We had reservations at the Palomar Mountain Observatory Campground for the 2 nights before our big event: Legoland. Well, we didn’t quite make it up the mountain. About 3/4 of the way up this incredible road, winding through beautiful farms, we heard a loud noise, and from the shaking it was clear something had gone horribly wrong with the van. Again.
At first we thought it was a punctured tire, and then we thought something had gone wrong with the engine, but when we turned the car off the awful shaking, vibrating noise didn’t stop! Well, it turns out that the cooling fan had broken and was now imbalanced, so it created intense noise and vibrations when it ran. Brad was able to disable it pretty quickly, but now we needed to keep from overheating the van. We tried working our way up making frequent stops to cool down, but the switchbacks and elevation change were too much for the poor van. Instead, we went back down and found a campground in the valley near a car parts place that said they could have a fan for us the next day.
The campground was cute, with some ducks and goats and a cow, and we were pretty much the only ones there, and the kids loved running around and playing in the empty campsites.
Brad fixed the fan situation the next day and we were back on the road (I’ll let him tell the more complete tale…it was a lot of work for him): Long story short, the part the NAPA got for me was a wimpy generic “fan” that wouldn’t fit our van. VW wanted $450 for one from a dealer (plus a long wait), so I modified the old fan to get it back in balance and put things back together. In the photo you can see there was originally a ring around the outside of the fan blades, and ours shed several segments. Our “new” fan is now missing all of its segments but is back in pretty good balance again.
We tried again to get up the mountain, this time in weather that wasn’t quite as nice. Well, we made it up to the top only to discover that our campground was indeed closed (US Forest Service runs it, and well, the government shutdown…) and sadly, the observatory was also closed that day. So we didn’t get to see the observatory, but we did do a fun little hike through the woods, and saw some snow!
Back down the mountain we went, in search of a hotel near Legoland.