Friday, October 22, 2010

Road trip to Chalan, Washington (Part I)

Dear Reader

This year I have gone up and down the I-5 corridor from Los Angeles to the Northwest numerous times. Every trip is filled with challenges, there is always construction projects going on, weather issues and crazy drivers. On this trip weather was not going to be a problem, the problem was going to be boredom. I convinced my wonderful wife to join me on this trip, at first she was reluctant, she finally agreed. At 7:30 in the evening I merged onto I-5 from Sun Valley. The traffic was moderate, most of the heavy traffic had subsided, I looked at Lecia for a second, she smiled, and I knew this was going to be a fun trip.

The wonderful thing about traveling in a motor home is the view of the scenery and the comfort of the ride. The “Ambassador” has eight air-bags and eight shocks, the ride is smooth almost “Lexus” like, except the RV is a lot larger than the average size car or truck and I have almost as much horse power a big rig. My windshield is eight feet wide and six feet tall; in my journeys I have numerous collisions with birds of almost every size, insects and rocks. In fact since I have owned this motor home I have had to replace this $3,000 windshield at least once or twice a year. Until this trip I had gone ten months without a crack windshield, unfortunately a rogue rock cracked my windshield just outside of Olympia, Washington, my windshield person is going to love me.

As the last glimpse of sunlight disappeared, I was snacking down the grapevine, the exhaust brake kicked in, keeping me at a steady 55 miles per hour. To all you non-truck driver types, the “Exhaust Brake” or the “Jake Brake” uses compression from the exhaust to slow down; this allows the driver from using the air brakes on long grades. Only diesel vehicles are such equipped with this brake system. Most commercial drivers use a combination of down shifting to a lower gear, Jake braking and air brakes to keep their rigs at a constant speed and thus avoid excessive braking. Lecia was mesmerized by the view from the San Joaquin Valley; after the Grape Vine, I-5 becomes a lonely highway except for the occasional rest stops and fuel stops. My goal for tonight was to travel at least a couple of hundred miles before I called it a day. Lecia bought me up to speed with her life; I listened intently I was her captive audience. It felt nice to be next to her, I wanted to share a part of my life that unfortunately because of her 9 to 5 job, she could not travel with me on my many adventures. Finally, even Lecia’s best story could not keep me awake, I pulled into a Motel 6 in Coalinga, parked the RV for the night and proceeded to get some serious sleep.

After a big breakfast at Denny’s I was on the road again, this time, the longest leg of my journey, roughly 700 miles to Portland. Lecia was still tired, she enjoyed a comfortable sleep in the bedroom of the motor home; try that in Mercedes or any other luxury car. When we got north of Redding, California the terrain became more scenic, with Shasta Lake, then Mt. Shasta and finally Yreka, the large windshield offered an incredible view, and Lecia was beside herself and me. The weather was perfect, cool and cloudless, we stopped in Weed, California and had lunch at the TA. By nightfall we were just north Coburg, Oregon, I was starting to get tired, I decided to pull over at a rest stop and make some coffee.

It was great having Lecia with me; I had a chance to share a lot of stories about my travels up and down the I-5 corridor and other things. I think we both learned a lot about each other on this trip and I did not need my XM radio to keep me company. By eleven in the evening the rain was steady, this was a good thing, I did not need to stop at Jubitz and get an RV wash. At 11:45 PM I pulled into my favorite RV Park in Portland, Jantzen Beach RV Resorts. I hooked up the power, and the plumbing, it was time for a good sleep.

The next morning we pulled out of the park and headed for Seattle, a three and half hour drive. We decided to pull into my favorite casino in Tacoma, the Swinomish Casino and had a nice hearty lunch of pork ribs, baked beans, fries and a coke. Yes, I know this is not the healthiest food, but darn it taste so good. The slot machines beckoned “us”, I usually play the nickel machines, and Lecia liked the old fashion quarter slots with the triple sevens. Today I would be the winner, I doubled my five-dollar investment in thirty minutes, I felt good, and Lecia was not so lucky; she lost her forty-dollar investment, it was time to leave.

I had a pick up to make at SeaTac, the photographer wanted to load some equipment into my RV and I needed to drop off Lecia at the airport for her return trip to LA. I decided to make a side trip to Seattle first; Lecia had never seen Seattle and the surrounding area. I exited at Mercer Street, and showed her the EMP, the Space Needle and downtown Seattle. I merged onto I-5 north, then took the 520 east to the I-405 south, snaking our way to SeaTac. We did a lot of talking, if Lecia had been able to take off for a week, she would have been able to stay with me for the rest of the trip. This job came at the last second, which is typical for me; usually I have a few minutes to make up my mind if I want to do a job.

At last, Dean the photographer showed up, we loaded the equipment in the RV and then I reluctantly drove to SeaTac airport to drop off Lecia at the airport. I was a little sad; I gave Lecia a long kiss and a bear hug. I drove to my favorite RV Park in Bellevue, Washington about fifteen minutes east of Seattle for the night.

To be continued…

No comments:

Post a Comment