Living in a Tent Trailer on the Playa
This year we bought a tent trailer to live in on the playa. I looked everywhere for advice on how to windproof it for those crazy dust storms and really couldn't find a good post with experienced advice on what to do to keep it solid. So now that we have experienced our first year living in a tent trailer at burning man, I wanted to write a little something about how we did it, and open up a discussion to others who have used tent trailers or are thinking about using one next year.
My fiancÃ©e and I bought a 1970 Starcraft tent trailer for this yearâ€™s Burning Man. This trailer is 37 years old, and we got it for 300 bucks, so you may be able to imagine the condition it was in when we got it. It had a ton of problems, but we knew we could deal with them. The good outweighed the bad by far. First of all, it gets you up out of the Plust (that's right- Plust = Playa + Dust). I have learned after a few years at the burn that plust can make you cough, give you a sore throat, give you trouble breathing, dry out your skin, and make your experience way more difficult, so if you can do something to minimize that part, why not?
Next, it has it's own stove, a sink with a water tank, and ours had an empty space that was perfect for building a shower with a drain and a place to hang our solar shower bags. Yay, we didn't have to go outside to take a shower, we could do it inside out tent. Big bonus. And last, but definitely not least, the ability to put stuff in a trailer and not have to over pack and weigh down our van made it worth the $300 alone!
So we were ready to deal with the problems that were inherent to the trailer itself. Since it is so old, and the mechanism that lifts the roof is made out of aluminum, and was not in the best condition to begin with, we had a huge concern that it may twist, bend, distort, or fall over in a windstorm. My fiancÃ©e came up with a simple solution that worked great. He put some 3/4 eyehooks on the outside of the top lid, in each corner by the aluminum supports. We got some thick, braided polyester rope, and tied each corner down to rebar stakes that we hammered into the playa. This made our trailer very secure, and even though we had some real killer windstorms this year, our aluminum support mechanism had no damage.
We had read that a lot of dust had got into some other tent trailers that had been taken to the playa in years past. Although we know dust is, of course, inherent to the B man experience, we wanted to minimize its impact on our good time. When we were getting ready, we went through and covered as many holes as possible. There were gaps in the canvas where 37 years of shrinking canvas had left big spaces. I bought some canvas that almost matched the original canvas, and did a huge re-patch project with my sewing machine. I used that iron on patch stuff to patch little rips and tears, too. That left a few gaps where the aluminum supports met with canvas, for which I invented some removable dust covers. I measured the sizes in the gaps and cut squares of canvas for them. Then I put Velcro all around the edges, and sewed and stapled Velcro to the corresponding canvas and hard top areas. Also, the pull out â€œwingsâ€