The only light I’m getting through the clouds is an occasional lightning strike.
Extended overcast when camping is only significant if you’re dependent on solar power to do your work or run your toys. That’s me. It’s been partly cloudy for days now and, combined with the surrounding trees, sun exposure has been limited. Today and tomorrow are to be overcast and rain, and as of high noon, I’m reading a miserable 13.0-13.1 volts on both battery sets. As a charging voltage, that’s better than nothing, but not much. So using the desktop computer is out, if I want that pack to last. But that’s okay since I can, with limitations, post using my old iPad.
When you live mobile, weather predictions are the one thing that you both hold close and don’t trust. You can go to bed after checking tomorrow’s forecast, and get up seven hours later to find that your day’s plans need adjusting. Depending on the nature of your rig, poor weather can affect more than your planned activity outside or your power usage inside. If you’re boondocking in certain terrain, a half-inch of rain can strand you for a day or two after it’s over. That bodes ill if you dislike keeping tabs on freshwater and waste levels. It also promises issues if your happy, carefree life does not include anticipating med levels, clean laundry, or food supplies.
Sudden high wind can remove drying laundry, awnings, tire covers or solar panels. Any forewarning can be pretty handy out West – I’m not above lowering and tying down the panels, then hitching up and heading the trailer into the oncoming wind if it promises to reach highway speeds. It’s only unfortunate that the worst winds seem to register in forecasts only up to an hour before they hit locally, which makes for some intense scrambling. Heading into the wind doesn’t mean that the Defiant won’t act like a yacht in choppy water, but it does avoid the unsettling howling and heavy lurches that blustering sidewinds cause. High winds in the Great Southwest are impressive and alarmingly so at times, but at this point, I have yet to see them actually take a trailer over.
Still, all this is easier to deal with than the violent thunderstorms and minibursts that occasionally occur from Nebraska to Illinois. On the road, you look for exits and parking lots big enough to wheel into the wind. I once pulled into the empty front lot of a rural service business and aimed into the wind. That confused the owner, who came out to see what this oddball was doing in his lot. He was gracious, though. Five minutes later, we both knew it was well worth it. It hit hard, then ended after a few impressive minutes, and I could get back onto the Interstate. Encamped in a commercial RV park, about all you can do is know where the strongest building is, leave a radio on, and keep one eye on the sky. The trailer has to fend for itself. Midwest storms can and do knock travel trailers, motorhomes and big-rig trailers over.
Now, this local weather in Tusayan is not violent at all. I am keeping a casual eye out as to where lightning strikes are in relation to wind direction, but my main interest is in scheduling upcoming events in relation to weather and the resulting trail conditions. I’d normally just load up the Tankmin with waste almost a week from now, and put dirty laundry in the truck cab along with a grocery list. One multi-stop errand. Very efficient. Very Germanic.
But I became aware of something called the Overland Expo south of Flagstaff which begins on the 15th. It’s kind of a cross between legit people who like to trek across very remote and rugged areas in cross-continental trips that take months to years, and posers who like toys and have more money than they know what to do with. The displays onsite are targeted accordingly. I hope to attend a day or two merely to see displays of certain types of equipment that would not be accessible to me otherwise. With some things, the Internet displays only one-sided propaganda, and the only way to seriously research it is to see it in person, ask questions, handle it, and maybe rub up against it – unless that risks expulsion from the grounds, of course. They will have a dry camping area on site, but that means jabbering people late and night, and barking mutts. Being unfamiliar with the Mormon Lake area, I don’t know the suitability of the several approved forest roads to the Defiant’s limitations, nor how crowded they will be (this is a very well-attended event).
So, as this week wears on, I will be mentally stirring the mix of weather, when servicing and errands will be required, and how they may be timed with a departure from Tusayan in order to assure me (maybe) with a workable camping spot near Mormon Lake Lodge. That assumes that weather at that time will allow lumbering down dirt trails there. I suspect that weather will not affect the event itself much at all. Part of the excitement is that it is conceivable that I can then stay in that area long enough to reach my departure date for the long trek back to Illinois. And, part of the excitement is that I may be able to time my departure here in Tusayan to take the trailer directly to the local dump station instead of using the Tankmin as an intermediary carrier. I prefer to refer to that as a “Hot Dump”, and it’s a rarity. It’s also necessary to do now and then, since repeatedly using a macerater to drain a black tank is slow enough to encourage eventual buildup and clogs. The waste system needs that “Ba-WHOOSH” that only 35 gallons of waste charging down a 3″ hose can produce. We’ll see how it all works out – I’m not sure I can handle that much excitement!