Butano State Park is just a gorgeous place. So lovely in fact, that I did not leave the campsite the whole weekend. Richard got in a coastal bike ride and said it was spectacular. I wrote a report and gave some Alto tours, and that was perfect. Plus, our scheduled tour couple brought us freshly baked pear/walnut wheat bread. Yay! And the unexpected tour was someone in the Altoistes group, and it’s always fun to meet up in campgrounds and talk Altos.
The other thing I got to do was play with the latest iteration of the screen room/awning. I’m going to go ahead and say I’m pleased with Pahaque Screen Room 6.0 (my name, not theirs). This set up has seen many tweaks and changes, and has been a long time in fits-and-spurts development, but I think I’ve just about got it. Here’s the path this project took:
It starts with a regularly manufactured Pahaque Safari Alto Trailer Awning. Then I asked Pahaque to make the following customizations as a special job:
- Sewn in front mesh wall
- Sewn in side mesh panels to go over the roll down side flaps
I needed to make additional changes to fill in gaps. Mind you, PHQ warned me that if they didn’t have the trailer there, to do proper measurements, they couldn’t guarantee it would work. Totally fair. I was fine with that, and assumed there would need to be tweaks. I have to say, just from me waving my arms around trying to describe what I wanted, they damn near nailed it. With a regular sewing machine, I was able to do the rest myself.
- Add tent material all along the bottom of the front and sides so there would be enough fabric to close the gaps along the ground. At the bottom of the main front wall, I added 10″ all along. At the back, I added 10″ all along. At the front end near the tongue, I added only about 3″ all along.
- Reposition webbing loops so they attach to suction cup hooks on the Alto in better locations
- Add additional loops on the inside of screen wall so I can attach the front wall from the inside if I want privacy. I can also use those loops to stow the netting wall out of the way
I also needed to create a skirt to go along the bottom of the trailer. This whole project would be pointless without that skirt because that’s where bugs like to fly in. Without the skirt, the whole contraption functions as a very effective bug catcher. As a project, making the skirt was not too hard. But it was not nothing, either.
- Cut plastic keder railing to fit, and stick on the bottom of the Alto with double sided super strong tape
- Sew keder rope onto a long length of bug netting
- Make end panels with tent material and loops to fasten to suction cup hooks
Ultimate proof of concept: this weekend, there were mosquitos, but not inside the screen room!! There are little gaps here and there, where a determined bug could surely find its way in, so I don’t think it’s swarm proof. There was also no wind, but when it’s windy, it’s not usually buggy. If I really wanted to, I could keep going to try to seal every single gap, but what really happens is that the bugs come in when you enter or leave the room.
Entering and leaving, by the way, is not all that easy. We’ve established that the side panel by the front of the trailer is the “door.” To go in or out, you have to take a loop off a hook in 2 places. We could instead use the zipper as the door, but I find I’m not usually going in that direction, so I stake the front down. If I only staked down one side, I could use the zipper as a door.
If I were to want one of these again, I think Pahaque could do the custom awning job pretty easily. I can now give them more accurate measurements for the necessary material widths. I’d also prefer if the central zipper went all the way up so it could be completely rolled out of the way. The skirt is another issue and I’m not sure they’d be into sending bits of keder rail as a kit. I went for a super simple design where the door step gets in the way, where I just bend the thing and run it under. There are gaps at the wheel well, and around the step, but no mosquitos found their way in, at least not this weekend.
Here’s a list of materials I used, with links:
- Black tent material to fill gaps
- Elastic cord for loops
- Keder rail to hang skirt
- Double sided tape to attach keder rail to Alto
- Keder rope for skirt
- Bug netting for skirt
- Webbing to sandwich bug netting onto keder rope
- Suction cup hooks to fasten loops to Alto
Literally the hardest part of this project was opening the shipping container used for the keder rail. I ended up sawing through it, and that proved only slightly easier than sawing through the plastic rail. That answered the question of why shipping was so expensive.
Yes, I think I’d use this where there are mosquitos and it’s neither raining nor very windy. I did in fact spend the whole afternoon lounging in my swing chair and I know for a fact I would not have done so otherwise because of the mosquitos. Yes, it cuts off the view out the windows and you have to put it up and take it down. So it’s a trade off game for sure. But now that I have three awnings/visors at my disposal, I think I’m good. For now.
On our way out, we stopped in Pescadero for our Arcangeli fix. We came out with a warm Chicken Pesto sandwich, 2 raspberry croissants, 1 cinnamon roll, and a peach pie. You really can’t go past Pescadero without making a side trip here. The market is a well known stop for bicyclists and it is quite famous for its artichoke breads and baked goods. Me, I’m happy with any of their pies. Good times.
Total miles: 75.6, 15.7 mpg, 2 hours 28 min. Site 16. There is no dump on site, so we went to Half Moon Bay SP where it’s free. Intermittent 4G for both of us, with Verizon doing slightly better and sometimes hitting LTE. No hookups.