We are on our way back to Vegas for Christmas. Leaving from Milwaukee, our route runs in a southerly direction to avoid the worst of the bad winter weather. We’re on a deadline, so we can’t afford to be delayed more than a couple of hours. (We normally try to leave more cushion than this to reduce stress and the risks of “get-there-itis”.) Despite our best efforts, we hit freezing rain as we rolled through Oklahoma. The motorhome was coated with ice before we parked for the night, west of Oklahoma City. As we headed out this morning, we saw two tractor trailers and three cars off the road. Yikes!
On a side note, yesterday, I drove the most I’ve driven so far in a day: four hours total. (I generally drive about two hours.) I also navigated my first toll plaza…at night…in the freezing rain!
Our strategy for handling these conditions is to slow down and avoid using cruise control. And one more thing…
- If you have to drive in freezing rain, heated mirrors are worth their weight in gold!
Our dogs are desert dogs, not familiar with – or built for – cold weather. But, they’ve been troopers, particularly Sadie, our little Boston Terrier. She’s a bit of a princess, but we’ve discovered that she loves to romp in the snow. She’s also a no-nonsense girl. While Meeko will sniff and hunt for the perfect spot to relieve himself, Sadie gets down to business right away so she can return to her warm blanket by the propane heater.
We’re doing our best to make sure our bark babies are appropriately outfitted for the freezing temperatures, but not everything works well. We worry most about the extreme cold damaging their paws, so we’ve tried booties. They just don’t stay on. We got Meeko a snowsuit with legs, but he hobbled awkwardly around, giving us a plaintive look, big brown eyes pleading to have the miserable thing taken off of him. We obliged and try to make it quick when it gets into the single digits or lower. Sadie likes her quilted jacket, but it doesn’t offer much more than torso protection.
I guess we’ll get better at gearing the dogs up for winter just like we will with managing the rig in the cold. It’ll take time, practice and patience – on all our parts.
It’s gonna get below zero tonight in Milwaukee. Sadie is snuggled into the afghan her grandma knitted for me years ago. At least one of us is prepared for the dropping temperatures!
Early December in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park
We’re just shy of five months into this motorhoming escapade, but we’ve already encountered plenty of cold weather. Where we go is dictated by where Mike is working, which means that we’ll be dealing with frigid temperatures fairly regularly.
Here are five things Mike has learned that are helping us stay warm and watered during the winter.
1. Not every park delivers propane to you. Packing up, unhooking, and driving across the street to refill is a hassle. Plus, propane can get pricey. Besides that, you surely don’t want run out when temps are below freezing. (Which we did.) Using as little propane as you can is crucial. Buy electric heaters to run off of the park’s electricity – that you’re already paying for – to save your propane. This is ours. It’s pet-safe, has other safety features, and comes with a remote so we can control it from anywhere in the rig. We also have a propane heater.
2. Stuff bubble pack insulation in the windows. Your rig might feel like a cave, but it makes a HUGE difference, even with double-paned windows. (This also works great in the summer when you’re cooling the motorhome. We know from firsthand experience. We started this lifestyle in Las Vegas… in July.)
3. When you’re hooked up to park water, keep your hose as short as possible. Coil the rest of it up and store it inside your wet bay. Insulate what’s left outside with foam pipe insulation.
4. If you’re in a Class A, run small electric heaters in the wet bay to keep the pipes and tank from freezing. Make sure they have tip-over and overheating protection. You may also want to buy thermostatic plugs that’ll turn the heaters on just above freezing and turn them off at warmer temperatures.
5. If you have an electric water heater, leave a trickle of hot water dripping into your sink. It keeps water circulating through the hose so it doesn’t freeze. Also, leave the gray tank open so the trickle of hot water runs down the hose. It keeps the gray tank from filling up, and the heated liquid prevents the sewer hose from freezing.