After visiting the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio I headed in a northerly path towards Detroit. It was a blistering humid heat during the course of the factory tour but within minutes of pulling out of the driveway I could see a storm brewing out on the horizon. As I got closer and closer to the freeway the clouds got darker and darker. Suddenly it looked as if I was headed straight into the depths of hell! The winds had picked up to a dangerously ferocious speed, whipping the RV side-to-side on the road. I let off the gas and slowed my pace in order to regain control of the vehicle. Just then a huge gust smacked the side of the camper and somehow managed to suck half of the awning out from around it's spool.
WOOSH! FWACKA FWACKA WFAWKA! The awning was now flapping vigorously in the storm against the broadside of the vehicle.
I found myself trying to keep this 24' RV in between the lines and was fighting to counteract the gale force winds that were magnified by the fact that I now had what amounted to a giant sail attached to this land-boat! Not a good situation. I turned off the road and into the first driveway I could find to let the line of vehicles behind me pass.
I opened the door to take a look at what was going on with the awning and the second I did, a giant lightning bolt lit up the sky followed by a thunderous rumble. I was now smack dab in the middle of the storm. To make matters worse it started hailing! So I was left with a decision:
Do I, A: venture outside and try to open up the awning all of the way in order to try and re-wrap it around the spool?
Or do I, B: wait out the storm and risk having the entire awning and support bars get ripped off by a gust of wind creating an even bigger and more urgent set of problems?
I really wanted to fix it NOW. But every time I stepped outside to try, I would be pelted with little ice rocks. There was just no way I would be able to look skyward in order to fix the awning 8 feet over my head while having ice balls rain down into my eye balls. Not to mention the fact that in order to unravel the awning I would need to stand outside in this lightning storm with a 4-foot metal rod to un-hook the awning mechanism! I figured life was more valuable and useful when it comes to fixing whatever may happen with the RV. So I climbed back inside the vehicle and drove it around to the other side of a building to provide some isolation from the elements. I also re-positioned it in such a way that the awning was downwind and therefore somewhat protected by the up-wind side of the RV. About 20 minutes later the storm had died down a bit and I was able to fix everything without getting struck by lightning or going blind!
I was able to continue safely on my journey and along the way I saw not one, not two, not three, four, fix or six, but SEVEN semi-trucks that had been blown over by the winds! Holy Toledo, Ohio!
I guess I made the right decision.
Wow! I didn't know that wind could get strong enough to knock a truck over like that. Wild.
I shudder to think what that must be like as the driver. One minute you're sitting upright, and the very next you're lying in some awkwardly horizontally sitting position with your shoulder up against the window -- assuming you were wearing your seat belt! I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it!
My last post on living in an RV has generated a bunch of questions by comment and by email. Instead of responding to them individually, I'm going to answer them all here.
How long did it take you to outfit the RV with solar power?
Putting solar power into an RV is a simple job, primarily because most things in an RV (everything that I use) runs of 12V DC power instead of standard household 120V AC power.
It's snowing in Ohio. I had to say that.
As a resident of Ohio you have to spend at least 6% of your life talking about the weather. It's true.
As it was snowing I was driving to a meeting and the snow was really coming down fast and thick. Visibility was half a mile or less, the roads were wet though not yet frozen, and the only colors in the world were brown, black and eleven shades of grey. Except for in my car.
There it was wonderful. The heater and radio were on and keeping me comfortable and entertained. I was sitting down and alert to the world around me. I had raisins to snack on and water to drink.
This dichotomy between the world outside the car and inside struck me because of some things I've recently read in Man's Search for Meaning. Viktor Frankl is a Holocaust survivor telling his story and he constantly returns to the idea that despite his lack of choices as a prisoner he was always able to choose his attitude and how he was going to respond to something. In a sense that's what I was doing. I could have driven without a windshield with the windows down and no heat but that would have been idiotic. But I do things like that all the time.