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Camping, not all wine and roses - catlinye_maker [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Camping, not all wine and roses [Feb. 1st, 2009|10:33 pm]
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Tonight is our thirteenth night camping for the year.  If next year's thirteenth looks like it's going to be like today, I want to skip it!

Whew.. It was one of those days today.  Started off well enough; the showers at the Delaware Water Gap KOA have hot water and plenty of it.  But then we had to leave the campground to come home, and that’s where the trouble began.

The roads were icy.  Trying to take the actual exit road was a mistake; we started sliding halfway up the small incline on the way out.  Trying to back up so that we could take the straighter route out resulted in planting the truck in a snowbank, with the fiver at an angle across the main access road, rear end buried in another snowbank.  Someone came by with the campground’s little tractor and a chain and tried to pull us out.  The first time he tried to get into position, J was attaching the chain to the truck’s front tow hooks.  Thank God he heard me screaming “MOVE! MOVE!” as I watched the tractor sliding slowly but inexorably toward the bumper right where he was bent over.  The tractor brushed his shoulder and then hit the truck just after he bolted from between them.  He told me later (when I said “Thank God you moved,”) that when he heard me shouting he knew what had to be happening.  “Didn’t need to look.”

Our poor doormat will never be the same.  We used it over and over for traction with the little tractor tugging and the drive wheels spinning.  We finally got the truck and trailer more or less straight in the road, and another very nice guy came by with a four-wheel drive truck.  We reset the tow chain and he pulled us right over that little hill and onto the pavement.  Both good angels told us to just pass it on when we proffered our thanks.

It turned out that we had not reconnected the trailer plug (which plugs into the truck’s electrical system and powers the trailer brakes, among other things) when we started out that morning.  With the trailer disconnected, the brakes are locked (that’s one of the reasons to unplug when you stop for the night.)  Without that extra load we might have made it out in one pass.  n.b. 1:  Check and double-check that every step is done, especially when things are not in the same routine.  n.b. 2: No more winter camping without chains for the truck, both towing and tire.

That fracas cost us an hour on an already tight schedule, as well as some wear and tear on everyone’s nerves.  Since the timetable was already pretty much shot, we stopped for lunch in Allentown.  Had a great meal and recovered quite a bit of equanimity.  Until we got back to the trailer.  The cats travel with us, in carriers in the cab of the truck.  Whenever we stop for a meal we let the cats into the trailer so they can stretch their legs and use the litterbox.  Came back to the trailer to re-box the cats, and there’s a pool of water on the counter, with more dripping from the air conditioner.  I think that the air conditioner got severely iced over when we weathered that storm in Boston, and the drip pan was signally failing to cope as everything thawed.  We’ll need to check the AC out thoroughly this spring and make sure that everything is ok.

Back on the road, we were headed for a Walmart near home to buy some supplies to take care of a pressing need to drain the waste tanks.  An attempt to empty them up in Boston had failed due to ice in the drain line, which would have to be cleared before the sewer hose could be hooked up.  We were almost there when J’s phone rang.  It was his employer, with a case that required his urgent attention.  He would need to be able to download data no later than six tonight.  We looked at our plan to drive to a dump station we knew of about an hour away.  No way to go there, dump, and get back before seven at best.  And that would leave us parking the trailer in the dark, something that is rightly to be feared, especially on an already rough day.  J said, “What’s the name of that campground in Lancaster?”  A quick call to information got me the correct name and the number, and we caught someone in the office who was happy to let us know that of course she had spaces available, with WiFi (for J to work with) and cable (for me to watch the game with.)

An hour later (4 pm or so?) things started to look up.  It only took us thirty minutes to get to the campground, where they had a lovely, easy to get into site for us.  J started downloading his data and we got the tank situation all cleared up.  I was standing outside watching the sunset while flocks of geese wheeled and called above me.  I watched them fly above the black branches of the empty trees, tinted pink with the colors of the setting sun against the clear sky.

I’m still worried about the kitchen tank, which doesn’t seem to be draining correctly.  It’s been problematic before.  The sensors read “E” for empty and I know I’ve done enough dishes to put some water in that tank.  There’s probably some ice in there fubaring the sensors, at least that’s the least troublesome explanation.  Once the weather is warmer, we’ll take down the underbelly and get a good look at what’s going on under there.  Hopefully, not much.

Right at this moment I do not believe I want to complain about my circumstances at all, though.  The problems can wait.  I’m sitting on the couch watching the game as J is on another work call.  He’s putting on water for tea, and Mister Guy is curled up next to me on the couch, making a warm spot against my leg.


[User Picture]From: flaviarassen
2009-02-02 05:27 am (UTC)
I am so grateful you are both okay!!!

(And why aren't you watching the Puppy Bowl?
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[User Picture]From: catlinye_maker
2009-02-02 01:16 pm (UTC)
I watched part of that last year. It was fun, especially the kitty halftime show. You're right, should have tuned in for that part at least. The puppies aren't as engaging for me.

Remember though, I actually like football. The game was fun to watch!
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[User Picture]From: ginevra007
2009-02-02 02:47 pm (UTC)
WOw what an adventure! As flaviarassen said I'm glad you and the cats are ok. And at the end of the day, you got to watch geese fly and sit on the couch watching the game with a cat curled up next to you.

Here is hoping the problems can be solved quickly.
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[User Picture]From: catlinye_maker
2009-02-02 03:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It begins to look like J is right and the problem is that the kitchen waste tank is subject to freezing at very low temps. That would be ok, we can deal with that. Much better than a leaking fitting which was my fear.
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[User Picture]From: aramintamd
2009-02-02 05:25 pm (UTC)
There's something to be said for waiting till warm to do the camping... Glad to hear everyone's okay (and still in the same shape they were before the trip)!
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[User Picture]From: catlinye_maker
2009-02-03 01:15 am (UTC)
Yep, I think we're much more likely to go South than North in winter, anymore. (If it's not warm enough for camping here, it will be further south!)
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From: jeansophie
2009-02-03 10:48 pm (UTC)


Yikes, what an adventure . . . and not in a good way. I'm glad you're both OK. You're right, the problems can wait and it all makes a good story, right? You'll deal with the problems in time.
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[User Picture]From: catlinye_maker
2009-02-04 01:44 am (UTC)

Re: Yikes

Precisely. :) We keep learning every trip, and we've even had trips where we just enjoyed using what we'd learned.

Of course when we got back to the house, the furnace was belching steam into the basement, so we were without heat overnight. We have a service contract with our oil co., and after a lot of work by the service guy we have heat again. For a while, at least. Apparently: "it could go any time." I've got calls in to several firms for boiler replacement quotes.

I'll be happy to be out of the 'Yikes!' zone. Any time now would be good...
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From: jeansophie
2009-02-04 02:00 am (UTC)

Re: Yikes

Yes, I agree. Any time now . . .
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