Our winter was rolling along quite nicely in Milwaukee so far. We had insulated our windows with plastic and fleece to keep the heat from our tiny, electric heaters in the housecar. We had our winter clothes sent up from Florida and were bundled up accordingly. We even had a dog jacket for our puppy to wear on his snowy walks.
Feeling pleased with ourselves, we spent the next week doing what any red blooded American should be doing in Wisconsin: drinking beer and eating cheese.
That is, until we woke up the next morning to no water. The temperature outside had succeeded in freezing our water hose, our backwater discharge pipe (which promptly snapped in half when we picked it up) and the city water pipe that fed our solid icicle that was once our water hose.
We went out to the closest Campers World (about 45 minutes away) and got a new blackwater pipe and a water hose that featured a heated element that plugged in and kept the water above freezing. When we got home we installed our new toys and Phillip took to all of the pipes with a dryer and once it was defrosted, he wrapped the city water pipe to keep it from freezing again.
My hero. (As always.)
Our winter water set up.
This system worked for a few days, as the temperatures hovered in the upper 20’s. We thought we had escaped the worst of it, and continued to pat ourselves on our Floridian backs until the water stopped flowing. Again.
What the what??
We were officially baffled. We had a heated water hose and a fully wrapped city water pipe. We had electric heaters inside. We thought we had thought of everything…. and we were frozen yet again.
After a few days of using the communal bathrooms (thankfully they were nice at this facility) we talked to our neighbor Brett, who is crew on the show. He scratched his chin thoughtfully as he contemplated our dilemma and asked one simple question. “Are you using your propane furnace? Cause you know it heats the bays…”
Underneath the rig are a series of bays that hold our extra junk and encase our internal water pipes. They had gotten so cold that they had frozen solid because we weren’t using the propane heater. The logic behind our latest over site was that we would have to move the entire rig to refill the tank if we used all the propane for heat, so we relied on our tiny electric heaters, forgetting that the propane kept the bays, and therefore the pipes, warm.
My what a learning curve we were on.
We tried to install a 100 watt lightbulb in the bay, which we had heard would keep the pipes from freezing, but the -20 windchill was besting our lightbulb system, so we were forced to use our propane sparingly for the last week we were in town.
We rolled out at the end of the week, relieved to head to the warmer climes of San Antonio, Texas, but I was glad we got to experience a quick three weeks in sub-freezing temperatures. It was only one quick month on winter in the first full month living in our housecar, but we learned so much about what we needed to do to prepare for a real winter. And good thing we did, as we are projected to be in cold cities at the end of 2015.
We won winter…. for now.
Bye bye snow.