We spent most of the last three days hunkering in the bus, waiting out the bitter cold. The furnaces, set to stretch our supply of propane as long as possible, have been keeping the living space tolerably warm (in the high 60s, that is).
I expect we’ll need to unhook Ernie and drive over to the campground’s LP filling station this weekend or Monday. During this, the coldest month of the year, we’ve been burning six or seven gallons of propane a week.
Despite having some control over temps inside the coach, it’s still a matter of adjusting to conditions. Ice (from condensation) forms overnight on the inside of the windshield glass. The walls aren’t insulated particularly well, and interior surfaces never really get warm. Managing the fresh-water supply and dumping waste water take a little more discipline. Likewise monitoring the temp in the wet bay, which rarely drops below a very acceptable 50°F.
But we’re all fine. Dipstick wears a hooded sweatshirt most of the time and keeps moving. Scout tends to park herself next to the space heater we run in the galley.
Deb and I layer-up, eat hot’n’hearty meals, keep to our vitamins-and-supplements regimen and relax.
By the way, I’m pleased to report that Ernie’s slide toppers appear to have recovered from being strained by a foot of snow — they’re no longer sagging. We’ll know for sure when we pull the slides in to go for propane.
Yesterday, after a 6°F start, eventually the mercury climbed into the high 20s. We grabbed showers, boarded Mercy and made a quick grocery run. On the way back we hit a drive-thru, where we benefited from the generosity of an anonymous customer two cars ahead of us — he paid forward. Smiling, we ate burgers’n’fries for free.
Have I mentioned that we love it here?
“There is a force that makes us all brothers — none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.”Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes
As we were winding down our Friday and getting ready for bed, I heard the rear furnace kick on. Less than a minute later the blower turned off without producing heat — not good. The outdoor temp already was 20°F at that hour, headed for an expected low of 16°F, so this was a lousy time for a problem.
I went to the thermostat and cycled power a half-dozen times. The furnace blower would come on, run a short while, then shut down. No heat.
Yes, this is the same unit we had repaired (bad control board) two months ago, before seriously cold weather set in. Deb called a mobile tech (a different one) last night and we talked through the symptoms with him. Long story short, he’ll be out this morning to take a look.
Overnight we turned the thermostat up for the front furnace, moved the space heater to the rear bathroom, opened cabinet doors where plumbing lives and threw another blanket on the bed. It’s the best we could do.
When I got up with the dogs this morning, shortly before 5am, I glanced at the temp display above the dinette — it showed 67°F up front, 67°F in back and 53°F in the wet bay. I’ll take it, considering that the outside temp was 12°F. Here’s hoping the furnace needs only minor attention and that it’s an easy fix.
Back in Ohio, our older boy told us that he stopped by our favorite bar yesterday afternoon. He got to talking with a couple of the bartenders, good friends of ours, who apparently keep up with Deb and me through our social-media pages and this blog.
They’re convinced, he says, that we’re not coming back.
Well, we are coming back, maybe sooner than they think. It’s complicated.
Deb observed yesterday that our memorable 73-day run, from August to mid-October, now “seems like it happened a lifetime ago. We really have shifted gears here, haven’t we?”
Yes, we have.
Where we find ourselves today — locus, mindset, motives, intentions — bears little resemblance to what we envisioned this time last year. Then we planned to set off from Second Chance Ranch in the spring, staying out for 12 months or longer, never letting grass grow under our feet.
Now we’re in The Ozarks of northern Arkansas. In the winter. We’ve been here over three months. That wasn’t part of our plan.
We have our reasons.
Our American Life has changed again, big-time. We’re as surprised about that as anyone. We didn’t anticipate that in mid-odyssey we’d discover how we wanted the rest of our lives to turn out.
On our way to the grocery yesterday afternoon, we took another step in that direction. It’ll be a few weeks, maybe a month, before what we did shows up here on Ubi Libertas Blog — but it will.
It’s a simple thing. We’re excited. Stay tuned.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.