Van life. Transmission 2

Van life

Noelle here:

We were both feeling so excited. Steve even said he felt giddy with excitement! We figured out a plan to go around the Sierras and get back on to the Pacific Crest Trail.

Van life

Talking with his Dad

We drove from Kennedy Meadows to Bakersfield and spent a night in a hotel for Fathers Day. We both got to speak with our Dads, which was great! Here’s Steve talking to his Dad!

Van life


It was 7:02pm, which just happens to be how many miles Steve has hiked so far. 😁

The shower was fantastic, since Tehachapi had been the last ones. There is a shower in the van but we’ve not yet used it. Still trying to figure out the water usage thing. Also did laundry. We smell so good for a minute!

Anyway, the next day we drove to an REI in Sacramento where Steve got some boots for snowy weather, just in case. We stopped at a farm that wasn’t at all a farm, but had great marketing signs along the freeway:Van life

Van life

Bravo Farms

Van life

Beautiful sunset

Spent the nite at a little campground with a flooding river.

Then we made our way up I5 to stay at an RV park at a Casino (with a buffet!).

Van life

Casino RV Park

Van life

Hiker meal prep

We shopped for groceries and assembled hiking dinners.

Then we decided to stay another day just to relax. It was quite nice to be connected to electricity so we could have AC!

Van life

We lounged around, took another shower (heavenly) and then headed towards Old Station with plans to camp along the trail, hike fifteen miles the next morning/day, camp and then Steve would keep going and I would go back to the van to spring ahead. We were hoping to catch friends from the beginning of our hike who had previously bounced ahead.

Excited to see Shelby & Super Trooper and ready to get back to the trail!

About an hour from anywhere, we slowed to turn a corner and the van wouldn’t go. The engine revved, but we remained stationary. I dropped it into second. Nothing. Dropped into first and we could move. So I pulled into the gravel parking lot of a PG&E yard. A couple guys were just heading out so they tried to help. We checked the transmission fluid (oddly enough we had added oil that morning and checked all fluids) and it was good. They suggested we could drive it back an hour in the direction from which we’d come or call a tow truck. We opted to use the land line in their building (no cell service) to call a tow. One of them said that we were in the town that time forgot because the general store on the corner had long since closed and the only thing left was them and a really scary trailer park across the street. We were thankful they were there!

Van life

Getting picked up

In the “big town”, there is one transmission shop, so we chose to get towed to that one. 🤣 The shop was already closed so we overnighted in the parking lot.

Van life

Towing the van

As did a drunk/stoned/mentally ill person, gender undefined, who spent a good portion of the night wailing at the top of his/her lungs. Seriously wailing. Like at a funeral. Then alternately laughing hysterically between the crying jags. She tried to join us in the van but Steve yelled that “yes, there was someone in here!” And she went to another portion of the lot. I say she because she was wearing a dress but sometimes her voice was very deep and masculine. It was incredibly sad (& a tiny bit scary) but we knew the police would do nothing so we didn’t call (don’t judge us, it was our best choice at 1 am). Drug use is prevalent in a lot of small towns. Big ones too I guess but maybe it seems amplified in small ones.

Anyway, Bob looked at our van the next morning, drove it around the block, did some research and dropped the news of needing a rebuild. It’s Friday and he can’t get to us till Monday. But the next good news is that literally behind the shop is an RV park. We drove over here (turns out it really will keep going if I manually shift, which Bob showed me) and we’ll hang out till Monday. We tried to rent a car so I could still take Steve to the trail but the only agency was sold out and is closed on weekends. He’ll have a car for us on Tuesday though. 🤣🤣🤣 no thank you. We looked for a bus to take Steve but there’s not one. It’s way too far to hitch hike, so unless we can get someone from the RV park to take him, he’s stuck here with me, away from the trail.

Van life

Redwood RV Park

Our excited feeling turned to frustration and then one of being resigned to the situation. Not much we can do. We also felt blessed that the PG&E yard was there and that an RV park is next to the transmission shop.

I struggle with feeling guilty that I quit hiking and have instead cost us money and added complications. I try to release that guilt and simply accept this as part of an ongoing adventure, a different one to be sure, but an adventure nonetheless.

Vodka and swimming ease the guilt. 😏

Van life

Late night swimming

Van life


Van life


  1. Ashley

    Adjusting the plan that allowed you to acquire the Van meant that when the time to make the call on what to do after Kennedy Meadows meant you had a way to get north. This is a detour for sure, but do not beat yourself up about it!!! I hope the repairs go smoothly!

    • mcgarveysan

      Thanks Ashley! The van is sure nice to have but it certainly does add its own drama. 😂 It really was nice to have an option to skip the Sierras. I think some people went through it without the necessary skill, because they didn’t think they had options. I’m so glad we have options! Hugs!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *