State border crossings and the most expensive dry camping site ever

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We made it in to California! Honestly, I was a little worried. When you cross the border from California to another state, there’s nothing to do. But when you come back in to California, you have to stop for an agricultural inspection.

It’s actually really not a big deal, but I had seen several videos and posts from RVers crossing over either into California or from Canada into the states and how they had to get a full inspection, and throw away fruit. That wasn’t going to be big deal, but what I was afraid of was them asking about Rocky, my gulf coast box turtle, as you also are supposed to declare all animals on board.

See, my mom bought Rocky for me at a pet store when I was ten. We didn’t know anything about turtles. After we got him home and did some research, we found out what kind of turtle he was, and probably that the pet store should not have had him. He’s not illegal to own, but he falls into the exotics category. While no type of turtle was listed on the website as a restricted breed, I was still worried. Ryan’s solution was simple: if they said we couldn’t bring him in, we would just turn around and go back to Oregon. I worried they might try to take him away from me, in which case I would likely end up getting arrested for attacking whoever tried to say that to me.

In reality, here’s what happened:

A very friendly-looking person had us pull up to the stop sign. I was driving. He asked me if we had any produce, livestock or plants on board. I said something like “Um, we have some bananas and some other stuff.” (Tahoe chose that moment to whine, which he totally ignored.) His response: “Bananas? OK, have a great day.”

That was it! Whew. Of course, if I had thought about it, I would have remembered that last year we crossed from Nevada into California on our way back from Las Vegas and that guy just asked us why we were coming into California. We explained that we were on vacation and coming back home and he said “Sounds good, have a nice day” and let us through. We had all our pets with us and probably lots of fruit and vegetables. But he didn’t ask, and didn’t care that both of the dogs were barking in the background during our conversation.

And now for why we’re dry camping…

When you know I don’t care for it much. We decided to book our next spot further south and take a couple days to get there. That was always the plan. Since we were leaving on a Friday (expected temperatures in Grants Pass to reach 111 degrees), we thought we would drive into Crescent City, find a beach or nice park somewhere we could sit while I had my workday, and then figure out where we were sleeping. Sadly, it was not to be.

On Thursday we took the RV in for an oil change. We all sat inside while they did their thing, which included a multi-point inspection. They said there were several things that needed attention. I’ll get into the rest later, but the thing that we needed to focus on right away were the brakes.

As we’ve said before, we’ve never owned a motorhome. We both test-drove one years ago, but it was brand-new, so we weren’t expecting ours to perform like that one did. When we had our travel trailer, our vehicle was equipped with a brake controller to help the trailer slow down. But we were still driving a normal passenger vehicle and knew how it expected to feel.

When we got the motorhome we knew it was a little bit more difficult to break but we thought maybe that was expected with a 20,000 pound vehicle. Then when we started travelling full-time we began to worry about the brakes with all the hills we were encountering. They seemed to get soft once, at which time we pulled over and waited until they firmed up. Since then we’ve been very careful and have been attempting to find a shop where we could get them looked at.

At the oil change place, we knew we couldn’t wait any longer. Ryan started calling places in Crescent City while I drove, and we decided on Les Schwab. The technician he spoke to on the phone seemed to know what type of parts we would need, and was able to give a rough estimate of the cost. Other places we called wouldn’t even hazard a guess about what brake pads and rotors cost.

When we arrived, the place was super busy. They don’t take appointments so we had to wait, but that was fine. I did my work. They were able to do an inspection without putting us on the lift, so we never had to leave the RV. They were able to order parts to come in on Saturday (the next day) and told us that while we’d be here all day, they’d get it done for us.

While we were here we decided to get some bushings and air springs to help with the handling of the vehicle (which is not that great). All in all, the estimate came in at $2200.

So we slept in the Les Schwab parking lot last night. But it was fine, because we have our house and we are all together. And when we leave here, our wallet will be lighter but we will be much, much safer.

Anyway, it’s Saturday morning. I slept almost 10 hours (went to bed early and slept pretty well) and we’re waiting for them to get started, but we’re all comfy and have plenty to keep us occupied. I’ll give you an update about how it went, final bill and where we sleep tonight.


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