Monday we left Texas and headed north. While we were in Texas we wore shorts every day. As we headed north it got colder and colder. By the time we hit Kansas, the temperatures hovered between 17 and 24 – during the day! We’ve been enjoying eternal September as we traveled in the south so this cold is a rude awakening. The weathermen keep talking about the “polar vortex.” Jimmy Fallon said they used to call it November.
When we lived in the house, we didn’t worry too much about the cold. The furnace kept the house at a comfortable, if cool, temperature. Gas heat was readily available and fairly cheap. When you live in an RV, there are certain challenges to the cold.
First, we have two furnaces on the RV that runs on propane. They heat beautifully and the first night below freezing we kept the the temperature elevated because we weren’t sure how the RV would respond to the cold. The problem is we have two propane containers and each one lasts about two days at these cold temperatures before it is empty and needs to be refilled. We didn’t actually know the tanks would only last two days until we happened to check them after a walk today and they were both empty! We quickly removed one and hurried to the nearest dealer to refill. Tomorrow we will get the other filled and will continue this process pretty much every day until we get to warmer weather.
The second problem with cold in an RV is that all the plumbing is above the ground surrounded by fiberglass walls. The water is stored in tanks on the RV – fresh water, gray and black water. We bought our RV knowing that we would spend some time in the freezing weather so we bought the highest rated insulation possible and got the polar package on the plumbing. That means we have, essentially, heating pads on the tanks and on all the plumbing lines. The furnace also has a duct into the “basement” – the storage compartment through which the plumbing travels. Our goal is to keep it above 32 so the pipes and tanks don’t freeze.
The final problem with cold is keeping everything as warm as it should be while we are driving down the road. Yesterday we drove 150 miles and the temperature outside never got above 20. We discovered that the area that contains the tanks and plumbing would stay above 32 for four hours before we needed to start the furnace and get some supplemental heat into the basement. Consequently, if we need to travel more than four hours in temperatures below freezing, we will have to stop, turn on the propane, let the furnace run for a while, and then turn off the propane before we get back on the road. We got a wireless thermometer so we can tell, whether in the truck or the RV, just what the temperature is in the basement.
Today, our third day below freezing, we are experimenting with how cold we can keep the interior of the RV (saving on propane) while keeping enough heat in the basement to protect the pipes and enough heat in the RV that my fingers and nose don’t turn blue. I am currently wearing three layers but I found out I can’t type with gloves on.
After Kansas we are heading to Ohio, so we know this will be the way we travel for the next six weeks. We might be cold and need to spend some extra money on propane, but it will be worth it to be among the warmth of family and friends during the holidays. Tom says we just have to spend more time cuddling with each other. It may be cold outside, but our love will keep us warm (I hope).