Monday, February 26, 2007

2/24 - 2/26/07 “Anchored” in Julian

Our second practice trip of three days in the mountains northeast of San Diego, in the apple-growing capital of that county, was a pleasant ride for me. It was, however, somewhat harrowing for Mary Ann. This was her first long-distance driving (about 2.5 hours – non-stop!). Each practice trip, however, usually starts with a trip to the grocery store. Eventually, we’d figure out what we needed permanently (condiments, dry foods, dog biscuits, ice cream – you know, the essentials).

We hired my friend and professional driver Ed to give Mary Ann some driving lessons in the coach. They went well initially – that is, until they came back in one evening to the RV storage yard and turned too short into the assigned space. A new outside awning, some auto-detailing skills artfully applied to a neighbor’s coach, and repainting a patch of ours later, we were fine. Best of all, it was like getting that first scratch out of the way after you buy a new car…thankfully (from my perspective), she put in the first dents. I added a small one on a later trip when I didn’t leave enough distance from a concrete-filled pipe protecting the electrical post I must have been trying to kill with our driver’s side slideout!

The KQ Ranch, a membership camp, was a wolf preserve and though we saw no wolves, we had a great time enjoying the covered swimming pool with its foggy interior, the dining hall for a few “meals out,” and the cold crisp air. There were squirrels everywhere, and the trees were full of stored acorns. The park also had a miniature golf course, tennis courts and shuffleboard – all of which did us little good, as it rained and was windy off and on all three days. While campy, the totem poles carved into local trees did seem out of place to this ex-Seattleite.

We learned about sweating – no, not us. We had nice shower facilities – both on-board and in the camp. But the weather was so cold, and the front windshield so big, we had to put towels down on the dash each night – we still haven’t really figured out how to overcome that sweating problem, but Mary Ann will certainly have the opportunity to figure it out this winter.

Time to go home. Store everything loose; close all the windows and cupboards; switch over to LPG for the refrigerator; bring in the slides (all three); raise the jacks and go… Hmmm, all the leveling jacks came up but one. OK. Put them all out again, and retract them. Hmmm, all but one. Third try – same result. And so, we got to spend another day in Julian, in the windy, rainy, cold mountains, firmly anchored to the earth with a hyper-extended jack that evidently didn’t know when to stop! A 2-hour drive to us and two hours back for the mechanic out of East San Diego, for what was only a 20-minute jump-the-motor manually, and we weighed anchor and headed back to town. We were unhappy with our dealings with the dealer, manufacturer, and service folks. But Good Sam (the AAA of RVer’s) was fantastic and we were glad for our membership.

As with our first trip, we learned that all you can count on is the unexpected. Sometimes wonderful sights and fantastic museums (more on that in the later 2007 blogs), and sometimes challenges like changed schedules, reticent jacks, rattles that refuse to be (easily) found, and electronic brains that decided Mary Ann should only drive 35 mph on the highway near Salinas, CA. Yes – Julian was great! And, whenever we park the coach on anything other than paved asphalt or concrete spaces, we use at least one orange pad under every jack, regardless of how “dry” we think the ground looks.

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