Thursday, January 30, 2014

It’s All About Survival


Thankfully, at least as of a few minutes ago, Dave may notice some improvement in his pain situation.  The visit to the doctor got him a muscle relaxer and an oral steroid for his pinched neck nerve.  He’s been in a bad way lately, in a lot of pain.

This morning it was –5 out, but we’re to see the mid to upper 20s today.  We did have water via our fresh tank and water pump the past few days, but not so this morning when we got up.  We still have water in the office trailer.

You know it’s subzero outside when steam is rising from the river.  The water temperature is actually warmer than the air.  It’s a reliable indicator.

Right now it is literally all about survival.  The gate lock freezes and has to be thawed in the morning with a propane torch to get it to open.  Heat has to be maintained to our RV, and we’re going through a 30-pound tank of propane a day.  Even with six tanks at our disposal to use, that usage means Dave is going for propane once a week (the weekly run sees him taking four tanks) and sometimes twice during a week to ensure we make it through an incoming storm, weekend, or holiday.  Having no water in our rig puts a twist on bathing and meals . . . cooking, if it occurs, has to be creative with microwaveable dishes or crock pot meals as dish washing has to be kept to a minimum.  I can’t keep much in the way of perishable food not only due to this but because our fridge may stop working . . . again.  Snow and ice have to be removed from the trucks before they can be driven.  We’ve even seen windshields ice up again between de-icing them and actually getting into the truck to go . . . a space of just a few minutes.  Auxiliary heater in the basement gets turned on before going to bed and turned off in the morning.  One has to be careful in walking outside not to slip on ice; thankfully, I have cleats that go on my boots.  Of course, when it snows more than an inch, paths have to be cleared to get to the office from our rig, accessing our rig to change propane and so forth, getting to the dumpster, etc..  Yes, that means shoveling.  At least the snow we’ve had is the light, dry, powdery kind; that makes shoveling a lot easier, but it’s still hard work.

That’s just a few of the things that happen in conditions as harsh as these.

Funny how non-RVers will ask, “Are you staying warm?”  Well, yes, staying warm is not the issue, thank goodness.  It’s all the rest of daily life right now that becomes “interesting.”  This lifestyle ain’t for wussies, I tell ya.

It’s all sorts of actions that one does not give any thought to usually that have to be planned and executed slowly (like walking) and a bunch of extra things that have to be done just to keep our rig (and us) safe and warm during these conditions.

This morning the sun is shining and we are on a warming trend the next few days, although we may be getting some snow/rain/ice this weekend and I’ve heard mention of yet another polar vortex event in the next week or so.

Existence is a challenge right now and will make for great stories in the future, but we’re ready for Spring.  We have mentioned a few times how these conditions are quite like what we experienced when living in Minnesota (in a sticks-n-bricks home) for a couple of years.  The winters we had there were mild for the area.  What we’re going through now is indeed very much like that.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 24, 2014

We are Hardy Souls


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Wednesday morning.  That’s 9 inches of snow on the ground from the day before.

I’m a bit tired tonight, so here’s the short and sweet of what’s happening.

After all the usual preparations and precautions, we have no water in the rig.  We have water right up to it, but somewhere inside – or perhaps at the initial valve which we’ll check as soon as weather permits – we’re frozen.  No water.

When I check the basement in the mornings, it is around 60F or 55F, certainly not freezing or below.  Weirdest darn thing.

Our fridge froze up yesterday.  The dorm-sized fridge we’d had gave up the ghost a while back and we just didn’t think we needed an extra one any more.  Silly us.  What were we thinking?  Today I went to Wal-Mart and got a replacement.

Borrowed the two crew guys – Mark and Donny – who took me to Lowe’s for more water (we use the water-cooler size) and to Wal-Mart.  Great guys, lifting all this stuff I’d be struggling to do by myself in ice and snow.  I’m grateful to them for their cheerful assistance and thankful that we have support.

With Dave out of commission, the one thing I do not want to do is take a fall of my own.

We did fine with no freeze-ups until we dropped to subzero and low single-digits; however, those for a couple of days just did the trick and did us in. 

Thank goodness the office trailer still has water.  It’s a hassle, but at least we can get cleaned up and refreshed a bit with a sink bath and I can wash the minimal dishes we are currently using.  And I mean minimal

Don’t know if I mentioned it, but Dave took a fall (or two or three) on ice hidden under snow two weeks ago today.  He has been suffering with severe pain in his shoulder, neck and even right arm from what we suspect is a pinched neck nerve.  I finally convinced him to agree to a doctor’s appointment; the earliest I could get him in is next Tuesday.

Stew in the slow cooker takes minimal dishes and utensils (we’re using paper plates/bowls and plastic silverware right now), so at least I was able to get that done today.

It was a very busy day for me and I’m tired.  We’re safe and warm but mightily inconvenienced right now. 

Looks like our first possible chance to thaw out will be the first week of February.

I want one of these buildings here for us.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be a day of rest with both of us in our recliners watching movies and napping.  Well, watching movies and watching it snow.  Again.  Another 2 to 4 inches.  Next week there’s possibly another nasty winter storm heading our way.

C’mon April!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Job Opportunity - Feel Free to Share this Post


The security company we are with has a job opening, contracting to the same company we are working with.  Job duties vary slightly dependent upon location.  I’m not putting the details here and won’t be answering questions, because I’d probably end up repeating myself and folks may not see the responses.

No, it’s not our job! 

Please feel free to share this link with RVers you think might be interested. 

You or they can leave a comment to this blog entry with an email address and/or phone number, and I’ll get in touch with you.

Beef enchiladas are in the oven for tonight’s dinner.  Yum!  Good cold-weather fare, I think.  We’re about to get hit with another winter storm tomorrow with the mercury plunging to single digits (and subzero with wind chill) and yet more snow!

We’re ready.  Dave made a propane run today, we have food and drink, our rig is skirted and there’s gas for the genny.  All we have to do is watch it snow!

This is short and sweet.  Just wanted to get the word out about the job opening in case someone is out there looking.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wearin’ a Skirt


No, not me and not even Dave!  Our fifth wheel is, though.  Dave put the finishing touches on the skirting around our rig Friday.  He had started the project about a week earlier, getting 3.5 sides done in one day.  He ran out of daylight at that point and then it was snowing, raining, sleeting or too extremely cold out until this past Friday. 









We can already tell the difference inside the rig.  The floors are no longer chilly; in fact, the bathroom floor is deliciously warm when stepping out of the shower!  This was the first year he has done this and, while he did a great job, he says there are some things he would do differently.

Tuesday night will be the first time we’ll dip down into single digits overnight since the skirting was put in place, and I’m curious if our pipes will freeze (again).

On to a totally different topic, seems like the past couple of months I’ve noticed that my fingers seem to type a totally different word from the one I’m intending to type.  Like above – I meant to type “overnight,” but when I first typed it, it came out “overhead.”  Sheesh.  That is so not me.  Seriously.  I was a medical transcriptionist for years, and a darn fine one to boot.  Those types of errors just didn’t happen.

Perhaps I’m just thinking too fast for the fingers to catch up.  My keyboard is also kinda slowing down; perhaps it’s time for a new one.  Perhaps I’m just not vested in what I’m typing.  I dunno.

We’ve enjoyed a quiet weekend.  We recently had a two-month stretch of something happening here every single weekend, so quiet is good for a change.  On Saturday after it stopped snowing, I took our truck over to the grocery store in PA I like to visit every few weeks.  They have things I can’t find locally and different items, plus it’s a nice cruise on the highway for the truck . . . and me.  Hmmm . . . guess I didn’t take the truck to the store; it actually took me, and it didn’t go into the store.  <giggle>

Had a deer snort at me one evening last week.  Stepped outside not realizing about four or five of them were fairly close and couldn’t see them clearly in the dark.  “Snort!” and away they sprinted through the shadows.  I think we surprised one another.  Well, that’s another first!

Changed out a light switch for our 12-volt living room lights today.  It didn’t take long, as I had done that a while back in our bathroom.  Waterproofed a pair of boots and then worked my virtual assistant job a while this afternoon.  Made hamburgers and fries for dinner and here I am!  Think I’ll just kick back the rest of the evening.  Monday will be here soon, and I have a feeling it might be one of our busier weeks around here!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Anchors Aweigh!


Today has been an interesting day around here.  Some studies and sampling are being done on the Musconetcong River, which is just across the parking lot from our rig and the office trailer.  It’s a small parking lot, so it’s really just a hop and skip and there ya are at the river! 

To do the studies, a pontoon boat was needed.  Since there’s no boat ramp, getting a boat the size of this one into the Muskie was a bit . . . interesting.


The boat – those cylindrical things on top are additional pontoons that will be deployed once in the water.  They are on both sides.

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The crane.  Yes, a crane! 

Notice that the parking lot is white in the two photos above?  Well, it started snowing during this process and was coming down pretty good for quite a while.  Made standing outside taking photos a bit fun.  Had two cameras going for a while.


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It was indeed a process to get to this point.



Almost there . . .


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The launch process took close to two hours and went smoothly.  Pretty impressive.  Following this photo, they turned around to the bank again and deployed those additional pontoons on the sides and finalized setting up the boat before once again turning downstream and boogieing away.  As I type this, the process is being reversed.  Mission completed!

You can’t tell from the photos, but it was snowing during the entire launch process.

Cool, eh?

I say it’s like a garage sale around here.  It can be dead quiet for days or even weeks and them k a b o o m people swarming all over the place.  Not only were these folks here, but we had a couple of different crews and a visitor or two.  Crazy.

Well, it was a balmy 31F at one point this morning and we even saw a bit of sunshine for a while earlier this afternoon; however, it’s back to dull and dreary out.  I dashed to the grocery store for just a few things and I do believe I’m good to just stay here over the weekend.  Nice.

There’s talk of possibly another hefty snow storm early next week . . .

Well, we got a mail packet today, so I’d best tackle it and see what’s inside.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter Moments


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Some of those moments seem like an eternity.  Towards the end of last week, we woke up to 8” of snow on the ground.  At least it was light and powdery.  Our plow guy showed up faithfully.  Dave and I both did some shoveling of paths to things we need to access like our basement compartments, the office steps and the dumpster.  Dave cleared a nice “garden” of exposed grass for Maggie to take care of business in.

Frozen River 01042014

The Musconetcong River is frozen again.  The above was taken a few days ago when we were experiencing our first round of subzero temperatures.  We had a thaw and then plummeted again the past couple of days.  Today this big mass is more slushy but is freezing solid again.  There are now also “icebergs” floating down from upstream to join up with this big mass.  It’s beautiful and fascinating to see so much ice floating cheerfully in our part of the river.


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The geese don’t seem to be too impressed with the state of the river.



Dave cleared a path across the footbridge to the mill.  This is taken from about the middle of the bridge looking back to the parking lot where we’re parked.

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My man hard at work!



My man being silly!


So last night we were hit with the polar vortex, i.e. Arctic hurricane.  Temperatures dropped below zero and the wind howled and shook our rig all night and well into today.  I got about 1.5 hours sleep total.  No, I wasn’t frightened but more p.o.’d about not being able to sleep and thinking about everything freezing up.

This morning around 7 AM it was –1 with a Real Feel temp of –20.  Anticipating frozen tank valves, I had emptied our tanks yesterday and put antifreeze down ‘em.  We did have a day in between freeze-ups where we both were able to shower. 

We have been busy – Dave more than me – today dealing with weather-related rig issues.  We have the furnace going, a supplemental heater in the basement (took off a dividing wall so the heat would hopefully get further along in the basement), making futile attempts to thaw out the outside water valve, testing to see if the water pump and/or lines/pipes had thawed out throughout the day, changing propane tanks, etc..

Here it is almost 8 PM, the temp is 6F with a Real Feel of –14, and we’re still frozen up in the rig.  No flowing water and, even if it was flowing, no way to empty the tanks if they needed it.  We finally get up to 32F Thursday, 39F on Friday and then increasing a bit for a few days.  Looks like Friday may be our first realistic window of opportunity to have water again.

Of course, this means no cooking . . . ‘cause washing a lot of pots and pans just isn’t going to happen!  We can do a few dishes in the office sink, but want to minimize that.  We have soups, etc. and I made kolaches yesterday in anticipation of freezing up.

Every Winter we question why we are here in New Jersey.  We’re again looking at our original goals, dreams, finances, opportunities . . . realistic and perhaps foolhardy.  We won’t be making any rash decisions, but it may be time to change locations come Spring; we’re hopeful at getting a similar work situation further South.  Might be time to take a 6-month or 12-month break entirely and get back on the road.  We’re not getting any younger and Life is short.  We have the option of taking a break and then getting another assignment when one arises.

We are grateful our rig is warm and snug and that we have a restroom (albeit kinda rough) in the office trailer with flowing water.  I’ve got a tower heater aimed inside it and will start the adventure of getting a sink wash-up this evening.  I usually take a shower right before bed . . . not only does it relax and freshen me up for crawling under the covers but it symbolically washes away the stress (if there is some and lately there has been) and events of the day.  Sorta clears the slate for a good night’s sleep and rejuvenation.  I need to sleep tonight.

Stay warm and safe!

Thanks for stopping by!








Thursday, January 2, 2014

Recapping 2013 and Welcoming 2014

You know, I think that may be the first time I’ve typed “2014.”  At least I remembered to use the correct numbers!

Our New Year’s Eve was quiet this year.  In years past, we have gone to a bar in the late afternoon/early evening for an hour or two.  Dave really enjoys the atmosphere on Hogmanay (Scottish term for New Year’s Eve), as that is just what one does in Scotland on that day/evening.  We talked about doing so this year, but it snowed during the day off and on and was darn cold, so we opted to keep our party selves at home.  It was fun and companionable.  We were awake at midnight but not upright, having tucked under the covers a bit before the new year crept in.

2013 Recap

2013 was a blessedly quiet year on the health and natural disaster fronts.  I am so very grateful for that.  My annual follow-up CT scan in March was clear for any recurrence of 2012’s cancer.  Yay!  For the first time in a few years, neither of us even had a cold in the past 12 months!  No hurricanes or nasty Winter storms threatened us.  We certainly enjoyed a reprieve in 2013. 

Well, we did have about a week of single-digit temperatures in January.  We are parked across a parking lot from the Musconetcong River, and it froze as did our propane tanks, fridge and waste tank valves.  These were inconveniences compared to the hurricanes and Superstorm Sandy in previous years.

We had two divine holidays to Cape May on the New Jersey shore – a week during May and a week in October -  renting the same beach house each time.  Weighing the expense of new tires for the 5th wheel, fuel, campground fees, etc., it was more economical to just rent the beach house I found listed online.  It is a private beach and dogs are allowed, so Maggie had her first experience of frolicking on a beach!  Like folks who live in a sticks-n-bricks home, it was nice to get away to a different environment.  These getaways truly recharged our batteries.


Dolphin Watch in Cape May.  Behind me is the beach and bay.

Earlier in the year, I became a volunteer member of the local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and underwent several weeks of training.  The class search-and-rescue drill was held here at the mill and it was quite an experience.  No one “died” or had any issues for real, and our instructors were quite pleased with our performance as a team.  I received invaluable training in search-and-rescue techniques, fire suppression, disaster preparedness, incident command structure, stress management, etc.  I am honored to be part of such a wonderful team.  Good folks around here.

Crazy.  Last year I was knocked flat with cancer and this year I was putting out fires (in training) and crawling around blind in smoky areas looking for “victims.”

I am so blessed!



Suited up and ready to enter mill


Searching (crawling) for “victims” with my buddy, me in the lead.  The instructors had a smoke machine going to give us a more realistic experience.

After a few short-term assignments on oDesk, I landed a long-term part-time data-entry position in June which continues today.  It brings in a few bucks for “mad money,” rig repairs/maintenance and helping the savings account feel better.  I enjoy my co-workers, communicating via Skype, teleconferences and email.  The work itself is enough to keep my brain ticking over a bit but not stressful.  I’ve had offers of more demanding administrative work, but for now am keeping the stress level at bay by declining those. 

Keeping with that trend of minimizing stress and simplifying my life, I decided not to renew my AHA CPR instructor certification.  While I enjoy the actual teaching, the hassle of traveling (in New Jersey) just was too much.  I’m much more relaxed focusing on my life with Dave and Maggie, our work here, my oDesk assignments and things like gardening that enhance my contentment. 

I planted flowers and a few veggies again this year, including corn for the first time.  The flowers did great, but the veggies were a bust for the most part. 

Corn 07192013

It looked good, but that was about it.  Never really matured.

1994 Chevy Suburban IPPE Work Truck

The company brought us a new-to-us company truck in August!

The office trailer got a makeover this year with new carpet throughout, new flooring in the restroom and new toilet!  Whoohoo!  It really spiffed up our workplace.  We continue to enjoy our work here and, even with the harsh conditions in Winter, we are grateful for our situation.  We did get a couple of offers in campground management back in Texas in 2013 but, after serious consideration, turned ‘em down.  We’re staying put.  We’ve got a good deal here.

Like millions of other Americans, we struggled with health insurance issues related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  We are fortunate to have so far avoided participation in government-sponsored health insurance, being able to remain insured in the private sector.  We’ll see what happens later this year. 

Seems like the Fall and holidays rolled around so quickly.  We were treated again to lovely autumn colors, albeit not quite as vibrant as last year due to less rain than in 2012.

Autumn Colors

Not bad, though, eh?

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve were spent quietly at home.  I prepared holiday dinners for us; I love my spacious kitchen! 

Our annual social outing was attending the company holiday luncheon in December. 

At IPPE Holiday Lunch 12202013


We got dressed up and spent a delightful afternoon filled with yummy food, laughter and fellowship. 

We started playing chess again during our October beach holiday and that has become a weekend evening “thing” with us again.  Chess is such a fascinating game!  Dave taught me in Scotland back in 2005; he’s really quite good.  I do manage to win a game now and then.  He’s absolutely killer with his knights.

I closed down my prior blog, which had been ongoing since 2010, due to personal reasons.  After a brief hiatus, I found myself drawn back to blogging and here we are!

Right now it’s snowing (again) with a current accumulation of just over 3” and we’re nowhere close to being done for the night.  I follow Severe NJ Weather on Facebook.  JC is bang on with his forecasts and typically straightforward and not silly.  Tonight, however, he was playful in saying this storm has a potential of 30% “holy crap” and 5% of “dude, where’s my car??” snowfall.  Hahaha!  New Jersey went under a state of emergency this evening.  Oops . . . there goes another plow/salt truck by on the county road in front of the mill.  Earlier an 18-wheeler made the turn to go up the mountain on the county road but decided against it and was reversing back.  Good move, dude. 

Thanks for visiting and taking a look back at my 2013.  A very Happy New Year to you and yours!  Ready for 2014?  I am!  Bring it on!

Thanks for stopping by!