Ok, so I’ve been binge-watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix, and I can’t get that Clash song out of my mind. But “Should I Stay or Should I Go” perfectly describes the dilemma I faced when I left Fresno in my RV in early December.
As mentioned previously, my plan was to store the RV and car at my uncle’s house in Los Angeles. My flight to Seattle was scheduled for December 14th, but since I had an appointment to bring the full rig to the Camping World in Fresno on the 7th, I decided to head for LA the same day. I had to completely unhook and pack up the RV at the campground to take it to the shop, so it made sense to just keep driving.
The most direct route from Fresno to LA is via the “Grapevine”, which is where I-5 goes over the Tejon Pass. It’s a long and steep climb – I’ve driven it with a car many times. I was terrified of driving it with my rig, and preferred to avoid it at all costs.
Another alternative is to drive west to the coast, and then south along the 101 freeway. It adds a few hours to the trip, but it’s worth the extra time to avoid getting stuck. So I carefully planned that route, studying maps and the Mountain Directory to make sure there were no big hills.
I didn’t have reliable television in Fresno, but the night before I planned to leave, I happened to see an online headline about fires in Los Angeles, and thought I better check it out. I soon learned that a section of Highway 101 was closed due to the Thomas fire, directly along my planned route.
Reluctantly, I researched the Grapevine option, but learned that there were strong wind warnings, especially for vehicles with high profiles. That would be me. Clearly, the drive to LA had to be postponed.
Not wanting to go back to the Fresno campground after the Camping World appointment, I decided to drive south, stay overnight in Bakersfield, and see how things looked the next morning. Highway 101 had re-opened the following day, but the wind was fueling the fires and making everything worse. Should I stay or should I go? If I go, should I drive through the fires, or tackle the steep and windy pass?
The campground in Bakersfield was lovely. It had everything I needed, including cable TV so I could stay informed about the fires. And it just so happened to be directly next door to an RV repair and storage place, which got me to thinking that perhaps I should give up the idea of driving the RV to LA, and store it in Bakersfield instead. So, I checked it out. It cost only $50 per month for storage, and they could do all the repairs I needed. Best of all, storing the RV there would allow me to postpone the drive to LA until next year. It felt like the right solution.
I spent the weekend preparing the RV for storage, and doing my packing. I was able to wash the RV for the first time since May because the campground allowed it, which is rare. I got up on the roof with my big push broom, a bucket and a hose, thinking constantly that this would NOT be a good time for an accident.
But it’s a good thing I did go on the roof, because I discovered a big hole in one of the vent covers. Rain water would have poured in, creating a disaster inside. I was able to buy a new vent cover at the local Camping World, and replace it.
My uncle’s house was a quick hour and a half drive over the Grapevine in my car, and I spent three wonderful nights in the warmth there before my flight to Seattle. It was an exciting day when I finally got on that airplane with my two 50 pound suitcases, all ready for Christmas with my kids, and then 5 months in Europe….