as Las Vegas was setting new record highs for the month of April.  The heat must have been getting to me as I made my turn into the parking lot rather “quick” (I spotted it last second).  Tires squealing I didn’t dare slam on the breaks for fear I’d lose control of the trailer.  I slammed into the elevated parking lot, instead.  I did a quick survey and found only the spare tire had been jarred loose.

But I was determined to do some damage.  While setting up, I didn’t notice the latch on the hitch wasn’t completely opened up (by now heat exhaustion was definitely setting in) while I was jacking the trailer.  When I got it all the way up, the ball hitch hung tight and the entire weight of the trailer came crashing back down on the van!  That couldn’t have been good.  Since then, I’ve noticed the a little “wobble” when I pull out of a stop (even though it works itself out after acceleration).  I’ll just keep observation on this one for a bit and make sure it’s ok before switching parks.

And the park.  It’s fabulous.  Terrific guest service, awesome monthly rates, and wonderful rustic (and clean) facilities.  I really, really like this place.  So why move?  If I get the WSOP job, it’s likely to be over 40 minutes away by scooter, it’s not close to my gyms, and it’s right next to an air force base.  That’s right, from about 8 am until late afternoon, there are earth-rattling fly-byes about every 90 minutes.  And you know what — the resort is so nice, nobody minds it — this place is packed!

Swimming pool, a restaurant/bar on premises, 2 dog parks, golf facilities, a spacious air-conditioned laundrymat with complimentary computer services, and satellite TV with four HBO channels.  Along with the laundrymat, the restrooms and showers are the best I’ve ever seen.  The pictures of these facilities don’t do them justice.  These are sturdy, log-cabin-type buildings with well thought-out benches and “cubbies”.  It’s very rustic, intimate, and clean.

I can certainly stay here in the interim, until I land my job and find the appropriate monthly.  I couldn’t have landed in a more suitable  campground as I prepare for my audition.  It’s easy to stay out of trouble here with my movie channels and distant proximity to The Strip.

I need to land some work before I can put much money at risk, again.  That’s the crazy thing about this game of poker.  Despite earning nearly $60/hr this year, I still can’t justify the risk after this disastrous April of repairs and expensive lodging.  I estimate I burned through about $7000 while not making any money — largely due to having to “rush” down here.  In fact, I can’t even look at my accounts — at least not until I land work.  At that point I’ll sit down and figure out how to stretch my money one more month and hopefully have a little bit that I can re-invest.

Until then, I’m laying low. I’m going to spend a good majority next couple days studying.


Next Story: Judgment Day



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