Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2012 Route 66 Road Trip - Day 4

Up the next morning in our luxurious digs at the Beaver Super 8, Aaron begins making phone calls to area parts stores for the power steering pump. After nearly a half hour on the phone, the closest place we can locate one is in Cedar City, UT... which happens to be another 50 miles from our location. Fortunately for us, power steering is something we can operate without for awhile (especially at higher speeds on the interstate), so it's off to Cedar City with us!

The view from the Super 8 parking lot...
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We arrive at the Cedar City NAPA and obtain said remanned pump, drive over to the Auto Zone in town (free pulley loaner tools) to make the swap. Aaron nearly has the pump in when one of the attachment points on the pump breaks as he begins to tighten it down (it wasn't even near torque spec, mind you). And, it broke in such a way that the inside of the pump was exposed. Now we have another junk pump on our hands. Although NAPA was hesitant on taking the poorly remanned pump back, Aaron "insisted" and we got our money back. Back in the same boat as we were the night before and knowing that the broken pump was the only one of its sort in the area, we chose to roll on... and maybe, just maybe we'd find something in Vegas.

That said, I'd been carrying a short serpentine belt around in the KJ (for an eventual AC compressor bypass), so we tried to use it to bypass the power steering pump so Aaron wouldn't have to reinstall the dead factory pump again just so we could continue... and the shorter belt DOES work as a power steering bypass, just FYI. Had I been traveling solo, that's what I would have tried first as I'm not fluent in PS pump replacement. And even if it didn't work... it's nice to know I can drive the KJ without power steering... I'd just look like the Hulk when I got all the way back to Chicago. :ROTFL:

We roll on down the interstate. Aaron works his Google search kung-fu and sources another remanned pump at the NAPA in Las Vegas. Their store is open until 7pm. We have plenty of time to make it, so we opt for a side trip into Valley of Fire State Park near Lake Mead. This was mostly a drive-thru side trip at this point because we kind of had a deadline to be to Vegas. I would have love to stop and hike around... maybe on a future trip.

Valley of Fire State Park is what my image of Mars would be - especially driving through some of the canyon areas with all the red, porous rock. Very surreal, and very beautiful!
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I love these roads... :D It's Valley of Fire Highway situated between the park and I-15.
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Quick motor-tour done, we now had to boogie to Vegas to find our part. I'd never been to Vegas before... only seen it represented on TV and in movies. So you can imagine (maybe) my awe at the lights on the strip when we rolled into town just at sunset. It was most difficult for me to keep the KJ on the highway... and, oooh, look at all the pretty lights! :ROTFL:

We successfully reached the Vegas NAPA without any collisions, bought the new PS pump (again), and took it to a parking lot next door that had adequate over-head lighting to do the install. We'd kept the loaner tool from the Auto Zone in Cedar City to use later (it's nice that you can return the loaner tools to any Auto Zone location), and so Aaron begins the install. In the meantime, I tether my cell phone to my netbook and see what I can locate for lodging. I ended up finding a room at Circus Circus for $25! That's almost half of what we'd paid for the Super 8 in Beaver! 8) We both agreed that we should stay there that night. He finished the install without a hitch, we bled the PS system, Aaron returned the core... and we were on our way!

I cruised down the strip to find our home for the night... again, starstruck by all the neon and the sights. I will be the very first to admit that it's very difficult for me to drive through Vegas at night. :D We reach Circus Circus, get checked in (they upgraded our room too!), and decide to just walk the strip. Neither of us are gamblers, so the casinos never once lured us in.

Home sweet home...
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For the motorcycle enthusiasts out there - seen at Treasure Island
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The Volcano at The Mirage
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These guys were hanging outside of Planet Hollywood... Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka & The Mad Hatter. :D
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The Venetian had a fantastic holiday display in their courtyard, complete with live music, Christmas tree, people dressed in period clothing, Gondola ride, and these other... beings. Imagine someone on regular stilts. Combine that with forearm walking sticks that you see the disabled use sometimes... only these are a whole lot longer. They wear masks... not just on their faces, but also on the tops and backs of their heads. It didn't really matter which way they were facing or moving, they were always looking at you. I thought they were very elegant, ethereal, and somewhat creepy. You decide.
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We wandered around until our feet hurt from walking, so we headed back to Circus Circus, grabbed a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in the hotel, and crashed. Our goal for the next day was to make it to Aaron's friend's cabin near Idyllwild, CA.
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