Friday, April 13, 2012

New Challenges -- Rain, Snow, and California Freeways

   Tuesday George drove from where we were staying in Bakersfield, California, north on Highway 99 to Chowchilla.  Without hesitation, I was called upon to change seats and back into our site with George's great assistance on the ground.  

   We have established a mutually understood set of hand signals visible from the driver's side mirror, which makes it surprisingly easy for me to navigate our big rig into amazingly small parking spaces!  I have to admit that for me, it is a lot easier than attempting to direct George into small spaces.  Our directions include slightly left, more left, slightly right, more right, straight back, and stop.  It works especially well if you remember to take it SLOW (again my hero, Dennis Hill's, favorite admonition)!  We realized recently, when I got us into something of a jam while attempting to direct George to pull forward, that we also need one that looks quite different from a distance than straight back which indicates a need to move forward.  I will emphasize that I do not rely solely on George's signals and check my mirrors frequently while backing, which helps keep things slow and ensures that I see things which may not be visible from his point of view on the ground.

   George and I have been in California now for several weeks and had just had a conversation about how delightful the weather has been (that may have been my first mistake).  He has done most of the driving as we encountered some serious traffic in San Diego and LA, and some strong winds in some more mountainous areas.  I must admit that George and I have many years of Midwesterner in our collective brain's programming, and GPS also seems to have some difficulty with the California freeway system, telling us to exit where there may be three or four exits in a row, and we admittedly have taken the wrong one a few times.  But before we leave this absolutely gorgeous state, I am determined to conquer the California freeway!

   The reason we had stopped in Chowchilla was because we were unable to see Yosemite National Park a few years back while in the area, and I wasn't about to miss it this time!  I had allowed two days here on our way to the WARE Rally in Lodi for that purpose.  I ran to the store and stayed up late packing the picnic basket and cooler, ensuring we had batteries for the cameras and looked forward to a peaceful drive and maybe a hike or two with the dogs, and lunch in the park.  As an afterthought, I checked the weather and Yosemite's website and was shocked to find that chains for your car "are a must" with a forecast of 100% rain and snow at elevations over 5000'.  Well, photos in the rain of Yosemite don't really interest me, and then there is the issue of mountain roads in the snow with chains.  So, my dream is crushed, we have eaten our picnic in the motor home while looking out at the rain, and we will be on the way to Lodi hopefully in the sunshine tomorrow.  

   We will return to visit Yosemite after the rally, but the weather certainly put a kink in our plans.  I'll just chalk it up to part of the adventure of RVing.  But it brings up another challenge -- I need to practice driving the coach in the rain -- learning to use the wipers, getting the feel of wet pavement beneath me, dealing with some impairment in visibility.  There are no plans to drive in the snow, or extremely high winds, and we will avoid the rain, if possible.  But rain is a real possibility for which I need to be prepared.

   Do I feel completely confident?  No, but I am getting there.  And practicing what I have learned and recognizing what I need to practice feels very empowering!

1 comment:

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