Repairs & Mods – Awning Edition

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Awning support pulled loose

Our coach has a 20-foot Dometic awning on it. I’m not a huge fan of awnings in the west because thunderstorms have a habit of ripping them off of coaches. The shade is nice, but as soon as the wind kicks up, or if you walk away for 10-minutes, the awning gets torn off by a micro-burst.

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A 1/4″ luan & glass skin won’t hold the lag-bolts

That said, our awning has a mid-span support because it’s so long and that awning support got pulled loose while doing its job. There is suppose to be a plywood backer (according to Outdoors RV) behind the skin into which the coarse-thread lag-bolts are screwed, but alas my coach is missing that piece so the lag-bolts just blew the glass skin and the luan plywood out.

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Dometic’s latest patch for awning support 2.0

Outdoors RV sent me the latest version of the mid-span support (Thanks Todd!) and that hardware package has a 3/16” aluminum backer plate which gets pop-riveted (oscar rivet) to the luan/glass skin then the coarse-thread bolt goes thru that. It looks like version 2 is better than version 1, but not enough better for me to mess with it.

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Long bolts go thru the wall

 

 

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Plenty of room behind the oven to hide the hardware

I opted for the heavy-duty custom version. The awning support is on a section of the wall which backs up to the microwave cabinet inside the coach. So, I pulled the microwave out and drilled thru the wall, thru a 1/2” plywood backer plate I made, and installed thru-bolts from the awning support to the plate inside with toggle bolts (I used them because Peter gave me some. Save a trip to the store).

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Lots of sealant

The backer plate rests on the top-plate of the wall and picks up that structure as well as the luan, foam, luan, glass sandwich of the wall assembly. I sealed the holes and the outside of the awning support with copious amounts of clear silicone. I’m fair-certain the awning support will stay put for awhile this time.

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Big out-of-focus toggle nuts

After having revised the awning support I now wonder what the awning arms are affixed to. Is there anything backing up those lag-bolts? I hope so, but likely not.

As a side-note when I pulled the microwave from the cabinet I discovered that the front feet were missing from the oven. The only thing holding the weight of the oven-front were the tiny-little screws in the trim cover. Sad. Very sad. I made some new feet before the oven went back into the cabinet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Camp Hosting & Riding in Frutia

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Morning Fog

We had 9 days of rain during the first 11 days of October (two days of mtn biking!) and now each morning the thick cold fog greets us as we get ready for the day. Everything is wet, even the things under the patio cover are slick with moisture. At this point the firewood is essentially fire-proof wood.

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The fog soaks everything

On the plus-side the weather has been fabulous for mtn biking in the afternoons. Ride on!

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Mikel climbing part of The Ribbon trail

Mikel (fellow camper) and I took a ride down The Ribbon from Little Park Road to the Lunch Loops riding area. What a great shuttle-ride! Poly (Mikel’s S.O.) dropped us off on top and we rode the 6-ish miles of slick rock and single track trail. The weather was suppose to be sunny and 50-something but it turned out to be overcast and it snowed on us a little bit as we rolled down the canyons.

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Slick rock section on The Ribbon trail

Morning temps have dropped into the low 20’s the past few days. It makes for some chilly mornings on the golf cart! Afternoon the temps rise to the 50’s so the mtn biking has been super! No dust, cool air, just right.

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Riding near Loma on Mary’s

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18-road area, Joe’s trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camp Host II – Fruita, CO

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Day one – Rain showers and orientation day. I rode around with a Ranger who showed me where everything is and I got a hat and a vest to wear while I’m hosting. I also got a golf cart to ride around in.

Day two – More rain and training in the morning. Lots more rain in the afternoon. They say this is the first time it has rained since March which means I was here the last time it rained! I came here in March for a week while the house was being shown and it rained. I must be a rain-god or something.

Even though it’s only my second day (and technically my day off) I still had more people come knock on my door today (3) than the entire 5-week stay at Tongue River SP. This park fills up every night with RV’ers passing through; sort of an RV motel. We are close to the I-70 highway and it’s easy on easy off for fuel and camping. That and cyclists hanging out in the desert.

Day three – Still my day off and I had 3 more people come ask for assistance. Easy-peasy requests like turn on the power.

Day four – First day of actual work and I’m flying solo! No Ranger in the park, no experienced host. Just me and a massive thunderstorm. I got around the park one and a half times before it started to rain & hail. I saw the storm coming so I had rain gear with me, but it’s real hard to play with paper cards when they are soaked into a recycled paper-paste. The rain let up after and hour or so and the sun came out.

Day five – Second day of solo-hosting and no rain. The process is a lot smoother when the sky is benevolent and there is a Ranger in the park. I finished by 1pm and then went for a bike ride near Loma.

Day six and the rain is back. I’m guessing this is the moisture left over from a big tropical event that made landfall on the west coast last week. Luckily the rain held off until I was done with my host-duties.

’twas a dark and stormy night. Day seven started with steady rain before sunrise which lasted until the end of my shift. I had a break between rain showers so I sprayed some simple green on the RV and ran a brush over it. I’m not technically washing the RV in the park, but I get a clean coach none the less. Rinse cycle came a bit later when the sky sprang a leak and cleaned the soap off.

My plan-A was to spend every afternoon riding my bike on the wonderful mtn bike trails near Fruita. 18-road, Mary’s, Lunch Loops – repeat! Plan-B has me sitting inside watching it rain which turns the trails to mud. Need to come up with a plan-C.

Some friends are over in Moab and since the rain ended sooner over there I dashed over for some riding on Hymasa and Capt’n Ahab. 4 hours of driving for 4 hours of riding isn’t too bad a deal after a week of rain. The trials we rode have a lot of slick-rock and sand so they were drained if not quite dry. Kane Creek was only a few inches deep so that was a nice crossing. The down side was the wet sand sticks to the tires and gets drug up on the slick-rock making it sketchy to steer until the sand falls off the tires.

 

Alta Wy to Fruita CO

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View from our Teton Base Camp

Alta to Cokeville WY

First of three days on the road getting from the Tetons to the western slope of Colorado. We have a camp host gig in Fruita set up for October and November (stop by if you are in the area!). I choose the western route out of Driggs instead of climbing over Teton Pass to Jackson. I added a few miles but it saved me the agony of creeping down the east-side of the pass. The Snake River valley is still in peak colors too so that turned out to be a colorful choice. Yellows, reds, greens, orange – delightful!

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Last day in the Teton’s

The land between Driggs and Cokeville is wonderful valley-bottom surrounded by mountains. I can see buying a retirement villa there and whiling away my golden years watching cows, antelopes, and sunsets.

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Trail at Grand Targhee Resort

Cokeville to Somewhere south of Flaming Gorge
Well I have a new entry into my worst roads in america section. I thought WY 412 was rough until I came upon WY 414 from Mtn View to the Utah state line. Top speed on WY 414 was 45 MPH then I transitioned to UT 43 and it was like driving into the perfect shit-storm of potholes, frost-heaves, and cracks! I had to slow to 30 MPH to keep from bouncing off the blacktop. I’m not sure what the other roads to Flaming Gorge are like, but I advise taking a different route than I did. What a mess! (Hey, Utah DOT. Crack-sealing a shit-storm does not fix it. It just makes a crack-sealed shit-storm).

On the plus-side the colors along the Henry’s Fork River are peaking this week. I even saw a purple bush. And at 30 MPH I had plenty of time to tree watch. I could even read the historical markers without stopping.

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The boys are out for the evening. Please leave a message

UT 44 south out of Manila is in slightly better shape and winds its way through the side canyons near Flaming Gorge. Up hill and down with some of the slopes at 8% it’s a slow trek. The leaves are a few weeks past peak at this elevation and the grass has long been dormant. We found a camp spot in the forest before the afternoon wind kicked up to the predicted 25-mph gusts.

Why is the word for wind and the word for wind the same? The wind is blowing whilst I wind my way through the forest (winding my watch as I go). English is weird. Lets agree that from now on wind will be the thing that blows and wynd will be what roads do as they twist and turn through the mountains. Good. Proceed.

The Forest near Flaming Gorge to Fruita, CO
Tumble dry: Low heat
Wow! Colorado 139 from Rangley to the south side of Douglas Pass is rough, wyndi and steep!! It took 2 hours to drive 35 miles. The aspens on the north side of the pass were in full color: green, red, orange, yellow which made the climb nice. Down the south side of the pass took a very long time. The speed limit is 20 and the corners are 15 MPH. It was nice that we had a 25 MPH headwind holding us back on the descent.

If you want to have some idea what it’s like to pull a trailer on a rough wyndi road whilst the wind is blowing 25 MPH go to the Laundromat, put $50 worth of quarters in the biggest dryer there, get in, select tumble dry, and stay there until the $50 runs out. That’s been my life the past two days.

 

 

Let’s Ride!

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Mtn Biking near Driggs ID
Tom and I drove over to the horseshoe riding area west of Driggs and had a great time! The single-track trails don’t get a lot of use which I think is weird because they are wonderful! The area is a mix of open riding past sagebrush and winding trails cutting through dark pine forest, then aspens, and willows. The fall colors were just a little past peak when we were there the last week of September.

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Hike a day
Tom and I hiked up the Teton canyon trail to the north for about 3.5 miles. Round trip took about 4 hours and boy were my feet sore! The views were delightful and we didn’t get attacked by any moose or bears so that’s a win in my book.

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Mtn Bike Grand Targhee Ski Area
The lifts were all closed so no epic downhill rides for us! In fact most of the area was closed, the stores were closed, and some of the mtn bike signs were already taken down. We rode over in the Perma-grim area and had a great time. Lots of rolling climbs through the aspens and a few ripping descents with high-bank turns.

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Stanley ID to Alta WY

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We left the Sawtooth’s on the last warm day of the week and headed toward the Tetons. Winding our way down along the river was delightful. Nice fall scenes most of the way as the valley opened up and the road straightened out. I stopped in Arco to get gas, do some laundry, and surf the ‘net. Back on the road we’re back-tracking our route a bit across the Idaho National Lab area. Lots of sagebrush and wind. Lots of sagebrush and wind.

Stanley to Alta Part II
There was frost on the windscreen overnight. We stopped for the night out on the windy sagebrush plains west of Rexburg ID. Next morning we rolled into town and bought some propane at Alpine Propane. $16 filled a 30 lb tank. From there it was east again to the foot of the Tetons where we scored a nice camp spot on a creek.

 

Somewhere north of Stanley ID

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Yup. Well below freezing. Camp is north of 44* latitude at about 6600 feet and the temp dropped to 17*F before the sun came up. The furnace ran 20 minutes at a time with a 15 minute break between most of the night. It’s a toasty 65* inside and I have a cat on my lap (prrrrrr). My friend Tom, who camped next to us, does not have a real heater in his camper yet. It’s something he has planned for the future so I’m going to guess that it’s a bit chilly over there this morning. (after I wrote that Tom came over with his breakfast to eat in a warm kitchen)

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In the shadow of the Sawtooth Range
I met my friend Tom and his 85% completed expedition vehicle near Stanley and after I took the 10¢ tour we went for a bike ride on the Fisher Creek Loop trail. The trail is in an area that burned a few years ago. The first part has a climb up a dirt road through the changing colors of fall. Yellow, oranges, and bright greens – delightful! The last half of the trail is single-track through burned areas followed by single-track through a nice pine forest.

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Swamp Creek Ride
Day two Tom and I went up Swamp Creek about 5.5 miles. I think they named it Swamp Creek to keep people from going there. It was a great ride through forest along a creek on single-track the whole way. There were about 17 creek crossings in late Sept so I bet it’s real wet in the spring. We saw paw prints of a mountain lion on the trail. One paw print was placed precisely inside a horse’s hoof print and it filled the hoof print. Big kitty!

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The Mountain Lion foot print is on top of a horse hoof print. The horse shoe print is visible at the top of the pic. And yea, we looked for claw marks and it’s not a dog paw print. We saw a bunch of them!

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