My wife and I decided to become full-time RVers about 3 years ago. We had been living the typical American life, with 9 to 5 jobs, cars to pay for, a mortgage and a house to keep up on, and no end of running the treadmill in sight. When the real estate crash happened and our home’s value plummeted, we decided to liquidate most of our belongings and bought a used motor home. We brought our pets, our laptops, instruments and PA equipment for working on the road, and we took off. Oh, and we brought our pop up canopy with us too, because we knew we couldn’t live without it.
We knew the many possible uses for the portable gazebo-like invention already, but we found even more uses for it on the road. For those of you who don’t know, a pop up canopy is a roof made of nylon tent material covering the top of a four-legged structure – you’ve probably seen them at farmer’s markets and other outdoor events. Most of them are 10 or 12 feet square and a little over 7 feet tall or so in the center, but you can get bigger ones. They come in a carrying bag that’s easily carted around by one person – it’s very light.
To put up a pop up canopy, you slide it out of the bag, get a person on each corner (it really does take 2 people to get it unfolded) and start pulling it apart. As the legs are pulled outwards the roof supports expand and you snap them in place. Then you stretch the top over the corners, and raise the legs. After the velcro bands are attached on the inside to hold the top on, you can put tent stakes through the bottoms of the legs to hold it down, and you’re done. You now have a nice-sized space to walk around in – there’s plenty of headroom – and to shelter you from the sun and the rain.
We used our canopy at home for backyard entertaining when the weather was good – it’s great to put up a card table and chairs and some lanterns and have a card or board game party. The grand-kids loved to use it at half-height as a playhouse. And we used it at our gigs as acoustic musicians – after 1 time performing in the hot sun without a shelter we knew we had to have one.
When we hit the road we took it with us for our future performances, but we found many other uses for the pop up canopy, which we easily stowed in one of the RV’s compartments. When we were set up for a short stay it was an extra outdoor space to use for lounging, eating and entertaining. We use our built-in RV awning only when we’re staying in one place for a while and it’s not too windy. The great thing with a pop-up is that you can take it down in minutes in the event of a storm, or even just take off the top and put it back on later.
We also found it useful for taking to parks and beaches where we were staying, so we could have a whole day of fun picnicking and relaxing in our temporary shelter. Back at the campsite or RV park, we liked being able to put the dogs outside for some fresh air, too. And when we were able to work in a show playing our music at a farmer’s market, with our own pop up canopy, we fit right in.