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Stories From the Field

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

I thought I would chronical my maiden photo-op road trip in my new 2016 Rockwood Roo 23IKSS travel trailer we purchased last summer, 2020. This was a planned, Kaibab Camper Village reserved, 4 day trip to the Grand Canyon North Rim over a new moon period to capture Milky Way nightscape images.

Monday morning of June 7th we had only one task left prior to leaving which was to pack our fridge as it takes a 24 hour period to get these units to their working temperature. It turns out that our fridge did not get cold during that period and turns out it had a serious issue. We had to stock it and use ice bags to get going on the 5 hour road trip.

We arrived late in the day having to restock the fridge twice with fresh ice to keep our food cool. We had near triple digit temperatures throughout the drive to get to our destination. Upon arrival the campground was full and the sites were tight affording no privacy.

As we went through our setup process and hooked up our water and electric we soon discovered we had a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink. The sink sits in a small island and we had to knock out a panel to expose the leaking water line and place a pot under it to contain the leak. During our 3 day stay we had to go outside, turn on the water spigot, use the faucet then head back out to turn it off every time. Our first day we had to contend with windy conditions and a cloudy night so photo-ops were not to be had. Later that evening we discovered the toilet had a leaking inlet valve so we shut that convenience down to keep water from pushing through the valve and making matters worse.

Our second day we discovered our hot water heater was delivering at best luke-warm water. Our showers were short and not warm but we managed to get one in as the days were hot and dirty from the consistent wind. As issues continued to add up I decided to drive to Kanab, a 2 1/2 hour round trip, and get parts to fix the the kitchen sink plumbing. Most RV's are fitted with 1/2" flexible water lines and compression fittings to connect them with. There was one hardware store in town and I had to settle for a 'work around' parts solution that I thought would make due. It turned out to be a partial fix only . . it continued to leak. After we got more ice to refresh the fridge we took a drive down to the Rim trail for a nice hike. As the night fell it was once again cloudy so no photo-ops were to be had.

On day number three we were now falling into our modified routine to keep all the issues in check and of course restocking the fridge with ice. It was the one relaxing day we enjoyed without putting out any new fires. Cloudy skies and windy conditions continued.

We packed up the next morning to head back feeling somewhat defeated and decided to detour into Lees Ferry and camp overnight. Lees Ferry is a popular outfitters launch site for rafting on the Colorado River which is where the extended trips through the canyon originate. The small campground sits on a small hill over looking the river, great views.

We arrived early, just after noon on a very windy, hot day. Sustained winds of 25-35 mph and gusts up to 40 plus on an exposed hilltop . . . not very pleasant. Our RV space was sloped to the point that we could not level it as we drove up onto our Leveling Blocks. This was very unsettling as the wind was blowing towards the downhill side which we could not bring up to level. We then proceeded to place the 6x6, 12" tall wood block under the hydraulic tongue to stabilize it, then to remove the Sway Bars we had to raise the tongue which was resting on the 6x6 block several inches to accomplish that. As we did so the trailer shifted and the block tipped about 20% nearly toppling the tongue off the block which would have been a disaster. Fortunately it held its position in spite of the powerful wind, long enough to disconnect the truck, drive it over to the trailer downhill side and press it up against the Trailer tongue, keeping it in check until we could stabilize it properly.

Needless to say, we did not extend the trailer's downhill slide-out which which would have added an unbalanced condition, making for a very cozy interior space during our stay. I will take that inconvenience over a trailer laying on its side and broken.

Our last night presented calm winds, warm weather and a clear sky. My only opportunity for a nightscape shoot had at last been offered up by the photography God's.

This trip was yet another lesson on solution opportunities, a proper check list well in advance and an appreciation of coming through it all unscathed considering what could have been.

My next trip to Flagstaff in August 2021 will be at the Bonito Campground, 35°22'13.5"N 111°32'37.0"W, to capture the Perseids Meteor shower over the Wukoki Ruins. The camper WILL be in perfect working condition including what turned out to be an expensive reefer replacement. I hope to see some fellow Fomies out there.

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