Be Vewy Vewy Quiet, We’re Hunting Agates (and RV parts)

July 24, 2012

Today’s plan is to visit Captain Cook State Recreation Area, north of Kenai. This park is literally at the end of the road, you drive north on the Kenai spur highway until there is an “End” sign and a parking lot. The park is right on the inlet and is a popular spot for agate hunting.

There’s the plan and then there is what actually happens. As we are all lazing about outside in the morning, Brian notices there is water leaking from the rear bottom of our trailer where the tank drain exits. We had actually seen this when we pulled into camp the day before. At that time, I thought it was the drain connection to the tank leaking. That would be bad, because it would mean the water leaking would be coming from the black tank (that means its outflow from the toilet for you non-RVers). Luckily, we were able to rule that out, and concluded (somewhat erroneously) that water had just been kicked up by the tires into the bed pan.

The new dripping caused us to reopen the investigation. Most of the plumbing is in that back corner of the camper. So we pulled the doors and removable panels from under the bathroom sink. This at least gives us some access to that area. I could see floor in that area did look wet. Further investigation revealed the water was coming from the fitting where the outside water supply hose connects. Our camper has a combined pressure reducer and back flow preventer installed there, and apparently these don’t last forever. Well, at least ours doesn’t.

There is just enough room to reach in and get to this, so we drain the pipes and pull the fitting. On the surface, there is no obvious problem, so the issue must be internal. Reen scours the Internet and discovers that there is one RV supply place nearby. We leave Brian and Will behind and head out for parts. After wasting 20 minutes on a bad address from google, Reen tracks down the real address and we try again. This address takes us out of town and into the country, eventually to what looks like someone’s farm. Not looking good. But as it turns out, a nice older couple were running an RV repair business from their barn. The husband drives around in his mobile repair van and the wife manages the store in the barn. It is a surprising well kept and managed store with a pretty good supply of common parts. Except, of course, the part we need. The older woman is very apologetic about being out of what we need and spends 10 minutes explaining where I need to go when we get to Anchorage to get the part, draws me a map and gives me detailed directions. For a second there, I thought she was going to bake us cookies for the ride. She would have gotten the part for us, but we will likely be in Anchorage before she can get it to Kenai.

Here is the little bastard.

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We can’t use the water system without the part installed so we decide to clean and reinstall it and live with it until Anchorage. It was only leaking occasionally, and now that we know where it’s coming from we can sop up the water before it collects.

I have cleaned up the part, and to reinstall it I decide that I need to put some silicone plumbers grease on the o-rings. So we stop at the building supply store on the way back. Of course they don’t have it, so we begin what turns out to be a 2 hour quest including a detour to Walmart. All for naught. Then to add insult to injury, when we get back to the campground I pull out my toolbox, and realize that I had actually brought some of the grease from home! Yes, the entire time we were driving around looking, it was just 6 feet behind us in the truck bed. Doh!

We get the part reinstalled and spend about an hour recovering, but it’s now after 4pm. Damn it, says Reen, we’re going agate hunting anyway! It stays light to after 10 pm so daylight isn’t really an issue. As we’re making the 45 minute drive, the sky turns perfectly clear so we know we made the right choice.

It’s a very nice beach, and we only see about 4 other people the entire time we are there. These are Reen’s favorite shots of the beach.

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The tide is out when we get there which leaves wide open mud flats between us and the water. There is a warning against walking on the mud as it tends to act like quicksand. If you take one to many steps, you have a good chance of leaving your shoes behind. I spend way too much time tossing rocks into the mud, enjoying the satisfying “thump” it makes and the cool resulting crater.

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As indicated earlier, this beach is famous for agates, something to do with the surrounding volcanoes. So we set out to track down some the wiley stones. Here’s Reen intently searching.

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There’s only one major flaw with our plan. WE DON’T KNOW WHAT AGATES REALLY ARE!
Nevertheless we proceed, and Reen comes home with two collections. These are the random stones she liked.

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And these are the agates(*see note) she collected.

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* Note: There are no actual agates in this picture.

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