Wednesday, February 25, 2009
2009-02-28 And so it begins...
Dateline, Ashland, VA
As of 4pm today, the journey has begun. Shelby and I are successfully camped at a campground on the north end of town not two miles from RV Service of Virginia, where the camper has resided since I bought it last June.
Sorry for the delay in posting, but let's just say I was busy and leave it at that. It took a lot of preparation, planning and thought to make this happen and as each load of stuff was shlepped out to the camper, it disappeared nicely into storage, closets, etc. After loading in all my stuff you couldn't even tell anything had changed, short of the thick feather bed on top of the bunk.
It was cold and rainy when we hugged Mom goodbye and pushed off. I had spent a lot of time searching for campgrounds within a 100 mile range so we could take a few days to shakedown the rig and work out any problems. Incredibly, almost none of the state parks or RV campgrounds within that range were open until after March 1st or later, so I went with this local campground.
In a short while we reached the campground and checked in. Still raining, I hooked up the electricity, lit the water heater, filled the fresh water tank, then hooked up to the water feed and went inside.
Almost immediately I encountered my first potential showstopper. The thermostat that controls the furnace was pegged all the way to the right, indicating it was 90 degrees (it wasn't - more like 35 degrees) so the furnace would not kick in. Shelby and I discussed this, and could see each other's breath while we did.
She suggested that we should probably eat something so I thawed a couple chicken breasts in the water that had already heated up, then put them into a ZipLoc bag filled with blackened Cajun spice, sort of like a poor-man's shake 'n bake. I cooked them in an iron skillet and made a cup of hot chocolate while I thought through the possible scenarios of freezing here.
After eating the chicken and giving Shelby a tub of the tasty Beneful Beef Stew she is fond of, I took the cover off the thermostat. The needle assembly is embedded in the cover and terminates in a round dial on a screw. On a hunch, I rotated it and it moved without resistance, setting it to the other end of the spectrum at 50 degrees.
That still didn't cause the furnace to kick in. So I found the circuit breaker panel and opened it up. It said the furnace was the third fuse and when I spotted it, that fuse was hanging out of the socket, barely hanging on by one prong. I gave it a little shove and presto, the furnace came on. Sweet. My toes and fingers almost immediately started to thaw.
To find out if I had munged the thermostat I set it at 60 to see if it would cut off. Around three paragraphs into writing this blog it shut down on its own. Success! I notched it on up to 70 and it is now warm and toasty inside the camper.
The temperatures here tonight will just bottom at 32, but the next two days it will not go over that and will be down in the teens, with possible snow on Monday. But now that we have heat, we don't have to worry so much.
At the request of the campground, I detached the water feed and drained the hose, so we'll just use the fresh water tank for now.
The big project for tomorrow will be to hook up to the sewage line. All I have is one dinky little drain hose with a connector only for the camper end. I wandered around and saw that the experienced ones have a long hose with an L connector on the tank end, plus they have these neat little supports to keep the hose under control. I'm fairly sure I can get my hands on one of these somewhere tomorrow.
The campground has WiFi so I am not having to use my cell phone as a tethered modem yet.
I am very pleased that the heat is on. It's funny how we take things for granted. I am even more pleased that I was able to fix this myself, without a lick of training or experience. This leads me to my final thought for this post.
It is my opinion that the handyman gene is recessive. My Dad could build a garage or addition to the house with one tool and no plans. I did not inherit that skill set.
If I had been a carpenter in Jerusalem, Jesus would have died of old age.
But I got lucky tonight. Dad would approve.