The day after the snowstorm

I’ve got to make a decision. 

Caballo Dam on an icy Rio Grande

I get online and research weather conditions and campgrounds to the west of here along Interstate 10.   Since I don’t like to drive more than four hours a day, Willcox, Arizona, looks like a possible destination.  However, the weather forecast (at the moment) for Willcox is not much different from where I am in New Mexico, lows of 14 and 11 degrees, respectively.  So what’s the point in going there today?

I call up Bill and Kathy.

They’re at Walmart.  You may think Walmart is the hub of civilization in the Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte area, and if you do, in a way you’re right.  Anyway.  The Walmart is located next to the on-ramp for Interstate 25.

Bill advises me not to travel today.  “We can see a line of trucks backed up on the interstate.  They closed it yesterday, so you know what it’s going to be like today.”

“Right.  It’ll be jammed up with trucks and rvs heading out of here,” I agree.

I tell Bill that I can’t get to better weather today anyway, so I’m not moving. 

We discuss the possibility of my pipes being frozen.  Bill tells me he and Kathy, being locals, know how to get to Caballo Lake “the back way,” so I can expect them here sometime after noon.  His plan is to thaw any frozen pipes and to finish the solar project.

“Bill, don’t feel like you have to do this.  I don’t want you and Kathy getting caught in a mess.”

“I never do anything I don’t want to do,” Bill remarks flatly.  We both laugh.  “This started out as a solar project.  Now it’s a quest.  Like in the movie, Vacation, when Griswold is determined to get to Wally World.  I’m on a quest to get this done!”

To be continued later today . . .

Bridget likes to run ahead of Spike and me.

Hello, again . . .

There’s no evidence of any freeze damage!

Bill and Kathy arrive around one o’clock.  It’s cold, but at least it’s sunny and there’s no wind.   Bill put together a telescoping support I can use while setting the pins in the tilt bars of the solar panel.  This is a safety item (See previous entry).  He brings the metal bars and tools to install this mechanism.  However, as is often the case in projects like this, he discovers he needs something he doesn’t have in order to make a minor adjustment. . . his drill press.  So he and Kathy leave around 4:30.  They will return tomorrow.

The coldest temperatures were last night and will be again tonight.

It will probably be down in the low teens again.  Bill and Kathy told me the interstate is still messed up from Texas to Arizona.  It looks like traffic is being rerouted north on Interstate 25 to avoid Interstate 10, the westerly route I want to take.  Arizona, within a day’s drive, is almost as cold as here.  I want to get the solar project done.  I’ve stuck it out this long, so I might as well see it through.

I want to thank my readers.

Many of you wrote about your concern and offered me encouragement.  You gave me helpful tips and comforting assurances.  I’m also grateful for you refraining from saying what I should have done.  I appreciate you putting yourselves in my shoes, and understanding why I made the decision to stay in New Mexico past Thanksgiving.  Thank you.

A downstream view of the Rio Grande along the foothils of the Caballo Mountains

The crew and I have enough provisions to remain here through Wednesday.  Then the worst of this storm and cold front will be past, all the work will be completed, and the road to Arizona will be open for rvsue and her canine crew!

rvsue

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54 Responses to The day after the snowstorm

  1. cathieok says:

    You mean Walmart isn’t the hub of the world?
    Keeping fingers crossed for your pipes. Darn sorry it is so cold. Who woulda thunk it?

  2. JOAN LATRELL ROBERTS says:

    For what is is worth Sue, this is what we do when the possibility of frozen pipes hits us. Remember we are in the Eastern Arizona region along the NM border so not much diffrent than you right now. At bedtime we open all our faucets(kitchen, shower, bathroom) so that the water just trickles out all night long, preventing the freezing….has worked so far for many years. Of course we aren’t paying for that water either! I-10 closed for a bit yesterday also, and there is a possibility the same will happen today or this evening, so stay put. If you have a hair dryer, you can use that to unfreeze any pipes and it works pretty fast. The main this is you don’t want those pipes to freeze. Keep an eye on those propane tanks.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Joan,

      I’ve always done the “trickle of water” thing when I lived in houses. I didn’t do that last night because I’m not hooked up to campground water. If I left the faucets open, I feared I would lower the level of the fresh water tank to the point where its water would freeze.

      Now, of course, in hindsight, I kind of wish I had done that.

  3. JOAN LATRELL ROBERTS says:

    One more thing. If not already done, you need to get those pipes wrapped in heat tape so that you can plug that into electric (or whatever power source) and keep the pipes from freezing on the outside and underside of the trailer.

  4. rvsueandcrew says:

    Thanks, Jool. I wasn’t aware of that link!

  5. rvsueandcrew says:

    They are great friends, and we just met a short while ago.

  6. Fred Wishnie says:

    Hi,
    Just to clarify some mistaken information – Pipes break when the water freezes, due to the expansion that takes place when the liquid water transforms into the solid ice. It may appear that it happens when the pipes are thawing, but that is only because it becomes visible when the ice melts to water. The suggestion to keep faucets open is to give the expanding water / ice room to move, thereby preventing the pipes from breaking. That doesn’t always work though.
    You might also consider calling Casita and see what they recommend. You can’t be the only customer with this problem.
    Stay warm,
    Fred

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re right about water expanding when it freezes. It only looks like the problem occurs during thawing. My post is misleading. I’ll change it. Thanks.

  7. Old Fat Man says:

    All my water lines are inside the trailer where they will not freeze if the inside of the trailer is not down to freezing. I thought your water lines and the fresh water tank were all inside the trailer. Some RVs actually have water lines outside the trailer where they can freeze. I thought the Casita trailers did not run the water lines outside the trailer. My freshwater tank is outside the trailer but in its own heated and insulated compartment so it does not freeze.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      HI, Barney,

      The fresh water tank is inside the fiberglass “channel” that leads from the fridge to the back of the Casita. It forms the bench seat. I took the cushion off and lifted out the door on top of the opening to the fresh water tank. I left that open all night. It made my bed a bit shorter, but fortunately, for once, I’m not very tall and it didn’t bother my sleep.

  8. Reine says:

    If you leave the bottom cabinet doors open a bit and the closet door open you shouldn’t have to worry about “dripping” the faucet. I think I would open the faucet but keep the water pump OFF. That will relieve the pressure without running you out of water. The key is to ensure that at least some heat keeps those areas thawed. Our kitchen sink and dishwasher are on an outside wall and we never drip the faucet…just leave the cabinet doors open so the area under the sink stays close to the house temp. You might try leaving your wireless fridge thermometer in the storage area near the fresh tank to monitor the temp.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I left all cabinet doors open last night. And I left the water heater on. I put antifreeze down all drains, including the toilet.

      Whenever I open a faucet, the water pump comes on automatically, even if I have the inside switch in the off position. There must be another place to make sure it doesn’t come on.

      • Mick says:

        If your water pump comes on with the water pump switch in the off position you have a wiring error from Castia. This is according to the schematic in the manual.

        Mick

  9. rvsueandcrew says:

    I’ll check it tonight when I plan for tomorrow. Thanks.

  10. Rubbertramp says:

    This has happened to us all Sue. If you can find a heated bldg to overnite your trailer you might get everything unfrozen and drained. And then get out of dodge!! Casita should have given to some info on this and so should I. Im sorry!

    • Rubbertramp says:

      Sue, you might take it to an rv dealership and ask that they overnite it and then assess the damage when thawed out. You might have to pay a little something but if there is damage you can think about it. Right now this is the best solution. If you are lucky it all will be ok.

  11. Gary says:

    You probably have PEX tubing for your water lines. Freezing usually does not harm it but, it may break the fittings which usually are plastic. That does not mean you do not have to protect the system from freezing.

    Usually there are ways to drain the system and you could add RV antifreeze to sink, shower and any other drain line traps like the toilet. Draining the water heater and sewer type tanks would be needed also.

    IMO it is much wiser and easier to watch weather reports and not get caught in freezing weather. BTW, after reading your blog for many months, I’m sure that with a a few breaks you can drive more than 4 hours.

    Gary

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Gary,

      Um, obviously I shouldn’t have gotten caught in freezing weather. In hindsight, if Chip at Bakers RV Service could have given me an appointment before Thanksgiving, or if Thanksgiving were in April instead of the end of November, I wouldn’t have the solar project pushed into December. It was a risk I took. I didn’t want to leave with the panel half-wired when I’ve got free labor (friends) willing to help me with a custom installation.

      It’s easy “to watch weather reports and not get caught in freezing weather” if you don’t have anything to accomplish that tethers you to an area.

      I can drive for more than 4 hours. I don’t want to when I.m towing and have to find a place to camp in a strange place at the end of the road. I get tired and cranky, the crew gets restless and barks constantly . .. and any unforeseen circumstance looms a lot larger at the end of a too-long drive and/or in the dark.

  12. Sherry says:

    Very glad you aren’t moving. Sounds like it’s no better anywhere close. I have learned quite a bit about RVing in freezing temps from the comments to your blog. I’m sorry you had to have the experience for me to learn all of this. I always say, no more below freezing temps for me but with these new extremes in weather it is really hard to know for sure that won’t happen.

    I do want to go back and see how and when you met Bill and Kathy. What fabulous friends!

    Sherry (www.directionofourdreams.blogspot.com)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Sherry!

      It really hasn’t been an unhappy experience. Bridget, Spike and I have kept warm. We have good food. Our morning walk was bright and sunny, delightfully fresh air, snow glistening . .. . Bridget played around in the snow, making it fly . . . I took some photos … Neighbors compared notes . . . Friends came by . . . Blog readers made lots of comments . . . a good day!

  13. Robert says:

    Hunker down!
    Sue, psst. don’t tell anyone, but check out this sight and the LTVA http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/elcentro.html
    Granted we’re in the cold snap too, but only about the freezing mark over night with daytime in the 60’s.
    Just before bed run around the PTV 5 times to warm yourself up before you hit the hay.
    Stay safe, Robert

  14. Sheila says:

    Your Casita manuel has winterizing tips and the Casita Travel Trailer Forum has a bazillion (okay maybe I am exaggerating) entries on winterizing, frozen lines, etc.. You and the dogs stay cozy.

  15. Old Texan says:

    About the myth of running water not freezing.. and it is a myth. Ever seen pictures of Niagara Falls frozen over? It’s bunk that leaving a faucet dripping that it won’t freeze.
    From what other readers have posted, it sounds like the water lines and tank in your Casita will be fine with the simple precautions you have taken.

  16. Kathryn says:

    Oh gosh..are you okay? Worried..please write. Do you have an alternate heat source? Can you wrap your pipes while parked with some sort of insulation. My old house had the pipes wrapped with something that prevented them from freezing.
    Please update I am sitting home very worried now.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Kathryn .. .

      Don’t worry! Yes, I have alternate heat. I use my electric heater which is more than enough heat. If the power goes out I have my newly-installed propane heater. I suppose you could say I have three alternate heat sources. I could always get in the PTV and turn on its heater, although I can’t imagine both of the other two heaters failing me.

      I’m as cozy as can be, safe and secure.

  17. Kathryn says:

    Hi there you are..oh good!! I didn’t even know it got that cold there. Buffalo is warmer right now but that is a first. I am glad you are locked down and cozy. Put on some long underwear. I haven’t worn that since I use to ski and lived in Buffalo. Guess what my 85 year old dad does? He gets free coffee at McDonalds with his friends daily and then goes to the Wal Mart where the other 85 year olds hang out. I had no idea. What is the temp now?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hey, Kathryn!

      I haven’t kept close track of the temperature . . . I don’t have an outdoor thermometer and my one tv channel is not coming in. It’s probably better that I don’t know how low it is.

      I can relate to your dad’s frugality. Sounds like he’s got a friendly routine going.

  18. Geri says:

    We are so glad to hear your pipes didn’t freeze! Seems that your good luck spirit is sticking by you! Chuck figured you were gonna be ok, but it got so #!@@##! cold last night, it was hard to know for sure! We are also glad you are staying around one more day, to get the solar done AND to let the crazy traffic clear out once the roads get back to normal. Thank you for being so well grounded that you don’t feel the need to take off west just because your gypsy feet are itching to go! You are smart enough to know safety first! Thanks for the second half of the post… been waiting breathlessly for it all day ! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Geri!

      I appreciate you validating my decisions. I can handle driving in bad weather conditions. It’s the other drivers I can’t control that keep me off the roads. An accident would really mess up this good thing I’ve got going!

      Good luck getting through another cold night!

  19. Carla says:

    Wow! I just saw the news about the weather in your area. Adventures don’t come without their challenges and it sounds like you are doing well and staying warm.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Carla!

      Isn’t it crazy? Who would have thought southern New Mexico would be like this! Just a few days ago it was sunny, shirtsleeve weather. Yes, we’re doing well, thank you.

  20. bearwise2010 says:

    You have to admit, this is crazy weather for Mexico, and I am also glad to hear that you have stayed put, as long as you have warmth, food, water for you and the babies, then just sit back and relax, the worst by looking at the weather forecasts is almost over. We are thinking of you on your awesome journey, and hope that the pipes don’t freeze. They build those newer trailers with a lot of this in mind as they know people use them all yr round. Wishing you the best, and looking forward to hearing about you adventure. take care, stay warm, as we like to say “stay in the sun”.

  21. Chuck says:

    Hey Sue!!
    Glad to see ya’ waiting to get the solar complete! Bill and Kathy are so nice. IMO, your weather decisions are excellent ! Gonna ‘ miss you….. but we’re going to Groovy tommorrow nite……
    Chuck

    • Geri says:

      Chuck and I also have a great old RV’ers rule we go by that you may or may not have heard of. It’s called the 4-4-2 Rule. 4 hours – 4 pm – 200 miles – whichever comes first we pull in for the night. We get grumpy too! 🙂

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Chuck and Geri,

        I’ve never heard of that rule, but it’s one I’m beginning to see makes a lot of sense. After about 4 hours, 200 miles, or 4:00 p.m., I’m not an alert driver and I’m impatient. That’s when trouble shows up.

        I think the crew has known that old rvers rule all along!

  22. Chuck says:

    That is an invitation!!!!!! I would NEVER rub it in……..

  23. Emily says:

    Sue, Dutchman is in Deming now and he’s very experienced with making it through this kind of weather. He has a couple suggestions in his latest entry on the Casita Forum – he puts a heating pad on top of his fresh water tank (don’t want the kind that shuts off after a certain amount of time) and he parks in a SW to NW direction to put the nose into the prevailing wind, the T-valves will be on the warming sun side during the day; and, this is when it’s hot in the desert, that position keeps the refrig out of the hot sun. I was trying to remember who uses the heating pad and he posted just a little while ago.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Emily!

      Glad to hear from you! I don’t have a heating pad. That’s a very clever idea. I’ve had the fresh tank exposed to room temperature for the past two days by taking the lid off the bench seat. I do want to read his ideas though. I remember reading his posts a few years back and I was impressed with his experience and knowledge.

      I hope all is well with you. I’m so glad I got to meet you.

  24. Reine says:

    Get used to occasionally being caught in freezing weather. I think your doing fine and your reasons for staying in the area are sound. Dutchman’s idea of the heating pad would give you more of peace of mind about your fresh tank. Stay safe, get all the projects finished and then you can roam to your heart’s content.

  25. Michael Leonard says:

    Whew! Lots of comments and advice to get through… Glad that you are safe and warm. It sounds to me like you’ve made good choices. What an adventure! I’m looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow. So glad you have Bridget and Spike to keep you company!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Good morning, Michael!

      I was just thinking the same thing as we were getting out of bed and putting on the “suits” to go greet the morning. I’m jabbering away all the while and the crew is giving me good morning kisses (well Bridget does . . . Spike is more reserved in that departmen). There’s never a day that they don’t have me laughing out loud,.

      Thanks for traveling with us! (even when we aren’t on the road much) . . .

  26. JOAN LATRELL ROBERTS says:

    Sue, thinking of you and hoping all is well! We are cold here in Phoenix and our mountain town shows a -4 reading on the weather. One and only reason we are here and not there!

  27. JOAN LATRELL ROBERTS says:

    The elevation of the park where we have our trailer is 7700 feet, so we do get cold. However, the 6 months from May to October are pretty much a “slice of heaven”, !compared to the Phoenix summer heat.

  28. Debbie Huckstadt says:

    I just discovered your blog a couple of days ago through a link. Love it! (Spent all my blog reading time to get everything read) Time very well spent! I will follow you now and love your content and especially your writing style. Dogs are adorable and sort of look like mine.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Welcome, Debbie!

      Thank you for taking the time to read all my blog entries, and for writing compliments to me and the crew. I hope you continue to enjoy reading here.

  29. BeckyIO says:

    Yikes! I can’t believe that you’re having that kind of weather in NM. I’m so glad to hear that you and the crew are all well and that Bill and Kathy are helping you getting the last of the solar stuff done. Crossing my fingers that the roads will be clear for you tomorrow and you can move on to warmer places. Still though, at least you have another interesting story about your adventure to tell people huh? 🙂

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