(Heard it Thru )The Grapevine…

Click Here for a SOBERING Thot for the day…

Our first task in California was to trans-navigate the LA area. The GPS took us around the bulk of it, on the 210 thru Pasadena. But eventually, all roads north lead to the notorious I5 “Grapevine.” This road winds through the hills North of LA, and consists of MANY MILES of intense grades – both up and down – that exceed 10%. That is a REAL CHALLENGE for RV WHERE YET, who tackled the challenge like The Little Engine That Could. We were in 1st or 2nd gear for most of the way, going 15MPH uphill (yes, we are “THAT GUY” holding up traffic).

The ambient Temp was over 100F, and I had to keep a close eye on the temp gauge as we climbed. The idea is to manually activate the engine fan BEFORE the thermostat calls for it, and downshift BEFORE the engine heat starts to build up. This keeps the fan speed (and associated cooling) high; but of course at the expense of forward speed. If you wait until Temp is climbing, you WILL be on the roadside belching steam.

Shedding a few extra BTUs; unfortunately into the coach. Sauna Time!!!

At one point, engine fan already ON, I activated the Chassis Heat ala wintertime to shed a few extra BTUs; unfortunately into the coach. Sauna Time!!! But, we never did overheat, or even come close, which gives us much comfort knowing there are places on the road thru British Columbia to Alaska with long nearly-20% grades. The temp will be MUCH cooler there, tho, so chassis heat may be appreciated, not just tolerated.

Downhills uneventful for RV WHERE YET as we see trucks with brakes smoking or ON FIRE or up the runaway-truck ramps



Coming DOWN is another matter. We have something called an “Electric Retarder” on our bus. This is a huge electromagnet wrapped around the drive shaft in about the middle of the bus. Applying current in one of 4 detents makes magnetic resistance that helps keep the bus speed under control. Makes downhill grades COMPLETELY UNEVENTFUL for us, barely even needing the actual brakes, while we see trucks with brakes smoking or ON FIRE or up the runaway-track ramps.

Of course, all that resistance comes at a price: the floor of the bus over the Retarder actually becomes warm from the heat the Retarder creates!!! This was an expensive options that we are SUPER GRATEFUL the original owner saw fit to install. 

Somewhere along the way to the Grapevine from Phoenix we picked up another chip in our Windshield. Ahh, well. We Do EXPECT to replace both halves of the windshield glass after Alaska; I guess we are getting a head start on the damage. Since our insurance will pay for it, we waited in a Walmart Parking lot in Bakersfield, Ca. for Safelite to come out and try to repair. If they can get resin into the pit without opening a crack, it can prevent the chip from resulting in a full-fledged crack. Worth a try. And the repair succeeded.

Chilling in Santa Cruz

We ultimately made it to Santa Cruz, and our appointment with Destiny (AKA Phyllis Daney). This was not the first time we have descended on Phyllis and Santa Cruz – in fact I think it is the third. There is a GREAT RV spot at the Santa Cruz Marina for RV WHERE YET –right in town, and easy walk or Bike Ride to the amusement park and all that stuff. And, of course, there is Phyllis. She HAD a great home on a beautiful golf course just across the highway from the city of SC. She has downsized to a great home right in the city. About 3 blocks from the RV park. Making walking VERY practical and drinking very safe therefore. We did some of both! 

For our favorite Vegefornian, a Portobella, also on the grill.


One day our meal and conversation was at her place, and one day it was at ours.  For the latter, we had a chance to fire up our new grill. Pork Tenderloin marinated in Soy and Ginger, then basted in Soy/Honey/Ginger. REALLY EXQUISITE. We ate the leftovers on Sammys and Quesadillas for a week. Phyllis, being a Vegefornian, had a portabella, also on the grill.

Christine would neither confirm nor deny that she took a nap – for the next 2 days.


This time thru we had an extra-special treat…we wrote to friend Christine Hutson on a whim. We try not to give old friends too much notice so they can’t effectively line up their excuses. These contacts usually go like this:  “…passing thru, wanna grab a bite/drink…”

TO our DELIGHT, Christine invited us to Easter Brunch at her home, where we had a lovely visit in her beautiful backyard. As a bonus, her son was there with wife and daughter and Christine’s sister was also present. We left with smiles on our face. Christine would neither confirm nor deny that she took a nap – for the next 2 days.

Leaving SC, we headed for a rendezvouz with Cousin Kevin, who lives in Menlo Park, CA. Over the past several weeks, we have been communicating by email about the possibilities for parking RV WHERE YET on the street for a couple nights. This evolved into WAY OVERTHINKING the issue, and the overall strategy to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

Neighbors thot we were pretty cool (or, more likely, at least the bus was)


Our online research indicated that Menlo Park does not allow overnight parking on ANY street for ANY vehicle – unless a residential Overnight Parking permit is displayed. The municipal regs do not in ANY WAY specify what type of vehicle can/cannot have such a sticker. Nancy had inquired by email of the municipal folks – no answer. Kevin thought we could actually stop at city hall and ask. Ultimately, we decided to just PARK. And assure the neighbors that we were NOT planning to spend any length of time in that position. Said neighbors thot we were pretty cool (or, more likely, at least the bus was).

Folks park for 3 nights, then move two blocks over (probably just swapping spaces with someone else)


As we drove thru neighboring Palo Alto (Where Stanford is located), we saw DOZENS of RVs parked on many streets. These apparently belong to an army of workers — food service, grounds keepers, assistant professors, etc. Vital folks to the operation of the university, but NO WAY they can afford to live within 100 miles of Stanford. Apparently regs allow 3 nights parking in one spot before enforcement action. So folks park for 3 nights, then move two blocks over (probably just swapping spaces with someone else). So, RVs are actually quite well tolerated for up to the usual Ben-Franklin Interval.

The Thinker @ Stanford

Problem solved; and RV WHERE YET was indeed fine for a couple nights.

And all was SUPER-WELL. Couple nice meals and Nancy even led us on a really nice Bike Tour of the Stanford Campus. She even showed us the dorm where dad stayed when he went there (though he mostly stayed at the beach, he admits with little prompting). While that was cool, the coolest part was the little coffee/muffin place she identified for us…where we sat for an hour or so enjoying the sun and idyllic setting.

Speaking of Nancy, an attorney by training, she works at a large employer in the area as a “Compliance Investigator” for the HR Department. It was pretty fascinating hearing about the “issues” that create angst for big, obvious-litigation-target employers in the People’s Republic of California. Kinda reminds me of the perhaps-slightly-off-the-deep-end #MeToo issues involving politicians these days.

While not wanting to trivialize the reported acts OR the stories of the victims, there has to be a context factor AND a reasonableness test. Otherwise, everything we do (or did) can be reinterpreted through “alternate” sensibilites not related to the event. I know MY past (especially college – I have seen some pretty interesting pics which I CANNOT publish here) is not without happenings that could be recounted in a very unfavorable (and unfair) light. And that would be a travesty, because that would not be an appropriate retelling in context…and I would not have a chance to recover my dignity. Despite these long-ago antics, I managed an entire career, I think as a fairly mature and respectful person…

HINT to our friends:
When you MOVE abruptly after we visit, (presumably so we can’t find you), you’ll achieve better results IF YOU DON’T TELL US WHERE YOU’VE MOVED!

After our Southern-Northern California visits we headed North a bit more – this time to Alamo, Ca, which is near Walnut Creek and a bit north of Berkeley. We stayed with the Rays, friends from years ago. Like Phyllis, they had ALSO moved to a new house since our last visit. The Ray’s live on a quiet cul de sac and claimed to have a large driveway for RV WHERE YET.  Pulling in to this “large Driveway” actually entailed pruning their Orange tree a bit with the bus’s roof rails… In my defense, I cannot see up there and Dan Ray was directing me!  

The Rays’ Pool Boy

We then had a discussion about the cracks in the driveway. Dan claimed it was PRISTINE before we parked. I was having trouble understanding how we could be responsible for cracks 30ft from anywhere the bus tires had covered. Eventually, Dan smiled and said the drive was going to be replaced with Landscaping – and a Bocce Ball court. And, BTW, the now-lopsided Orange tree was going to succumb to the same remodel. Which explains why he did not care about my pruning job – in fact he shared a SUPER sweet orange with me that RV WHERE YET had deposited on the pavement.

All I could think was, “Where will we park if the Driveway is no longer there?” Dan assured me the cul de sac neighbors would tolerate us for a few days – especially if we served margaritas.

“Mr. Ray, the Blue-test is very blue, so you need $75 of this stuff and the Red is oh-so-red so you need $25 of that.”

The Rays live less than one block from a GREAT Bike trail. We rode several miles to Brekkie one day in nearby Danville. We also enjoyed their pool – Dan even took me to the chemical-shop. No, NOT the one with a Green Cross – the one selling Salt and Chlorine and Acid and all sorts of stuff. First they tested the water, then they sold Dan about $100 of things in bottles and bags. Call me a cynic, but I wondered, was there anything other than food colouring in the test-chemical bottles?

Bike Trail Sculpture Garden

While parked at the Rays, we also had a chance to visit former Chicago Neighbors, the Walshes and of course their wonder-dog, Seamus, who now live in Berkeley. And college buddy Mark Morris and his lovely wife Tracy, who live in San Rafael. We drove to a funky little coffee shop in Berkeley (dog friendly, of course) to see Seamus (and Brian and Sara).   Mark and Tracy came to Alamo — they said we had driven across country to get to California, so the least they could do is drive across the bay…We appreciated the thought and effort, though of course the 50,000 miles we have covered in the past couple years of travel has no impact on our willingness to drive across the bay to share an adult beverage with friends!

All of these visits were AWESOME – it is great to catch up with friends. Speaking of which, time to head north to do some more of that.

1 thought on “(Heard it Thru )The Grapevine…

  • Seamus sends a butt-wag! It was great to see you and look forward to visiting you oceanside in Half Moon Bay maybe? I hear y’all make great pizzas. 😀

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