Sunday, May 20, 2012

You can fool all of the bugs some of the time...

So here's the Canadian dilemma. You want to go camping in your regular old van, or you want to go to the drive-in theatre, and you have a choice. You leave the windows closed on those hot, muggy nights, and you boil, or you open them and all the bugs come in to eat you alive. We used to bring mosquito netting, to try to drape, or we'd all hide in the trailer, crammed in while the van was useless, or at the drive-in, we'd put up with cracked windows, and the inevitable critters that found their way in.

Not any more. Here is how you bug-proof a van, or at least how we did it chez Sprung this year for our trip to the Mustang Drive-in of Prince Edward County fame.

First, I scrounged around, and found an old play tent that the kids trashed last year, and for which there were no poles. I took two relatively hole-free sections of the netting part of the tent, and cut them to fit both the back cargo door, and the front passenger side. What we're aiming for here is a flow-through. You don't have to do every window, or even opposing windows, just the ones that let you catch a breeze on opposite ends of the van.

Next, a Canadian must-have .... duct tape. This is the only tape that will stick well to those inside portions of the van without leaving residue, and also will not let go part way through the movie.

For the front passenger door, we use the duct-tape to tack the netting in place. For the upper and side 'door portions' of the net, as we close the door, the door seals those portions.

For the bottom and side, once it's tacked, we use packing tape to seal the whole edge. The packing tape is only there to sit against the upholstery. Why? Well, using duct tape all across makes it impossible to re-use on the next outing, and if any bugs do get through on the inside and bottom portions of the window, it's such a tight fit that they will stick to the packing tape before squeezing their way through.

Then we close the door, and, voila, the front door is done.

Next I cut the zipper portion of the tent, and fitted it to the cargo door of the van. (That way, if there's an emergency washroom exit required, we can still use the zipper to get in and out.)

The rear section is not sealed the whole way around, but folded around the entry, and tacked with duct tape. With this, we want to use tension to keep the netting folded over the edges of the opening. That's why it's important to make it somewhat tight through those sections.  Keep in mind it's not a perfect seal, so it won't work if kids are bumping against it, or if a very strong breeze blows up. With limited duct-tape, I didn't seal the whole thing, but under good conditions that's not necessary anyway.

Voila. Sealed front and rear entry, and done in a way that you don't have to fiddle with it. You close it up, drive where you're going, pop the door, open the window, and you're ready to eat popcorn and enjoy the show, or the snooze, whichever it may be.

The website for the Mustang is here.

May 24, 2012

As an addendum, I thought you would all like to know how well it went. In a word: Awesome! It's too bad we only stayed for the kid's feature, as that took them too late into the night, but perhaps Jenn and I will get a babysitter sometime soon and do the all-nighter!

As it was, we were cool, comfortable, and not 'bugged' at all. Many strangers came by to tell us what a great idea it was, and there were even a few who said we should patent the idea! (Sorry, it's been done, there is a company that will custom-fit to your vehicle....)

My wife, Jennifer's, blog can be found here:
Cleverly Disguised as Cake

And my first novel, squeakyclean, here:
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