Hunkered Down

Here’s what it actually looks like in Quartzsite right now.

Just kidding. But the real version isn’t very far off.

I’ve hidden from the wind before, but this is definitely the strongest wind I’ve seen in the two months (!!!) I’ve been in Quartzsite. As the sun went down yesterday, I took down my awning, secured outdoor OHB-jects (like the weather radio said), and either put them inside the van or strapped them to my motorcycle carrier. All that’s left outside is the van, the bike, and my flagpole/antenna mast.

When the wind picked up this morning I lowered the mast a few sections. Soon, though, I wasn’t able to get any FastNet internet service at all. There’s so much dust in the air that I no longer have a line-of-sight view of their towers, which I need in order to connect. Fortunately, enough people have left Quartzsite at this point that my Verizon hotspot is providing adequate data throughput again. Since FastNet isn’t an option until the air clears, I dropped my mast all the way down. There’s no point having it up if I can’t use it anyway.

You almost can’t see the mountains at all, which are normally quite visible. Yellow Wolf moved her van to block the wind for her tent, which she’s using for storage. Normally it’s great to have a tent for that purpose, but right now it’s more of a liability than anything.

Melinda had done the same thing, but at one point this afternoon I noticed her tent flapping in the breeze. We put a bunch of heavy stuff on top of it so it wouldn’t flap, tear, or blow away. It doesn’t look like it’s damaged, just that the poles popped out of where they belong. There’s no point in trying to put it up in a steady 30 mph wind with gusts over 50. (I just watched dust overtake the vehicle on the main road that stirred it up.) But once the wind dies down her tent should pop back up with no problem. That’s more than can be said for a lot of tents here. About half the tents I can see from my van have collapsed entirely, including one that I know is somebody’s one and only home.

It’s been both exciting and boring, all at the same time. While the wind is shaking the van a lot, I’m holding out just fine in here. I sat through a hurricane last summer, so I’m no stranger to windy conditions like these. But it’s also quite boring because I can’t go outside and do anything. The only times I’ve ventured outside were a single trip to the bathroom (I don’t have the composting toilet primed to compost properly), and a couple of times to help my campmates batten down the hatches a bit more. Jenn visited for a while, then went into town to get some stuff done. I have no desire to go anywhere in these conditions, either getting pushed around in the van or blown over on the bike.

As if the wind wasn’t bad enough, we also have a freeze warning for tonight, so temperatures will drop after sunset. My propane heater requires ventilation. I don’t really want to open windows with the wind and dust blowing around, but I may not have a choice. There’s some disagreement as to whether the wind will die down overnight, or keep blowing like this until tomorrow morning. Either way, it’s going to be a long night. But we’ll get through it. We always do.

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