Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Rolling the Stone Uphill

I got away from the office before 11 AM this morning, but it was anything but a fast trip.

First, I had an errand to our Fremont warehouse, where they razzed me about leaving my lights on earlier this week. Then I stopped by Jiffy Lube and complained about the oil leak. There was a queue ahead of me, so I sat in the waiting room dealing with Day Jobbe issues that had followed me from the office. About the time I resolved that, the JL people finished looking at the van, and they claim that there's nothing they did and there's just oil coming from somewhere up in the engine compartment where they don't work. Hm. Well, we'll see.

1 PM shouldn't be too late to avoid the Friday Follies rush, but in fact there was heavy traffic on I-880 to I-238 to I-580 in Hayward, and in Livermore, I could see traffic grinding to a halt at the foot of the approach to Altamont Pass. I bailed at the last exit and took the old highway, as did a fair number of other people. (I pulled over at the Summit Garage to let a tail of cars pass; I did not feel like going as fast as they did, not with me driving this big old RV.) I suppose there must have been an accident on the pass, because traffic was okay on the other side when I rejoined the freeway, already in progress.

Through Tracy, Stockton, and on to Lodi Junction I went, driving the Rolling Stone more slowly than most vehicles and hanging out in the slow lane with the big rigs. Stopping at the Flying J truck stop, I refueled, confirming that the other fuel tank holds twenty gallons (and a fraction). So I have one 20-gallon and one 15-gallon fuel tank, and my average fuel economy so far is about 9 miles per gallon, so I should assume a full-tank range of 300 miles with some leeway after that. (By comparison, the 27-gallon tank on the Astro gives me a range of around 450 miles or so.) Looking ahead, I have just barely enough range that if we decide to lug the Stone to Salt Lake City, I can start with full tanks in Fernley and refuel again in Wells (where the gas is cheap-ish), but just barely, with probably only two or three gallons to spare.

I grabbed lunch at the Flying J truck stop and went out to eat it in the Stone. Day Jobbe chased me again. I found that the counter top next to the sink was about the right size for me to set up my computer, plug in my smartphone to give me internet, and work for a while dealing with the issue that had come up. I wouldn't necessarily want to work there all day, and if the weather had been any hotter it would have been really uncomfortable, but it did work out.

Onward: By now it was nearing 5 PM and thus I drove into the teeth of Sacramento's rush hour. Traffic through downtown was bad, and it turned out to be worse than usual due to an accident. I-80 across the top of town wasn't as awful as I thought it would be, and once I got past a slowdown caused by a backup from the CA-65 exit, it was pretty easy going. The Stone's 460 engine does a decent job of propelling this big hunk of iron and fiberglass, even up the hills, although it slurps a lot of fuel doing so.

I stopped at Colfax for coffee with some trepidation, as the Starbucks is on a hill and has a relatively cramped parking lot. Fortunately, there are a pair of "parallel" spaces on the edge of the lot into which I could fit, not block traffic, and still get back out, albeit with something of not U or Y turn, but something like a WW maneuver. And this thing is only twenty feet long; small by RV standards.

By then it was time for Giants Baseball, so I switched to that (using the MLB At Bat app on my smartphone because there was no radio broadcast of the game in the mountains) for the remainder of the drive home. I powered up the mountain. There were a couple of spots where I frankly ran out of power -- foot completely to the floor, and nothing left -- but was able to hold 65 MPH as long as nobody slowed down up ahead. Had I lost momentum, I would have had to bail to the slow lane, shift down, and grind up the hill at 35, I reckon.

The Nugget in Sparks, with its huge west parking lot with plenty of room for RV's, buses, big rigs, and people hauling trailers, beckoned as a rest stop in Reno/Sparks. I went in and swiped my club card, where I got $5 slot credit. Because it appears that credit is use-it-or-lose it, I sat down at a machine right away. You can't collect the $5 in cash, but anything you win is yours. To my delight, I managed to convert $5 in promotional credit into $5.10 in real money, which I collected and headed home.

In Fernley, I elected to stop and get a few groceries. (Lisa doesn't drink milk, but I do, so I typically stop and get some and some small things on my way home.) While there, the clerks said, "Where's your sidekick?" as they recognize me. I explained that I was coming back from the Bay Area and why. One of them said, "Take me with you next time, willya? I pointed out that these 300-mile drives aren't all they've cracked up to be.

Sometime around 9 PM I finally made it home. It was a long slog, but I'm getting used to driving the Stone, and with less wind to fight, it was a somewhat easier drive than it had been going the other way. Nevertheless, if it weren't for the California use tax issue that requires me to not have the vehicle in California for more than half the time during the first year I own it, I would have been much happier taking the train on Saturday, particularly inasmuch as I would have been traveling on National Train Day.
Tags: casino, reno, rolling stone, trains, work

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