Making the best of it

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It’s warm today. People have emerged from their RVs and are making friends. A Swiss group (above) is certainly making the best of it!

We learned we fared very well. A retired couple from British Columbia had their furnace fail yesterday, leaving them without heat. Another couple from Minnesota were on electric heat only, and hence have had no heat since Friday (now resolved).

Deep snow and very high drifts continue to keep us trapped. The KOA has a small Ford Ranger with a snow plow – not close to enough to clear a path.

– Anthony, Rapid City, South Dakota

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Blizzard – day 3

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As of this morning we remain stranded but “shore power” (power from the camp site plug in) is now back.

This is a huge relief. It means we are no longer reliant on batteries or propane, both of which were dwindling. I estimated we would have run out of battery/propane some time this afternoon.

You can’t run the furnace without battery power and the truck only trickle charges the batteries, an extraordinarily inefficient use of truck fuel, so at some point they would have run out.

Last night we turned the furnace down to 50 degrees and bundled up in bed, with dog, and some chemical emergency heat packs which kept us toasty all night.

Additionally despite the temperatures and wind chill we have never lost the fresh water supply. We have been pulling the fresh water line inside each night to prevent it from freezing.

So as of now there is still no way out but we have unlimited heat, fresh water, plumbing, etc. We also have plenty of food. Outside temperatures are rising nicely.

We’re watching “Good Morning America” on TV as I write this, eating a delicious tomato and onion fritta breakfast. ABC asked me if they could use my footage on this morning’s “Good Morning America.” I was also contacted by Reuters asking permission to use footage.

I would like to get out today since I am supposed to be in Denver for work tomorrow, but I am not optimistic.

Despite being newbies and certainly challenged by this situation, Julie and I “are still an effective team.”

– Anthony, Rapid City, South Dakota

Balance of power

Being as we are well into day two of being stuck in a record breaking blizzard, and having lost shore power a day ago, I have developed an entirely new appreciation for propane. Without exaggeration, it has saved us and our Airstream. Without it right now we would be refugees in someone else’s RV and our Airstream would be an aluminum tent full of burst pipes.

Because propane is finite and something I need to have refilled periodically I didn’t initially regard it highly. On the Airstream’s feature list it was something I ranked alongside the curtains.

Now I regard it as the feature. When the power goes out, propane will keep you warm, heat your water and cool your fridge. And even in very cold temperatures it lasts a long time. Using propane for heat also prevents overwhelming the 30 amp electrical circuit with hungry appliances like space heaters.

So if you have 30 amps to spend, what can you buy? Airstream has produced a nice list here.

– Anthony, Rapid City, South Dakota

“Not quite at a Houston we have a problem point”

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“. . . but it’s getting close.”

Current temperature: 34 degrees. Current wind speed: 31 mph. Feels like: 21 degrees.

Still stuck at the KOA in Rapid City. No relief expected today. The city is currently “overwhelmed.”

Last night the black water and grey water tanks froze as the temperature dropped to 9 degrees with windchill. This caused me to have to disconnect the fresh water line, which we have had flowing continuously to prevent freezing. We also lost shore power and are now operating on battery power.

We were toasty through the night, thank you propane! But this morning after traipsing to the KOA bathroom in waist high snow, digging the snow drift away from the door and using the facilities (with no power or heat) I made a renewed effort to get our plumbing going again.

This is how you deal with plumbing when you are completely and hopelessly unprepared:

    1. Boil a big pot of water. I poured in a lot of salt for good measure. Pour boiling water down the toilet. Repeat.

    2. Dig out tank release valves. Use a solid object (such as a Mag Lite flash light) to hammer away snow and ice. Purge black water.

    3. Do the same for grey water, but instead pour boiling water down the sink. Purge tank in the same fashion.

    4. Keep fresh water running and make sure to have the water heater on (propane). This will actually partially heat the tanks.

    5. Keep furnace on. Likewise this will partially heat water tanks.

So what now? There is truly no way out of here. We’re stranded. It’s an odd feeling. I don’t think I have ever been in this situation before. It’s actually quite unsettling. So we wait and live glamorously.

Propane appears to be in healthy state. Still at least one tank full. We have sufficient provisions. We have enough power. Turning on the truck should trickle charge the batteries. I have little expectation that we will have shore power soon but that would be nice.

– Anthony, Rapid City, South Dakota

The Honey Badger

We managed to do some laundry during the blizzard. Not too much else to do. Drink some wine and do a little laundry. Alfred loved the snow . . . until later . . . when it was taller than him.

What a night.

More to follow.

– Anthony, Rapid City, South Dakota

South Dakota bust

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 We’re in Rapid City. It’s snowing. Horizontally. It feels like 18 degrees with windchill.

We shouldn’t be here.

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

State Departments of Motor Vehicles are the same all over the country in one respect. You can count on the first trip being an introductory meeting, regardless of the thoroughness of your preparations and research. Why is this? Inconsistent application of policy.

So what did we accomplish yesterday? Some success. We were able to register the Airstream Walter and the Audi Cruiser. The Ford Tug was a fail. The driving licenses were also a fail.

What went wrong? I am planning a “how to” on this for a later post.

– Anthony, Rapid City, South Dakota

Race against weather and time

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We had planned to register our vehicles and get South Dakota driving licenses in Rapid City tomorrow. Unfortunately snow is now forecast in Rapid City and, more concerning for streamers-on-the-go, winds up to 50mph.

So our plans have accelerated. We’re trying to get this done today with a cross-state race from Mitchell. Luckily we gain an hour in Rapid City.

Once complete we will immediately head south for Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

– Anthony, Mitchell, South Dakota