Saturday, January 9, 2010

Change of plans -- staying home this winter

Well, it's been a while since I posted...sorry about that.

As I was getting the View packed up for it's big snowbirding adventure, life had other ideas this winter. My mom's health encountered a pretty significant setback in October, so I'm now staying home to help her out for the foreseeable future.

While certainly not the carefree "fun in the sun" winter I had been hoping for, this winter has not been all doom and gloom. Millie, for one, has been very happy to jump through her snowy backyard and rub noses between the fence posts with the neighbor's new black lab. She's also enjoyed being able to see my mom on just about a daily basis-- she is most definitely a "grandma's dog" and squeals with delight whenever she first sees her.

I learned how to winterize a motorhome (well, let's hope I learned how to do it right and don't have busted leaky water pipes in the RV this spring!). I also found a great RV storage place just a couple miles from the house. Unlike my T@B that requires no further attention once it's stored for the winter, motor homes need to be "checked in on" about once a month to charge up the batteries, and run gas and fluids through the engine and generator.

The local storage lot is perfect-- relatively inexpensive, some dumpy-looking RVs in the front of the lot that my nice View can hide behind to deter theft, and it's run by a nice old guy, Roger, who has years of RV'ing experience.

The only challenge with the storage lot has been learning it's rather unique hours. Roger is old-school-- no website, rusty old sign out front, handwrites his receipts, and doesn't have much of a voice mail system. The first time I went to do my monthly "engine running/battery charging", I arrived just as he was leaving for lunch. He said "no worries, just park your car outside the gate and I'll park my truck at the entrance" (so I could walk around the truck and leave, but the lot would still be secure). That worked out well.

But the second month's visit went a little differently-- I was doing my Saturday errands and realized in the mid afternoon that I needed to get over to the lot before they closed for the weekend. I arrived a little before 4:00pm and figured I had over 30 minutes to run the engines, etc. It was cold that day, so rather than stop and say hi to Roger first, I just drove right back to my motorhome. As the sun started setting, I saw that it was getting to be 4:30 and likely around closing time, so I locked up the View, got in my car and began to leave the lot.

Suddenly, I realized I had a big problem--- the front gate was now locked shut, Roger's car was gone, and his office was locked tighter than a drum. I was now locked inside the storage lot for the weekend!!!! Thankfully, I had my iPhone and a nice warm car to sit in. I looked up the non-emergency phone number on my iPhone, and they transferred me to a couple different municipalities until I finally was given to the 911 dispatcher for the county sheriff's office. Within 10 minutes, a squad car arrived and a friendly laughing deputy got out of the car to assess my situation.

The deputy first tried calling Roger's emergency number, but remember? Roger's old-school--- no cell phone, no pager, no nothing!!! So, next, the deputy called a few more of his buddies (some detectives in unmarked police cars) to come guard me while he went over to Roger's house to try getting him there. 30 minutes later, he returned with a sheriff's Paddy Wagon van but still had not been able to locate Roger. Finally, the deputies decided to call the fire department to see if they could bring their bolt-cutters to cut the padlock and chain around the front gate.

About 10 minutes later, the biggest hook and ladder firetruck I've ever seen came roaring up to the front of the storage yard and 3 burly firemen jumped out. I now had these guys and their big truck, the Paddy Wagon, a squad car, and a detective's car in front of me--- must have looked like a huge emergency to the people driving past us! But, fortunately, the firemen were great and laughed the whole time. Within a minute they were able to cut the chain and open the gate for me. I thanked everyone profusely and they sent me on my way.

A couple days later when Roger got back and called me he said I was the first person in his 40+ years of operating the storage lot that had ever managed to get herself locked in! Fortunately, all ended well and we got a good laugh out of it.

So, even though I'm home this winter, I'm still managing to have a few fun adventures with the RV!

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