While the cat’s away…
So the checklist that runs through your head when preparing to leave your house on the frozen tundra for an entire week is quite extensive. Of course my main worry was our kitties, but since we had decided to take them, that was one less thing to worry about. In preparing to leave, I went through all the usual motions: cleaned the house, watered the plants, packed the bags, cleaned out the fridge. Everything was ready to go.
We had decided to turn off the hot water heater and leave both hot and cold water trickling to prevent frozen lines. We left the electric heater on in the living room, and tuned on the furnace to 45, just in case the electric heater needed a little help. It was, after all, supposed to be ridiculously cold while we were away. Sounded good, looked good, felt good, so off we went.
While we were away, Rob received a message from his boss (who also happens to be our neighbor) and he let him know that our furnace was running, but blowing cold air. Rob asked him to just turn the heater off, and we prepared ourselves to return to an ice box. Thank goodness we had all of the fur-babes with us!
Apparently the power had gone out while we were gone, and what we had not thought about was that the heater we left running does not turn itself back on after a power outage. So basically we had no heater running at all, and when the house got down to 45, the furnace kicked on. With no other heating help, the furnace must have ran full-time, running itself completely out of propane. Well, when it runs out of propane, it continues to blow air, trying to get to its set temp. Once the furnace ran out of propane, it was basically blowing ice air from outside into the house. I can only imagine how cold it must have been in here. Brrrrr! Unfortunately, all of our plants (except one) froze to death. (I had hoped they might come back to life, but the once soft leaves are now crunchy, so I guess it is time to let them go…) Our neighbor had put another space heater in the house for us, so it was nice and warm in here when we got home.
It took us a bit to realize that our water was not running. Thinking we had frozen pipes, we switched propane tanks and turned the furnace on to help warm the basement. The cold started up pretty quick, but the hot refused to run. This is when Rob went outside to check the pipes and to see water spraying from a broken connection. Easy enough fix, he just needed a new connection. Once things thawed a little more, it became apparent that we had a bigger issue. Our hot water heater was frozen. Not only did it freeze, but the whole back completely split in half. Awesome.
After some research, Rob found the model we needed and ordered one online. It would take a week to arrive, so we spent the week eating junk food to avoid needing hot water for dishes, and we showered next door in the seasonal house.
Now out in the driveway sat our dear old car, who had just taken us on an almost 2,000 mile adventure. (Thank you, Peej!) She was either a little jealous of all the attention Waldo was getting, or she was really needing love after our vacation, but the very first time I started her up after we got home, she made a terrible squealing/squeaking sound. Thinking she was just cold, I did not think too much of it, until she did it again. Then again.
Rob checked her out, thinking she must need a new drive belt, only to discover that her idler pulley was bent (the bearings were shot) and the belt was half off, fraying itself on one side as it rubbed the engine. Double awesome! 50 miles round trip to town is bad enough on a good day, but when you have to drive it in a car that may or may not make it, it is just downright nerve racking! But make it we did, and I arrived home with the belt and replacement pulley. Later that afternoon, the new hot water heater arrived as well, so the weekend was shaping up to be full of fix-its!
Saturday morning, Rob was out there bright and early, tackling the projects. He started with Peej, but when she breaks something, she breaks it good, and he quickly learned that the existing bolt would not work. It was worn down to practically nothing, and must be replaced. So he borrowed the neighbors truck to run to town for a bolt. Luckily the parts store was able to match it exactly, and once he got home, he and Liam were able to finish fixing the car.
Up next, hot water! The water heater went in pretty fast, and it was so exciting to have hot water again. We can now shower at home again!
That is three repairs for us in about a month, and these things are supposed to happen in threes, right? I would like to kindly send out a request for no more repairs for at least… oh, I don’t know… forever… 🙂
This year for Thanksgiving, we took a road trip to visit family. We had originally planned on venturing to the Spokane area to visit with Rob’s family, then down to the Boise area to visit with mine, before heading home. We later decided that we could not make that happen, so our plan was to visit Spokane now, and Boise later.
Plan A was to take Waldo, but about a week before we left, we discovered an issue with his front tires. Plan B was to rent a vehicle so we did not have to worry about any car issues that may arise. Deciding we were too cheap to spend that kind of money, we resorted to Plan C: taking our own car, along with all of our critters. For those of you who have never traveled 12 hours in a car with five people, two cats, and a dog, you may be missing out on something…
Most people can probably make the 12 hour drive to Spokane in a day, but we are weenies. We made it about eight hours before it got dark, at which point we stopped to shop at Hi-Country Beef Jerky, then spent the night in Lincoln, Montana. I love small town motels, they do not seem to be as strict as large hotel chains. Normally there are occupancy restrictions, but not this place. They let all of us stay in one room with a double bed. And it was cheap! Thank goodness for sleeping bags and pillows in the car top carrier! (Funny thing is the kids were free, but we had to pay $10 for the dog!)
We got started in the morning just after the sun came up. It was hunting season, the there were deer everywhere. It made us glad we did not drive that particular stretch of road in the dark. As many of you may already know, Rob and I met in Missoula, Montana, so when we arrived in town right at breakfast time, we could not resist stopping at the same pancake house we used to eat at. Then we went into my old favorite new/used bookstore. After that, we drove through our old neighborhood, marveling at all the changes. The entire neighborhood was unrecognizable, all except for Rob’s old house, which was exactly the same, and Thermal Supply, where he used to work when I me him. A lot has changed there in the last 15 years…
Needless to say, we arrived in Spokane later than we had planned, but arrive we did. Rob’s sister, Mary Beth, and her hubby, Jim, were nice enough to let us stay with them. Their quiet and peaceful house was anything but for the few days that we were there. We had such a wonderful visit with them, though, and it is always so nice being there.
Our time in Spokane was filled with family visits, dinners, a little shopping, and a whole lot of talking, laughing, and catching up. Mary Beth and Jim cooked the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner while we were there! Rob knew I was a little bummed about not being able to make it down to Boise, so he secretly arranged with my parents and sister to come up to Spokane for a day! (Thank you, Honey!!!) So we had members from both families in one place for Thanksgiving dinner, which was absolutely amazing!!
Eventually, though, it was time to leave Spokane and head for North Idaho. We were on our way to Bonners Ferry, where Liam was born many moons ago. Rob’s brother, Rich, lives there, and he invited us to stay with him for a couple of days. Their brother, Jeff, and his girlfriend were there, and we enjoyed another amazing turkey feast! The brothers had not seen each other in a few years, so they spent the night visiting and catching up.
And last but not least, we headed into Montana to visit with Rob’s brother, Chad, and his family. Unfortunately we only had about a day to spend with them, but we had a really good time. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins, Alex and Nick. Liam had fun riding the snow mobile while the twins enjoyed riding horses. Rob and Chad had not seen each other in a few years, either, so it was nice for them to have the time to catch up.
As is usually the case when on vacation, the week went by way too fast. Before we knew it, it was time to head home. We were able to visit with Rob’s aunt and uncle on our way out, but we were pretty much out of time. We left on Saturday, thinking we would make the 12 hour trip in one day this time. We got a late start, though, and only made it to Butte, Montana before it was dark and we were tired, resulting in hotel room #2. (This one had two beds!) We woke up Sunday morning with 522 miles to go until we were home. About eight hours later, we pulled up to Waldo, thankful to have made it home in one piece.
We quickly learned that Waldo had been busy while we were away, but I will share that story with you tomorrow…
For now, I want to sent out a huge THANK YOU to all of our family. You took in not only the five of us, but our fur-babes as well, and we cannot THANK YOU enough. For taking time out of your schedules to spend time with us, THANK YOU! For driving eight hours just to see us for a few hours, THANK YOU! For making us feel so welcome in your warm homes, THANK YOU! For the laughs and the love, THANK YOU! You are all so amazing, and we love each and every one of you dearly.