We are signed up for the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon next week. If you’ve seen the highly acclaimed movie Sideways with Paul Giamatti, you’ll have a good idea of the towns, back roads and vineyards we will be running through and around.
This is a training run for us, so we are doing the relay, with S running uphill the first 5 miles and M running generally downhill for 7.1 miles. We are putting the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon on the radar for mid July.
We drove the RV back West last week via Route 66 (I-40) with a slight detour through Las Vegas. The first night was spent at American RV Park in ABQ with dinner at the ABQ local favorite El Pinto. Highly recommended for New Mexican Specialties with lots of Hatch Chiles.
On the second leg of the trip from ABQ, instead of turning left at Kingman AZ we turned right to head across the desert to the Hoover Dam and on to Las Vegas. On this leg, the winds started picking up, 20 mph gusting to 35. Bothersome but not dangerous. Our usual stop at Salsa Brava in Flagstaff AZ was replaced with burgers and craft beer at the Lumberyard Brewing Co. Good, not great (they put cheese on my hamburger against my strict orders).
The third leg was Las Vegas to the Bay Area via the Northern Mojave Desert through the Tehachapi Pass to Bakersfield to I-5 heading North.
The winds near Mojave had picked up to dangerous levels. So much so that the sensors built into the Conestoga’s MB chassis sensed we were driving on ice since the chassis and wheels were going one direction and the coach was being blown a different direction. Pilots are familiar with the situation when severe turbulence causes the autopilot to disengage. Same here, sort of. The Conestoga cruise control continued to disengage due to the impact of the wind against the side of the coach. Who could blame it for not wanting to continue through the furious winds and dust storms.
We stopped a few times as the winds were forcing the Conestoga onto the shoulder. When we stopped to measure the wind (add weather geek to my profile), a CHP officer pulled up behind us to inform us that a couple of 18 wheelers had been blown onto their sides up the road. He recommended we pull our high profile vehicle into Mojave, turn the coach into the wind,and wait out the windstorm. After considering the options in light of our stubborn Texas pedigrees, and the fact that the wind was not expected to die down until late that night, we continued on at 50 mph the next 45 miles without too much further issue–just white knuckles driving and occasional cursing.
By the time we emerged from the mountains into the CA Central Valley, we had acquired a thin film of sand on most of the interior surfaces of the Conestoga–the wind having been blown through the seals and seams in the coach.
As far as an RV Update, prior to leaving Texas we replaced the front tires (at 11,000 miles) as they had worn significantly along the outer tread edges. We should have had the front end aligned when we bought the coach. That’s a lesson for all you kids out there who are contemplating an RV purchase. We sanitized the fresh water tank using a few cups of bleach per the Winnebago Manual. The Xite in dash GPS/radio continues to disappoint. We bought a Garmin GPS with a rear camera to replace the Xite rear camera. But overall, no huge issues with the Conestoga, we are glad to report. It has now made 2 full round trips between Texas and California and a few between Dallas and Austin and point in between. We are now outside the warranty at 12,500 miles, so any major problems are now on our dime.
With the Conestoga back west, it is time to start planning some trips to the local National Parks (Yosemite, Pinnacles, Lassen) and 5K, 10K and Half Marathon runs.