Winter Camping Adventures in Minnesota (part 1)

Because I’m almost positive there will be a part 2!img_2400

We left our friend Brandi’s house in Sparta, Kentucky last Friday. (After fighting with a frozen camper and a dead slide motor…) And things have not gotten any easier! We stopped at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop for the night. We love that place! We snuck into our secret spot again where we can open the slides and not block any truck parking spots. Then we hit the road first thing Saturday morning and headed up to Saint Paul, Minnesota.

I had called Landfall Terrace earlier in the week and made a reservation for us. Lee, the manager, said he would have our spot shoveled off and the water on for us. I’d seen it when I was looking for a campground, but lucked out that one of the ladies I’ve met online (in an RV Traveling Spouses group on Facebook) had stayed here before.

When we pulled in around 1pm, it took a little back and forth to wiggle into our spot. It’s a pull thru. Lee had said it was fine if we stuck into the road behind us a little, just as long as we didn’t block the sidewalk in front. Wow.

We got the camper plugged into 50amp, leveled (manually because it was way too cold for the “auto-level” to work), opened the slides (the bedroom with the manual override), and turned on the furnace and fireplace. Then we sat in the truck to wait. I went in to check the temp and noticed the furnace sounded weak and the fireplace wasn’t really cranking out heat like it normally does. We had popped a fuse in the converter.

That seems to be happening a lot. Whenever we switch power sources we pop a fuse. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a pain to have to move things to be able to get to the converter in the big pass thru cubby, and we are going through fuses like crazy. I might have the mobile tech we have coming out next week take a look at it if he has time. There has to be an underlying issue with it.

Once we got the fuse replaced, and the camper warm enough for the puppies, we headed to Home Depot. We bought 12 – 4×8 sheets of insulation board, some tape, a roll of reflectix (that I still need to put in the windows), and some winter gloves for both of us. We got back and got to work making a “skirting” for the camper.

In Indianapolis before Christmas, our water lines froze somewhere between the bathroom and kitchen island, so we wanted to try and keep the underside of the camper as warm as possible. Mind you, we have a 4 season fifth wheel with a heated and enclosed underbelly. We’ve upgraded the insulation in the front 1/3 and insulated the garage floor on top of that.

We managed to do the front and back, along with the door side on Saturday before it got too dark. I was going out to measure, coming in, we would cut the piece to size then tag team put it up. It was windy!!!

Most of the wind comes off the lake right out of our front door so we figured that would help at least a little for one night. Then we hooked up the heated water hose that we had just remade right before we left. We had no water from the spigot. Great.

Sunday morning we ran to Cabela’s to get me some winter boots (my toes were freezing!) then came back to get busy finishing up the skirting. We put a little workman electric heater underneath to try and help keep the space warm. Around 11am I called the number posted on the office door. It was like pulling teeth to find out who I needed to talk to about getting our water turned on but someone finally came over and we got it working.

For about 10 hours.

Then we froze at 1am.

In the morning I went to go pay rent then rewrapped the connection point on the hose and spigot with the heated cord. It had frozen somewhere in those couple of inches. I opened all the taps and crossed my fingers. No luck.

The next morning, I checked the temperature gage under the camper and it was no warmer than outside. The breaker had popped on the pedestal. So off to the office I went again. Turns out that when it snowed overnight, it covered our pigtail and tripped the breaker. So we got a plastic bag wrapped around all that, but by that time, the entire hose was frozen because it had been off for who knows how long.

When Allen got home from work we headed to Home Depot yet again for another heater to go underneath, and some things for work. And a shovel, because by that time we had about 4″ of snow in our newly shoveled spot. We got home and aimed the smaller heater at the water connection and sewer hose area and the other larger one at the heated frozen hose. In the morning we still hadn’t thawed out so I climbed under with a heated electric blanket to lay on the hose as a last resort.

By this time, our pump had finally thawed out and was working, so when Allen got home we decided we would just fill the fresh tank every couple of days and use the pump. Even if we got the heated hose working, the actual temperature tonight is supposed to be -15!!! So we wouldn’t stand a chance.

Right now it is 20 degrees under the camper. It’s 14 outside with a 21mph wind and a real feel of -4. I don’t think we are doing too bad. Today.

I have some puppy socks in the mail on the way so that Charlie and Eustace can walk outside for longer than 45 seconds without making me pick them up. Poor things.

And now I’m going to add Reflectix to some of the windows. I think we might need to get some of that shrink wrap plastic to put up also so we can still get the sunlight but block the drafts.

Allen told me today at lunch to “buck up” because we are Minnesotans now! My friend Mary wasn’t lying when she said you have to be tough to live here!

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