Back in April, traveling north from Yuma, AZ we were following I-5, on our route between Mojave and Pleasanton, CA. Phil and I saw this spectacle at the same time and it was upon us almost instantaneously. A “dust devil” (mini-tornado) about 20 feet tall and ten feet across at the top appeared on our front right corner roaring up out of the shoulder along the road. It was full of debris—sticks and leaves and filled with sand but we were not afraid. It was just a dust devil … harmless, right?
When it slammed into us, the force sucked us to the right and completely off the road onto the shoulder--all 50 feet and 20,000 lbs.-plus-of us! Phil held steady and quickly got us back on the road without any mishap—we thought. We were a bit shaken but none the worse for wear and continued on down the highway to the next rest stop. When Phil went outside to do his walk-around check he found the damage. The dust devil had sucked the rear corner of our awning out of the roll and it had been hanging out for all the miles since we were hit while the wind ripped the canvas to shreds.
Keep in mind that our awning was locked down and lashed very tightly against Penny’s side wall because our locking mechanism has never worked correctly. The force from the dust devil must have been tremendous since driving at 60 MPH did not allow any problems. Also, this comparatively small whirlwind, rather than pushing us—pulled us into the twister. It gave us a much better understanding of the power in those enormous windstorms generated along tornado alley in the midwest.
Phil and Lester drove Penny the Pace back to Albany this past Sunday afternoon (hence missing Dixie’s party) for installation of her new awning on Monday morning. We had ordered it while we were at McKay’s Trucking for her yearly service. I stayed in Shelton and spent the night with Gloria. We attended Dixie's party on Sunday and then on Monday had a marathon day of girl-talk. Great fun!
Here is Penny with her new awning.