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Old 03-05-2014, 07:25 AM   #1
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There's a lesson to be learned there, somewhere…

I just got back from a camping trip where things went awry. Saturday and Sunday were fine. High temps in the upper 60s, lows in the 40s, partly cloudy, no rain, light winds, deer wandering through the campsites at dawn and dusk begging for handouts of bread slices. Idyllic. Or it would have been, if I didn't take a bad tumble on one of the hiking trails and sprained by right thumb (good thing I'm a lefty) and pulled muscles in both legs when they went in different directions as I fell. Note to self: You've got a hiking staff, use it!

Got my clothes covered in mud in the tumble, only to discover that the park laundromat's washer and dryer only took quarters, and I didn't have enough quarters for even one load. Had to drive into twon to a laundromat that could make change. Note to self: carry a roll of quarters on every trip.


Then I put a dent in my skull by smacking it into an open overhead locker door in the galley area. My own danged fault for leaving it open, but you'd be amazed at how much a bald scalp bleeds. I'll probably have another scar once it finally heals. Note to self: Never leave the overhead lockers open for any reason.


Sunday night, that's when things started getting bad. First an honest-to-goodness blue norther, with the temperature dropping 45°F in just five hours. That was a problem because the Weather Channel and the other sources I consulted before the trip all agreed that the low temperature for the entire trip would be 37°F Sunday night. Instead, themeratures dropped to 22°F Sunday night, and didn't rise above 27°F from then until I left to come home Tuesday morning. Note to self: Even in this age of computers and weather radar and satellites, weathermen still get it wrong.

Had I known that temps were going to drop below freezing halfway through the trip I never would have gone in the first place; my winter camping is usually on the warmer weekends; I'm not by nature a masochist.


Anyway, I went to bed Sunday night not expecting temperatures to drop into the "hard freeze" range, so Monday morning I woke up to find my water hose and exterior water filter both cracked due to ice buildup. When I finally got them loose from both the service pedestal and the Airstream, I tossed them away in a park dumpster, only to find that the municipal water inlet on my Airstream was also iced up, as was the exterior shower fitting. Let me tell you, uncoupling frozen hoses is not easy when you can only use one hand! Note to self: A heated hose does me no good if I leave it at home because I don't think I'll need it!


It's just pure dumb luck that in addition to turning on the furnace to keep the inside temp warm enough for comfort against the predicted 37°F overnight low, I also turned on the tank heaters. So at least the indoor plumbing didn't freeze as well.


To make matters worse, I only had a light jacket with me, and the zipper broke, so I couldn't even zip it up against the icy wind as I was retracting my awning before it could ice up from the sleet. Another trip into town to buy a new winter coat. Note to self: I've got several jackets that I've accumulated over the years, so I can afford to take more than one on a trip.


Monday morning after breakfast my water heater started boiling, possibly due to the water heater's tank not being full (I had drawn off some water to wash my hands, but with no water coming in to replace it…). I turned off the water heater right away, of course, when I heard the bubbling noise. Note to self: Thermostat only works correctly when the water heater tank is full, not when it's almost full.

When I drove into town and bought bottled water and poured it into the Airstream's freshwater tank (which has a tank heater), I was able to turn the water heater back on and everything was Jake with it, so at least I had hot water to wash with.


But when I was packing up yesterday morning to come home, there was another nasty turn wating for me. The macerator pump, which also had not been winterized because I wasn't expecting a freeze, was frozen solid, so I couldn't pump out my holding tanks, either. Remains to be seen whether it's damaged; I won't find out until I go to a dump station next weekend and try it again.


I had no idea how important thumbs are for driving until I couldn't use one of them, so driving home was a five-hour ordeal. Normally it would have been 4˝ hours, but several overpasses were iced over and traffic was for once crawling along below the speed limit, except for those two fools I saw who just had to drive fast right up until they went off into the ditch.

And when I got home, it was pouring rain, so I had to put my Airstream to bed while getting dripping wet in the process.


About half of my bad luck was the result of not having a good weather prediction, and therefore not being prepared for the weather that I did encounter. The rest was pure carelessness on my part. There's a lesson to be learned in there, I'm sure.


But to me the most important lesson is, even a lousy weekend of camping is better than any weekend of not camping! After all, even though I didn't have a great time, at least I got a story out of it!
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:30 AM   #2
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I can say this about hooking and unhooking hoses with one hand...
There is a pair of Channel-Lock pliers in my water/sewer compartment.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:33 AM   #3
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Wow! Quite a story. Was actually humorous even though I know you were suffering at the time. Glad you made it home safe.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m.hony View Post
I can say this about hooking and unhooking hoses with one hand...
There is a pair of Channel-Lock pliers in my water/sewer compartment.
I needed pliers in the good hand and Channel-locks in the other, since the pedestal faucet wanted to unscrew along with the hose and I had to hold it to keep it from turning as well.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:39 AM   #5
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Camping AND an early season refresher course! Way to look on the bright side ;-)
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:40 AM   #6
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Whoa. That was interesting and fun to read, although I feel sorry for your pains. I can't remember a sequence that bad, but I remember some that were close. There is some kind of weird alignment of the stars that happens and when it does it feels like you should go hide somewhere and wait for it to pass.

You made it home! Hope you recover quickly.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:49 AM   #7
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Thats what I call the avalanche effect: once it starts to go bad it just continues to gain momentum. I've got more than one of those t-shirts. Glad you're OK and remaining positive.

Poppy
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:01 AM   #8
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Way to look on the bright side
There is no dark side to camping!
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:08 AM   #9
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Yikes, Protag!

One of those days...in multiples...we all have them. Glad you got home safely.

A few years ago, I stepped into a deep, leaf-filled hole at a campground. Broke my ankle when I landed, subluxed the knee on the other leg on the way down.

You learned a few things. We frequently have those learning experiences as the result of poor decisions.

Doug makes a practice in cold weather of filling the tank and putting the hoses inside, as ya just never know what the the temps might do. We woke up in Arizona to 18 degrees one morning, froze the hose and filter solid to bursting, What a mess.

We have a couple of inexpensive fleece jackets we just leave in the Interstate all the time. Nothing warmer, and you can sleep in them if you need to.

Doug also keeps one of those disposable plastic ponchos in the pocket of his door, for dumping and other outside choring in rain, sleet, etc.

Next trip will be better.


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Old 03-05-2014, 09:04 AM   #10
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I agree that a bad day camping is better than a good day doing most anything else. That being said, your negative experiences sure did pile up on you.

We have done quite a bit of cold weather camping in the spring and fall in Wyoming and Maine. We have learned the hard way (no pun intended) that a frozen city water supply hose does not wind up so good when full of ice. We, like doug&maggie, do not put hoses out when there is a fair chance of an overnight freeze. We also use brass hose quick connects on all of our hose fittings. This allows for much easier connections and has the added benefit of one hand operation if the situation dictates.

As to your other "issues", sometimes things just go awry. That's just the way life is.

Hopefully, you have met your quota of bad stuff for the the entire year, and it will be clear sailing from now on.

Brian
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:20 AM   #11
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Oh me oh my....that was funny....and tragic...but I did laugh.

I love your great attitude about it, and when we have our first day of "perfectly aligned crappiness," I'll be able to remember your story, and hopefully, will be able to laugh at myself as well.
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:33 AM   #12
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What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

In a couple of years you'll be sitting around the campfire saying "I remember this one trip in March of 2014.... It was awsome!"
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:37 AM   #13
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What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger... I feel your pain. I've had a few days like that in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness area on canoe camping trips. Not fun, but better than a day at work! Hopefully, you've expended all your bad luck for the season!

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Old 03-05-2014, 09:38 AM   #14
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We have learned the hard way (no pun intended) that a frozen city water supply hose does not wind up so good when full of ice.
I've been winter camping where I expected an overnight freeze, and was well-prepared for a freeze. However, in this case, the weatherman was off by a full 15°F, which meant the difference between expected no freeze and encountered hard freeze.

I say "the weatherman" but in this case it was at least three weathermen on different networks— including the Weather Channel— all making the same mistake.

Still, the point is well-taken and learned the hard (freeze) way… always err on the side of caution. If I prepared for a freeze when the temps were predicted for the high thirties, I would have been fine when they ended up in the low twenties. And if the prediction had been accurate and temps stayed in the high thirties, no harm would have been done by being prepared for worse.
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