Tag Archives: water

We Wear Grass Skirts in Winter

or, I’ll Huff, and I’ll Puff, and I’ll Blow Your House Down

Winter is here, and frankly, we were late in being ready for it.

However, now we’re in good shape. Better than good. The plumbing and pipes have been returned to their previous non-frozen, liquid-delivering state. We are fully insulated (to say the least), the pipes are safe, we’re warm and cozy, and we have a new resident trapped under the RV. I’ve nicknamed him The 50-Below Heater. He’s a heater inside the underbelly and behind the wall of insulation, in case there is ever like, some freaky 50-below situation. And we brought home a new emergency heater. (No doubt, none of these things will ever be used, now that we’ve gone to the trouble.)

But what I really came to tell you about is our insulation adventure. And if I do say so myself, it is both functional and stylish. Big bales of straw, friends. Two feet deep and three feet long. Last year we used one-inch thick foam insulation board. Did the trick and we never froze, but I hate working with the stuff. This year we used straw bales. I don’t know exactly what the r-value of a two-foot thick straw bale is, but I’ll guarantee you it’s a hell of a lot higher than one inch of styrofoam.

Thart’s a larta straw bales!

You think it looks like an RV Tiki Bar?
I was going for a sort of manger/Christmas feel.
Or maybe it’s Cleopatra’s White Trash Barge.

Baby is decked out for Winter!

After packing in the straw bales very tightly and stuffing every single little crack, la Caravane de la Paille gets a layer of packed snow at the bottom to seal the deal.

This makes us completely okey-dokey down to however-much-below zero. It’s far more that we did previously, and we were fine down to 30-below last year. (In fact, when a few around-the-corner neighbors had frozen pipes, ours were fine.) Anyhow. This is far more than we very likely need to do. But an extra measure of security is nice to have, and truth be told, it was kind of fun. And besides, it’s unique and it looks super weird. After all, we have rep to protect!

“What are those lunatics in the RV doing now?!”




Filed under adirondacks

City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks

One of the first things I noticed about Saranac Lake in the Winter was those nifty little sidewalk snow plows they have. A little mini plow the width of the sidewalk. Never saw such a thing. In the city, each resident was responsible for the sidewalk out front, and if you didn’t shovel it, you got a ticket. Merry Christmas from New York City!

Hey, look! Snow dog! We’re all out in the snow! For us humans, most of our outside time is spent shoveling. We’re looking at five days of snow, probably a foot or more so far. We like the entire width and depth of our driveway cleared, so we’ve been out there each day, sometimes twice. As I’ve said before, I think it’s fun. Although I have to admit – Sometimes, maybe once a week, when it’s a night shovel and I am lifting the last scoop full, I start to think twice about shoveling a 25 x 50′ driveway by hand. But usually I’m just smiling. It’s a sickness.

In other news … it’s Christmas! Between community-fun-friendly activities and work activities, my Winter comes in like a lion (as they say). Truth be told, I bailed on playing in the orchestra for The Messiah. I realized that in all of the month of December, there were only five days that did not have something marked on the calendar. Something had to go. I was doubling a part anyway, and learning the music would have been a time problem. So, I bailed. But, now I know what level of activity I can handle for the holiday season. Of course, I’m still playing in the orchestra for the Holiday Concert at Will Rogers (this Saturday at 7:30pm), and all the super neat stuff at St. Luke’s – morning meditations, Christmas Eve, Sunday holiday services. And I’ll play in the Winter Carnival concert. More on all that later.

Inside the ol’ tin can, we’re warm and cozy, but we have the usual Winter water problems. Often, the water is fine. But depending on the direction of the wind, the day of the week, the phase of the moon, and how far below zero we are, lines freeze up. Usually just part. And usually not this early. At any rate, something’s frozen in a weird place I can’t get to. I’m considering two plans based on go-another-route-because-it’s-just-going-to-happen-again.

Plan A is a more advanced version of what we have previously called the Laura Ingalls Wilder System. Maybe put a heated 40 gallon cistern in a corner inside, or a stock tank outside the door with a heater. Fill the cistern (tank) each morning from the well. Keep a giant pot on the stove over a low flame for hot water (à la the Wilders). Maybe something with a spout above the sink for washing dishes. I know it sounds crazy, but believe it or not, we’re used to it.

Plan B is a little more involved. Most of the plumbing and the cold water lines are inside the “basement,” under the bedroom where the furnace and pump are. Those never freeze. Never-ever. But the hot water and kitchen lines run under a section of floor that I can’t get to. Those are the lines that give us trouble. I could potentially take the lines out and relocate them to inside the heated area. However, re-plumbing half an RV is a huge project.

Now, where did I put that giant stock pot?


Filed under adirondacks

RV House, the New Reality Show

Yeah, it’s a real Frontier House over here sometimes.

For the most part, we’re okay. We’re warm, we have working plumbing, I can have a hot shower when I want one, and we have a full kitchen. The RV is behaving. But, to keep it behaving, there are chores. These are the times when it starts to feel a little 1862 around here. I was explaining to a friend that we go outside and fill a cistern each day, and that I have to light a fire in the cabin each morning. She quipped, “You guys are out of your minds. Someone should film this for PBS.”

Starting a fire in the woodstove is pretty straight forward, and I really only have to do it if I want to use the cabin that day. My piano is in the cabin, and sometimes I like to sit out there with my computer. Pretty run-of-the-mill, and the draft on our stove is good, so it’s not that big a deal.

However, in the Water Department – Our water is down in a well. Quite literally, a lined three-foot-wide hole in the ground with a cap on it. (pictured) As is usually the case, the RV is completely self-sufficient, and has a 40 gallon water tank. The problem is, I have to get the water from the well to the RV tank. Can’t very well leave a line out there to freeze. So, I do it the simplest way possible.

Have you ever taken a shower while dodging a rolled-up  50 foot garden hose and a sump pump? I do it every morning. Our hose/pump contraption lives in the shower. We roll it up and keep it in the shower so it doesn’t freeze. Each morning, I drag it out in the yard, negotiate the snow, shove the heavy well cap off, and toss the business end of the thing down the well, making sure that the electric cord and plug for the pump stay on dry ground. I take the other end of the hose and walk it over to the water tank inlet, and stick it in. I go get an extension cord, go over to our electric pedestal, plug in the pump, and let the water flow. I can tell it’s almost full when it makes a gurgling sound. Then I roll up the hose and bring it back inside. That takes a while. Rolling up a fifty foot garden hose (with a pump on the end of it) in sub-zero temps … well, you can imagine.

It is at this point that you’re welcome to stop to think either, “That makes sense,” or “He’s completely out of his mind.”


Filed under adirondacks