Week 52: The Polar Vortex RV Test, Researching Rigs, and the 90° in 24 Hours Warm-up
Monday morning was the coldest that it has been in Texas in over a hundred years, so they say. It was -17° at one point. The electric company started rolling blackouts at 2AM, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off. With the first shut off of the power at the coldest point in over 100 years, all of our water in and out froze solid. Once the sun came up, Dom worked to get the ice in the hose out and the faucets running again. The water pressure was low and water was only spurting out of the faucets once we got them moving again. Spurting is better than nothing so we left them open like that. I tried to work but with the power going out at unpredictable times, I often was not able to complete tasks and calls were being disconnected prior to resolution. The stress of everything and all the heaters gave me a bloody nose at lunch time. I stuck it out and "worked" the full 8 hours. After work we pulled the 0° sleeping bags from our bugout bags and set them up in the bed. The low from Monday into Tuesday was -10°.
Tuesday was more of the same with the blackout and power cycles getting a little longer to average 40 minutes. The neighborhood lost water pressure due to the pumping stations not having power which compounded the freezing water issues. We also started losing cell service with the power cycles. Our neighbors let us know that during one of the times power was on they were able to make some Taco soup and we were welcomed to a hot meal. We went for a quick visit and also found out that UPS and other delivery companies had taken their semi-trucks off the road, everything had stopped moving including the trash pick-up, gas and propane delivery, and mail. We had at least three more very cold days to go before this might be over. The weather app was saying that we would be above freezing on Saturday at 40°
On Wednesday the power cycles got longer. We averaged one hour on and one hour off. I worked through this and did what I could while we had power but we had a new problem, water was coming in from somewhere behind the walls, between the stove and sink. We used sponges to soak it up and squeezed them out about every hour as they were full by then. In addition, we found a leak in our water pump, even though we were not using the pump. We discovered it when we looked under the trailer and saw a sizable ice cone on the ground underneath the pump! After work, and inspired by our hot meal yesterday, we got out the instapot and made some Korean Chicken tenders and mashed potatoes (microwave potatoes). We had enough power for the pot to build steam and cook and our plan was that if the power went out, we would just let it slow release to keep cooking for the appropriate amount of time. I think the Instapot was magic because our power came on at 7:15 PM and stayed on until after we went to sleep!
Thursday morning we woke up and had power, it is possible that it had stayed on all night? It stayed on all day! It was the first day since Monday that we were back to semi-normal as we still had a frozen black tank and low water pressure. We were advised that we were now under boil orders for the water due to the low pressure. We had some bottled water left for drinking but boiled some to use for dishes and hand washing. I had bought some new types of yarn to try to work with that were super chunky but forgot to look at what size needle they would need and made do with the biggest one I had. I Iearned why using the right size needle is so important in crocheting. I ended up with too tight of a stitch and made a dog mat instead of a scarf. It was still fun and I was able to make it very fast. Friday our water pressure started coming back but the black tank was still frozen and the outside temperatures were still below freezing. After work we got all the laundry done as the laundry room had been closed during the power outages and low pressure. I also started on another scarf, after last night’s failure/win for Tripp. I’ve decided that since my crocheted creations were not selling on Etsy or in person as well as I’d hoped and buyers want inexpensive, mass created products instead, I will continue to do something that I love and will drop them off at donation centers around the country as we travel. These few scarves that I’m making now, however, have a different purpose. I have a friend who is trying to adopt two young family members and I’m doing what I can to help her raise money for the legal fees involved as well as some of the costs afterwards that come with bringing new children into a home. If I get permission from her, I will share the link to the go fund me page here if you feel like you want to help or know someone who might be interested in helping. I’m making scarves for her to use as prizes for a raffle for people who donate to her. Saturday was a small moving day for us, we moved to another site in the same campground. Our new site has a very large “yard” due to it backing up to the children’s and dog park as well as the little creek in the campground. It is an amazing site! After moving and setting everything up again, we tossed around the idea of a different kinds of rig again. We really want our travel days to be less work and thought about a van. We looked into the Airstream Interstate which would give us benefits like: More ability to boondock as it has a generator already, a suspension which puts less stress on the vehicle (travel trailer are notoriously rough rides due to no suspension on the axles), a smaller footprint which would allow us to get into more places (22ft vs 44ft long), a more functional interior (Airsteam really makes use of every inch in ingenious ways), and less vehicles to worry about as we would replace both the travel trailer and the jeep. After looking at our current living and work situation though, we determined that we are not able to go that small yet. We will revisit it again if/when our work situation changes and we need less space to be able to do it. We also discussed the possibility of purchasing my sister’s class A rig as she mentioned that she would be selling it some time in the future. A class A would give us plenty of space to each work comfortably, less trouble with shifting things around in storage to get to them, the ability to boondock for long periods of time with giant tanks, a generator and lots of space for solar panels, and it will last longer as it is built to higher standards because it is a vehicle. We are thinking about the long term and wondering how long our current travel trailer will make it. Right now, we are still just tossing ideas around and seeing what our options are. We also looked into a gym membership when Covid is under control. We are thinking that a nationwide club would give us access to strength training in addition to our biking as well some other amenities while we are on the road that might come in handy as we transition to more boondocking and less nights in campgrounds.
Sunday we celebrated the outside temperatures being far above freezing with a pancake breakfast and completed more research on the class A. We discussed that if we do move forward with a class A, we can’t also have a home base. We will need to commit to being on the road for a minimum of 5 years without a home base to fall back on. We also researched some of the systems that come on that rig as they are new to us and we want to make sure that, as much as we can, we know what we are getting into with maintenance. After breakfast, as Dom was putting the glass stovetop cover back down to give us back some counter storage space, the front half of the hinged glass cover exploded in a million pieces. We have no idea why, maybe it was the temperature changes of the last week, maybe we had been putting too much pressure on it with the heavy items we stored on it for the last year. We had a lot of careful clean up to do to make sure that we and the puppies were safe to walk around. After we finished cleaning it all up we headed to the dumpsters to dispose of the glass. We found that someone had the exact same thing happen to them with the same stove top cover only they had broken the back half and had thrown out a perfect front half! We had a replacement for free. We snagged it and sanitized it then took it home to install. We only needed to take the hinges off and use the best set to attach the two halves together. We spent some time outside grilling and enjoying the sun as the temperature rose to 71 degrees. At night we had a zoom call with a couple that we support on Patreon. It was a fun way to connect with them and their other Patrons. Let us know if that is a benefit that you would like to see from us in the future.
Thank you for following our journey through our first full year. Monday is our anniversary of moving into the RV! We can’t wait to see what the next year brings and hope that you will continue with us as our lives evolve and our adventure continues. See you next week!