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Old 01-04-2018, 07:59 AM   #1
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WINTER Travel... by accident or choice

Winter Travel… by accident or choice

Winter travel towing an Airstream is not the same as the ‘warm months’. You have two issues. Temperature and Traction of the Tow Vehicle.

This is a subject deserving several pages, but these are my experiences for ‘emergency alternatives’ when you are in between destinations.

(1)- Travel with empty fresh, grey and black water.
(2)- Empty hot water tank and drain hot and cold water lines.
(3)- Add trailer antifreeze into your sink traps.
(4)- Close window curtains to conserve heat.
(5)- If you have a ‘covered vent cover’ open it slightly for ventilating HUMIDITY from the trailer’s interior.
(6)- Fill the tow vehicle’s fuel tank.
(7)- If it is evening, snow blowing, highway closed or conditions may worsen… PARK AT A WALMART or TRUCK STOP.
(8)- Have your tow vehicle IDLE to provide power to your furnance electric fan and minimal power use.
(9)- Never travel on ice or snow on the pavement at night.
(10)- If you must travel, from a REST STOP/AREA in between towns with services, having cell phone service is important.
(11)- Propane tanks are FULL when setting off on this travel.
(12)- Open the cabinet door where your WATER PUMP is located. It will have water in its System, no matter what you think.

A 4x4 tow vehicle is a big advantage, but not not always. With drum brakes on a trailer, they can lock up on snow/ice pavement and jack knife. If you lose traction, you are most likely at the mercy of the weather.

- Carry bottled water for consumption.
- No SHOWERS, even you stink more than your dog(s).
- Humidity is your enemy.
- Be very careful using your propane cook top for heat… it can kill you with carbon monoxide and water vapor. Use only when awake and can vent.
- Travel on these roads in day light.
- If the roads are DRY and there is no indication in the weather report of moisture in the form of rain, snow or icing… use your best judgment.
- During an ICE STORM, stay put. Your trailer and tow vehicle can gain hundreds of pounds of weight from ice accumulation.

We had to stop at Goodland, Kansas some years back. Highways 70 to Denver were closed. We set up camp at the Walmart. Topped off the gasoline, had the furnace running in the trailer to maintain a comfortable temperature. From sunset to sunrise we used about a third of a gasoline tank of fuel while the truck idled. We went into Walmart for easily consumed food and stayed PUT.

We are Boondockers who are accustomed to the wild ranges of weather in the Rocky Mountains. Even JULY can have snow and temperatures below 20 degrees.

Yes… for those not use to this, it will be scary. STAY in a safe zone in a town, near access for food, water and fuel. Dying is not an option for foolish judgement. At the worst, maintain the furnace in the trailer at a minimum, and remain in the CAB of the TOW VEHICLE. Truck Drivers do this frequently during the Winter months. Yes… their diesels will idle… get over it.

If you have a GENERATOR. You can also connect it, put it on a milk crate or something above the snow or surface and let it idle. Have a gasoline container with fuel to add when necessary. Again… STAY SAFE. Getting home a day late is better than frost bite and permanent injuries.

This is how to survive these situations in ‘short hand’. Any trailer is not designed for WINTER temperatures. NONE... even those trailers that have an advantage, can have a furnace fail and things go bad from there.

Anyone who can add to this, please make your post and experiences how you managed. You can work around Desert HEAT, but Winter COLD is not to be taken lightly. Your 4x4 may do well on its own, but with a trailer in tow… ask an 18 wheeler driver why he is waiting the storm out. Even chained up 18 wheelers get… stuck.

The Snow Plows work all night plowing. They apply mountains of salt or other ice inhibitors to the pavement. These chemicals are caustic to your aluminum and metal exterior of your Airstream. When the sun comes up, have a breakfast, wait until the pavement begins to dry out and… next time… PLAN AHEAD WITH THE WEATHER.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:40 AM   #2
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Well thought out Ray, and good timing. A couple of other thoughts:

Carry lots of blankets and sleeping bags. Cuddle up with the family. They make great auxiliary heating units.

Be careful where you park. You don't want to become a target in a white-out.

Be aware that the down-wind side of your rig is likely to develop drifts if it is windy. Can make exiting your site difficult.
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Old 01-04-2018, 09:57 AM   #3
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Thanks and very timely advice.

Re. ALL THINGS POTTY (indelicate but less than the alternative.

One more item. Your A/S door can freeze shut so silicone spray the locks and hinges before you travel AND carry a rubber mallet, etc. To break up yhat 100 lb chunk of ice that forms on your steps and biilds up on the bottom of your door.

Failing to do that isn't a huge problem for guys, as a call of nature can be cared for on the curbside tire of the tow vehicle.

For a woman? A) even a disgusting gas station bathroom can be beautiful. B) a dog "potty pad" or an adult diaper requires some mental and physical adjustment but ... get past it before it gets passed!
C) my departed aunt Jean (an Airstreamer in the 1960s) told me that on a deserted highway a lady could open both curbside doors and position herself carefully on the running board. As cold as it was last night putting a roadmap or any other barrier ON the running board before would not be optional.

Paula

Paula being a grateful recovering icicle... and having a shot of brandy before bedding down... finally in a safe campground. (In tribute to Red who always makes me smile.)

Snow is beautiful, especially watching it melt.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:38 PM   #4
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Paula, you've just been through a blizzard! We trust you have prevailed?

Pat

Only 4" here, but cold and windy.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:57 PM   #5
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Off I95 S exit 8. NW of Savannah. Warm, toasty, sleepy. 2 inches of melting snow, gorgeous blue sky, but will get a hard freeze tonight. Low on groceries, but nuked a tater and it was delicious.

Every local supplier ran out of propane. Tractor supply MAY get some tomorrow. I set the furnace on 50 and still have some in the tanks, but I'll shower at the campground facility rather than risk it goong cccccold while I am still soapy.

BTW if you have no electric in ypur and water heater. Microwaving wet washcloths for a sponge bath works really well. But be careful they aren't too hot.

Night, Paula
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Old 01-04-2018, 01:36 PM   #6
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I have camped in winter.

I also stay in relative's driveways for holidays and such.

1. Winterise way before first frost. Stay that way until last frost.

2. Have a Porta Potty, electric heater, and a GOOD sleeping bag

3. Don't move the RV if the road has snow on it.

4. If you think you are going to run into problems, don't wait too long to punt and go to a motel. They fill up. Check the weather forecast everyday, which will aid in knowing when to punt.

5. Jugs of water

I know this won't help folks in an emergency situation, on the road. Point is, it might help you from getting in a bad situation.

An ounce of whiskey is worth a beer.

No…I think I got that wrong…An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:42 AM   #7
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The trailer is likely to remain parked and winterized in January and February as long as we are still working.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
Winter Travel… by accident or choice

Winter travel towing an Airstream is not the same as the ‘warm months’. You have two issues. Temperature and Traction of the Tow Vehicle.

This is a subject deserving several pages, but these are my experiences for ‘emergency alternatives’ when you are in between destinations.

(1)- Travel with empty fresh, grey and black water.
(2)- Empty hot water tank and drain hot and cold water lines.
(3)- Add trailer antifreeze into your sink traps.
(4)- Close window curtains to conserve heat.
(5)- If you have a ‘covered vent cover’ open it slightly for ventilating HUMIDITY from the trailer’s interior.
(6)- Fill the tow vehicle’s fuel tank.
(7)- If it is evening, snow blowing, highway closed or conditions may worsen… PARK AT A WALMART or TRUCK STOP.
(8)- Have your tow vehicle IDLE to provide power to your furnance electric fan and minimal power use.
(9)- Never travel on ice or snow on the pavement at night.
(10)- If you must travel, from a REST STOP/AREA in between towns with services, having cell phone service is important.
(11)- Propane tanks are FULL when setting off on this travel.
(12)- Open the cabinet door where your WATER PUMP is located. It will have water in its System, no matter what you think.

A 4x4 tow vehicle is a big advantage, but not not always. With drum brakes on a trailer, they can lock up on snow/ice pavement and jack knife. If you lose traction, you are most likely at the mercy of the weather.

- Carry bottled water for consumption.
- No SHOWERS, even you stink more than your dog(s).
- Humidity is your enemy.
- Be very careful using your propane cook top for heat… it can kill you with carbon monoxide and water vapor. Use only when awake and can vent.
- Travel on these roads in day light.
- If the roads are DRY and there is no indication in the weather report of moisture in the form of rain, snow or icing… use your best judgment.
- During an ICE STORM, stay put. Your trailer and tow vehicle can gain hundreds of pounds of weight from ice accumulation.

We had to stop at Goodland, Kansas some years back. Highways 70 to Denver were closed. We set up camp at the Walmart. Topped off the gasoline, had the furnace running in the trailer to maintain a comfortable temperature. From sunset to sunrise we used about a third of a gasoline tank of fuel while the truck idled. We went into Walmart for easily consumed food and stayed PUT.

We are Boondockers who are accustomed to the wild ranges of weather in the Rocky Mountains. Even JULY can have snow and temperatures below 20 degrees.

Yes… for those not use to this, it will be scary. STAY in a safe zone in a town, near access for food, water and fuel. Dying is not an option for foolish judgement. At the worst, maintain the furnace in the trailer at a minimum, and remain in the CAB of the TOW VEHICLE. Truck Drivers do this frequently during the Winter months. Yes… their diesels will idle… get over it.

If you have a GENERATOR. You can also connect it, put it on a milk crate or something above the snow or surface and let it idle. Have a gasoline container with fuel to add when necessary. Again… STAY SAFE. Getting home a day late is better than frost bite and permanent injuries.

This is how to survive these situations in ‘short hand’. Any trailer is not designed for WINTER temperatures. NONE... even those trailers that have an advantage, can have a furnace fail and things go bad from there.

Anyone who can add to this, please make your post and experiences how you managed. You can work around Desert HEAT, but Winter COLD is not to be taken lightly. Your 4x4 may do well on its own, but with a trailer in tow… ask an 18 wheeler driver why he is waiting the storm out. Even chained up 18 wheelers get… stuck.

The Snow Plows work all night plowing. They apply mountains of salt or other ice inhibitors to the pavement. These chemicals are caustic to your aluminum and metal exterior of your Airstream. When the sun comes up, have a breakfast, wait until the pavement begins to dry out and… next time… PLAN AHEAD WITH THE WEATHER.

My Winter AS travel plan:
Head to Florida before the first frost and don't venture anywhere north of
I-10 until memorial day.
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Old 01-05-2018, 11:34 AM   #9
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Winter Boondocking

WE have been stuck in bad winter weather several times. We agree with everything written. We would add -- under these conditions, a small 2000 watt Honda generator can be a life saver. Running the tow vehicle engine to keep the batteries somewhat charged ( i.e. so you can run the furnace) works -- but a small generator works better.

We were holed up inthe state of LA with 1 to 2 inches of ice several years ago. We could not safely walk on the ice. being from Wisconsin, we should have known. Now we PACK A PAIR of ICE TREKKERS for each person. ( An ice storm is bad. But an ice storm with a concussion is really bad.)

Our driver, was almost really stuck in a bad place because he did not listen to the passenger. My advice from having an almost deadly experience -- if there is any doubt at all, get off the road , hole up, and wait it out. If you have water, gasoline for your generator, fuel in your tow vehicle, and hopefully a portaloo. You will survive.
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Old 01-05-2018, 12:02 PM   #10
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Though relatively new to Airstreaming (3 years and 40k miles twice across the continent), based on my mountaineering experience and emergency prepardness training I would add to the excellent advice provided above:
1) alcohol in any actually cools your body b/c it dilates petipheral blood vessels. It also may impair judgement at the very time you most need it. Avoid it in extreme weather.
2) carry plenty of high calorie snacks to provude energy and generate body heat.
3) keep the critical clothing, gear and supplies in your tow vehicle. For a variety of reasons (snow blockages, frozen locks, ice on door, stuck in snow bank), adjacent vehicles, etc) your trailer may become innacessible.
4) do NOT leave your vehicle to walk to town unless you are very well prepared, physically fit, and CERTAIN where you are going.
5) be sure your exhaust is not blocked by snow and that windows allow ventilation to avoid CO poisoning. 6) Flashlights and headlamps, (preferably LED variety) with spare batteries (and possibly flare) may prove helpful. Candles are more risky and provide less light.
7) Remember to have sufficient pet food, water, and blankets.
8) Have any needed medications in your TV.
9) Carry a collapsable snow shovel (check out REI for light and portable versions).
10) Assume rescue and/or road clearance may take 48-72 hours.
11) Woman and men typically are tied 50’ apart on the same rope while on a barren glacier with no cover whatsoever for many hours. Nature calls are natural. Accept this while being as discrete and as sensitive as possible.
12) Maintain esprit de corps, avoid arguments, agree to have open communication about any and all concerns. Make good decisions based on open dialogue.
13) Have games, books, music available - especially for children.
14) Silk, wool, fleece, down, fiberfill, are preferable fabrics. Avoid cotton of any kind, including flannel. It is worse than useless once wet. Especially true fir under clothing - ask my friend who ignored this advice on his first alpine mountaineering trip!
15) Always keep your fuel tank AT LEAST half full. Condensation in your tank can become a problem, and you may have power outages that prevent fuel pumps from operating even if they are full.

I am sure there is more to be ssid on this, but that’’s my 2 cents.

Needless to say, the Boy Scout motto is the best, if quite general, advice: “Be prepared”.

I have never used all of my emergency supplies and equipment on the same trip. But over 40 years if outdoor adventyres and cross country driving trips I have used all supplies and equipment at one time or another. If only I knew which supplies I would need for which trip!
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:47 PM   #11
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Ray, thanks for starting this thread. Excellent suggestions and great advice for the next arctic blast from all.

* * * * * *

From our experiences being trapped by snow once and multiple no-12V-electricty boondocking trips, the following items might be useful:

A catalytic heater. These were an Airstream option and our 31' Sovereign had one. They provide heat without using electricity (crack a window when using). This is the item we miss most in our Flying Cloud.

An old school gas/propane lantern, either free or the type that was hard plumbed in the trailer. Provide heat and light without using 12V (crack a window when using).

Backpacker lanterns, the type used for area (tent) lighting. These provide good illumination for cooking, reading/playing games at the table and don’t use trailer battery. Don’t provide heat, tho.

An extra, full, propane cylinder of same size as those on the trailer (carried in pickup bed, normally used for portable propane fire place).

A full sized metal shovel with a forged, not stamped, blade. The Pony Irrigation shovel (Ames Tools) is an excellent choice. Mountaineering shovels work in soft loose snow, but not so much in snow that had sleet or rain freeze on it, and are useless on ice or solidly refrozen wet/slushy snow. Plus the short handled mountaineering shovel is a back killer and you can break the blade if it is made of Lexan or plastic.

A battery operated multi-band radio that receives NWS weather band and television audio bands.

If you must travel on snowy roads, chains for both TV and trailer. Ideally chains for all four corners of TV if 4WD--so three sets--two for TV and one for trailer.


Tips:

Avoid parking close to any road because if plowed the snow may be pushed into a berm that traps you.

If it is snowing hard, or lots of snow is being blown about, check your trailer door on a schedule. Since the door opens out, you can be trapped by snow piling up against the door. It takes surprisingly little to block you in.

* * * * * *

But on the bright side, skiing/snow shoeing should be good!

Happy travels, stay warm.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:59 PM   #12
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The Boondocker's Lament: Winter or Summer


“Dang, this place is getting crowded, I see another camper over on that ridge.” “Where, I don’t see it?” “Over there, straight above that tree. See that little white spec?”
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:04 PM   #13
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We winter camp every year for a month or three. Usually in Colorado and travel through MO and KS where we overnight and sometimes stay for a few days. We travel and camp in our 1982 AS 310 Turbo Diesel Classic Motorhome. We absolutely love winter camping, in fact in many ways more than summer camping. Most of the time we have entire campgrounds to ourselves except in Colorado where there are usually another few rigs in park. The solitude is just awesome and your chances of seeing wildlife up close is greatly increased. Its not for everyone but we just love it. In fact we just rolled in from a month and a half trip to Colorado last evening.

Common sense is your biggest asset when winter camping. We do a few mods to the rig to keep us comfy and all systems operating as they should. Our biggest concern is that, in the older Classic Motorhome, the waste tank valves are not heated. So we have to take precautions to keep them from freezing up and preventing us from dumping when needed. But we've solved that problem.

A couple thoughts that are really important to us while winter camping; when you have the opportunity to top off propane or fresh water DO IT! Even if you're tank is measuring 3/4 full we go ahead and top it off if the opportunity presents itself. You don't know sometimes when you're going to be able get propane or fresh water again so we are very mindful of that. Even using Allstays and various other Apps to find propane at times it's very hard to find. Obviously running out of fresh water or propane is going to present serious problems when winter camping so we operate under the rule of "see it do it"

We use electric heaters as much as possible for general heating and have one heater dedicated under the bed near the water heater and plumbing. I added an additional 120v shore power cord to the rig so we are capable of running additional electric heat.

We do use reflectix on most of our windows except those directly across from our couch seating. That's the windows that we get our best views from while siting in the lounge.

We have never had a frozen water line, even in substained temps near 0 degrees F for days in a row.

We do a few other mods in the winter but nothing huge or very time consuming to do before we take off. I usually winterize the coach at our last stop before returning home. I have an onboard compressor so it's easy.

The point is I guess, is that winter camping is very doable in our Airstream and common sense is your biggest tool in enjoying it. The parks are empty and the solitude is magnificent, if you like that. We love it! As the parks get more crowded every year, the more we love the "off" season experience.

Always keep an eye on the weather a few days in advance.....scoot when you need to and STAY PUT when you need to. Keep food in the fridge so if you get caught by bad weather you can survive for a week or so.

Like I said too many times already, we absolutely love winter camping......and you better love your sweetie also because you'll be spending a good deal of time together cuddled up inside your beautiful Airstream.

Mike
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:14 PM   #14
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Ray, If you can see the smoke from their camp fire they are too close. If you can smell it they are way too close.
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