I can still picture it – neophytes only 3 weeks into our full-time RV adventure we found ourselves in northeast Arizona’s Navajo country – Canyon de Chelly (pronounced shay). Still inhabited by Native Americans, Canyon de Chelly – considered a mini-Grand Canyon – offers amazing colored cliffs, rock formations, cliff dwellings, and of course, canyons. We arrived at the free campground in the warm and sunny afternoon to find it rather busy. Moving into one of the last available sites, sans shade, we prepared for a couple days of dry camping. We scoured the handout about the area and decided to hike down to Whitehouse Ruins – one of the only canyons that can be entered without a Navajo guide – the next day. The sun was shining bright and the air was still as we prepared to go – we packed water bottles and snacks, locked the door and opened the awning to shade the fridge side from the hot sunshine.
The hike was fabulous – down the canyon, through a canopied grove to look up into ancient and well preserved cliff dwellings. Flush with excitement and the climb out of the canyon we returned “home”, admiring our RV from a distance. As we got closer we noticed something was not right. In fact, the awning succumbed to what must have been a strong gust of wind and was bent backward – wrapping itself over the roof of our RV.
Ask any long time RVer and chances are they’ll have a similar story to share. Since that time so long ago we’ve developed an unspoken “go” list when we take day trips. In addition to, you guessed it – never leaving with the awning open (unless it’s well secured with little or no chance of strong winds), I have some other tried and true tips for your consideration.
1. Turn the water off at the outside water connection because while you are gone:
a. your hose might fail – leaking, spraying and wasting water
b. a faucet drip or leak may overfill a tank if the valve is closed
c. the black water tank could backup (and possibly burst) if toilet is leaky or not properly closed
d. on a hot day water line pressure in your hose, and in turn your RV plumbing, will increase
e. if a pipe connections leaks or bursts and the water is left on you will return to a flooded RV
2. Turn your water heater off while you are gone to:
a. save propane or electricity
b. preserve the electric heating element – less use = longer life
c. decrease mineral deposits – they increase with heat
d. keep water line pressure down – reducing the risk of interior lines leaking at connections
e. save your heating element in case of water heater tank leaks or failure
f. practice safety by turning off heat related appliances
3. Be aware of weather in the area you are visiting:
a. adjust vents for possible rain or wind (if you do not have Maxx Air vent covers or a Fantastic Fan)
b. set A/C 5 to 10 degrees cooler than expected temps so it will cycle on and off during warmer days
c. open cupboard doors that share an outside wall if you expect it to get extremely hot
d. turn off propane and electric heat for safety
e. and my #1 “weather” tip – close your awning – no matter what the expected weather – unless it is extremely secured
FYI – always close your awning – secured or not – during strong wind storms. The arms may not bend but the fabric will shred – I’ve seen it and it’s not a pretty thing.
While these tips may not insure you from all woes they will eliminate many “unforeseen” circumstances that could really put a cramp in your RVing adventure.