Sailing the monsoons in the Airstream!

We have been sweltering over here in Arizona. It has been over 100 each day starting at 11am until 6pm. As mentioned in the previous entry we got hit with a huge thunderstorm in Kingman (they call them monsoons around here). To help alleviate some of the heat distress on the inside of the trailer I have had the awnings out whenever I can.

Yesterday the wind started picking up with dark clouds and thunder around 5pm. I decided to put in the awnings. This was a good decision because the wind picked up but it also really started raining hard! It flooded part of the streets around here but this whole neighborhood is designed to drain quickly and efficiently. We went out to get a bit to eat and when we got back the wind and rain had stopped. It only cooled it down about 5 degrees but took up the humidity drastically. I decided to put out the main awning again since I like it to block the morning sun.

Roxie and I have a running joke about me and the awning. She claims that I never put out the awning if there is a slight breeze. I do this proactively so I don’t have to be outside at 2am to take down the awning, which I have done!

We went out to the trailer at about 9:30 (my mom goes to bed early) and it was not windy or stormy so I opted to leave the awning up.

We were in bed looking at our various electronic devices and Roxie asked me if I felt the trailer moving. I told her it was probably because I had just moved in the bed. She said it felt like an earthquake. I told her that I don’t think they have too many earthquakes in the Phoenix area. We resumed our activities. Then *I* felt the movement. What was that. I looked out my window (streetside) and saw that it was very windy. We looked out Roxie’s window and saw the awning bouncing up and down. Uh oh! Here we go!

I shot out the front door in only my shorts, Roxie said it would have been good to video it but it would not have been good for the viewers. I started taking down the awning. Roxie stuck her head out of the door and I yelled at her to “Get back inside, do not come out!”.

If you are familiar with trailer awnings you can skip the next part. I will just explain some of the awning components and what they do. Here is a shot of part of the awing for reference:


Pay no attention to the back awning, that one was not an issue. On the large awning you will see a lower bar coming up at a 45 degree angle. These are the adjustable arms, front and back, support the weight of the awning and allows the awning to roll back to the trailer. The upper arm is adjustable also but its’s purpose to the hold the awning roll out where you want it to be and don’t allow it to retract until you remove the support arm.

OK. Back to the fun.

I had to first remove those upper arms to roll the awning back and the wind was whipping! Our awning is 22′ long and about 6′ deep which gives it 132′ square feet of wind area. I am not sure how big of a boat this would move but it sure is hard to hold it down! The wind was coming from the worst possible angle also, directly against the side of the trailer where the awning is.

Once I removed the upper support arm on the rear of the awning (pictured above) I worked my way down the the other arm in the front. At this time a gust came by, caught the sail and slammed the rearward awning arm against the trailer. This made the rearward part of the awning billow up higher than the roof. I thought I was going to lose the whole awning but I wasn’t going to give up!!

Roxie stuck her head out and asked about helping again. I yelled at her, again, told her to help this time. She came out and grabbed the frontward arm. I went to the back arm and got it extended back out. I then grabbed the awning strap in the center of the awning and held on tight! I had Roxie transition to the back arm and to lean into it. I removed the front top support arm and we waited until a lull in the wind.

We waited about 5 minutes before the first attempt. The first one almost worked but the wind was still billowing the material up where it would not quite roll up. We waited at least another 5 minutes before we tried again and this time it worked! Big sigh of relief!!

Time to secure it. Oh no! One of the anchors was in the wrong position. We had to pull the awning out again a bit, move the anchor over and then put it back. Great. I got Roxie a tool (our stabilizer jack crank) so she could reach it. We tried it and did it! Oops. Another problem. The upper support arm was now stuck behind the lower support arm. This one was easy though. Just a little wiggling.

We secured the big awning and the other awnings also. Just as we finished up the rain started in big drops. We got a bit wet but at least we saved the awning, as far as we knew.

We were treated to quite a light, wind and rain show into the evening.

The next morning I looked around at the aftermath. The awning poles looked like they were bowed when we were holding it but the appeared to be fine. But there were a few issues. When the rearward arm came slamming back to the trailer, it left a couple of marks:


I have to keep telling myself that all these dings, etc. are just character added to the trailer and more stories to tell.

After the adrenaline wore off I slept very well and we dodged a serious bullet with the awning!


Off to Arizona! Yes, in July…

We are currently in the middle of a trip to Arizona. This trip was not planned as we would really like to avoid the desert in the throes of the summer. However we are here for another reason. My mother broke her hip in May, had two surgeries and then rehab. After almost 2 months total she was ready to go home so we came to help her transition back to her house.

Visalia had been getting hit with some warm weather and we are not unfamiliar with heat (we also lived in the Redding area). However we usually try to avoid hot areas. Somethings, however, you cannot avoid.

I was looking at weather forecasts but only saw heat. So I looked at heat maps. I found that Kingman AZ would be a good stop for an evening as they were only around 100 degrees during the day and was very similar to Visalia.

We left late on Monday, around 7pm. The plan was to drive when it was cooler and to drive to Barstow, around 200 miles, and spend the night dry camping somewhere. The trip was uneventful but odd since I am not used to driving the trailer at night:

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We got to Barstow and it was over 90 degrees. We found a cozy spot at the TA truck stop between some trucks and under a light. We opened a few windows and turned on the Fantastic Fan. It was warm to start but we were tired and had no problem going to sleep.

We got up on Tuesday, fueled up and headed on the boring drive on I40. Barstow is where I40 starts and ends in Wilmington NC:

Start of Interstate 40.jpg
Start of Interstate 40” by BrianricecaOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps we will be able to get to the other end of I40 some day but not this trip.

Just a blah 4 lane highway out in the middle nowhere. I was watching the outside temperature and the engine temperature. I set the cruise control to 60mph and the truck did great. We were planning on stopping in Needles at the Basha’s grocery store but it has been closed! The only grocery store in Needles is now closed. Given the closest grocery store was 19 miles away AND it was 109 we decided to just get some fast food and head on down the road. I was hoping that Kingman would be better and cooler since it was higher.

We made it to Kingman around 2pm and found a spot at the KOA. We took a 30amp spot because it was the shadiest spot we could find. However 30amp means we can only run one air conditioner at a time. It was 97 degrees, we had the AC going above our bed and decided to take a nap.

We woke up to distant thunder and this:

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This was cooling down the area with Roxie enjoying it:

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Shortly after this picture the rain started spitting. We got some things together to go eat at Cracker Barrel, our first time. By the time we got into the truck the rain was really coming down. On the drive to eat we saw numerous lightning strikes and knew we were smack dab in the middle of a big thunderstorm. It was really pouring once we got to the Cracker Barrel around 6:30. The rain had pretty much stopped by 11pm and had dumped .79″ in that time. One of the roads we tried to get back to the KOA was closed due to the flooding. I loved the neon KOA sign that they had up:

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The thunderstorm dropped the ambient temperature to 68! We slept the whole night with the windows open and enjoyed the cool breezes. It was wonderful!

We made it my mother’s about 2pm the next day but stopped off for a bite in a city park in Wickenberg:

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Once we pulled in (actually backed in) to her driveway we went to visit. She was doing well as she has a strong will and wanted to get back to her routine.

The next thing I needed to do was to get 30amp service for us so could run our A/C. This required a trip to Lowes to get the correct 30a breaker. I removed a 20a breaker that she was not using anymore. I plugged in the 30a and ran a separate connector and all worked well. That was until Roxie tried to run the A/C and microwave at that same time!

We are here for a bit more then back home. Not quite sure which way will be the coolest on the return!