Saturday, March 20, 2010

Restless diesels

We are at the Valero truck stop, along US-101 just south of King City, California (map).

This stretch of 101 is very familiar to us, as it was one of our principal routes south from the bay area when we lived there; we've been through King City dozens of times. Yet, oddly, we had never really realized that there was really no RV parking anywhere near the highway. We'd mostly stayed in motels along the route, or tent camped in the hills along either side of the Salinas valley.

When we left Palmdale yesterday, we figured to be somewhere along 101 when we stopped for the night. We were already on 46 crossing over from the central valley as we combed through our many directories looking for a good stopping location. The nearest Wal-Mart is an hour north of here in Salinas, rest areas in California do not permit overnight stops, and the nearest public lands are dozens of miles from the highway. Even our truck stop directory listed only one between San Miguel and Salinas, and that's where we ended up.

Right next door to the Valero station, which includes a mini-mart, is a complex comprising a small motel, RV park (really), self-storage lot, restaurant, and yet another mini-mart/liquor store. The two mini-marts are barely 100 yards apart. We did eat in the family-style restaurant, the Wild Horse Cafe, squeaking through the door just ten minutes ahead of the 6:30 closing time. We had the place to ourselves; the food was decent, and they even had wine.

We figured to have a quiet night here, but diesels on either side of us idled all night long. This I can not understand, in this temperate weather. It was in the high 70s when we arrived around 4pm, and we were quite comfortable just by opening the windows and running the vent fans. Late in the evening, as the temperature dropped, we merely needed to close the windows and vents, and we were plenty warm all night. Surely conditions could not be much different in a modern sleeper cab. The sort of weather that mandates A/C or heater use all night might justify idling the truck (although, really, cabs routinely used for sleeping should be equipped with APUs), and such conditions might easily have driven us to the RV park next door as well. But, sheesh, 10 gallons of diesel to avoid adjusting the vents?

In a short while, we will continue north on 101 to Salinas, then dart west to Monterey, where we will stop for a quick visit with Louise's dad. I expect to be in Monterey tonight, either at the Elks lodge, or, if they are full up, Laguna Seca Raceway. Tomorrow we are due in Milpitas for a memorial celebration.


  1. Hi,
    thought you might be interested in a blog by a fellow Ontario resident. He blogs all his sailing. ( we all live near Lake Huron )

  2. Sean, thought you might be interested in this but somehow I think you already know.
    Tom in GA

  3. @Kelly: Thanks for the link.

    @Tom: Well aware of the no-idle law in CA (and several other states). Unfortunately, there is no "CARB police" and so the practice continues essentially unchecked here and elsewhere. There is a snitch line, but of course that provides no immediate relief.

    The good news is that many large operators are realizing the benefits in fuel and maintenance savings to installing APUs, and we're seeing more of them, including on Wal-Mart's ubiquitous fleet.

  4. This may seem like a silly question but are you sure it was the truck itself idling or was it the reefer unit used to keep the trailer cold?

    Saw a link to your blog a couple years ago from Charles blog and it has been tons of fun to read. Thanks for sharing.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!