I am now channeling Dr. Pangloss and deciding “All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds”. Although my optimism in this situation, unlike Pangloss’s, is not unwarranted. My long planned Fall roadtrip was derailed by a malfunction of my little Roadtrek Agile RV, Buffalo Soldier. And, yes, it’s all turning out for the best.

First of all, my annual Fall roadtrip is always a moving target. I want to take it after the kids go back to school so the National Parks are emptier, but I don’t want to take it too late and run into snow and cold temperatures. Then there is our grape harvest which is never predictable. Now that our harvests are much too big for me to pick our grapes with just Cousin John’s help and we’ve outsourced picking crews and the crush, I should still be around for it. But it’s always hard to predict when it will happen. With four different grape varietals, each one could come ripe at different times. Typically, our largest crop, Cabernet, happens later in the season, but a sustained heat wave can speed things up. That’s what happened this year and, smack dab in the middle of when I’d planned to be out on the road, we harvested everything. And I was there for it. All’s for the best!

The grapes came ripe early. At a time when I would have been somewhere in the middle of Utah.

And my little RV? That’s a great story, too. The problems with the coach electrical system had been obvious from the first trip I ever took. The Lithium Ion battery and the back up battery never seemed able to make it through even a short night of boondocking. So all my trips had to be routed through campgrounds with shore power. Who knows what happened? My rig had been a showroom model at the dealers’ — and the dealer had been unable, in the three times I took it back in — to fix the problem or even acknowledge that there was a problem. Who knows if the damage occurred while the RV was on display in the showroom. Luckily, I found a great independent repair shop that I highly recommend — the family owned Almaden RV Service and Repair. The guys were responsive, understanding and immediately diagnosed and fixed a problem. Unfortunately, since I was so close to my trip, they didn’t have time to simulate a boondocking trip and see how fast the battery ran down. Sure it charged right up, no problem, but the proof would be in the boondocking. Which happened to me in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

We had an excellent picking crew. So fast that I couldn’t get an unblurred picture of their picking hands.

Back to the boys in Almaden I went and I asked them if there was anything I could do on my end to help expedite the repairs. They said that the logistics of their location in San Jose and the manufacturer’s location in Ontario sometimes made things difficult as the time difference made timely calls between their guys and the manufacturer challenging.

Turns out all the grapes came ripe at once in both vineyards. This excellent crew made short work of the harvest — all while singing in four part harmony.

One of the reasons I chose a Roadtrek RV is because there is a very large and passionate users’ group on Facebook and the top executives of the company are a constant and helpful presence there. So I sent a Facebook message to the company CEO asking if they could give some priority to my repair guys in light of the time difference. I outlined the problems, but reiterated that I still loved the Roadtrek product. Next thing you know, I’m getting letters, messages and calls from the top brass at Roadtrek assuring me that they would expedite a new Lithium battery and do whatever they could to assist my repair guys. I called Almaden to tell them the good news. The owner of Almaden thanked me, but I could tell he was a little skeptical.

Then a few days later, I received a call from the owner with the good news that a solution had been found and Roadtrek was pulling out all the stops to assist them with the repair.

Almaden RV Repair: You know, every time we call with a question or a request, we mention that this is your rig and we get the white glove red carpet treatment.

Me: Yes, I’m really pleased with their response.

Almaden: Excuse me, but should I know who you are? I’ve never seen anything like this when dealing with any RV manufacturer. Are you famous?

Me: Not famous. Except among the small population that are triple aficionados of wine, terriers, and RVs (in that order.)

However, I may get a little more famous in Roadtrekking circles. While chatting online with another senior Roadtrek official, I found myself volunteering the Rancho for one of the small rallies the company arranges for Roadtrek owners. So come next May, thirty rigs containing my new best friends will be parked down by the barn for a few days of wine-tasting, walking our trails, and Sonoma touring.

I can hardly wait!


From RV manufacturers, to repair guys, to harvest crew, I’ve been surrounded by top-notch professionals. Thanks everyone!