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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Keeping As Comfortable As Possible Driving And Winter Camping In A Michigan Winter.

Today I got a call to go jump a friend's car battery. We've had a lot of snow and cold weather.

So I went out to my van, fired it up, and went to back out of the driveway. Smack into a snow bank. Now I'm stuck for a minute, I carry salt and cat litter in the cargo van. I put a handful of salt in front and back of each of the rear drive wheels. In less than five minutes I was able to power out of the unplowed road in front of the house.

That got me to thinking, what precautions do i take to keep my vehicle running and me safe in cold weather.

Right now, the van heat isn't working. I have checked the level of antifreeze in the van. No problems there. I'm thinking it's probably a thermostat, but it's hard to get that fixed in this weather without waiting for hours.

I carry salt and cat litter routinely. Getting stuck (even when you have an 8 cylinder gas hog with lots of power) is no joke in the deadly weather conditions right now. A woman froze to death in her own driveway just last week.

I also carry extra fleece vests in the van, some candles, and some dehydrated food. I try to keep a jar of peanut butter and some crackers on hand. Chocolate is also good for helping keep warm.

I keep a couple of blankets in the van as well. One blanket is a fleece, the other is a small quilt. I also carry snow gloves, extra fleece gloves, and an extra hat. If i am stuck, I layer up with the extra warm items I keep in an old purse. I usually have a sleeping bag or two in the van. I have two small dogs, so I make sure i carry dog food, dog treats, and extra blankets for them. I've also stuck them down in a sleeping bag with me to keep them warm.

I make sure I keep my gas as full as possible. If the gas level is low, there is the potential for something to freeze and when the engine starts up, it can cause me to have to replace the motor.

It's also good to carry extra hoses and belts if possible. You'd be surprised how many times I've had to have a hose or belt replaced along side the road or in a parking lot.

Generally, i keep some wrenches, a Phillip's screwdriver, a straight screwdriver, adjustable pliers, and a pair of needle nose pliers. I also carry a tow strap. I can be pulled out of the snowy drifts or pull someone who is stuck.

I have a 1970 Amerigo travel trailer. It's a bit different wintering in a travel trailer. I don't do any running water nor do I put anything down the drains or black water tanks. There is a reason for this, I don't want to have to repair any tanks or plumbing lines. An RV is a vehicle as opposed to a house when it comes to winter care.

Most people tend to see it as a house with running water and such. But, leave a bottle of water in your vehicle and see how fast it can freeze. Now imagine frozen black water in the tank. When you go to move the RV, the frozen hunk will roll round in the tank and you are looking at  a tank brittle from the cold breaking all over. This is both expensive to repair and a environmental hazard.

This doesn't mean I don't stay warm or take baths. I use a timeless method for getting and staying clean. Heat water on top of the stove, put in a basin with some cold water. Grab a nice washcloth and my favorite body shampoo. Liquid soaps or body shampoo rinses much better. Hair can be washed over a large pot. We've all done that one as kids I think. Add a heavy men's floor length terrycloth robe and it's warm luxury.

Please take care during the snowy  times. It can and does kill people.