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Cruising the USA in the Land Yacht. And We're Off...
Sunday, December 22, 2013
By Stephanie White, Land Yacht Enthusiast

The Land YachtCaptain's Log 
Star Date: December 20-22, 2013 
Departure City: Vancouver, WA 
Destination: Seven Feathers Casino then on to Santa Rosa, CA

Departure day is finally here. Weather in Vancouver was at freezing, drab gray skies and light snow accentuated the miserable conditions. Went for a fun little skate around Jantzen Beach RV Park as Auggie pulled me along at the end of his leash. After work, I got everything stowed away and headed out to make a quick stop at the Monaco Factory Shop in Coburg, OR. Picked up some hinges for one of the overhead cabinets and had the hydraulic jack panel checked out after it had flashed and beeped at me all the way from Vancouver to Salem. The hydraulic alarm system is designed to get your attention and boy does it work. Nothing like metropolitan Portland traffic and a constant alarm, not unlike the seat belt beep although louder, more piercing and positively relentless. Auggie wasn’t too fond of it and spent that portion of the trip throwing himself on and off the co-pilots chair.  Anyway, they fixed everything up at Monaco and showed me a trick to reset the system if it should reoccur and off South we went.

Arrived at the casino, got the generator going to keep the RV and the dog warm and headed inside for a little Keno, Craps and a few cocktails. No luck at Keno, but the craps table was most kind and I went home about $100 ahead. While I was languishing about at the Craps table I did learn that if you order a double cocktail that you can’t order another one for 15 minutes. I did not know that. Most interesting, given that I couldn’t drink a double Crown Royal in 15 minutes if my life depended on it. Even more interesting is that the cocktail waitress had a pace about the same as a turtle and (thankfully, sobriety-wise) took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to make her way around all the tables and the slots, if she was back to me in 15 minutes I need a new watch. As it turns out though, all’s well that ends well I waited for my second drink and kept picking up my winnings.  Finished my drink, cashed out, scooted out to the RV and called it a night.

Woke up Saturday morning to the chirping of the carbon monoxide alarm and the RV cold as ice. As I mused about what the heck is with me and RV alarms these days, I set about trying to figure out what to do; somewhat of a challenge being caffeine deprived at that hour and as it turns out, no power to make coffee. Even though the generator was running, a breaker had tripped in the middle of the night. As a result, the house batteries were completely dead. Not a big deal except the starboard side slide was out and I had no power to get it back in. Otherwise I could have pulled out, headed south and the house batteries would charge while I was underway. Having just experienced a similar situation about a month ago, I thought it was the breaker on the generator and scooted underneath the coach on the nice wet cold blacktop and reset the breaker. Restarted the generator and – nothing. Still no power at the panel. Now, I’m wet, cold, still no coffee and verging on brain dead. After getting dried off I decided to check the main breaker panel.  Voila, the main breaker had tripped, likely because of the wet bay heater kicking in and out.  Reset the breaker fired up the generator, got the slide in, secured the dog in his seat, fired up the Rand McNally RV GPS on my iPad and off we went to the nearest McDonalds for two large coffees and a breakfast biscuit, yay.

Just bought the GPS app for my iPad a while back at a crisp $99. Figured being routed based on size, weight, propane quantity and few other items of interest to a large and long vehicle it would be quite helpful and worth the money, particularly since it was from Rand McNally. So my navigator is the GPS guy. His name is Jack Nauff, I call him Jack for short. Jack gets me headed out on 5 south (not too tough, I coulda done that without him) and has me routed to Santa Rosa, CA. 

Now, Santa Rosa is north of San Francisco on Hwy 101 and you really can’t “get there from here” directly. We make our way along 5 into California, blast through Yreka, Weed, and Shasta and into the Sacramento Valley. I realize then that Jack has me set to go to Santa Rosa via Hwy 20 and Clear Lake. While it is a beautiful drive, nobody in their right mind would go from Hwy 5 to Hwy 101 via 20. Not even Mario Andretti. The route has switchbacks, hairpin turns, stop lights, elevation changes up and down; I wouldn’t drive it in a Maserati, much less in an RV towing a car. I say that because I did drive it once with my RV and holy crap was it awful. I decide to ignore Jack and continue south and see his alternate route.

As we continued through the valley, the next route Jack selected cut across from Winters via Lake Berryessa and wound about through Napa Valley. Knowing that was a twisting two lane mess of blacktop, I decide to ignore Jack, put him on a performance improvement plan, and head further South to cut north off of Hwy 80. After we passed that route and Jack worked on his recalculating procedures we made the turn west on Hwy 80. It’s now late in the afternoon with a setting sun and traffic befitting a Monday morning commute. That stretch of road was painful and I’m pretty sure someone had painted “pull in front of me in a big hurry and then slam on your brakes” on the back of the RV. My God what a bunch of knot heads drive that stretch of highway. And, the stupidest of them are in little bitty egg cars that I could crush with my foot.

In a fit of stupidity I took the next route that Jack selected of off Hwy 80 and ended up going through the Napa Sonoma area on Hwy 12. It’s a scenic, tight little two lane road, with lots of construction, jersey barriers, traffic and sharp hairpin turns. On our way south on 5, Jack had informed me of every sharp turn and construction on the freeway, but once we got out into the back roads he suddenly lost his voice. Boy am I mad at him – and me for not ignoring him again. Imagine my surprise when I followed Jack’s instructions for a turn only to see a sign advising no trucks or vehicles over 65 feet. Color me crazy but I think that sign would have been more effective before the turn. Anyway enough of that, Jack is in the dog-house but I am completely on to him now and will check our routes against a paper map before we set out. Except for heading west into the very setting sun, read blinding, we made it successfully along Jack’s supposed RV-friendly route and arrived safely in Santa Rosa at the Mobile Home Estates on Old Redwood Hwy. Got the RV plugged in and all set up then went out to dinner at a fun little restaurant called Sweet T’s with my sister Kimberly.

Oh, and before I forget, in California they have a rule that motorcycles can pass between the lanes, even the cops do it. So here we are on Hwy 101, going along at a good clip in tight traffic, when some twerp on his crotch rocket, weaving in and out like a demon, passes me and heads along his own personal three lane freeway slalom race. Drivers across the lanes are hitting their brakes and he is oblivious to the trail of frustration he has left behind him. Not too long after he passed me, the traffic came to a screeching halt and then picked up quickly. I was delighted to see aforementioned twerp coasting to a stop on the side of the freeway and just as I got next to him his motor sputtered and quit with a jerk. Bahahaha, justice is served.

Captain's Log
Star Date: December 22, 2013
Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Today, Sunday, is pure Califonia - sunny and balmy. Me, well now I’m south of the Siskiyou’s and south of Shasta. Auggie did extremely well on his first leg of our journey and has been awarded co-pilot status. Our navigator, Jack, is grounded to his quarters studying his cartography skills and I am hanging out sipping coffee in my flip flops, a tee and jeans.