Clicking Clutch and Ghost Redwoods: Day 21

muir woods bridge

If you haven’t noticed yet, I love the outdoors. One of the things that I wanted to make sure while attempting this minimum wage challenge was that I still got outdoors on a regular basis. With January 21 being a free entrance day to all national parks (and after the failed attempt to go out on a date on the 20th — she never responded again, so I guess I really was stood up) I decided to head to one of my favorite hiking areas in San Francisco Bay Area — Muir Woods National Monument.

Truth be told, I usually don’t go to national parks on the free entrance days. They tend to be a little too crowded for me with everyone taking advantage of the free entrance deal. Since I have a yearly park pass, the free entrance days aren’t much of an incentive for me, but after what happened yesterday, I needed to get out. I also know that no matter how crowded a national park seems to be, if I’m willing to hike a mile or so off the main route, I’ll be alone in no time.

I also wanted to go because Muir Woods has some of the very rare albino redwood trees (also known as ghost redwoods — the needles are white instead of green) that most people have no idea exist there (it’s not something that’s advertised).

albino redwood at muir woods national monument

rare ghost redwood tree

I was obviously much more excited about these trees than many of the other people visiting. Granted, they aren’t anything that is nearly as majestic as regular redwoods (they are basically parasites since they’re unable to produce their own energy), and only grow to about 15 feet. They look more like a bush than a redwood tree. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, you’d walk right by it without ever noticing it.

I, however, was extremely excited to see them and thought others would be as well. While there was one young couple that seemed genuinely excited (there is hope!) the vast majority of the people I showed were far less excited or impressed. I’m not sure if they just didn’t realize how rare these trees are or that they simply weren’t impressive enough in size for them to do more than take a quick look and move along (I couldn’t believe that most people didn’t even bother taking a photo of it). Oh well, I had an absolutely great day being able to see them.

I was so excited that I didn’t even let the new click that the clutch in the car developed (although I’m a bit more concerned about it now that I’m back). This is one of those tough decisions that needs to be made when on a limited budget. It’s obviously a new noise that I shouldn’t be hearing, but it doesn’t sound like it’s anything critical. The question quickly becomes is it worth taking it to a mechanic?

Right now, except for the noise, the clutch seems to working fine. Taking it to a mechanic just to check that noise out will be at least a $40 charge. If it’s something that can be fixed inexpensively and will end up saving the clutch from having to be replaced in the long run, then taking it in will be well worth the money. If, on the other hand, the only way to get rid of the noise is to replace the clutch. or it’s an annoying noise but won’t do any harm, then taking it in will be a waste of money. Normally I would opt for playing it safe and take it in, but on the budget I’ve been thinking a little more about what I should do. I’ve done a bit of research on the Internet, but haven’t been able to find anything that tells me exactly what seems to be wrong.

This is a situation where having a good, trustworthy mechanic can help save quite a bit of money. It’s definitely worth asking friends and family (and research online) to find a mechanic that you can really trust so when you do have car troubles, you can get a reliable diagnosis of the issue. Luckily, I know of one. I know he’s trustworthy because there have been a number of times when he has told me not to worry about repairing things that others mechanics said needed to get done (so that he didn’t get paid fees he could have).

I need to get the oil changed and tires rotated on my car pretty soon. I’ve decided that when I go in to do that, I will mention that the clutch is clicking and explain I have no interest in getting it repaired unless it’s something that will make the car unsafe. Since the car will already be in for the oil change, my guess is that if it’s something that he can check quickly that he won’t charge me anything extra. I think that will be the plan to address this issue and hope that nothing goes wrong until I can take the car in to get the oil changed.

Today was another no spend day since I received free entrance into Muir Woods and the gas and bridge toll can be deducted as a business expense on my national parks blog since I will be writing an article about the ghost redwoods on it. Having reach week three while only spending $36 has me feeling pretty good about coming out of this month in great shape for the rest of the challenge (knock on wood).

Today’s Spending

Food: $0.00
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00
Misc: $0.00

Total: $0.00

Total Spending

Food: $18.52
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00
Misc: $17.50

Total: $36.02

Next article: Day 22: Doing More Than Is Expected

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8 Responses to Clicking Clutch and Ghost Redwoods: Day 21

  1. OP says:


    My JEEP COMPASS 2009 developed a clicking clutch… and it took the JEEP mechanics 6 visits to try and figure out what was wrong. they decided it was best they just rip it out and put a new one in because they had absolutely no clue.
    they still don’t know. it was a huge waste of time. So not knowing what it was, I guess they were not able to assure me that it was not a security risk…just food for thought. good luck!

  2. Melanie says:

    I am personally fascinated by the ghost redwoods that you talk about. I have never heard of them before. Thank you for making this educational as well as fun to read. 🙂

  3. creditcardfree says:

    You are doing awesome on the challenge so far!

  4. Lee says:

    Sounds like the clutch release (aka throw out) bearing is going out. This is a sealed bearing that requires the trans to be pulled to replace. It’s not something that usually completely fails and leaves you stranded but rather gives you plenty of warning by getting louder as the bearing continues to dry out from lack of lube. So you’ve got some time to explore your repair options. Let us know what your meachanic finds.

  5. Alexandria says:

    No matter how meager the means, car maintenance has always been my first priority. I’d have it looked at. Maybe because I could not afford to let problems get worse. With a much higher income, I am more willing to let things go a wee little bit more. Like I might wait a bit on something like that. But, on minimum wage, I think the car was the only big/maintenance type thing I owned, and boy did I need it to get me to work – so I didn’t wait at all with that kind of thing. Though I understand you run the risk of “I don’t hear anything?” when you go in too soon. Fair enough.

  6. mjrube94 says:

    Is there a local technical high school or trade school where mechanics are trained? If so, you may be able to bring your car there for service. The students would work on it, but would be under the supervision of the faculty.

  7. DayByDay says:

    That is so interesting about the ghost redwoods. I’ve been meaning to visit Muir Woods again. It’s been many, many years since I’ve been there, and I don’t remember those.

  8. mimipaula1 says:

    You’re doing a great job on this challenge, Jeffrey; thanks for allowing us to enjoy your written accounts of this experience!

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