Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

I do not like High Winds and Van...

Having done much of the packing of the Rolling Stone last night, I said goodbye to Lisa and travelswithkuma about 9 AM and set off for the Bay Area. Gusty winds in the Truckee River Canyon challenged me. I responded by cutting speed. That was to be a recurring theme today.

I had a coupon for a free breakfast at Denny's, so I stopped at the one in Reno. This was the first of my Adventures in Parking. The RV is a nominal 19 feet long and I think actually closer to twenty when you include the spare tire. It has huge blind spots and a turning radius about the size of Rhode Island. Pull-through parking spaces are always preferred. It took a bit of maneuvering, including going around the block to get pointed the correct direction, but I was just barely able to manage it in Reno.

There seemed to be a lot of wind today, although part of that was because the vehicle's profile is high, it's relatively lightweight, and I'm just not used to a vehicle with such a high profile. I thought the Astro handled badly in gusty winds; the minivan is like a sports car compared to how the Rolling Stone handles. Essentially I find it very difficult to hold it in place when going faster than 55 MPH in most circumstances. Thus, I spent a good portion of the trip "hiding" behind big rigs that couldn't get going much faster than that. The only exception was on the grind up to Donner Summit, where I got stuck behind a high-wide load that wasn't going more than about 35. After letting all of the other cars go by, I pulled out and found that then E350 does indeed have enough power to accelerate up to at least 55 or 60 on that grade. The trucker blinked what I interpreted as an apology for holding me up. I felt bad about pulling into the Donner Summit Rest area only four miles farther along. Parking wasn't a problem here because I pulled through one of the truck parking spaces.

Putting along as I was behind a 55-or-slower big-rig, I found myself being passed a lot, including by other trucks. I don't have a problem with that. Unlike some people, my ego isn't damaged by other vehicles passing me. I give way as much as I can, and I try not to drive any faster than I feel comfortable driving.

The Stone has two fuel tanks, with a switch under the dash between them. I refueled before leaving Fernley, and intended to run the rear tank dry so that I could learn its actual as opposed to listed capacity. The fuel needle was already at E by the time I passed Gold Run, and it kept going. The fuel finally gave out around the stretch of I-80 between Roseville and Sacramento, just over 150 miles out of Fernley. I flipped the switch, the van coughed and then caught, and fuel began to flow again.

My usual fuel stop is at the Flying J truck stop at Lodi Junction on I-5 between Sacramento and Stockton. There, I found that the dry fuel tank held slightly more than 15 gallons, for a fuel economy of about 9.6 miles per gallon. I also now know that when it reaches E, there is at least 30 miles range remaining, although I hope never to have to rely upon that margin. I topped off the other tank as well. From Sacramento, even though I was going faster, the work wasn't as hard, and the fuel economy was about one MPG better. I'll run this tank dry as well on this trip, then we'll make labels for them so we know what we're getting. It looks like we're probably looking at a fully-fueled range of only about 300 miles, as opposed to the roughly 450 I get with the 27 gallon single tank on the Astro. Of course, we knew the Stone would burn a lot of fuel.

What with two meal stops and a generally more leisurely pace, I didn't get to my office until about 7 PM, thus taking about ten hours to go about 300 miles. I gingerly backed into one of the less-attractive-to-most-people parking spaces (far away from the buildings, out on the edges of the lot, near where other RVs are parked) and unpacked.

Now we'll see how well this RV living lifestyle works. I won't be able to stay in one spot for the whole, week though: There's the BASFA meeting tomorrow night — anyone who is there, I'll be parked out back where there's plenty of room — and I also have to go to my company's Fremont facility on Tuesday. That's one of the drawbacks of what I'm doing; while the RV is good as a portable home, it doesn't make a very good runabout. No wonder some RV'ers drive huge RVs that tow a small car behind them.
Tags: rolling stone, work
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