Winter in Minnesota
Jan 20, 2018
.Normally, Hazel and I would be on the road by October, heading out before the snow to warmer places for the winter. But, this year, a trip to Rome was in the mix, Hazel, our youngest daughter, and me, to visit our son Tom and his family who were living in Rome for a year or so, as he finished his doctorial thesis in Philosophy at the Vatican.
.Hazel has been there before, and I remember her saying the streets in Assisi were uphill both ways, and watching those Rick Steves videos on public television showing crowds of tourists always gave me the impression there were more Americans in Italy than Italians. I didn't think my left knee, or my groin after three (or was it four?) hernia operations over the years, could handle all that walking, and I begged out, volunteering to stay here in Minnesota with the two dogs.
Tickets were purchased and plans were made, and on the 19th of December, I drove Hazel down to the airport in Minneapolis for the trip to New York City to meet up with our daughter. A couple of days later, they were off, with an overnight stay in Ireland and then on to the eternal city.
In emails to Tom and my daughter (Hazel doesn't do email), I'd end by asking them to ask Mom "where are the extra dishes?", even though I was keeping up on dishwashing, at least most days.
Temperatures here dropped, some nights to -20°F or even a bit lower, but Nuggie the cocker spaniel, Lily the pomeranian, and I were snug as we settled in for long winter naps. The motorhome has a good furnace and was very comfortable, and heaters down in the basement area kept the fresh water and holding tanks from freezing. An outside "hydrant" next to the cabin provides water to fill our 75 gallon holding tank, even on the coldest days.
Electricity for the 20 amp ground-fault protected holding tank heaters was provided by attaching the over-engineered 10 gauge wiring to the roof air conditioner 20 amp circuit breaker, a logical source that is idle during the winter. See the photos above. On our planned trip to Arizona and beyond, I'm sure we'll be having more cold winter nights as travel. Going down the road in sub-freezing weather could happen, and we'll be staying in a few Walmarts along the way, with our generator providing the electricity.
I was surprised to see how many RV parks in Nebraska are open this time of year, a route we'll be taking. When we're traveling we normally stay at these parks every 2 or 3 nights, if we can, to catch up on laundry, fresh water, dump our tanks, and use available WIFI.
Keeping the cabin going is becoming a problem. One morning, the temperature inside was down in the 30's, with the furnace blowing cold air, and the water was frozen. I drove over to the general store where the ladies told me the name of the local furnace guy. He lived right down the road, and was there within the hour. After a while, he left with the blower motor and squirrel cage, saying he "had to order parts", and would be back. Fortunately, the gas fireplace with a blower, and a couple of strategically placed electric heaters worked, returning the temp back to 60° or so, and two days later the furnace was working better than ever, a problem solved by throwing money at it.
After three weeks of living alone in the motorhome, letting the dogs out, letting the dogs in, trying to figure out how to cook for one person, I came to the realization that I'd make a lousy widower. Shaving and changing from pajamas to real clothes became optional, sometimes for days at a time, as I wandered around the motorhome in my slippers. It was only the realization that Hazel would be home in a couple of days, that I straightened up the place, did the dishes, vacuumed, made the bed, shaved, showered, put on clean clothes and headed to the barbershop. If this had gone on much longer, the family would be putting me in the home.
That was last week, Hazel made it home and everything was great. Then, the water in the cabin froze again, evidently a pipe down in the crawl space, and yesterday, thanks to the lack of snow cover they say, the sewer line froze up.
All of this is delaying our getting on the road to Arizona and beyond, and today I'll be tracking down the local plumber they tell me is a whiz at thawing frozen pipes.
My memories of $15 a day senior citizen rates at Corps of Engineers campgrounds in Florida this time of year are becoming fonder and fonder.
UPDATE January 20, 2018: Our plans to back the motorhome out of the snowbank on Monday and head for Arizona have been dashed by predictions of major winter storms exactly where we planned to travel. Hopefully, we'll be on the road in a week.
(click for larger image)