Stage 12 - Truckee, CA to Pleasanton, CA

Pleasanton, CA 
Arrival Date: Friday, July 2
Accommodations: Hilton, 7050 Johnson Drive
Phone 925-463-8000
Weather: Clear, Dry, Sunny, Warm
Events of the Day:

When we left Truckee very early (start time of 7:00 a.m.) to do our tire warm-up and speedometer calibration we found that Winston could not maintain 50 mph on the slopes of the High Sierras. We assumed that our calibration was the same as yesterday. We went west on I-80 over Donner Pass and exited the interstate near Lake Spaulding. The scenery was magnificent with the giant evergreens! 
Cars lined up for our departure on the first leg of the day

We rallied for about 2-1/2 hours through the mountains, often unable to maintain speed on the uphill portions and having to estimate the makeup speeds on the downhills. We arrived at the next checkpoint only 8 seconds late. We made a fuel stop in Nevada City and began the next portion of the rally. After about an hour and a half, through more moderate slopes and agriculture land, we received a 14 second score at the next check point. This segment included a transit of 10 minutes near Beale Air Force Base, arriving at our next start point with just seconds to spare. We completed this leg 4 seconds late and stopped for a sumptuous brunch (quiche, fresh fruits, choice of beverages, and lots of hospitality!) in Marysville, CA. One very sweet lady helped Bob get Jerry's food while Jerry was ciphering the rest of the afternoon's navigational details.

Our brunch stop in Marysville

In the leg immediately after brunch, one of our instructions involved turning left onto Power Line Road. The instruction included a warning to "look sharp." We were following a red Chevrolet roadster and, as we proceeded looking for Power Line Road, we noticed the Chevy ahead of us turning around in a driveway and heading back in the direction from which we had come, pointing behind us as if to say, "Turn around you fools!. " We didn't follow his advice. Within a few minutes, however, we wondered if we had made the right decision as we drove for several minutes more before we finally spotted Power Line Road. The driver had begun to question the navigator's judgement (silly driver!)...the navigator was vindicated! 

We had live entertainment at dinner
The afternoon marathon session through the California Delta Region was unbelievable as we wandered through this maze of 1300 miles of waterways that interconnect the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. We were on levee roads and very narrow draw bridges with rally cars visible going in all directions. We rallyed for nearly 4 hours without a break. Our total overall score for the day, factored for Winston's age, was 59 seconds. We were happy with that score, considering the length of the day, a total of seven legs, and our fatigue level. 

Arriving in Pleasanton!  Driver's eye view...

We arrived in Vallejo, CA, at an antique automobile museum for a wonderful catered dinner!  The food was superb -- the freshest salads imaginable, tender steak and roast chicken. The museum even provided live entertainment and we were surrounded by the cars we love. It doesn't get much better than this! We left Vallejo to proceed to Pleasanton, our 13th overnight stop.

The World-famous driver signing autographs...

At Pleasanton we were greeted by mobs of enthusiastic citizens. Each car had a sponsor and ours was a gentleman named Chris Miller, a retired Army helicopter pilot and gracious host. Chris has friends in Huntsville and we enjoyed our time with him.Today we had no mechanical problems (praise God!). Tomorrow will be our final leg and Bob King will navigate. We are anticipating the completion of this wild and crazy journey with mixed emotions. We are fatigued beyond words but don't want it to end.
Winston coming through the Pleasanton finish gate

From the Nagivator...
This was one of those "good news-bad news" days. The good news is that Winston ran flawlessly all day so all the repairs we made yesterday fixed the problems. However, this was the most Navigator-stressful day so far. Up until today, the instruction set has been 15-20 pages long; today's set had 36 pages.

A pair of '32s -- Stanley Jones' Ford and Winston

Normally, I have plenty of time to review the entire set, highlight expected problem areas and notes, and precalculate our needed time corrections for each instruction (the driver refers to this as the "navigator ciphering".) Because of the volume of instructions today, this was not possible and I spent much of the day attempting to stay ahead with these calculations while looking for the next sign. This problem was compounded because many of the instructions today came in rapid sequence.

Jerry receiving our scores from John Classen and Rachel

The good news is that we executed every instruction correctly and missed no turns. (Several other teams were not so fortunate.) The not-so-good news is that we apparently failed to fully correct our time delays and consistently ran late. There were many, many speed changes throughout the day and Winston (and/or the driver/navigator) may be showing signs of fatigue. In any event, our times were not as good as we had hoped.

The crowd in Pleasanton

Again, the scenery was spectacular. The climb across Donner Pass as we headed out of Truckee was awesome. This trek across the Sierra Nevada range was simply beautiful. After completing our longest day on the clock, the outstanding dinner break provided at Vallejo was even more appreciated. The reception at Pleasanton was spectacular, even larger than Truckee. However, Truckee was more festive in my view so they will get my vote as the best.

My final day was not as successful as I hoped as far as the score is concerned but I was pleased with our overall performance. Our cumulative score is still in the middle of the pack and we are still running! "To Finish is to Win!"

Continue to ===> Stage 13 - Pleasanton, CA to Monterey, CA