Into every vacation a little rain must fall, or something like that – no matter how carefully you pick your vacation spots, some inclement weather will eventually show up and require you to be inventive and resourceful to entertain yourself. Even the campskunks who fulltime and can be anywhere they want to be, get caught in the rain sometimes – not often, but it happens. Unless you want to go sit in the desert in summer, fronts will blow through and bring cloudy weather from time to time. With our be-anywhere freedom, we still get a day or three a month where it's just not good outdoor weather.
Some of it is where you go – we wanted to tour the Gaspe peninsula, and there's just no foolproof time to go up there. It's a maritime climate. If you want to see this particular patch of countryside, you're going to get to see the clouds and rain too, free of charge. Since we were doing a driving tour, rather than a sit-and-camp visit, it wasn't so bad. We just drove along slowly all day, seeing the sights, and settled in as it got dark. For us, the weather was just part of the Gaspe experience, and gave us a real feel for what it must be like to live here.
Right now, we're on the Oregon coast in the best weather they have all year up here in the Pacific Northwest, and we get a day a week when it's going to drizzle for hours. The ocean is a giant weather-making machine, and they don't grow these giant trees and beautiful grass with heavy dew – it takes precipitation. It's called a temperate rainforest for a reason. The Oregonians have a saying though, when the weather is good it's good, and when it's bad it's wonderful. Sitting on the coast and watching the stormwaves is every bit as entertaining as running around in the sunshine. Thanks to our boondocking capability we get a front-row seat, and usually the whole beach to ourselves because everyone else has more sense than to come out in this weather.
As fulltimers, we have made modifications which allow us to stay comfortable and entertained while waiting out the rain. Satellite TV and internet dishes are a big help to while away the hours, and continue to work except underneath the most oppressive cloud cover. When the signal goes away, there's usually enough thunder and lightning to sustain our attention until reception is restored. Another big help is our rear awning, which allows us to keep the back doors open in bad weather. I sewed this up with extra curtain material, and it really helps eliminate the stuffiness you get with the Roadtrek all closed up. We can lie in bed, snug and dry, and watch all the weather goings-on right out the back door.
Our solar panels on a rack above our Fantastic Fan roof vent allows all-weather air circulation – the solar panels provide a nice umbrella for the fan, which can remain open and on even when it's pouring down buckets. The older fans don't have the automatic closing feature for when they get wet, and I have had my share of wet floors before we installed the solar panels, but now I'm better than stock. I wish I could say I planned it that way, but i didn't even realize it until after the solar panels went on. Constant airflow and the open back doors help offset the feeling of dampness you get when it's rainy outside. All the Roadtrek windows, with the exception of the side door windows, can be opened at least a bit in the rain, which is an excellent feature I appreciate very much on rainy, steamy days.
We usually maintain adequate battery charge levels even on cloudy days because of the generous size of my panels (555 watts) and my maximum power point tracker. The electronic wizardry inside this nifty little gadget means that even when it's too cloudy to see your own shadow, the panels will be putting out 150-200 watts, which will keep the TV and internet supplied. I'm not really charging the batteries, but I'm not running them down either. The newer Roadtreks accomplish the same thing with their daylight panels, plus some other electronic wizardry of a proprietary nature – without a MPPT, the output on sunlight panels like mine goes down to zero when the sun goes behind a cloud, but daylight panels make use of whatever ambient light is available.
All in all, it's not a great tragedy if we have a rainy day. I usually alter the menu to include a stew or some other entree appropriate for dreary weather, and we settle in and entertain ourselves with ease, waiting for the good weather to return. That's the nice thing about being retired – you have all the time in the world to wait. There's a rainbow out there somewhere, and if you sit around long enough you'll eventually see it.
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