Friday, February 24, 2023

Oh No, Not The Throughout Bearing!

 I was on my way back to Baja.  I just come into Ensenada. It was early in the morning when I pulled over to look at the big swell running and the waves were breaking over the jetty that protects the shipyard from the ocean.  I have never seen before, waves big enough to be washing into the shipyard.  Anyway, I happen to call my wife Roberta to tell her about the waves when she said that we had a problem back home.  She said we had a leaking hot water heater.

I was all packed and on my way for a 2 month surf trip and I needed to turn around and head back home to help my wife. Just before I took off on this trip there was a slight sound coming from the clutch area. I figured it wasn't sounding to serious and I would address the sound when I got back from this trip. As I was heading back towards the border the noise kept getting a little more suspect. Then it would go silent for most of the way back. When I got to the border at Tijuana the noise started up again then would disappear but each time it showed up again was when I used the clutch and eventually it began getting louder and louder.  Anyone who has ever been in the line at the border knows it is inch by inch to the border stall.  Each time you move with a manual transmission as everyone who has one knows, you have to push the clutch in to move the car. So by the time you get to the border if you don't have a cramp in your clutch leg you are lucky because you will use that leg close to 500 or 1,000 times depending on how far you are from the U.S. side.

Well I was 2 1/2 hours of pushing my clutch pedal and by the time I got to the border the noise coming from the clutch was sounding pretty bad. I finally made it to the U.S.  and made it to my house which is 25 miles from the border. I pulled into my driveway and shut off the engine. The next day I'm under Big Red and getting ready to take off the clutch inspection cover.  When I took off the cover the bearings from the throughout bearing came falling out onto the ground!  

If I hadn't called my wife and waited for a few hours more I would never have made it back across the border.  I would more than likely have been stranded a few hundred miles in Baja with no way to fix Big Red.  As it is it took a few days to get the part and another couple of days to complete fixing the problem. More than one thing needed to be fixed. It wound up that I needed to fabricate a few parts. So it was a good thing to make that call to my wife in Ensenada.

Sitting Duck on Mex Highway 1

 I was on my way south in Baja once again having a good drive with good weather conditions and Big Red was purring down the road.  It was around 325 miles south of the Tijuana border when I smelled something suspicious.  I looked at my gauges and noticed my temperature gauge was showing my engine was overheating at 245 degrees when the normal temp should be 190 degrees. I immediately pulled off the road.  Fortunately right then, there happen to be a turn off spot.  I shut the engine off immediately. 

I got out of Big Red and went to the front and I could see steam and hear some bubbling noise from the engine and I could feel the heat.   I sat there on the side of the road for about 45 minutes until the engine was what I thought was cooled down. I took a rag to put over the radiator cap just to make sure I didn't get sprayed with either steam or boiling water.  I turned the cap on the radiator and nothing came out so I was lucky there.  I got out a gallon of water and poured a little into the radiator but when the water went down into the engine, the engine was still so hot the water started boiling right away!  I could hear it just bubbling away.

Finally after another 10 minutes and 3 more gallons  it stopped boiling and I could fill the radiator.  Now I was ready to move on down the road.  I started Big Red and rolled onto the highway and within a 100 yards it was back up to 245 degrees so I immediately turned off the engine. At this point there were no turn offs, but I was on a downhill grade and the road in front of me was a straightaway. I coasted down the grade as far as I could.  I figured at least I was on a long straight section and could be seen a long ways away from either direction so I knew I should be safe enough.

I got out and walked around to the front once again and this time I happen to see what the cause of the overheating was.  The fan belt was hanging down and when I looked at my alternator it was not in its proper position. The bolt that holds the alternators tension on the fan belt that turns the fan and water pump had snapped so the water pump that pumps water to cool the engine wasn't being turned.  Fortunately the fan belt didn't break, even though I carry a spare.  So now I had to figure out where on my rig would I have a bolt that I could possibly be the same size.  Fortunately the piece of bolt left on the alternator I was able to remove so I cold try and match it up with something on Big Red.

I began looking around and the I saw the bolt that holds the battery cable to the battery was the same size but unfortunately it was metric and the bolt I needed had to be a standard thread. I got my mind working on where else I could find the right bolt. I was walking towards the back when a semi pulled up.  The Mexican driver got out and asked if I needed help.  I told him what had happened and he said maybe he had a bolt in his truck that might work. A few minutes later he came back with a few bolts but nothing that was the right size. I thanked him and soon he was on his way.

As he was driving away I turned to the back of my rig and I realized that the porch on the back was held by 3 hinges with bolts that could possibly be the right size. I held the broken bolt up to one of the hinge bolts and it was the right size! Got my tools, unbolted the bolt and got underneath Big Red. I put the fan belt back on the alternator, put the bolt in the alternator, then adjusted the tension on the fan belt. All the while I was in the middle of the highway 1, only the semi passed by and by now the sun was just beginning to set. My timing for this fiasco was just lucky enough to have given me enough sunlight before I would have been a sitting duck in the dark, stuck on Highway 1.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

My Journey Through The Battlefields Of R.A. (Rheumatoid Arthritis) & COVID

 My journey began mid November 2019 at the age of 70. I was camping in Baja Mexico on my usual 5 month surfing trip.  I noticed one day that my hands were feeling a little different than usual.  I was getting ready to go surfing  but having a little difficulty putting on my wetsuit.

After getting my wetsuit on, I began putting on my booties and realized that I was having a fair amount of difficulty grabbing my booties and sliding them on. I was having pain and a lack of grip strength  in my hands.

For the rest of my trip things began to slowly get worse.  I workout regularly with weights and realized that I was starting to have a fair amount of pain in my hands and wrists.   After my Baja trip ended in January, I was now into the month of February and back home in San Diego. At this time I was beginning to enter some virtual ultra marathons.  My wife Roberta is an ultra runner and we thought it would be fun to do a few of these together.  At this time COVID started getting serious so all in person ultras were shut down but they turned a lot of the ultras into virtuals which was a good thing.

So I did a few ultras and at this time my feet were doing fine. I was able to do a few thousand miles.  Then gradually my feet started to hurt and by now my wrists and hands were starting to have major complications with pain.  At times my hands and wrists hurt so bad I was in bed in a fetal position  for a day or two at a time wishing someone would cut them off just to remove the pain.  Within 3 to 4 months my feet became so painful I cold barely walk around our neighborhood block. My feet felt as though I was walking on jagged rocks mixed with broken glass.  Each step was so painful I thought at times I might just have to crawl home.

I was starting to become fatigued from the pain, and not being able to get a decent nights sleep, that I was constantly laying down and having to take siestas throughout the day.  By this time my hands and feet were so completely useless.  I could barely hold a pencil, brush my teeth or hold a glass of water. Sitting in a chair I was always groaning and squirming every second with no possible way to find a comfortable position.  The feeling that I was having was my life was slowly being taken from me.

I began seeing a Rheumatologist and he put me on one medication for a few months and that did not help so he put me on another and that also did not help and then another medication. Nothing was helping. These changes in medications were over a period of 2 1/2 years of trial and error and changing Rheumatologists 3 different times.  Meantime my body was slowly deteriorating at a fast pace. I was still in a lot of agonizing pain.  The state of my physical deterioration and my mental state from the pain and also the medication was driving both myself and my wonderful wife slightly crazy. There were no good answers from the doctors for relief.

My doctor put me on a program of IV infusions, a drug called Rituxan, 2 rounds every 6 months. Each infusion drip would last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours. The more your body accepted the drug then the less amount of time it would take.  The only problem with the drug was it would compromise the immune system which would make a person more vulnerable to sickness or colds for example. After my 1st and 2nd infusion I still had no relief. I was still really messed up.


I had just reached 2 1/2 years of still suffering with a lot of pain then I was hit with COVID.  My wife had been monitoring my vitals for I was feeling worse.  She took me to Urgent Care 3 times.  Each visit we were told by the doctors to stay home, rest and monitor my symptoms.  The day after that 3rd visit I was feeling much worse so my wife took me back to Urgent Care. They took x-rays again and found that within 1 day I developed COVID Double Pneumonia. 

My wife called our primary doctor to update him on my condition. He told my wife to get me to the hospital right away. When we got there they put me on a gurney and wheeled me away. My wife was devastated thinking that might be the last time she would ever see me again and I as well, thinking I might not ever see her again. By now I was in so much discomfort and starting to have hallucinations. I laid on that gurney for 2 days and 2 nights because the COVID unit at the hospital was completely full with COVID patients and there weren't enough beds for everyone.  Each hour and minute on that gurney was a miserable hell. There was a time during all this misery, I thought it would feel right if I could just give up and let life slip away.  Then I would think of my wife and what would  happen to her if I didn't make it, so I decided to fight with everything I had in me to hang on a little longer.  Each time those thoughts came, and there were many, I kept telling myself don't give up.  Finally on day 3 they got a room for me and a bed. That bed felt like heaven after being on that very uncomfortable gurney. 

I was already on an IV drip of various fluids to keep me hydrated and now they added other things to keep my sodium levels balanced.  Next they started pumping me full of the drug Remdesivir and by that night I started feeling somewhat better.  They also put me oxygen as my levels dipped a few times.  Finally after a day my oxygen reading stabilized and they took me off of it.  Had they not gotten my oxygen under control and gotten me on Remdeivir I was on my way to being put on a ventilator.  Finally after 6 days I started to recover enough for them to let me go from the hospital, it was a huge relief.

On the COVID floor they have a bell that a person gets to ring when they have beaten COVID and are released from the hospital.  The whole time I was in the hospital I never once heard anyone ring the bell. As far as I know I was the only person who made it through and got to ring the bell up until then.  When a person gets to ring the bell all the nurses and staff all cheer and clap. They are happy for they were able to save another person. After all this, it has taken me many months to feel somewhat normal but I still have a long way to after 6 months.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tricked by the Moonlight

It was some time ago, back in the days when I was living my life without the use of a time piece (a watch or clock).  I always had one around but tried not to use one while I was living in Baja until one morning I was tricked by the moonlight.  I lived by listening to my mind and bodies response to the rhythm of each day.  

I would naturally wake up around one or two hours before daylight, my favorite time to start the day. In the early hours of the morning is when Baja is at its best.  It's peaceful and quiet and when it's not overcast the stars are as brilliant as diamonds.  There are no lights nearby to drown out the brilliance of the stars and almost every morning in those early hours before daylight is when the sky is its most active with shooting stars.

So on this particular one morning I wake up and I was surprised at seeing it was already beginning to show signs of getting light out.  The evening before the surf was fun so I was anticipating a good early morning surf session.  So I got up and had a bite to eat, drank a good amount of water, put my wetsuit on, grabbed my board and headed down to the surf to wait until it got a little bit lighter to see. 

It was the kind of morning where the overcast had moved in so there were no stars to be seen.  It was just light enough to see where you were walking and barley make out the glow of white water where the waves were breaking.

When I finally got to the waters edge I sat down and began waxing my board.  I was waiting for the light to start my session, but while I sat there I noticed that the day was not getting lighter but that it actually seemed to be getting darker!  Then after about 15 minutes I knew what happened.  That night was a full moon night and with the overcast morning and not having looked at the clock it had appeared that I had slept in when in fact I had woken up early.

The light from the full moon was giving a glow in the overcast as though it was already getting light, but what was really happening was the full moon was just getting ready to set over the western horizon giving off a faint glow, making it feel as though morning was on its way.

As I sat by the ocean realizing what was taking place I had a good laugh at myself and the fact that not always did my wanting to live without looking at a time piece play out as it should.  So I picked up my board and walked back to my camp as it kept getting darker and darker as the light from the moon faded away.

When I got back to my camp I pulled out my watch that I had stashed out of sight and saw that I had another 4 hours before morning would come.  My watch was showing that I had in fact been tricked by the moonlight, it was 2am.  Time to head back to bad.

Monday, March 7, 2016

My 1st Crossing of the Mexican Border By: Glen Horn

I was a junior in high school and on the Madison High School Gymnastic team.  A few of us got the idea that we wanted to cross the border and venture into the wild streets and night club bars for some teenage excitement.  We scouted around the strip bars and finally ended up in the famous Long Bar.

The pitchers of beer were flowing freely and it was not long before we were all seeing double and having a grand ole time of being completely hammered at the early age of sixteen/seventeen.  

Back then you could get your picture taken and get it back from the guy in just a short time before you had to leave.  If I remember correctly, it only took 15-20 minutes to get the photo developed  which cost 50 cents or a dollar.  

The guys in the photo (in order left to right) are; John Little, myself, John Miller, mystery guy & Ed Horwatt.


I have had many friends ask me about my first 50k ultra experience, so here goes.....I loved it! A friend of mine, Rita Weaver told me many months ago, "Running an ultra is a lot different than running a marathon. It's a lot of slow running for hours upon hours. The people at the events are so helpful and caring. It isn't an environment where you are competing against each other, instead everyone is helping everyone. Kind of sounds like that might be your style." Well she nailed it. My coach Mike Cornelison who is an ultra runner told me the very same thing. I talked to my husband about it and he told me he was behind me 1000% and knew I could anything I set my mind to. A very good friend of mine Rob Gowler, told me I was ready and he knew I would love it. I knew in my heart this what I really wanted to do, I could feel myself being pulled towards it. 
It was such a fun day. 31 miles on a 10K out and back course. By mid morning it was so hot out with no wind that I was stuffing ice into my hydration vest where the bladder would go to keep me cool. Both Joyce Pak McPherson and I were filling our hats with ice to keep our heads cool. I could hear my coach's voice in my head telling me to drink often and eat early. I could feel the love and support from my husband Glen in my heart telling me I can do anything. See, I am not good with heat so this was a good test for me. I was sucking on my inhaler and moving forward. And EVERY time I saw another runner, there was ALWAYS encouragement given both ways, ALWAYS! I had so much fun even though I was shuffling my way to the finish. My running time was 7:10 and total time on the course was 8:55. My total time could have been less and I will learn to be more efficient but on this day, my first ultra, each time I was at the aid stations the folks (Yen Darcy) were so nice and helpful, asking how I felt, what can they do for me. I was so blown away by the compassion and caring spirit. They gave me hugs and cheers, dumped water on me to keep me cool and offered unending support. Every time I saw Joyce Pak McPherson we would stop and smile, talk for a minute or two then hug each other and off we went. I did a lot of crying that day, for many different reasons but mainly because I was so proud to be out there following my dreams. I met many new friends that day. I was tired but so very happy. So happy that I have signed up for another ultra in May (12 hour ultra) and then another one in Sept (24 hour ultra). Go for your dreams, don't limit yourself. Whatever you want to try, go out and test yourself! You will never know unless you follow your heart.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

San Francisco Marathon 2015