Invariably Variable Reloaded
This post is just to show that now and then, weather in the Great Southwest varies from the usual sunny-and-hot broil that we all associate with it. I do, anyway. I’m normally much more centered on avoiding a nicely-baked dehydration than I am anything else, so it can be a nice change of pace to actually get some weather here, which does happen. This morning’s outside temperature is nothing compared to the Midwest where I come from, but everything in my little self-absorbed world now revolves around getting along in a “temperate weather only” travel trailer where, during its design phase, the word “insulation” was a token term mumbled incoherently, if at all, in the engineering meetings. Ever seen what an inch of poor quality fiberglass insulation looks like? It looks much like a fiberglass furnace filter. You can almost read a book through it. After a 12-hour overnight cold soak, cabin temps are typically 10-15 degrees above ambient. With no cloud cover, daytime temps will usually peak at 5-10 degrees above ambient, too.
Compared to a more contemporary trailer, these numbers are pretty bad for a brief overnight exposure. But, they are not too shabby compared to an uninsulated van or other similar approach hurriedly pressed into service as a camper. Thus the unending hunt for finding an elevation that will provide a livable average as the daily temperatures do their 30-40 degree swings up and down. How picky you have to be depends on a mix of one’s wimp factor (in my case high) and the camper’s insulation effectiveness (in my case low-to-moderate). Several places I’ve been to out here have provided residents who justifiably think the world of their town and area, and who have, during a conversation, effectively invited me to relocate and live there year-round. To them, it just makes good sense, and I probably wouldn’t be there if I wasn’t considering it. They assume I’m a snowbird looking to upgrade.
In boondocking trailer-ese however, it’s not even remotely thinkable. As always, it comes down to a battle between cash and comfort. You have to sacrifice one to get the other. At any given location, it will only be comfortable during one or perhaps two seasons of the year. The remaining two or three, you’re financing quasi-comfort by using massive amounts of electrical power, and not at all cheaply. One guy has proven that A/C can be run entirely on solar panels, but the up-front cost of that is sobering, as would the psychic toll of living in a windowless box in order to stay comfortable. Down here, it’s much less expensive to alter the seasons by altering one’s elevation. Considering 40 cents per mile for fuel plus wear & tear, that’s not cheap to do, but it is cheap-er than hooking up to utilities in commercial camps. The better able you are to accommodate temporary cool and warm spells, the lower your cost. I’m talking from a minimal-budget perspective of course – many full-time RVers are financially able to stay where they like and go where they like, when they like. Nothing wrong with that, if you can swing it. Me, I prefer to study seasonal temperature averages for various locations and elevations, and plan accordingly. Then I brag about what a cheapskate I am. Hey, it’s a living. Would you rather read about a wide array of beautiful places to visit in the Old West, or about the effects that asphalt has had on American societal attitudes and expectations? Hmmm…Don’t answer that.
The photo above explains why I try to stick to my modest annual budget: tent camping is just not my bag!
you have a great life and take great pictures.
Thank you on the pictures vote, Linda! I’m just takin’ snaps as I go along, but am very glad you enjoy them. On the great life part, I think anytime a person can live in a way that they find to be enjoyable and positively challenging, that’s a great way of life. Waking up and looking forward to the day is a wonderful thing. I am grateful that I can do this at all. It works for me, for this time.
Doug: Always nice to read another boondockers ideas on finding new spots and related travel.
One thing I use is the USDA Plant Hardiness Guide to determine where to camp at what time of year. The Planting guides gave me a better idea of how temperature would influence my travels. From those I made my own tabulation to help me plan.
Maybe this is useful
RV Travel Gudelines and Comfort Temperature Zones….
These zones are the same used in USDA Plant Hardiness Guides.
Zone 10 -Jan 01 to Feb 15 ….South of Lake Okeechobee (Fl)
or South of Quartzsite (Az)
Zone 9 – Feb 15 to Mar 15 ….South of Interstate I10.
Zone 8 – Mar 15 to Apr 15 ….South of Interstates I85 & I25
Zone 7 – Apr 15 to May 7 ….South of Interstates I81 & I 40
Zone 6 – May 7 to Jun 7 ….South of Interstates I76 & I70
Zone 5 – Jun 7 to Jul 7 ….South of Interstates I90 & I80
Zone 3&4 July 7 to Aug 15 ….North of Interstates I 90 & I80
Zone 5 Aug 15 to Sep 15 ….South of Interstates I 90 & I 80
Zone 6 Sep 15 to Oct 7 ….South of Interstates I76 & I70
Zone 7 Oct 7 to Nov 7 ….South of Interstates I81 & I40
Zone 8 Nov 7 to Dec 7 ….South of Interstates I85 & I20
Zone 9 Dec 7 to Jan 01 ….South of Interstate I10
Guidelines developed from Hopkins Law of Bioclimatics:
“Spring advances one day for every 15 minutes of latitude northward,
one and quarter days for each degree of longitude westward, and
one day for every 30 metres (98ft) higher in elevation.
(Roughly 10F /300 miles N-S, 0.5F /100ft elev.)
Correction: Zone 8 should read I85 and I20.
Wow, that’s handy, John! Thanks for posting. I had read someone’s gut-feel estimate that temperature changed about 3.5 degrees per 1,000′, but looking at the difference in current temperatures between Yuma and Paulden AZ right now (discounting any weather fronts), it’s 24 degrees, which makes your “(Roughly 10F/300 miles N-S, 0.5 degrees/100′) elev” look spot on! Thanks!
That idea came to me about 10 years ago, and started digging for ways to help me get the relationship between travel and temperature into my head. Temperature has two variables, elevation and latitude, but I could never seem to be able to get the travel relationship into my head. I found the planters guide in a magazine and it twigged.
The neat thing is the planters guide map had already taken into account the differences in elevation and latitude. It shows these temperature zones as different colors. I then just tied the color zones to Interstate highways to make it one step easier.
I found that my tendency was to move north too fast in the spring..So we developed another rule…”When you see the first person cutting grass in the spring, move only 100 miles and you will be on the leading edge of the comfort zone. Then wait there until you once again see a grass cutter. etc.
Try it. It works.