Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

A Day

Five days ago, this ultralight passed directly overhead at not much more than 100 feet altitude! Fun!

Five days ago, this ultralight passed directly overhead at not much more than 100 feet altitude! Fun!

Originally posted 2/22/2013

A day, just like any other day, only more so. The National Weather Service-based Internet weather predictions for this area are even less accurate than they are for the upper Midwest, if that’s possible. As forecasts, I’ve found them to be fairly accurate to only 2-3 hours forward at the very best, and even then, current conditions of “partly cloudy, 10% chance of rain” can disagree with what you see out your window.

Once the weather settles in for some serious rain, the view looks like this.

Once the weather settles in for some serious rain, the view looks like this.

A high winds weather alert isn’t something to dismiss, because there’s a slight possibility that any error might be in the other direction – the direction you don’t particularly want. Naturally, this alert came as a surprise to me, since I’d figured it was finally safe to store away the yellow solar panel retaining straps. I didn’t want to leave them up all the time because they are affordable, not good, and the sunlight and vibrating in the wind takes its toll on the webbing material. Took ’em down four days ago.

The poles really should go from panel to trailer instead of to ground, but there's no easy way to mount their bottom ends.

The poles really should go from panel to trailer instead of to ground, but there’s no easy way to mount their bottom ends.

Then the next day, wind alert. Forecasted to hit a steady 40 with gusts well in in excess of 50 MPH on the forward corner of the mighty Innsbruck, it seemed a good idea to break out the straps again for those large solar wind-sails I got hangin’ off there. Since there is nothing to aggressively stop the trailer from rolling back a bit from wind pressure on those slab sides, this concerned me. I wouldn’t deeply care if the trailer rolls a little and falls off the front end jack pad (which can tip). Not good, but not a crisis. Just jack it up the six inches later to get it back on a lift support, and all is good.

The sky is an entertainment center all by itself, changing constantly when there is any cloud cover.

The sky is an entertainment center all by itself, changing constantly when there is any cloud cover.

But I can’t afford the slightest possibility of that happening, because the ground-based support poles for the trailer would nicely hold up each panel, while the trailer-mounted straps would try real hard to keep the panels in line with the dropping trailer, not the ground. Result: $1,000 worth of dumpster materials and no power for the month it would take to replace them for another $1,000 instead of the usual $2,000-$3,000 cost. No thanks.

The sky looks solidly cloudy, but often isn't. Gaps between the clouds often throw traveling shadows over the terrain below.

The sky looks solidly cloudy, but often isn’t. Gaps between the clouds often throw traveling shadows over the terrain below.

There’s a special scissors jack that can fit between the tandem trailer tires. You just place it, turn a large worn screw to expand it, and jamming it in there keeps the wheels from turning for any reason. You need two per trailer. I’d considered this long ago, but discarded the idea because I didn’t figure on high wind when unhitched and encamped, I’m a cheapskate, and I have common rubber wheel chocks already. Thing is, those wheel chocks can fail to get pinched to the ground under the tire, and move. The fine gravel here is only too happy to move out of the way.

When approaching clouds get a little more serious, it can look like this.

When approaching clouds get a little more serious, it can look like this.

So, I hopped on my bike with the wind building a little already, and biked the two miles to the RV place. All-steel units for $60 each. Yow. That compares with composite ones at the show and online for about $35 plus shipping. The store also had an expanding ground unit that was a flat plate with two permanently mounted chocks that could be wedged outward to jam against both tires. $38 each. The big drawback there was being 100% steel. Laying on the ground and exposed to Midwest weather, the thing would be seized solid within few months. Pass.

If you're out walking or biking and see this, it's best to start heading for home.

If you’re out walking or biking and see this, it’s best to start heading for home.

On the way back, I stopped at one of the vendors selling cheap RV crap and found six rather large nails for $1. Went to another across the street and found some strong clips to keep excess strapping from flapping in the wind and destroying itself and the paint on whatever it was flapping against.The vendors were a bit nervous about the forecast, as they’d all been here before and seen firsthand what area winds can do to a sales canopy, tent, or awning. There’s way, way too much merchandise to pack back away in safety. If a wall or the canopy goes, so does the merchandise. And there’s no realistic way to secure the structure against high winds, so you wait and pray. If it starts looking real bad, you grab some guys and start cutting through quick-connect cords to try to at least save the tenting.

Better than nothing. Nails driven into the ground help keep the wheel chocks from moving.

Better than nothing. Nails driven into the ground help keep the wheel chocks from moving.

I went back home and drove the nails into the ground behind the chocks to keep them from shifting out of place, final-adjusted the panel straps almost tight, and secured the excess strapping. I could at last stop imagining in the back of my mind what the pop of breaking tempered glass sounds like. Because the early wind was generating  quite a bit of pressure on the left wall where the stove/cooktop is, 55-degree air was cascading in through gaps around the the range exhaust fan flap. It wouldn’t be a pretty story later at 40 degrees. I broke out the blue masking tape to seal the outside vent, and will have to look for a less trailer trash way of doing the same job later.

Crass, but blue painter's tape works well to seal the cooking exhaust fan vent, as long as I pull it off within a few days.

Crass, but blue painter’s tape works well to seal the cooking exhaust fan vent, as long as I pull it off within a few days.

When I went back in, no more blast of cold air leaking in, and the forecast had been downgraded to 30 average, gusts of 40-45 MPH. I have no idea what the overnight winds actually wound out to be. The trailer did rock and roll slightly for quite a while, and rain fell off and on for that night, and throughout the next day. Most days here, there are no clouds. When clouds do come though, they tend to look like the sky is too big to cover up. Instead of an approacking dark wall of cloud cover that I’m used to seeing, clouds here – even raining clouds – are often completely separated from each other as they come on. They can be big and brightly fluffy on top in the sun, and dropping waves of rain down below. The pictures show better that I can describe it.

A look at the approaching sky. You can have rain from active clouds, yet plenty of bright blue sky, too.

A look at the approaching sky. You can have rain from active clouds, yet plenty of bright blue sky, too.

 

Solar power aside, I prefer this kind of sky. You can just stay outside and watch it change.

Solar power aside, I prefer this kind of sky. You can just stay outside and watch it change.

 

Like riding in an airliner, you can be reminded that the sun is still very much up there above the clouds.

Like riding in an airliner, you can be reminded that the sun is still very much up there above the clouds.

 

Such an oddity that's fairly common here, but unknown where I come from.

Such an oddity that’s fairly common here, but unknown where I come from.

 

Rain about 10-15 miles away, to the left and right. The low clouds often skim through the tops of the mountains, and the rain comes and goes.

Rain about 10-15 miles away, to the left and right. The low clouds often skim through the tops of the mountains, and the rain comes and goes.

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