Friday, March 6, 2015

Dumb Move! Winter Ravages RVs, Even Tillie!

When I accepted the invitation to give a talk in Mokena, IL on Feb. 28, I naively hoped that winter would be in decline, so I said I'd drive up (from Kansas where I'm filming Worn Out Welcome Mat - KS) in Tillie2, my (sorta) roadworthy van/home.

I could have guessed that this weekend would mark the end of one of Chicagoland's coldest Februarys on record, and that Friday night's temps would bottom out at -9.

Even before that, the below-freezing Kansas temps where I had been parked managed to turn the contents of my gray and black tanks into nasty icebergs. I thought I sort of got them dumped during a mini-thaw, making a snoodge of room, but found out otherwise. OK, so fortunately for me, the places I've been parked have bathroom facilities accessible to me, so it's just discomfort.

All I can say is that I'm longing for Spring more than I ever remember. When I return to Kansas from Chilly-Illy next week, I've been promised spectacular temps, above freezing night and day for more than a day or two.

The good news in this winter learning experience: I've figured out the combo of how my two portable heaters can work in sync, without tripping breakers, giving me maximum warmth, as long as I have electricity. Now "maximum warmth" may be a relative term. When temps outside drop below zero, if it's above 50 inside I think it's warm!

One bleak reality I encountered at a dump site I frequent when I'm in the Chicago suburbs was the snow-covered hole, protected by a lock. The nice guy who came out to unlock it said, "We don't have many people using this during the cold winter months." Yeah, I can figure out why.

I've been on the road for a decade. I know what freezing temps do to liquids and solids. I should have known better, plying my tanks with the nontoxic RV antifreeze BEFORE February. But life interfered, now I'm paying the price.

If nothing else, it makes me better understand how people who end up homeless end up making "dumb" mistakes and dearly paying for them. And it gives me that humble reminder of my humanity (like I need it!).

It also is a painful reminder to me of how many millions of households, and house-less people, struggle with weather related challenges. Multiply my discomfort and annoyances--incalculable--for those struggling with basic human needs. Guess I quit whining now....