Tag Archive: Driving an RV in gusty wind


Leaving Memphis

The day I left Memphis was W I N D Y ! My dogs trust me, people say to me how much my dogs love me. I don’t know what they are picking up, but they are my priority. I treat them better than I treat myself and why wouldn’t I? It’s my job to keep them safe and happy and that means not letting us flip over or get eaten by the weather goddess. I’d looked at the map the night before deciding to head to the lake camping just north in Tennessee. I could lake-hop my way to Nashville. First though I needed propane; that wasn’t as easy to find as I’d assumed and required some driving. That’s when I discovered how WINDY is was! As the attendant filled the tank with me and dogs standing about outside ….  he made sure we all exited the vehicle, he told me of last night’s damage in various parts of the city; vehicles including RVs, homes and other structures had been damaged or destroyed. It was so windy out there talking about dogs and wind I had to pick up Mason so he wouldn’t get blown away. Once back in the van I clicked my weather apps, yep D A N G E R O U S winds to the north, darn! I could make it, I reasoned, everything was fine last night. How windy was too windy? Would there be hail? The road I’d picked looked a bit desolate. You can see where this is going. I bailed and decided (wisely) to head for the next nearest campground; this time I picked a KOA back over the bridge on the Arkansas side. On the way I stopped at the Info Station, I was feeling disappointed about Tennessee. The “info” woman was super friendly, mapping a scenic cross-section of Arkansas just for me and of course she had to come see my dogs.  Dog viewing is a standard thing; anytime someone hears about my dogs, and I frequently mention them, that person often gets excited, their eyes pick up color and their faces start expressing joy; oh, they’d never seen a Lagotto in real life, could they meet one!  That is if they didn’t think I’d fabricated a name like Lagotto Romagnolo.  My dogs are friendly so it works out. I think they are all proud of themselves and enjoy showing off.

I pulled into the Memphis KOA mid morning, a line of big rigs following me. How can I describe the force on my vehicle? My van would jerk hard to one side with my hands vice gripped on the wheel, I’d bash it into place and then wham it’d go the other way, like a twisting bucking bronco determined to throw its rider to the ground, esp when you add the lifting sliding effect of movement forward with the wind tunnel underneath.  A passing truck is really insane, I’m gonna call it  an earthquake machine that is coming from the air rather than the ground, it would be fun if it was an amusement park. And it was wet too.

The staff at this KOA were super nice, one of them repaired my laptop as it was set to not accept WiFi, she somehow fixed that. I was assigned a crappy space behind the propane tank (as if I hadn’t just filled up elsewhere) with a big noisy outdoor fan attached to the back of a building as my only view. Since I had a camper-van KOA decided (and it’s all in their computer) that I should not be given a regular pull through space. I find this annoying except when it’s a better location and comes with a discount. Anyway they let me move to a better spot which I enjoyed as I had the camping area to myself while the rest of the park was jammed full of folks escaping the wrath of Mommy Nature. This was my first KOA that provided dinner; you call it in and they bring it to your site. It was pulled pork which I don’t eat but I did go to the cafe for breakfast; 2 over easy eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for $4.80. The KOA also provides bus tours of many sorts around Memphis, didn’t ask but a great addition would be some doggy day care. I spent the day doing laundry and listening to the wind, by night-time it finally calmed.

Nope didn’t seem to take many photos. Just picture me slaving away in the wet wind hauling laundry and trying to put the quarters in the correct slot. Ha-ha!

Traveling alone is not as alone as you might think, at least not if you have adorable dogs with you and you can smile at people. I’m often amazed at the depth folks will share. I’ve started to think of my encounters as serial friendships, sure there are conversations that are polite greeting but more often about how others survive, what’s going on in their lives, why they are at this particular place at this particular time. I meet world travelers and those that are following the sun and good weather. Some are orphaned from a stick house by divorce, deaths, lack of a job, wanderlust, kids gone, retired, working mobile, lots of things bring them outside. Lots of folks have dogs too. On the road we have a temporary bond beyond the gulf of wealth and accommodation being closer to the elements, being able to leave at a moments notice and be somewhere completely different the next day.  That’s one of the things that draws me, being able take off and whatever transpired in that place gets left behind and replaced by an equally fascinating new day.

 

There is always something to do, at least there is for me.  Never have time to watch TV and rarely time for a book, much of this is because I travel with 3 dogs and am considering doing so with all 4. I walk them many times a day, they eat twice a day and I take them to dog parks, regular parks, schools, grassy fields, places to swim, we walk together in town centers and tourist areas where they are frequently so warmly welcomed. I keep a fairly clean RV, so there is an order to how the dogs and I proceed to keep it that way. When I eat dinner if there is an outside bench and table I’ll use that otherwise I’ll take out my camp chair and table, the dogs like to be nearby although little Mason frequently watches from the comfort of the bed esp if it’s cold out and looks out from the open back door to keep his eye on us.  I enjoy just looking, watching and listening . . . the sun coming up or going down, birds of all sorts and other wildlife, trees, flowers, grasses, clouds, rain, trains, what other people are doing, how things looks, little cities and towns, open fields, cluttered building, paths that lead off somewhere, the way the weather changes and how the light is different wherever I go, seeing the highway at a distance with all those huge trucks moving about, piles of debris that collect and no one seems to care. It’s not boring, there are sometimes stars or rainbows, sunclouds, rivers, lakes, desert and bugs, mountains, the sounds made from the soil, a wire overhead or within a tiny creek . . . .   … . these things are precious; our home, how will we treat it.

Scorpions – Wind Of Change

 

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It’s hard to find the right place to catch up so I might be jumping back and forth a bit, this might go well with my mood as different challenges and pleasures banter my attempts at a stable peaceful world. I still have my 1996 Dodge Freedom Wide Leisure Travel Van as those that met me out on the road can attest. My Leisure Travel, the dogs and I survived some intense weather and the kind of wind that I’d think would be what they’re talking about when they say high-profile vehicles should be cautioned to not be on the road. I’m back in California now with “safe stuff” like earthquake, fires and floods, things I understand. I know what to do if there’s a fire or the ground shakes and glass and bricks fall out of the buildings. I can handle a drought being able to conserve water to the ninth degree; I can brush my teeth with just a drop and clean myself with a damp washcloth….  but hey, in the South, in the East they have wind, thunder, lightening and big huge chunks of ice they call hail. Not that pitter-patter stuff we get here that makes a nice drumming sound on the roof and makes a game of the grass for the dogs to chase and play, oh no, they get golf ball, softball, grapefruit size bombs  (or bigger) that can wipe out your windshield and put holes in everything you might consider precious. Yep I learned the word…  TORNADO…  never noticed how, torn, is the beginning of that word.  No worries, I was fine, I outran/out drove the worst, my RV very sweetly took on the challenge of long hours in intense blustery gale.  It was fine when the sky turned pitch black at 10 am and the wind blew so hard it was like being a pinball machine.  I did have a great time in the Southeast.

So, where should I start. I looked at many different Class B and Class B+but was dissuaded by their sticker price versus their build quality. My older LTV has issues such as a dead generator with no compression, an electrical problem with the refrigerator, the new carbon monoxide alarm would not stop alarming and something in the battery on-off switch beeps randomly for no apparent reason.

The LTV is comfortable and solid. It can hold up to my dogs and whatever the road throws at it. I would still like a newer rig, but I’d also like to have funds to enjoy eating and buying gas and so forth.

 

Later I’ll give a run down on recent repairs, etc etc.

My Lagotto Romagnolo breed club’s 2nd National Specialty took me south. The show was in Fort Worth Texas and having failed to attend the show back east last year due to failure of repairs with the LT, I decided to try again. Thank goodness next year the Specialty will be in California! I did make it to Ft Worth without trouble but as you’ll learn things went wrong regarding the actual showing of my dogs….  third time’s the charm, right?

My Lagotto Romagnolo Girl, Olympia.

Olympia didn’t go with me this time. She stayed with my good friends Lee and Craig.

Lee came to meet us half way between her place and mine to pick up Olympia; we’d just had a rousing game of Tennis Ball in rather warm heat!

Jeana came with to keep me company on the drive. We stopped at Camp Roberts Rest Stop Hwy 101 on the way home.

Gaviota Pass Overlook. We also stopped here in the delicious cool fog so I could pay respects to those I’ve loved and lost.

My 1996 Dodge Leisure Travel Van almost packed to go.

Before I forget here is the video where I learned how to make the solar reflective curtain linings From Wander Dano, RV STuff – Keeping RV Cool in Summer Heat Project. I had a chance to try these in partial on my recent test drive to Placerville. the sun beating through the window was so hot I did like the truckers and partially closed my front curtains… Don’t try opening the driver’s side window if you have these curtain linings attached like I did to adjust the side view mirror… the lining gets caught and you will have trouble closing the window! The lining is a good thing to add to your passive cooling system. I also tested the little fan I bought…. love this fan! AboveTEK® Dual Head Car Auto Cooling Air Fan available on Amazon for $26. I mounted the fan overhead where the original TV used to be. It’s just enough air to provide a nice cooling breeze pushing the air-conditioned air towards the rear of the coach without needing to run the rear air conditioner.  My dogs were able to ride in real comfort all the way in the back on the partially reclined couch/bed. Even Mason was content in the back with the new bilstein shocks creating a far less jarring ride.

The K9 kids

The K9 kids

LOVE the bilstein shocks! Highly recommend them. They are a big improvement over the Monroe’s. I can still feel every rut in the road but it’s smoother, gentler; the front end of my rig seems to be more in touch with the road and overall it’s far more peaceful ride.Bilstein Shocks waiting to be installed

I can’t say the Michelin M3/2’s are quite right or even right at all. but I don’t know at this point what the trouble is. My first drive after the install of the LT M/S 2’s was troubled, the ride improved with the addition of the bilsteins but not enough! The trip from Santa Barbara to Placerville is about 425 miles each way. That’s a long drive for one day, with inevitable traffic, accidents and road construction plus a few semi-leisurely stops to walk the dogs it can and does at times take 11 to 12 hours not the 6.5 hrs as listed on google maps. I’d done this drive faster in my car when I’ve been lucky to find no road hazards.

 

The route I prefer is north on the 101 to  CA 41 which cuts across the state to I-5, although I also like taking the CA 33 at times or even heading to Gilroy or the East Bay before heading inland. CA 41 is often windy and blustery, the 101 can blow strong and the I-5 can be extreme. With the older setup on my rig… with the Monroes and Cooper’s my LT would muster though high wind warnings and heavy gusts without slowing me down.  On one trip the wind was so powerful I was barely able to open the door to the van at a rest stop.

This last trip was windy but it wasn’t that bad. This was fortunate as several times I desperately wanted to turn back, I was stopped from doing this by an unbearable weariness of having to then drive through the same section of hell in reverse. Where previously I could hold the steering wheel strongly and steady, now I could not. No matter how I tried to correct the steering it was constant adjustments and near misses.

To the right, to the left, to left, right, left, left, left, right, left, right , right, never finding any sweet spot; if my attention wandered for a moment my rig and I and the dogs were swiftly tossed out of the lane, really scary with narrow lanes from construction and fast traffic. Seemed my new tires were bent on a different occupation than I’d expected! Ice skating! Slip and glide with a nice pirouette, No, no tires, not fun!  Down, tires, down. My back hurt, my shoulders ached, my eyes became glued.  My mind invented a ton of steering games… let’s see if I can just not touch the wheel more than a whisper, no… well, if I can grip the wheel super hard, maybe grab the wheel in this position, no, that position; hey get the knees in there as balance, ok, not, well try the arm rest, no.. Was so grateful for rest stops!

 

Eventually made it to my friend’s home. I’m sure she suffered for my bad mood and achy demenior.
We had lots of fun though, Lee made sure of that!  And yummy stuff to eat! Thank you Craig and Lee!

Fluffy Zak, not so sure about all this company.

Fluffy Zak, not so sure about all this company.

Olympia relaxing on the Couch

Olympia relaxing on the Couch

 

I was thinking the worst was over, I managed to convince myself the trouble was due to the newness of the tires and going home would be a snap. I did check the wind report in deciding which day to leave and am grateful to whatever part of my brain made that decision as going home was a repeat performance of stay in your lane hell; not quite as bad. I settled for a tight knuckled death grip on the wheel that allowed me to press hard on the accelerator rather than to drive slower and prolong the torture. The next day at home the wind is almost gale force so I left on the right day. When I arrived I stress ate, paced a lot and didn’t sleep much. Woke up early and started research. Came up with a list of maybe’s… I called Henderson’s Line-Up and Brake & RV Inc in Oregon; they said the Michelin LT M/S 2 were the wrong tire, I needed XPS ribs which have a steel sidewall. The M/S 2’s they said would slip and not grip the road. Fine, I checked Costco and other local shops but could not find this tire.  I called Costco when they opened and they explained that the XPS ribs were discontinued but maybe I might find someone who still had some. The tire tech felt the LT M/S 2 were the correct ones for my LTV as he’d installed these on similar coaches.  So I called Henderson’s back and we continued the conversation.  Seems Henderson’s had the Ribs but they were discontinued as not many people liked the jarring ride they produced with the stiff steel sidewalls.

Drove the RV to Dal Pozzo’s. I wanted them to do an alignment, that’s what you do when you get new tires on a regular car. As a first step they wanted to try changing the air pressure again but instead of my hoped for alignment or messing with the air pressure, we went for a very short test ride… me sitting backwards on the passenger seat I leave turned that way for one of my dogs…. I sota of put my seatbelt on …  (hold your eveys, we didn’t get a ticket.) Went on and right off the fwy round a curve.  Mechanic gripped the wheel hard,  looked at me as he wiggled the steering wheel back and forth …. nope, no problem, he said! Everything was normal.  Oh sure, it’s normal to be tortured as you drive,  my opinion wasn’t going to sway his expertise so  I placed the RV under my body like a limp tail and went home. Talked again with Costco then Hendersons in a flame of cross opinions.

Things I considered:  buying a new set of tires; installing a true track bar; a Safety T Stabilizer, rebuilding the front end, larger rims with steel walled tires for the rear, emptying the air rite assist and experimenting with differing amounts of air, same with the tires. . .  more .. less? Driving all the way to Frazier Park to weigh the weight on each tire….  and on and on.

Mom says I push through and find solutions after most people would quit….. Heck, I’m not patient, I’m stubborn and emotional. Gifted women don’t fit stereotypes. Gifted women can come up with original unusual ideas and have a superior ability to reason, generalize and problem solve, along with a vivid imagination, complex deep thoughts, abstract thinking, following multiple tracks at the same time with a high tolerance to ambiguity and complexity, highly sensitive, intense, introverted, aware of things that others are not, perfectionist and curious, not motivated by normal rewards, become outraged at injustice with a wide range of interests, strong moral convictions, visionary, persistent, with a strong need for solitude, non-conforming, sporting a sense of alienation, compassionate and so on. . . here am looking at a list describing adult gifted women and randomly copying some of the items..  and reading a lot of the pitfalls and problems.  See, I’m a victim of being myself. Can’t help being odd and overwrought; give me a problem and I will work it like a racehorse running to its death until someone stops me. Rest now, rest now little Nelly.

But not quite yet. I started calling tire shops…nope, can’t do an alignment for your vehicle… too big…… too heavy…. not enough height in our shop…. on and on. I found out why Dal Pozzo wouldn’t do the alignment, things have changed they just don’t do them anymore. My RV is little but it’s too big to be placed on normal alignment rack.  I tried a few RV places out-of-town they had a 2 to 3 week waiting list.  Then one place (right here in River City,)  said YES!!!  Yipee. My LT may not fit on their rack either but they will do it on the ground. More important they offered to inspect and evaluate the trouble and attempt a solution! Why is this so rare? I learned a lot from talking to him.There are issues to consider: a bad tire, esp since the trouble happened as soon as they were installed, alignment, maybe, wrong tires? not sure, tie rod bearings? Some other front end issue? There are things to explore.

I ate a couple of really big pieces of salmon I cooked with chopped spinach and blueberries… delicious but more food than needed… was supposed to last me a few days, but it’s all gone. I’m tired.  Stay tuned for the next installment of, woman fights back in the battle to save her aging heavy loaded van…