What The Hell!

It was pretty exciting to hit the road in Fort Stockton and head south to Presidio which is located on the border of Mexico, right near Big Bend National Park and its sister State Park. One, it was exciting because we couldn’t wait to get to Big Bend, and two, because we only had a 2 1/2 hr drive on this particular day. This was very good news for Charlie who finds the driving days to be very stressful, and this was the 3rd day in a row that we were driving.

We were an hour from our destination. The West Texas plains were stark and beautiful, and we could feel the wind gusts that pushed against us as they rushed across the open spaces. But we weren’t concerned. Driving in 20 mph wind gusts was not a new experience for us. We do, however, have an agreement to never drive in wind or gusts that are close to 30 mph or higher.

Suddenly we heard a huge bang! It took a few seconds to realize the awning was flapping in the wind and the arms were open. A gust of wind had ripped it open and then filled it like a sailing boat sail, whipping the awning arms open and closed at a rather daunting rate. We had no idea what to do!

The dogs were so frightened but they had to deal with themselves as we pulled over to the side of the road and got out to survey the damage and try to figure out what to do. We each grabbed a hold of one awning arm and stood there holding them in a closed position for a time while the awning flapped furiously over the roof of the RV. But we couldn’t stand there indefinitely. We went back into the rig and called for roadside assistance. The noise of the wind whipping the awning and its arms back and forth was crazy, and we worried that the side of the rig would get damaged. So back outside we went and eventually climbed up onto the roof to try and roll up the flapping sail and tape it closed, but the wind was way too powerful to hold the awning closed. So we climbed back down and taped the arms into a closed position as best we could. This quietened things down SO much.

That is when we settled in for the 2 hr wait for help to arrive. I made coffee, because…kitchen right there, and I did some writing. The dogs eventually stopped trembling and went to sleep.

At some point Dennis decided to go out and just check on things, and right as he did. one side of the long awning pole, the part that rolls the awning fabric onto its self, fell off. So. One we had a beam banging against the side of Dora. I taped a cushion onto it and then tied that end to the step. It stopped the flapping, and finally, after 1 1/2 hrs of intense noise, all was quiet. Alice stopped shaking again and Charlie fell asleep under the pedals on the driver’s side (small safe places).

I was able to get into some RV groups online to ask questions. There were multiple responses from people who had experienced the same type of drama with an awning being ripped open and/or off the side of their rigs. Best tip we read was to secure the awning arms with giant zip ties between uses.

We were pretty excited when the roadside assistance finally showed up and began removing the awning. It took about an hour. It wasn’t complicated but it took some effort. We were also mighty grateful that they hauled away all the parts. 

With a sigh of relief we resumed our drive south. We have no awning. We don’t know when we will replace it. For now, we have gotten over the upset of losing the awning and are just grateful that the RV didn’t get damaged in the process.

Adventures in RV land continue.


  • Christopher R Sachs

    Wow! We have never had that “pleasure” but then our brand of awning doesn’t have exposed arms. I am glad to hear you got it fixed so you could continue traveling. Texas is great but the winds there and into NM seem to always be strong. I did have to laugh about where Charlie chose as a safe zone. Our first German Shepherd would go under the pedals also. But, being a rather fretful GSD, Maya chose to put her head under the pedals and the rest of her 92 pounds up on the driver seat while down at the barn. Yes, that is correct, head down, butt up and she would stay that way around an hour. After Mom rode her horse, she would release her from prison so she could go discipline the other rowdy dogs [she was German, after all]. Crazy dog. Val originally took her in the field with Tuffy, but Miss Check Check Double-Check had to be near Mom, even if she got stepped on. It only took one of those incidents to convince both girls it would be best if she chilled while Valerie ride.

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