The first breakdown

Our second day in Death Valley, we started off at Badwater Basin with the intention of working our way back to Furnace Creek stopping at various points of interest on the way.  We made it to the second stop, the Natural Bridge, went for a short, scenic hike and then went back to the van to head to the next stop. Except, the van wouldn’t start! The battery wasn’t dead but the engine just wouldn’t turn over.

Michael did great detective work and got to the point where we were pretty sure what the problem was (loose starter wire).  Only one issue…..being up at the top of the trailhead, with the wind blowing like crazy and rocky ground underneath, we just couldn’t reach the wire. With only the Haynes manual as our guide (no internet service, so we couldn’t rely on The Samba for help), we were a little out of our league and decided to all in the reinforcements.

So Michael got a ride back down to the nearest area with cell service to call for AAA.  I stayed with the van. After a lengthy discussion with AAA about where we exactly in Death Valley we were, and a two-hour wait for the tow truck from Pahrump, NV, Michael arrived back at the trailhead. The tow truck driver verified it wasn’t a battery issue, so we loaded RC up on the truck and drove her into Pahrump. Since it was Sunday, we had to wait until Monday morning to find out the verdict. While the mechanic had to call for help in opening the rear hatch (not the most reassuring start), he did a great job of locating the problem and fixing it in no time. As we suspected, the connection that supplies electricity to the starter motor had come loose on the rough road up to the trailhead. No big deal and only one hour of labor to fix.

Going into this trip we expected that there would be numerous issues we’d have to address along the way.  Although I don’t think either one of us thought it would be so soon into the trip.  I guess Death Valley really was almost the death of us. And to think we were mostly worried about the van overheating!


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