We woke to a cold spell outside, but inside the RV we were reasonably comfortable thanks to the precautions we took. We have three days to sit and relax, though shopping for groceries is likely part of the program. We also need to dump the tanks, but we decided to wait until the warmest part of the day to do that. Sadly, when we tried everything was frozen. We went shopping for things that might help, but all of the heat tape in town was sold out when we went looking, so we decided to use some of the Reflectix to make a box to block the cold wind around the tank and put an electric heater there to see if that would loosen up anything. And while we were out we did some grocery shopping, so we are good for a few days. And after a couple of hours of the heater blowing on the valves inside the Reflectix box we were in fact able to dump our tanks. And inside the RV everything is nice and toasty, so we managed to survive another day, and when I get up in the morning I can take a shower!
Christmas eve on the road again, this time in northern Alabama. We had to get up in the middle of the night to switch propane bottles, which is how things go sometimes. Better that than freezing. But I did get my shower. We planned to taker the now empty propane bottle and get it refilled, which we did at Love’s which sells propane 24×7. The closest one was a half-hour away, but so it goes. Then just before we left we noticed our water pressure had dropped, and upon investigation the circuit breaker on the pedestal had tripped and our heated hose was no longer heated and had frozen ice inside. We tried just resetting the circuit breaker and it did indeed start to heat up again, but it seemed to be slow about it. So we disconnected the hose and brought it into the trailer, carefully placing the ends in the shower basin. By the time we got back from getting the propane, we were able to pour out water and pieces of ice and reconnect it. We didn’t want to do winter RVing, but you don’t get to choose what life throws at you. We expect things to start warming over the next couple of days, which should make our lives easier. One more day of idleness ahead of us before the Space Center reopens.
Christmas day has arrived, but it will be a quiet day for us. Cheryl had suggested the traditional going out for Chinese food a few days ago, but now says she just wants to stay in. Understandable since it is still quite cold, though gradually warming. In the night the propane seemed to run out and the guage showed empty, so we switched to the bottle we filled yesterday. But when we went out to put the old bottle in the truck, we realized it was not empty at all, and switching back to it the furnace worked fine. Possibly the valve froze or something similar. We’ve looked ahead and by the end of this week the temperatures will be back up to the 70s (around 22 Celsius), and it will be warmer today than yesterday, and still warmer tomorrow, so I hope we’ve survived the worst of it.
Our last full day in Huntsville, and still in the deep freeze. And just to add to the fun, our refrigerator seems to have died. Because of the cold we can keep food fresh outside, but this can’t last. We did get one more visit to the Space Center, and saw another very nice Planetarium presentation, different from the one we saw last week. This one was a tour of the solar system, and very well done. We then went back to the Saturn hall and looked at exhibits of the Space program. Then we grabbed the good bottle and went to fill it up with propane to get us through the night. It had begun to snow, and as we came back from Love’s we started to see traffic accidents. People down here are just not used to this kind weather and don’t know how to drive in it. But with our full bottle of propane we would at least be nice and warm all night.
Waking up in Huntsville we heard warnings on the media to stay off of the streets. We could have driven them without problem, but it is the other guy you have to watch out for. We knew it was slowly getting warmer, so waited a bit for the sun to clear the roads. Unfortunately, that put is a little behind schedule. We went to a propane service place and exchanged our old bottles for two new ones fully charged with propane, then went to buy some coolers to try and keep our food edible a little longer. So all told it was closer to 1pm when we actually pulled out. The drive back to Memphis was uneventful, but it was dark when we arrived. We left the RV and the truck connected for a quick get-away in the morning. It was a very tiring day.
We left Memphis in the morning and drove straight through to Vicksburg, getting to the park around 2pm. At last we we have the warm weather that was the whole purpose of this trip! We got set up in the campground, and opened the windows.Then we went to buy ice for the coolers. I suspect we will have to ditch a lot of food, but that is not the end of the world. If we can get the refrigerator fixed we can buy more food. We also need to do laundry, and I want to visit the Civil War battle site. But warm sunny weather is a big lift to the spirits.
It is a nice sunny and warm day. After breakfast, Cheryl convinced me that we could probbly put in a new refrigerator ourselves, but then she is fearless about these things. We watched some YouTube videos that made it look feasible, then went to Home Depot to pick up the new refrigerator and some supplies. We got everything back to the RV and started, and almost immediately ran into a problem in that we could not disconnect the propane feed line. We tried putting some WD-40 on the connections but they wouldn’t budge. And step one of the project is to disconnect and cap it. Cheryl had made the acquaintance of a very friendly mobile RV tech north of Jackson, named Anthony, and she texted him a picture. He allowed as how he had never seen anything like it, but that if we wanted to bring it to him he would take care of it for us. By now it was late enough in the day that we decided tomorrow would do. I suppose if we really knew what we were doing we could have handled it, but messing around with gas and creating a possible leak is pretty serious, so we didn’t want to chance it. We made dinner out of some of our defrosted items and went to bed.
We woke to thunderstorms and pouring rain, but it looked as if it would pass later in the morning, and Anthony said to come over. Since we couldn’t find his home on Google Maps, he said he would meet us at a gas station just off of I-55. We got there first, and when he drove up and saw our rig he said it probably wouldn’t fit in his yard anyway. So we pulled under the roof over the truck diesel pumps to get out of the rain, and he did everything in the gas station lot. And he had no problem disconnecting the propane feed. Apparently the WD-40 overnight and some bumpy roads loosened everything up, or maybe he just has the touch. In any case, by shortly after noon we had our new refrigerator installed! So we drove back to the Rivertown Rose campground, got set up again, and cleaned out the coolers. Some things we tossed, the others seemed good from being kept in ice, so they went into the new fridge. Then is was off to Walmart to stock up on fresh stuff. We eat a lot of salads, fruits, and vegetables, and keeping that stuff fresh really requires a working refrigerator.
This is our last day in Vicksburg, and now that we seem to have managed all of our technical problems we want to do a little sightseeing. Bur first we drove to Clinton to get some “child-safe” devices for the refrigerator. RV units are built with locking latches to keep the doors from opening as you drive down the road, but residential fridges don’t have those. But they do make devices to keep small children from opening the fridge, and they should do fine. After that we went to the Vicksburg National Military Park, which we entered for free with our National Parks pass. The park basically follows the line of earthen fortifications around Vicksburg in 1863, so it essentially surrounds the city of Vicksburg. You drive along a road that is approximately 25 miles, and stop at various points to observe the battleground. The ditches and trenches are still very evident in the landscape. Vicksburg was the key strategic point on the Mississippi River, and Lincoln called it the key to winning the war, and that “we need to have that key in our pocket.” This task was assigned to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, ably assisted by Adm. David Porter. Vicksburg’s strategic importance was that it sat on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi, from which cannon fire could sink any ships trying to pass. It had such strong defenses that eventually Grant had to starve them out, which he did. There is a Union ironclad river boat, the Cairo (pronounced “kayro”) which was sunk in the river here, but was raised in the 1960s and is now on display in its own museum. All in all this was a really nice bit of sightseeing, and on a day that was dry and eventually sunny.