Hi Everyone! It’s been an interesting couple weeks. I’ll cover ‘what we’ve been up to’ in a minute, but first I wanted to talk about the storm we recently survived.
It’s been a very dry year on the west coast, even up in normally wet Washington State. That all changed a couple weekends ago. First we got a good, hard rain, and then the wind picked up.
One thing that you learn quickly when you begin full-time RVing is that wind is far more dangerous than rain. Rain makes roads a little slippery, but driving in the wind is downright dangerous. We’ve experienced wind gusts that pushed us several feet into the breakdown lane – and after that we pulled off the road and waited for the wind to die down!
Not only that, but wind gusts have claimed many RV awnings. Wind can also tear off vent covers, tear down screen houses and tents, and it can blow rain sideways so everything outside gets soaked. Wind can also shake your RV around enough to make you feel like you’re in an earthquake. RVs are not very aerodynamic!
In worst case situations, wind can also bring down trees. This is the kind of wind we experienced up in Birch Bay, Washington. We were parked on the leading edge of the woods, so when the wind picked up we could see all the trees flying around. I should have recorded it, because some of the trees literally swung 40 – 50 feet side to side at the top!
A good sized branch landed on top of our RV, and that was what really got our attention.
I stepped out and watched the trees churn about for a few minutes. All of a sudden, a large silver birch tree a ways into the wood snapped at the base and fell backwards taking smaller trees with it. Half of the trees around our RV were silver birches!
We sprang into action and got jacks up and slides in in less than 10 minutes. Fortunately there was an open RV space in the field – well clear of any trees – and we grabbed it. We moved the rest of our RV patio gear during breaks in the rain and wind. The peace of mind of knowing nothing could fall on us was worth the effort!
This may seem to be common sense, but it’s worth noting that many RVers get a sort of . . inertia (tendency of objects at rest to stay at rest) once they’re set up and hooked up. That is, they don’t like to move for any reason. In our opinion high winds and high wind warnings or advisories should be taken very seriously, and if you’re parked under or near trees move your RV. As mom used to say – better safe than sorry.
The Dangers of Lightning
Lightning storms bring another major hazard for RVers. See, a lightning strike doesn’t need to actually hit your RV for it to fry all of your electronics and for it to hurt you. Lightning can hit a neighboring RV or Tree, then travel through the ground and enter your RV through your power cord or up your leveling jacks.
For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to unplug your RV before a thunderstorm, and if possible retract your leveling jacks. This is true even if you use a surge protector. Keep in mind that a surge protector will only protect you from power surges from the post. That said, you should definitely use a surge protector like this one from Progressive Industries every time you plug in at an RV Park.
It’s also worth noting that an RV isn’t a very good place to be in a lightning storm. While you’re technically covered, and inside, an RV doesn’t have nearly as much structure and mass as a house to dissipate the electricity from a lightning strike. There’s very little between you and the outside overhead – and a lightning bolt can easily burn right through the roof of an RV – and whatever is below that roof.
The problem is, most RV’s don’t have much metal above or around you – roofs are made of rubber or fiberglass, and walls are vacuum-bonded fiberglass and foam – so you don’t get the Faraday Cage effect like you do in a car.
That means your best bet is to head for the RV park club house during a bad storm – or head to a movie theater or mall and avoid the storm all together. You’re even safer in your car during a lightning storm than you are in your RV. It’s not the tires that protect you – it’s the metal skin of your vehicle that allows lightning to pass around you and easily reach the ground.
What We’ve Been Up To
After our guests left, we made plans to enjoy the tail end of our Birch Bay, WA stay. We wanted to visit one of the famed suspension bridges north of Vancouver, and make one last visit to Bellingham before we headed south. We also were contacted by a wonderful couple – Jack and Stella – who invited us to visit if we should head into Canada again. Jack and Stella found us through our Facebook Page, and we hadn’t met anyone through Facebook up until this point.
As we had one weekend left, we opted to visit Bellingham on Saturday, and to save the suspension bridge for Sunday. We headed to Bellingham in the earlier part of the day, and stopped at Kulshan Brewing to sample their ‘Bastard Kat IPA’ (very tasty!). From there, Kathy went to the salon and I ran some errands.
Bellingham is a college town, so it has all the ammenities of a larger city. Food co-ops, wonderful restaurants, brew pubs, Trader Joes, and Aveda Salons for Kat. They also have an REI, where I easily lost some time looking through gear and outdoor clothing. 🙂
I found my way back to Kathy’s salon, and she told me about a ‘must-visit’ brewery – Aslan Brewing – just down the street. I’m always up for trying a new brew, so we headed straight there. Aslan truly does make wonderful beer. Their ‘Batch-15’ IPA is outstanding – light, crisp, and juicy – and their pineapple marinaded pork tacos, and vegetarian yam tacos are both wonderful!
One of our favorite things about visiting new places is discovering the best places to grab food or a delicious craft brew. Aslan Brewing is definitely on our ‘the best’ list! If you’re passing through Bellingham, make sure to stop and visit. You won’t regret it!
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
The next morning we headed up to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge with a planned visit at Jack and Stella’s just south of Vancouver. Originally we’d been planning to visit Capilano Suspension bridge, but Stella and Jack recommended we visit Lynn Canyon instead, as it’s somewhat less crowded, and more importantly free. Lynn Canyon is also more of a state park and less of a structured park, so there are lots of hiking trails, swimming holes, natural water slides, and off-the-beaten-path places to explore and things to do.
Jack and Stella greeted us with warm muffins, scones, and hot coffee and we all chatted about our RVing adventures. They own a Tiffin Allegro, and ironically were leaving that afternoon to stay down in Birch Bay – just a mile or so from our RV park. We really enjoyed meeting them, and made plans to have a meal together down in Birch Bay during the week.
From there, the drive to Lynn Canyon was pretty quick and easy. The park is extensive, and as this was a Sunday it was extremely busy. There’s plenty of parking, as even if the lots are full there’s parking along the long, winding, exit road.
The bridge itself is very scenic, and also surprisingly high up. From the middle of the suspension bridge you can see people cliff diving, water sliding, and swimming in the water holes far down below.
Unfortunately, this meant some significant crowds in the middle of the suspension bridge. This felt very uncomfortable for me, as I’m 6’4″ tall and the railings felt rather low. Add that the bridge was swaying back and forth, and there was no clear path through the middle of the crowd on the bridge, and I didn’t go across to the other side.
Kathy is a stud, and she pushed through the crowd to take these great pics of the scene down below.
From there, we headed down toward the water and looked up at the suspension bridge well above us. The river was a popular place, and lots of people were swimming in the relatively chilly water as it was a warm day.
All in all, Lynn Canyon is a great place to visit and a good day trip.
After we got back to Birch Bay, Jack and Stella got in touch with us and invited us to dinner. We headed over on a Wednesday evening to find a really fun group of people, as family and friends were staying nearby.
As we’ve mentioned, meeting new people on the road is one of the underrated and really fantastic things about living this lifestyle. Fellow travelers are also a great source of information – what campgrounds and parks to visit, what to avoid, what roads are worth driving, etc…
At any rate, We had a really enjoyable evening with this group, and we hope to meet up again in Arizona this winter.
I dropped Kathy off at SeaTac (Seattle Airport) on Wednesday, as she’s spending a week with family in Atlanta. As such, I’ll be catching up on a few projects, and won’t be doing as much posting on Facebook as normal.
I will be moving the RV and car down to the Chehalis area by myself this weekend, so that should be interesting. It’s my first time taking both the RV and car anywhere by myself – and I’ll be driving around Seattle which is very busy. I’m sure I’ll be fine – wish me luck!
RV Products Purchased
Yardstash XL Bike Cover – We’ve been using a combination of our Yardstash Storage ‘Tent’ and a standard brown tarp as a way to protect our bikes from the weather. Unfortunately our Yardstash Tent finally gave up the ghost, and tarps are difficult to keep on your bikes – the wind blows them off, or they simply slide off.
The Yardstash XL Bike Cover has the advantage of being shaped to fit over bikes, plus the bottom of the cover uses elastic to cinch tightly in place. The cover is even designed to be used while transporting the bikes on a hitch-mounted bike rack.
We felt bad letting our Yardstash Storage Tent go, but after 3 years of hard use the material has gotten fragile as the sun has broken it down. This is something that happens to all outdoor gear unfortunately. The sun is relentless!
That’s it for this week. Look for upcoming posts on RV electrical systems as well as how to get a great nights sleep in your RV (we do!). Until then, happy trekking!