Camping on the Rim
This is an optimal camping site. A little intimidating at times, but pretty much great. The views are something else, and the nearest neighbors are at least a half-mile away. It’s a toodle to get to the highway leading to Wall, but the trip is quite convenient overall.
The weather here is the conundrum since, so far, it’s either/or. It’s been either sunny and peaceful with a slight breeze, or it shows off just what a thunderstorm can be all about. With the Mighty Furd’s nose pointed westward, that’s usually just a little off of facing the wind. The weather warning yesterday was for a thunderstorm with high winds, and it delivered.
Despite being just a little off in orientation, well, I’ve never yet seen the clear vinyl window flaps bulge inward like they did. Fortunately, the Velcro strips keeping them in place held well, but Velcro is not really airtight. As a result, both roof vent covers seemed determined to jitter their way open to let the air pressure out. Didn’t matter how tight the mechanism was cranked. I finally got the bright idea to peel a window cover on the lee side open to let air out, and it worked.
The whole deal of side winds tends to be interesting in the big Grandby, since it has a very thin roof structure that’s only supported fore and aft over its 12-foot span. When the fabric on the pressure side billows in, the center of the roof span bows downward. The 70-80 pound load of panels gets a slight bow going all by itself, so I’m not real sure just how much wind is required to warp the roof into a permanent set. Probably a lot. Four Wheel has been building Grandbys for quite awhile. Still, in the heat of the moment with the wind, and the rain and hail rattling on the roof, watching the roof flexing this way and that paints pictures that one doesn’t want to contemplate. In situations like this, I sometimes insert a telescoping truck bed cargo divider aft of the mattress, resting on the very strong crossways console and pushing up on a reinforced push-pad on the roof interior that is used to manually raise the roof. That decreases the flexing – though the windward side edge of the roof can still bend in a more localized fashion. I’m not sure that the strut is really a helpful thing overall in a true sidewind, but it is less alarming. That much yardage of fabric makes a great sail!
You can also hear occasional popping or tapping, which produces thoughts of the solar panels working their way loose from trapped air underneath. They’re only held down by sheet metal screws at the points where roof beams are – plus a little adhesive sealant to seal the holes – and those are biting into thin aluminum. The knowledge that I installed them myself after considering many options doesn’t seem to help then – sometimes the less you know about your rig, the easier it is to have confidence in it. Still, no panels have been jettisoned yet, so there’s that. Powerful storms can be unnerving in this thing!
Then, when it all blows over, everything still works as it always has, no sweat. It’s over. Nothing changed. It always ends well. Time to stop glancing up at the roof. Owing to several days of cloudy weather ahead, I’ve deployed the two 100-watt ground panels in addition to the full-time roof panels. Considering that I’ve had this truck camper for a year and a half, this is actually its first prolonged shakedown run. And so far, it’s doing everything that I’d hoped, as well as doing everything that my old boulevard travel trailer Defiant could not. Life is good!
This is just a 2-minute video of a panoramic sweep around my campsite. This was captured with my vintage Canon GL1 videocam, circa year 2000. It can’t even reach 540p resolution (which is what this blog presents), but its now-unusual flexibility for different purposes and event types makes it my affordable go-to device. Bulky and heavy, it will never do respectably for capturing mounted through-the-windshield driving shots, but it has incredible zoom capability, and unlike all of today’s consumer cams, framing just what you want in bright sunlight is no challenge at all. To my way of thinking, getting astonishing clarity and color saturation with modern cams is great, but not if you can’t see what it is that you’re trying to shoot on a washed-out LCD screen. I don’t like spending a lot of time in post. And there’s that financial outlay thing again to address the modern hardware trade-offs. But that’s just me. I’m the only guy I know who still shoots MiniDV tape, so there’s probably a message in there somewhere for me, huh? I figure that if I ever lost it, I don’t have to scour local pawn shops. All I have to do is look in the trash cans near where I last saw it!
Doug, glad to hear your first real extended trip in the Intrepid is working out. The scenery near the Rim looks spectacular. I am assuming you are still in South Dakota. Many years ago, 1969 to be specific, Corinne and I headed out on our first long trip out west and as we drove through South Dakota, we came across an area called the Stratobowl, which is located southwest of Rapid City. It was used many years ago to launch high altitude balloons. If you go near that area, it might be a place where you might be interested in stopping.. You can Google it to get a little info on the Stratobowl. Balloons launched from the Stratobowl set world altitude records for manned balloons and I remember it as a really neat and interesting spot (43° 58′ 36.05″ N, 103° 20′ 42.72″ W). Cheers, Binx
And there looks to be a “commemorative” hot-air balloon launch there about a month from now. Thanks!