Parked For a Difficult Winter

Today, I moved to my winter parking spot.

My first choice would have been to have power put in and build a simple greenhouse-type structure around Miranda. Unfortunately, no one local was willing to return my calls and electricians in Moose Jaw were too pricey because of the mileage involved.

Then, I thought of asking the owner of the empty house next door if he could have power turned on for me to park in his yard. He said yes, but when we got to negotiating the deal, I found I didn’t trust him not to kick me out in the dead of winter with 50′ of snow on the ground.

So I ended up taking up Laura on her offer to park in her yard where I’d have access to two circuits, for 30A total. It would have been nice to have a full electrical panel to myself, but 30A will get me far.

I’m parked between two garages, so sheltered from the window on Miranda’s long sides. I will be skirting with styrofoam and eventually snow, as well as running a light bulb under the rig near the holding tanks, with more styrofoam around them to trap the heat. I’ll also have a bulb going in the fresh water tank compartment and be putting plastic on the windows. I may also use thick plastic across the front and the back between the two garages to further block out the wind, if necessary. Since I don’t have cats anymore ( 🙁 ) putting down rugs inside for further insulation will also be possible.

(I forgot to grab a picture of the VIEW outside my office! I’ll have to remember to grab one to share!)

The plan at this point is to see how long I can be comfortable and productive at home. I estimate I will have $150 worth of power, plus propane, which isn’t too bad and makes it worth being home as long as I’m not frozen. But if the costs skyrocket and I’m just not able to stay comfortable, I can take one of Laura’s spare rooms. I’ll watch the weather and gauge week to week what I need to do. This could be a very mild winter, like I had in Lethbridge, or a bad one. Either way, I’ve got options to ride it out comfortably, but it won’t be much fun (except for all the playing in the snow, whee!).

Laura isn’t home during the day, so I have the option of working out of her house, although that will make internet tricky. I have access to laundry and my own bathroom for showers during the day, too. Another perk is the garage as I will be able to stash Moya in it, making it easier to take her out the odd time I want to go to town.

The downside is that Laura and I underestimated how much overhang the garage has. Miranda JUST fits in the space, with my house door only opening partway (enough to be safe in case of a fire!). This is motivation to get the passenger seat out of the cab. Once that’s done, I can enter easily through the cab (that door opens fully), shut the door, and then open the door into the living room, keeping all the cold wind from blowing in.

This morning, I headed over here to test the power outlets to make sure I could plug in. Well, they were getting 120V, but the hot and neutral were reversed! Reversed polarity doesn’t damage electrical components, but can electrifya rig, with deadly consequences when the RV gets wet. Moreover, my new converter would not run in a reverse polarity situation.

Luckily, Laura was home today, so I had her give me access to the breaker box so I could shut power to the circuits and fix the problem. It was simply a matter of switching the location of the black and white wires. The outlets then tested perfectly and my converter is very happy with the setup.

I hadn’t woken up planning to move today, but the cold north wind made me want to get hooked up and running an electric heater! So one would think getting going would have taken ages. Well, it took exactly five minutes to get the inside packed. Outside was a bit more work, but only because I decided to dump and also fill up my fresh water tank before unhooking. I was parked at Laura’s within a half hour.

I thought it would be an easy in, but the alley wasn’t straight and there was a sapling blocking me. I got too close to the overhang and wasn’t straight, so I decided to get Laura to spot me so I could straighten out. Even with her, I managed to catch the overhang and scrape a little, but it was nothing too serious that a little buffing won’t erase. Laura cut the sapling down, which made my job easier. Unfortunately, there were a lot of low-hanging branches, so one of my vent cap pipes got yanked off and will need to be found and replaced.

Thankfully, the spot is perfect level, so that was one less job to do! Once I was parked, I hooked up power and propane, then did a couple of loads with the truck of stuff sitting in my yard to be stored in the garage for the winter. I still have things there to deal with, including my hose. Water will be tricky this winter and I’ll likely just haul what I need to wash dishes.

The overhead branches were scratching the roof, so I went up there with pruners and cut them all back. That done, I had to get my internet set up again and I managed to get a decent signal by installing my antenna to the very top of my ladder. It may end up on the garage roof, but so far so good on the internet front.

It is SO GOOD to be back on shore power. I am sooooo sick of boondocking with solar. It is already getting cold, but I think I have lost my tolerance and will need to build it back up a little. I don’t keep it as warm in here as I’d like, instead adding extra layers, to toughen me up a little. I also have a lot less natural insulation than I have ever had ahead of a brutal winter. What a time to have lost 41lbs! 😀 I suspect that the electric blanket will get a lot of use. It draws so little when I’m on shore power that it is the cheapest way to stay warm while working at the computer or curled up with a book or movie.

It’s going to be an interesting winter, that’s for sure. It really helps to know that I have somewhere else to go if we end up in an ice age. For some reason, this winter is less intimidating than the one I faced in Lethbridge in that I won’t have to drive when the weather is bad and my truck is winter-ready, with good snow tires and a block heater. Also, I have winter gear in the basement, but am fairly certain I’ll need to go buy some boots. I have plenty of heavy corduroy skirts, leggings, and wool blend knee-high socks, fleece tops and a couple of good coats. So the wardrobe situation isn’t dire. I’m just hoping I still have a snowsuit as I know the best way to get through a cold snowy winter is to get outside and play in it!

Of course, having friends who will keep me busy is also going to make a big difference. Laura said something about doing the finishing touch on her basement renovations…

The most important thing is that I’m not angry or upset about being here this winter. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. Sure, it’d be nice to be warm in Mexico, but I’m in nesting mode right now and quite relieved to know that I am parked till May. I can focus on other things, take on as much work as I can find, and make plans for my next trip. I will be fine and I do promise to check in once in a while to let you know how I’m doing.

I’ll close off with a little southern Saskatchewan travel tip: don’t miss the grill-your-own steaks at the Fife Lake Hotel! We’re going there tomorrow for Caroline’s birthday. Me eating steak? Well, since coming here I’ve learned to love bison and venison! And so, I continue to grow and learn and expand my horizons, even if I’m not on the move right now. I am still very much living my dream life.

15 thoughts on “Parked For a Difficult Winter

  1. Glad you’re situated. Have you thought about the apartment manager job again with a warm apartment? You’re made of tough stuff. I would never be able to live in an RV in Canada in winter, not even Victoria!

  2. Glad to hear you’re situated. Living in an RV in Canada during the winter wouldn’t be my idea of fun. Any winter at all isn’t my idea of fun. 🙂 I may have lived my entire life in Nebraska but I’ve never learned to like the cold.

  3. Looks like you got it covered! Sound like your friend is a true pal!
    Are you parked on pavement in the front and dirt in the back? Shouldn’t
    you be on some planks or something? You don’t need to be stuck in the mud come March or April.

  4. Glad to hear that you are already situated to make it through the winter and have a positive attitude about it to boot. Hope you get lots of work to keep you busy all winter as that always makes the time pass faster. Really glad to hear you have power and protection from the wind. Take care.

  5. Sandra, when I was in Lethbridge, I had to pay for an apartment. Very $$$. Even if I could get such a job, I wouldn’t want one to be ‘in town’ all winter. The very first idea was that I would simply move in with Laura, but I’d rather stay at home as long as possible.

    Linda, I don’t like the cold, but I do enjoy the snow. This is what I need to do this winter and I’m going to embrace it!

    Gina, I’m on gravel. No need for planks. Laura has lived here 25 years, so I believe her when she says there’s good drainage here and that I won’t be stuck. I won’t be able to leave till all the snow is gone and Haven is dry anyway, so that brings us well into May!

    longdog2, having lots of work will be key. I’m looking for some nice big long-term contracts. All appendages are crossed. Getting a job in town isn’t an option. I mean it when I said I would never again have a long commute in winter!

  6. Miranda looks snug as a bug tucked in between those garages. I have hopes it will be a very mild winter for you. We’re due for one of those again.

  7. I’m told it was mild but very snowy here last year, but that we’re due for a truly easy winter. All appendages crossed! I am amused that my most recent memory of being cold and miserable was in New Orleans!

  8. It is interesting that your new converter would not accept the hot/neutral reversal. Mine could care less! Is yours also reject high/low voltage?

    Good for you for getting situated in a well protected spot. I suspect you will be quite comfortable after the insulation and skirting is in. One trick for water is to keep the hose empty and in a warmer place between uses. Does Laura have a heated or inside tap you could use to fill? I know you are thinking of packing water but being able to use your tank would be nice.

  9. It’s wonderful you’re settled. I’m hoping for a milder winter this year myself. I guess you can keep a small crack in the door at the border and let a little cold you have there seep down this way. Just make sure it still isn’t coming this way in May again. LOL

    We will miss seeing you this fall. But we are so happy that you’re doing so well.

  10. Mary, I am very grateful to Laura!

    Croft, the new converter is ‘smart.’ It won’t power on in a number of situations, including reverse polarity, brownouts, and spikes. So that’s a yes to your question about voltage. As for water, the exterior tap is about 100′ away (better than being 300′ away like it was last year). Draining 100′ of hose would be a pain. Since I’m showering and doing laundry in the house, it makes more sense to pack in the water to do the dishes.

    P.J., you can have all the cold you want. 😉 I am sorry not to see you guys this fall, too, but it is what it is.

  11. Hope you have a cozy winter. It looks like the preps you’re making will be sufficient. Nice to have friends, hey?! I’ll be thinking about you when I hunker down for the winter in the southwest. Will spend the next week slowly taking the Natchez Trace Parkway south. Take care.

    • Pleinguy, if I didn’t have friends here, I’m not sure what I would have ended up doing. Probably get a job and apartment in town…

      Happy trails!

  12. I’m a bit ‘late to the party’ here I see, but whatever.
    Sorry to read about your kitty. I haven’t been checking in as much. You can feel comfort in knowing you gave him a good home and lots of love. He had a good life.
    Unfortunately (sheepish confession time here) I didn’t realise that his demise then meant that you were ‘without cat’. I need to keep up.

    You’re situated for a Canadian winter, and that’s certainly good. Being in between the two buildings will offer the most protection from the wind I would imagine, even if it means having to get out through the passenger door.
    I find it intriguing that your neighbour didn’t seem trustworthy enough to not offer power for the entire winter. Did he think you would stop paying? Or was/is he just a bit of a jerk? At least you were able to read that situation, which then put you in a much better place. So it all worked out.

    • Bob, the neighbour was a sexist jerk. But beyond that, he said that he wanted me to pay him so much ahead of time so that he wouldn’t be left with a huge power bill. I replied that he should just have the power put in my name. He replied that that was not possible because that would mean I was a tenant and he’d have a hard time getting rid of me. To that, I said that I would be moving back to my property in May, as previously discussed. And then he said, “Well, what if I sell he property in January?” At which point I realised that he really didn’t get that I would be skirting myself in and that the snow would make it impossible to pull out till May. I really dodged a bullet.

      Thank you for your thoughts about Neelix.

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