Yes! It happened again! Despite all we’ve learned along the way, we were again caught unprepared to deal with high winds. We thought we had taken all the precautions necessary and prepared the campsite the best we could, but all of that was no match for those infamous Santa Ana Winds… I don’t actually know if it was the Santa Ana Winds, but they were devil winds none-the-less, and they wounded Big Betsy. We still don’t know if she will survive the ordeal.
The second day at the Joshua Tree BLM camp, we were joined by one of our tribe members, Deni. She is a joy, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with her. We all discussed the upcoming wind forecast and began prepping for the night. Deni is in a van, so all she needed to do was make sure everything was inside and find a safe place to park for the night (away from any trees, which are few and far between, so it wasn’t too difficult).
We, on the other hand, are in a tent, as you all know by now, so we had a lot of preparations ahead of us.
We put everything we could in the tent, trailer, or car, and then set to the task of shoring up Big Betsy for the event. We made sure the tent pegs were securely in the ground, secured the rain-fly, and even wrapped the tent with extra tarps. I cleaned out the car, moved the seats back as far as possible, and got it ready in the event we needed to sleep there. Next, we put the dog’s crate and the toilet inside the tent, had dinner (delicious quesadillas), and then hunkered down for the night. Everyone was inside and battened down by 6:30 p.m. as the winds came whipping down the mountain.
About 1 a.m. I got in the car because the wind was deafening and I couldn’t sleep. Rico and the dogs joined me around 3 a.m. because Big Betsy had given up the ghost. We were both exhausted and feeling very defeated. I shed some tears, and we discussed our options. We purchased the warranty on Big Bertha, so we knew we could get Big Betsy replaced, but we were really questioning our ability to continue on the journey in a tent.
How would we handle the wind situation going forward?
What if we ran into worse storms?
Should we go home, get jobs, save up money for a van, RV, etc. before hitting the road again?
Should we abandon the plan altogether?
We knew we were both tired and frustrated, so after looking at other tent options and researching the weather for the coming week, we tabled the discussion until we had rested.
The winds finally died down around 11 a.m., so Rico shored up Big Betsy and we all took a long nap.
Poor Deni, safe in her van all night, had been so concerned about us that she didn’t sleep either, so she slept the afternoon away as well.
By 4 p.m., we were all up and moving, though still exhausted. I was in a depressed state, and Deni saw that, so she set about to cheer me up and encourage me to continue our journey. I am truly thankful for her words because they did the trick. Rico had already made the turn from defeat to “let’s do this!”, and Deni helped me take that turn also.
Turns out Big Betsy held up better than we first thought… only a tent pole bent and one little rip in the velcro that holds the tent fly to the frame… so she’s fixable. I’ll call the manufacturer today to see if they’ll replace the pole or if we need to replace Big Betsy entirely.
This was our camp before the winds…
Now all the tarps are gone, as is the shower tent, and we’ve patched up Big Betsy as much as possible while we wait to hear back from Field & Stream and Dick’s Sporting Goods (they have been no help thus far).
We’re also working on a contingency plan because, although Pearl is awesome as a car, she is terrible as a bed, so we need to find another option in the event that we have this happen again… which I’m sure it will. Better safe than sorry, right?
After we get these issues figured out, we’ll go back to enjoying the journey. We’re heading to Slab City in a couple of weeks, and going to busk here in the area until then, so stay tuned for more exciting adventures!