Playing Chess with Weather

chess-with-weather14/18/13 – Thursday

Storms. I awake to the booming of thunder and pounding of rain on the roof of the Casita instead of my alarm. I do a cursory leak check like I normally do when it’s raining hard and things look dry. It’s a long walk inside Walmart to use the facilities and do a bit of shopping, but at least the rain is warm. By the time I’ve eaten breakfast and put things away the rain has let up considerably, and I’m looking at the weather forecast and scratching my head.

It’s like a game of chess. I awoke to 68 degrees, but the low in Wentzville is 35 tonight. On the other side of Missouri in Kansas City the low is 32, between here and there there are still severe storm watches out. The next sizable town West of that is Topeka, where the low is 26. If I make it out past that it drops to the low twenties. Likewise if I go North instead, Omaha has a low of 26. Sioux Falls is going to be warmer actually at 28, but they’re under the same winter storm warning that got the Badlands a day or two ago. By tomorrow night when I’d be passing through there, their low is 19. I need to guess how far I can drive today and tomorrow, and calculate a path that gives me the least amount of difficult weather. I get to make a move during the day when the temps will be above freezing everywhere, then I sit put and mother nature makes her move over night, giving me various degrees of cold weather. Tomorrow I get to move again but my moves at that point will be dependent on where I make it to tonight. Heading West off of the interstates instead of North gets me colder weather tonight, but warmer weather Friday night.


It turns out not to matter in the long run. As I head across Missouri, I hit not more storms, but very heavy rainfall that just won’t quit. The temperature also drops dramatically at this time, from 65 down to 43. I take a break at a rest stop after a good hour or more of driving through said heavy rainfall, and discover that not one but three of Cas’ windows have leaked.

I’d like to say that I took this discovery in stride, but I didn’t exactly. Leaks in a RV are real bad news. There was a swear word or two, followed by a tear or two. There was no place to get the windows fixed near the Badlands. If I stopped along the way to get it fixed I wouldn’t make it there on time. I allowed myself about 15-20 minutes to panic about it, and then I put on my big girl panties and made a plan. Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to it. When something bad happens, you can’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself and cursing the the heavens, or laying the blame on someone else, or wondering why you got unlucky, you just gotta take the situation and deal with it. I found the next travel stop with a McDonalds that had WiFi and went to work looking up leaking Casita windows and seeing what others have had to say.


As is often the case when it feels like the world might be ending, I discovered that it might not be as bad as I thought, but I won’t get into all the details here. I got two simple things to try that might fix the problem (if it even reoccurs at all) that I can do on my own and don’t even require any caulk, and then I looked at Google Maps for RV repair shops in the Rapid City area (the nearest sizable town to the Badlands) to look at options in case I did need to get the seals redone on the windows. In the meantime, I use towels to dry up the interior as best I can and place below the windows in case they leak again, and I find a RV park near Topeka where I can spend the night. Heck, if I’m going to need hookups tonight anyway, might as well keep going West where it’ll be colder today but nicer tomorrow night. Normally I dislike paying a nightly rate for a site, but I need electric so I can hook up my heater and dry out my bed.

I end up at Deer Creek Valley RV Park  near Topeka KS, at a rate of $36ish a night with my Good Sam discount. It’s not far off the highway but surrounded by trees, although there are no trees where the sites are. The sites are paved pull through but were not made level, the bath house facilities look new, and it’s full hookups. Not something I would have spent money on for one night under normal circumstances but it did it’s job and my bed was dry before I needed to use it.

4/19/13 – Friday

chess-with-weather6I’m on the road by 9:30 and heading North out of Topkea into Nebraska. The goal tonight is North Platte, only 5 hours or so from the Badlands but about 7.5 hours away from where I am now. My phone tells me the quickest way is to get there is to go North on highway 75 to Nebraska City on the eastern edge of the state, and then take Interstate 80 all the way across so that’s what I do. Once I get into Nebraska, I start seeing snow, but it’s still confined to melting piles where the wind had blown it into drifts.

Much of Interstate 80 follows along the Platte River Valley, a fertile plain with an abundance of farms to be found. Unlike Missouri and southern Illinois though, they haven’t been getting as much rain here and I leave the flooded creeks behind. The road has been built up to keep it from getting flooded when the Platte River spills over it’s banks by digging out dirt along side the road, leaving lots of small ponds and lakes, and I see lots of water bird species. Most note worthy though are these ginormous white birds with large long beaks, that look very out of place among the ducks and geese. I swear they look like pelicans, but I’ve only ever seen pelicans near the ocean, I don’t equate them with inland states.

With the temperature due to drop below freezing again, I spend the night at Holiday RV Park just off of 70 in North Platte, I made my goal for the day. The price here is $25 for the night, sites are closer together and dirt/gravel but mostly level, the facility is older, but there are some trees.

When I talk to Julie she looks up my mystery birds online and we come to the conclusion that they were American White Pelicans, which do migrate through the area and have the second largest average wingspan of any American bird, after the California Condor. I wasn’t kidding when I said they were ginormous. I go to bed with a smile on my face, tomorrow I get to the Badlands!

chess-with-weather44/20/13 – Saturday

GPS today has me taking Highway 83 through North Platte and right up into South Dakota. As soon as I climb out of the Platte River Valley, the landscape changes dramatically from flat farmland to hills of semi-arid prairie. The last time I’ve seen land like this was when my family took our road trip out West, 15 years ago. It marks the first new scenery I’ve seen on this trip, and I get a little picture happy. I stop at a scenic overlook somewhere in North Nebraska and snap some shots. The trees look like mostly Juniper to me, and those clumps of green grass with the sharp pokey leaves have a name too, I just can’t remember it right now. Their often found in deserts.


chess-with-weather7As I near the South Dakota boarder, the clouds darken again, and the rain starts. And then the snow starts, and then it’s back and forth a few times. At least the temp is high enough at ground level where it isn’t sticking or freezing on the road. I slow down anyway, and I leave the hills behind and enter a flatter landscape again, with the occasional hill with pine trees. Beef cattle are all over the place up here, and they seem unconcerned with the weather.

From highway 83 I cut West again onto 18 once in South Dakota, and then I turn off of that onto 73 North until I meet 44 West (which ends up curving north later on). Traffic remains light to non-existent as it’s been since I left North Platte, and as I get close to the park I start seeing the sort of hill erosion famous in the Badlands. As the clouds clear I reach the top of a hill and see the park spread before me, I’ve arrived!


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22 Responses to Playing Chess with Weather

  1. Marvin April 25, 2013 at 12:18 am #


    Becky ,

    The window leaks could be due too high wind and horizontal rain , not an ordinary or problem leak .
    Spraying the window seals with silicone or WD40 wi;; also stop leaks .
    I’m glad your trip was safe .


    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

      Yeah, there are any number of things that could have happened. No way to know for sure until it happens again or I get another heavy rain. I’m keeping an eye on it for sure.

  2. Richard Myers April 25, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    Hi Becky,

    Glad you arrived safe and sound. That was an informative and entertaining description of your trip. I am in the middle of my own full-time RV plans, but today it is taking the train into Boston for work. Sigh.

    Have a great day!


    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      Thanks Rick, glad you enjoyed it. If your train trip to Boston is long that gives you more time to plot out your escape plan though right? I like to look on the bright side. 🙂

  3. Justdave April 25, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Enjoyed the journey
    Glad you arrived safe and sound, looking forward to the next adventure.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      Thanks for reading Dave. This blog wouldn’t exist without people like you!

  4. cozygirl April 25, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Your strength endures…what a wet wild run up to SD. Finally you there and what a beautiful drive in!!! Now the real fun begins…
    cozygirl recently posted..MODS and how to pack!My Profile

    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

      Indeed Carla! A bit of a spoiler: it’s awesome and I’m loving it so far. Although I’m barely a week in so I hate to give a concrete opinion yet, but so far so good.

  5. Regina April 25, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    So glad you made it. I hope you won’t have any more window leaks. From your photos, it looks beautiful. Once we start RVing, we hope to get to South Dakota also. I’m hoping the site you have for your job will be good one. Looking forward to your posts about SD and your job.

    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      Thanks Regina! New post is going up right after I finish getting caught up on comments. I’m moving sites tomorrow to be closer to the WiFi hub. 😛

      If I were you, I’d definitely add South Dakota to the list. Well I guess I can’t speak yet for most of the state, but it’s gorgeous here!

  6. William April 25, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    This is all part of the “Adventure” right. I do most of my traveling by motorcycle and know what it is like to play Chess with the weather.
    Now that I’m converting a school bus to an RV, I will have my share of “Adventures”. Since I will be building everything myself instead of professionals like the ones that built Cas. I’m sure I will have a few leaks and repairs to do. I watched Technomadia’s March web cast and they talked about how most RV’s are not made to be lived in full time. In the fine print of the warranty it says, if you live full time in it, the warranty may be voided.
    Luckily I already wrote my warranty for the school bus but had not read the fine print. They were right, I found… “If you plan to live in this beast full time, this warranty is null and void. You are on your own kido.”
    I can see myself calling an RV repair shop now. “By the way, I own a 99 Thomas school bus converted to an RV. Do you work on these?”
    Marvin may be correct. I had converted a van and used RV windows. If my van was not level or there was horizontal rain, it would leak inside. The water could not drain well and over flow the window gutter.
    I hope the rest of your stay has fun “Adventures”.
    William recently posted..Happy Birthday Dad.My Profile

    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

      Heya William, thanks for writing in. Yeah it’s very true most RVs aren’t meant to be lived in, I talked about that in a post some time back but it’s long buried by now I suppose. Least with a molded fiberglass trailer I have less leak points with no seams to worry about.

      I hope the bus conversion is going well! I know you’ve been working on it for a while now. Pretty soon you’ll be on the road having your own adventures. 🙂

  7. Kim April 25, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Congrats on reaching your destination! Can’t wait to see how you like your new home and job.
    Kim recently posted..RV Buddies Get-TogetherMy Profile

    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      Thanks Kim! Another post going up tonight, and then moving sites tomorrow to be closer to the WiFi hub for ease of internet access. 😛

  8. kristine April 25, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Great story of your trip. Question, with all your cold weather camping do you have condensation issues. In mass with 2 dogs and me windows constant condensation but so far not running off or causing issues. Im not even using heater except propane a little. I heard electric heaters add condensation. Would love your feedback.


    • William April 25, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Hey Kristine,

      I was in a 30′ cammper this winter with my dog and had issues with condensation. My freinds Jim and Rene from told me to crack my vents about 1/4 inch, it worked, I had no issues with condensation and it got down to 10 degress one night, mostly in the 20’s. Electric heat is a dry heat it should not add condensation. Propane heat is vented outside and should be ok too. Propane stove will add much condensation.
      William recently posted..Happy Birthday Dad.My Profile

      • Becky April 27, 2013 at 11:06 pm #


        William is right. Electric heaters actually dry the air out, which is why I was able to hang my towels up inside like I did to dry them. I keep my roof vent open a little to help vent things. Where I really had problems was in SC last summer, it was a very warm humid climate and the A/C did nothing to pull the humidity out. I ended up with mold growing on the A/C and other vents, although I never had problems with it growing visibly on floors walls or other services. I know Amazon sells small inexpensive dehumidifiers and I told myself if i ever lived in a humid environment again I’d buy one of those.

  9. Paul Dahl April 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Just a question, are your windows leaking through the windows themselves or around the window frames?

    If it is around the frames, the sealant between the frames and the fiberglass has dried out and will need the window removed to replace the sealant, called Butyl Tape.

    A temporary fix for this condition would be to get a tube of clear window sealant and run a bead around the window frame (on the outside of the Casita). With a cup of soapy water, you can dip your finger and then smooth the sealant to overlap the frame to the fiberglass, making a seal..

    This should buy you some time to be able to get the Butyl Tape repair done when it is more convenient for you.

    You’re doing a great job with your blog, I’m enjoying following your travels.

    Best Regards!

    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

      As I said Paul it’s around the actual window glass itself, although if my rubber seals there are shot the fix is almost the same deal, the glass will have to be pulled and re-set. There could be other reasons why they leaked though, it’s impossible to know for sure without another strong rain.

      Thanks for following along!

  10. Kevin April 26, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    In regards to your window leaks, you might try to tighten the little screws on the retaining on the inside of the window. This is the ring that goes around the window. I had to tighten mine up a little after I received my trailer.

    Good Luck

    • Becky April 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

      Yep, that’s one of the things I did after the fact Kevin, although since it’s around the glass that’s leaking and not around the frame I don’t know if it’ll make a difference. Need another strong rain to test. 😛

      • Kevin April 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

        The leak is around the glass huh? Then I do not know what to do except make sure you have plenty of the RV’ers secret weapons– Towels!

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