Saturday, September 08, 2012

Busting Up Camp, Packing A Tiny Basement

It only took me 3 days to dry out the patio camping gear, then 12 hours to dismantle, clean, fold, then pack it all up in my tiny motorhome basement. It has to go in like a puzzle. Get one of the pieces wrong and the rest won't fit.  Of course I took a long lunch break and later a nap that lasted an astonishing 2 hours.

There was the big 9x12 foot patio mat, to sweep, tri-fold, then accordion fold and lightly tie together. Many parts of the weave flaked off, it's been in the sun for well over two years, but still has plenty of life left. Remove the table cloths, fold up the card table, dust and fold up the chairs. It seems a spider at the last minute ran around decorating every chair with webs. Maddening!  I was just sitting in them one day and the next he had them covered. Wrap up and stow the BBQ tools, the various parts of the weather station including the poles that hold the wind vane.

Drain,  coil and stow two 25 foot water hoses and one 40 foot hose. It used to be 50 feet, but it burst a few feet from  both ends, shortening it, when I cut and repaired it with new fittings.  It is only 2 years old, but seen a lot of sunlight and heavy pressure. It was far cheaper to repair it than replace it.   Usually I hook a Y valve to the campground water spigot, so I can run two hoses. One for the motorhome city water fitting and the other as a spare hose for washing the RV or the patio or muddy feet.  I also had to fill up the on board water tank, because I had run it dry when I made the mad dash to the funeral and forgot to take the correct quick-connect part to use city water at the other campground.

Due to my chronic problems with using my left arm, I had to convert my motorhome's city water hookup to a quick-connect that just requires a gentle push and not arm wringing twisting. Besides the female fitting attached to the motorhome was getting wore down from the vice-grips, so putting this system on, saves me (hopefully) from having to replace the entire fitting due to my vice-grip usage. But still vice-grips often require two hands too. Now I can just push the hose on and off and it fits securely without leaking.

A great deal of the time was spent with the gazebo. It's only a year old. It's a nightmare for one person alone to set up and break down. The one piece folding frame is an ingenious idea poorly executed. The metal struts are all stronger than the plastic fittings.  Much of the frame is busted up as the plastic fittings are no match for it. The tent like roof material is rotten. Some of my old patches fell off and it has a few new rips.  Coleman could make a few changes and this could be a first class product that would deliver years of dependable use. I don't mind replacing the cloth roof (if I was going to keep this much longer), but having the frame snap off a new piece of plastic every time it is folded up, is just totally unacceptable.

Inexplicably it came with a heavy duty canvas bag with wheels for storing it. The bag is of superior quality than the gazebo itself. Bag life =15 years. Gazebo inside = 1 year. What were they thinking?

Too much crap is farmed out to the overseas mills. They often "re-engineer" things to far cheaper specs, which results in the mismatched gazebo parts.

I have really enjoyed the extra shade and rain protection this gazebo gives off much of the day. In this case, I have already started to pack up, so things are in disarray. 

The faint red circles highlight some of the broken plastic fittings.
In this picture, the legs have been reduced to half their size. 

I had to either pack the gazebo up for the garbage or pack it up to take it along and possibly get a few more months use out of it at the next workamping gig. I could tie it back together with string, sew some patches on the roofing material. It does provide a lot of shade.  But even packed up in it's carrying case, it still takes up a lot of storage room.  Once it is gone, I won't be replacing it unless a partner joins me in the RV. Two people can set it up and break it down in a tenth the time it takes one person alone, unless that one person has a 12 foot arm.

After awhile I began smelling something foul. Then I realized it was me. Oh my gosh.  I was so sweaty and stinky that even the dog didn't want to be near me.  I drank three quarts of iced tea while packing up stuff.

There was tons of little stuff to sort, organize and pack away in hopes that one day I can find it all again.

When I wrote about these fan parts flying off one day, making the fan loud as it danced across the patio, a gentle reader send me a gift to go buy a new fan!  Yay!  Thank you! I did go buy a new fan next time I was out and about. But in the interim I had discovered if I used heavy spring-loaded clamps to attach the old one to a cinder block, then it would still churn up a breeze and the cinder block would prevent it from dancing.  Now that I am breaking camp, it has finally gone into the garbage.  The cinder blocks stay with the camp site, they are not going with me. 

Harley the dog  is a little perturbed at my latest antics.

Besides the portable gazebo, I also have the  old awning material from the awning that was attached to the motorhome.  It is heavy duty Sunbrella.  I have recycled it to use as a picnic table cloth and it has held up rather well. I decided to shorten it some, as it's way too big. I cut a slit, then began ripping the material in a straight line. When I started the first rip, it made such a loud noise that it scared the puppy dog. He ran off and hid with a "I didn't do it!"  look on his face.

Waste not want not, the old motorhome awning has been cut down and recycled into a picnic table cloth. The bad parts were tossed out.
That's a big wet spot that hasn't dried yet. 

Harley quickly calmed down but maybe it set him on edge. He loves his little home here, but he has dutifully watched me dismantle and pack.  The string of lights had to come down, the old rugs attached with bungee cords removed from the picnic benches and rolled up to be stowed. The clothes line had to come down, the golf balls fetched from the tall grass where a certain puppy left them.

Later as the final items were being stowed away, Harley decided to move indoors,  to make good and sure he is on board for the trip to parts unknown.

Well, I decided to keep pushing myself past dark. I was furling up the big side awning that is permanently attached to the RV. The new awning material is vinyl, it was cheaper than Sunbrella, but I would have preferred the Sunbrella, but the budget thought otherwise. Ironically, the labor to repair the old Sunbrella to make it functional again as an awning, was going to cost way more than new vinyl material and labor to install it. Go figure. Life is strange.

I lost control of the furling string (that left arm again!) the spring-loaded awning furled up in such a rapid hurry, that it slammed rather frightening loud against the side of the roof of the motorhome.

Duh.  I felt bad about that. Your're supposed to hold the string and let it slowly use the springs to wind up nice and gently.  I hope I didn't break anything, time will tell when I unfurl it again.

The motorhome door was open.

A few seconds later, a very shook up puppy dog came creeping out of the wheel estate looking frightened out of his fur, as if he had emerged from the rubble of an earthquake.

Oh my gush. Poor thing. The noise inside must have been jarringly scary.  He looked like a severely wounded warrior. I just hope he doesn't suffer from post traumatic syndrome after my gaffe.

I picked him up to cuddle and talk softly to him, telling him I was sorry and it would be OK. Then we went for a walk as twilight faded into darkness.

We're back now.

I am just exhausted but I managed to shower off a pound of dirt and sweat.  Just last week I had to use a drain cleaner on the shower, gosh I hope I haven't clogged it up again.

"I'm ignoring you for scaring me sooooooooooo badly"


  1. which end is which on Harley?? ;-)
    Packing up can be a lot of work. I had two awnings to break down the last time we set them up. But I was surprised that they actually folded up easily.

  2. i'm a master plumber. lye, caustic soda and sodium hydroxide, it's the same but different names. will not hurt your plumbing. watch your skin and eyes. put 1 tablespoon ( 1 TABLESPOON) in drain followed with hot water. wait a minute add more hot water. just hot from tap not boiling. did i say 1 tablespoon no more? yes i did. don't use on toilets. not soap, just lye. meth monsters use it, so it hard to find locally, amazon has it. cheapest is as good as bestest. lye will make a god awful racket. keep harley away. peaceup raz


Life is goof!