Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Learning is Fun! Our "Awning"

Welcome back to the Learning is Fun! Series.

Today we're going to have fun with a little bit of our camp set-up. I might miss some things you might want to know, and if I do please let me know...this is our lifestyle so the things that we look at every day have become the norm and I don't even notice half the stuff anymore!

Today you will have the pleasure of hearing all about our tarp/awning. Lucky you! (Dan this is especially for you!)

We are getting better at this lifestyle all the time!!

Makeshift Pole 500 Shaver Lake Camp 2012 500

Last Summer we camped with a tarp up...but we used live trees (that were still standing) as well as trees that had fallen... with lots of bungees, to hold the tarp/awning up. When you need shade, you get very creative!

This Summer, we figured we'd do it "right" and get the few items needed to make a great awning for our Summer camp(s)...plus you never know when it's just going to be you and the van (no trees).

We went to The Home Depot and bought 2 x 10 ft. PVC pipes that are 1 1/2 inches, they cost about $5.50 a piece. We also bought a 9 x 12 brown tarp, that averages in price around $14.00. That was pretty much all we bought, due to already having rope, rebar and a drill.

Once we found a place we knew we'd be "living" for a minute, it was time to try out our new buys! First, we cut the 10 ft. PVC down a foot...then two more to 7 ft., keeping the larger scrap pieces. J' drilled a hole through the top of the long PVC, then tied a rope inside of the middle of the tube. The rope will now be on the PVC until untied. The pieces of rope, that are attached to the pole, are fed through two corner grommets of the tarp.

[caption id="attachment_4918" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Up close Up close[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4919" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Farther away Farther away[/caption]

On the opposite end of the tarp (closest to the van) the tarp is hooked onto the "Z" bracket of one of our solar panels and the other side is hooked onto the milk crate on the top of the van (where we keep our solar shower). The "hooks" we use are actually just bungee hooks taken off of the bungee cord and tied to a piece of rope.

[caption id="attachment_4922" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Z Bracket Hook Z Bracket Hook[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4923" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Milk Crate Hook Milk Crate Hook[/caption]

Now, are you asking yourself...."Okay... but how does it stay on the ground and not fly away when a gust of wind comes?" I betcha you are...and I have an answer! See Learning IS Fun! In the pictures you will see a Blue piece of rope going the opposite direction of the tarp...this is where (half of) the magic happens! Once the tarp is in place at all four corners and the poles are where they need to be, to have a nice taut tarp ("taut like a tiger"~ Gold Member), we loop the blue rope over the rope that's already attached to the PVC. We then take two pieces of rebar (about a foot or so long), one piece we put inside of the pole that's actually holding up the tarp,

[caption id="attachment_4930" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Rebar me Baby 500 This goes inside![/caption]

with the other piece we tie the blue rope around it, pull it taut, then stake it in the ground. This is how it stays on the ground and doesn't fly away like a hot air balloon on a windy day. We've had some raging winds and it's held up to every single one of them! This brings up why we drilled the holes and tied the rope inside of the PVC...No knots + No untying = Super easy take down, especially when it counts to be fast!

These days, and I think it might just be the time of year, it has been pretty windy almost everywhere we've camped for the last two months, so we decided to do something a little different with the awning. This new way helps with the big wind gusts as well as the afternoon sun not blazing me to death!

I bet you're asking...."What in the world did these crazy kids think of now!?" haha And if you're not...C'mon man, get with the program...you're supposed to be having fun!

Alright, alright, I'll tell you...

We brought one side down! gasp Life changing right!?

[caption id="attachment_4925" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Slanted Baby 500 We brought it down![/caption]

 Remember those 2 ft. "scrap" pieces of PVC? We use one of those instead of the long ones for this artistic beauty of an awning.

[caption id="attachment_4926" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Short Poles need love too! Short Poles need love too![/caption]

 We've also started putting up one of our older tarps as a wall...it helps with the sun, the wind and my afternoon...it's a win-win-win! We just tie the two together with, yep...you guessed it blue rope!!

Camp Cool 500

[caption id="attachment_4928" align="aligncenter" width="350"]The Cool Camp The Cool Camp[/caption]

To keep the "wall tarp" from flapping all day, we use more rebar!!! Super simple, right!? We just put the rebar in the ground where it needs to be and tie rope around it, we make sure it's tight enough to not flap...then make sure that there is plenty to see around the rebar so clumsy over here (pointing at me) doesn't trip, fall and break her face! (There are 3 of them back there).

[caption id="attachment_4935" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Back Bar Back Bar[/caption]

So, did you ever think it would be that much fun to learn about tarps and awnings!? I bet you didn't! But now you know where to come for the fun! haha And yes, I'm a total dork!

This concludes this portion of Learning is Fun! Join us for our next segment on Laundry at Camp!! It's sure to be a nail biter! haha





  1. Holy moly, I'm in "geeky-detail" overload!! Thanks for the explanation of your tarp set-up. You've given me some wonderful ideas on how to "geek up" my Caravan. The idea of using PVC is great and the rebar inside to keep it from scooting is GENIUS!

    Thanks again for the pics. Due to my slow wits (not your instruction manual), I read and re-read and re-checked the pics a couple of times.

    I just love seeing gear in use!!

    Safe travels you three, Dan

  2. Thanks for generously sharing your practical know-how.

    I'm still working toward my freedom (trying to sell my house), and it's good-hearted people like you who teach what they know about alternative living arrangements...that make me far more prepared for that day (oh may it be soon) when I can finally launch.

  3. Yay! I'm so happy to hear that you like to "learn" from me/us! We wish everyone knew about this lifestyle...er, maybe not or all the good spots would be taken! teehee We look forward to seeing you on the road some day...soon!

  4. Yaaaayyyyy Dan! So glad you liked it and are all geeked out with us! haha Even though these posts are a little harder to write, I put my dorky spin on them and they turn out just fine! Thanks for pushing me to do something a little different and I'm glad it was understandable! Are you excited about Laundry day!? haha Just kidding!

  5. Hey, good to get hold of your blog address as I really enjoyed getting to know you guys at the winter RTR (bet you gave up on that crocheting, huh!
    I am going to put a link to you on my blog site, if you don't like that let me know....
    Hope you will visit me there too. Don't plan to come to the summer RTR but am in Az. down around Show Low. Nice here. TONS of places camp...and some really nice campgrounds with the amentities---all free---if someone prefers that type of place. Me I want the out of the way places.

  6. Trish! So god to hear from you, we were wondering if you were going to be here. We heard about the rig, congrats! I would love to have a link to your blog too, it's fine if you want to put it up, I have no problems with that. We hope you are well and we see you sometime soon. Not sure what our plans are for the Summer just yet, so we may run into each other. Thank you for the suggestions on the places around there, any idea is a great idea! Keep in touch. <3

  7. Next time you are close to a Home Depot or similar store, you might check out the stakes used for concrete forms. different lengths, holes near the top end. We use them for tent stakes. Put wire loop permanently through a hole. then clips on end of tent ropes. Simple on and off. Need tennis balls on exposed end of stakes to prevent scratched shins and stumbling. We love your blog! Hope to explore the places you visit one day.
    J and H

  8. Thanks Jerry! We do have 2 of them, the other 4 are just regular...great idea!!!