Friday, January 3, 2014

Welcome to Winter

I’m not sure why, but I think that this 2 week (really 13 days) trip to Florida has felt like it was a month long.  Maybe it was the changing of seasons.  Maybe it’s that South Florida seemed like it was a million miles from home, yet it only took two days to get there.  Maybe it was the novelty of of RVing in December.  Maybe it was the monotonous Florida scenery.  The trip home seemed extra long too…  I spent 2 years in Florida one Winter Break and went through 4 seasons, ok maybe just three, to get home. 

I’d been watching the weather forecasts and knew it was going to be cold when I got home so i re-winterized before I left Titusville.  This allowed Dad and I chance to experiment with how to remove the anode rod from the hot water heater without the water gushing out like geyser.   We were successful!  The key is to turn the water pump off and then open a tap and release all the pressure in the system and then unscrew the anode rod.  The water flows right out without any drama!  Re-winterizing was harder than it was the 1st time – I’m not sure why, but I suspect it might have been the antifreeze.  I had an extra gallon from last year and it was a lighter pink, that was the bottle that was giving me trouble – I wonder if it was cheap antifreeze and not as thick or something. 

It was in the high 60s, cloudy (again…it was cloudy almost the whole time I was in Florida), but with the sun trying to peek out when I left Titusville.  The temp had climbed to 71* just south of Jacksonville where it started to rain.  Luckily I remembered that I needed to drain the fresh tank and there was a well timed rest stop just before the rain began!  I jumped out and opened the valve and let the little bit of fresh water drain as I drove.   The rain continued the rest of the day!

I blew right through Florida and Georgia.  I stopped for lunch, re-fuel, and stop at Publix for steps and some products I can’t buy at home in Pooler, GA.  It was the same gas station I’d visited on the way down and it was one of the few aggravation free re-fueling locations!

South Carolina was relatively traffic free – one spot of slow traffic going north (coming south was a different story) but the rain was pouring and the fog/mist was getting thick and it was getting harder and harder to see, especially as it got dark.   As miserable as the weather was, I’d take that over all that traffic! I’d planned to stop at the Wal-Mart in Lumberton, NC (exit 22) for the night.  We’d stayed there on our way home from Florida in 2012 on my 1st trip with Roxy so I knew it was close to the highway and allowed overnight parking. It was only 5:30 when I arrived in Lumberton, which is very early for a Wal-Mart night – there’s not much to do and going to bed early generally doesn’t work because it’s loud. I considered going another 100 miles but it was a really nasty night and there was snow coming up north and the best thing to do was to stay put and enjoy a quiet evening in the RV.   It was cooling down – the temps had fallen through the 60s and into the 50s.  It felt cold and raw, but I knew it was actually downright tropical compared to what was coming.

I had some trouble trying to figure when and what channel Jeopardy! was on, partly due to bad information on AOL TV listing and partly because of my own inability to remember how to use the TV and get it to find channels.  My plan was to go into Wal-Mart and pick up a few things & get some steps and be back at the RV by 7:15 or so to channel surf and whatever channel Wheel of Fortune was on would have Jeopardy! Well, my plan for foiled by the fact that Jeopardy! is on a 7 and I tuned in for 1/2 of Double Jeopardy!  There went the evenings entertainment.  I considered going back into Wal-Mart to wander around, stay warm and get steps, but it was too wet and yucky.  I put on a double layer of long underwear and snuggled under the blankets and watched tv.  I managed to find a Big Bang Theory re-run, then a new Big Bang Theory followed by a new The Millers so it was a good TV night! After I watched part of the pilot episode of er from the 90’s that I had on my iPad. 

It was still hovering around 50 when I went to bed.  I was toasty warm in my long underwear but I got in the sleeping bag because I knew it was going down into the 20s and if I got cold it was gonna be hard to warm up again.  I rolled up my quilt and my afghan and put them between my sleeping bag and the wall of the van.  I also put my big “floor” pillow against the door and put my pillows in front for further insulation. The temps fell gradually through the night, not dipping below freezing until almost sunrise.  Except for my face, I was toasty warm in my sleeping bag!

The wind started whipping right before dawn too.  It was blowing so hard I could feel the RV rocking!  According to my weather channel app it was  a 30mh wind!  yikes! 

Finally around 7, I turned the propane heater on to take the chill off and endured the awful “dust on the heating element” smell and got the RV all toasty.  Since it was only getting colder as I went north I opted to put yoga pants and a shirt over my double layer of long underwear and calling it “dressed”.  I made the coffee and got ready to go.  One of the last tasks before I departed was to step outside and see if I had in fact gotten the TV antenna down.  Woweee!  It was cold!  That wind was fierce.  Silly me thought it was cold in the RV!

It might have been shockingly cold but the sun was shinning!  1st day all week that it was sunny the whole day!

Aside from the wind pushing me into the other lane a few times, the last 300 miles were uneventful.  I stopped at the Flying J at exit 104 to dump the black tank – I’d been using it and wasn’t sure if I’d keep the RV at home tonight or take it back to Holly Acres, if I took it back I could dump there, but it had snowed here and I didn’t know if it was icy or what.  I’d had trouble getting the sewer hose storage lid on yesterday, today I had to use my vice grips to get it off! 

Soon I was back in Woodbridge headed home!  The main roads were all clear of snow and dry, my neighborhood streets were another story.  Lots of snow/ice and my parking spots were a sheet of ice.  We’d only gotten about 2 inches of snow, but it all froze. It was between 21*-26*, the thermometer kept changing, and the wind had died down. I didn’t dare back the RV on the ice (she doesn’t handle ice well) so I stopped in the middle of the street (no one was around) and unloaded my bike and got some laundry baskets and big ziploc bags and took the RV to Holly Acres.  The roads in the storage lot were snow & ice covered but it was all downhill and as soon as I moved the Saturn out of the spot I could pull the RV in and not have to move it again until things thawed out.  I pulled the Saturn out without even clearing the snow off!  I let it idle with the defrost on while I parked Roxy and loaded all my stuff into the baskets, tubs and bags.  I did the “speed” unload and left some stuff to be done later but I got all the food, stuff that could freeze and stuff I need. 

Unloading the RV at the storage lot means that I had to shuffle the junk twice, but I got extra steps, and it really didn’t seem *that* cold out! Refreshingly brisk! I was comfortable in my double layer of long underwear! Hard to believe it was 80 degrees in South Florida and now it was 20 degrees!  60 degree temperature change!

Once I got everything in the house I was busy putting stuff away, starting the laundry, cleaning the mess I left in the kitchen.  Yep, vacation was over…back to reality!

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