Full-time RV living, for us and many other nomad’s, is all about experiencing new places. Which means there will be times when you’re completely out of your element. Like that time in Austin, where two Floridians found themselves in a Texas-sized winter storm!
This post is dedicated to lessons learned and preparedness tips, should you find yourself living through a WTF moment – ‘What in the Texas Fuck’ is going on here?! One of these tips saved our RV plumbing from becoming a casualty during this rare and epic weather event.
Don’t forget to pack essentials, even if choosing a safer option for lodging.
After waking up on freezing Friday morning, when our furnace wouldn’t light because of a failing sail switch, we decided to leave our RV even though it’s is a ‘four seasons’ rated unit.
We decided to spend a few nights in a hotel nearby to ‘wait it out’. It became increasingly obvious that Austin doesn’t see snow that often and it’s pretty out of character for everyone in the area. And then the power grid went out. We are from the land of hurricanes and therefore we know a thing or two about getting prepped for disruptions. Still, it never crossed our mind that we’d lose power, and then water, at our hotel for multiple days. But like most of Texas, nobody expected a snowstorm to basically shut the grid down!
We had packed food, suitcases, business/work essentials, our dog, and filled up our rental car with gas. Just never thought we’d lose power for days at a time. We missed all the things we take on our hikes, first aid kit, a flashlight, additional battery chargers, water bladders, etc. Each of these things were needed and all live in one single bag and yet we didn’t think to grab it. Gahhhh… I cursed myself for hours for not thinking it through.
All vehicles matter.
Oh, by the way, we didn’t have our truck, going into a snow storm. Poor Big Booty Judy was sick and in the shop. She had some rust in the EGR (exhaust gas regulator) system and all her sensors put us into limp mode when pulling into Austin. We missed her so much during this weather event! Which leads us to our next lesson learned.
If you expect the ground outside to look like this:
Do not rent a rear wheel drive Mustang convertible like this:
In JC’s defense, the rental car decision came several days before the first winter storm warning, and we figured we’d have Big Booty Judy back by the Friday before weather set in. Of course we didn’t get her back until 8 days after that.
Whether to weather – tropical cyclones, tornadoes, high winds, and winter storms.
The RV life requires one to think about how your travel plans, and the forecast, could impact your living arrangement.
Being from Florida, we’ve seen some hurricanes. Most recently some pretty humbling ones, like Irma in 2018.
These massive storms were an underlying reason we wanted to sell our house made of straw (a 1920’s era wood bungalow). It was a early lesson in Whether to weather, one we’ve relearned a lot now that we live in a 40′ ft tin can!
We’ve now experienced tornado outbreaks in GA and FL, tropical storms in NC, PA, and GA, high wind events in WI, TX, and NM, and a Texas-sized winter storm in Austin.
It pays to pay attention to the weather folks!
Get to know what an RV furnace sail switch is and buy RV antifreeze before you need it.
Winterizing an RV involves key steps like draining water from tanks, the water heater, and adding RV antifreeze to your tanks to protect the seals. Luckily, the owner of Heads Up RV repair had some we could use while he fixed our furnace sail switch.
Water freezes – even inside a working refrigerator!
For at least three days we didn’t see temps above 25°, with overnight temps dropping to single digits. Turns out, the power where our RV was parked never went out, so the fridge was working fine the entire time.
The residual water left inside the filter in the fridge, and our shower head, froze and cracked both components. All of our veggies, beverages, and even some frozen foods, fell victim to the extreme cold.
Yes, you should always have a ladder.
Getting ice and snow off your RV roof would be impossible without one!
Proper attire for you and your pets.
Body heat is precious!
Snow melts and becomes water for Non-functional toilets.
When in doubt, write it out.
one day to the next
a euphemism for the vexed
we are they, frozen in Tex
woke this Saturday before dawn
icey fields glaring from the sun’s yawn
fortunately, this day, the heat’s on
be hours later when the mercury rises
may even see fifty degrees of a high
our RV may see water in its lines
lessons learned they’re plentiful
when the climate becomes resentful
a man-made calamity so undoubtful
Propane is a hot commodity (pun intended)
When it’s calling for days of below freezing temperatures, there will undoubtedly be a shortage of propane. And when your heating and cooking requires propane, you better stock up! We also learned that propane condenses when cold and can at times appear a lot less in the tank as well as no longer have the ability to convert into gaseous form. Our propane tanks are small tanks – grill sized – and they froze up pretty quick. This lead to issues with the propane furnace ignition.
Luckily the RV park owner had several extra tanks we could borrow and refill in time. Such an amazing gesture as it took us 9 days of calling stores, standing in line, and lugging empty tanks around before we could finally refill three of them.
We hope these lessons learned, and tips for preparedness, help some of you should you find yourself in a ‘What in the Texas Fuck?!‘ situation.