6:39 PM 12/18/2009
Hey all, sorry, I've not posted in quite a while.
Quick recap, incase you are still catching up.
I was living in Tacoma, Washington, for about a year. Then I moved down to Lemoore, California. That didn't work out so well, so I stayed a couple days with my Dad and Step Mom in Wenatchee, Washington. And now I'm living near Ryley, Alberta, Canada. Ryley is south east of Edmonton. I just realized I've been in Canada for a month already,, so this post is a bit over due!
It gets cold here. Really cold. Like for the last week, it was about -30C. That means it has to warm up a lot before water is water again. Things freeze up pretty quick when it gets that cold. So that takes some adjusting, right?
My Mom used to raise Pom dogs here, those little fuzzy cute dogs. She still has a few here, but isn't raising them to sell anymore. When she was in full swing, she had them living in one of those portable construction site office trailers, the ATCO trailers you always see. Well, the remaining dogs are living in another building now, so the trailer was just being used for storage.
So, when you hear me mention living in the dog house, this is it! I'm just about set up now, mostly I'm living in half of the trailer, so my area is about 9 feet wide by 14 feet long. The trailer has a natural gas furnace in it, and I put styrofoam insulation on the inside of the walls and ceiling, and under the floor, so I'm pretty much set here. I don't have plumbing in this trailer, so I still do showers and stuff in my Mom's trailer. We're calling this trailer my temporary home until I figure out what I'm doing. No sense getting it too fancy just yet!
Ok, I mentioned that its been getting pretty cold here. Well, last weekend, the water froze up. Like, you turn on the tap, and nothing comes out. No showers, no flushing toilet, no washing your hands, nothing. Its bad enough that we have to carry our drinking water, the well here isn't really fit for drinking from, but at least its water, except now when its frozen!
We messed around with it a few times, putting heaters under the trailer, checking the pump house, etc. Everytime we'd think we found the problem, we'd stop and wait, to see if it started working. Plus we knew the weather was supposed to warm up yesterday and today, so we kind of were going to wait it out. We were heating snow up on the coal stove for washing hands and dishes, so it wasn't too bad.
Well, today we finally got water running here on the Comm-Pound. The highlight of the day was when I peed, in the toilet, flushed the toilet, and then washed my hands with hot water from the tap. I know, that doesn't sound like much, but we've not had that kind of luxery for the last week or so. Later on, I even took a hot shower... first one in almost a week. I know... gross right? .. ewwww! Felt good to get all that grime and coal dust out of my hair...
I also finally got my van started for the first time since I got here. Well, I actually did drive it around the yard the first week or so I was here, when I was unloading some of the storage bins. But from then on it just sat, patiently, waiting. Then it got cold. REALLY COLD, like -30C and stayed there. Remember that our water in the trailer froze. Well, so did the van. And the battery got pretty cold too. Cold batteries put out way less power, and when the oil gets cold it gets stiff. So, it just sat there. I was pretty concerned that the engine could freeze, that's bad. Like, if the water in the engine block freezes, it can split the block. Most people think that's an old wives tale, but up here it happens. Mostly to people from other places. My van is from other places!
So today I put a battery charger on it, plus it was only -5C, which is a lot warmer than -30C, and a few minutes later it started right up. So I left it running for a while, but then remembered I was almost out of gas. Like, when I was driving here, on my big move, I really wasn't sure if I had enough gas to make it. And I was pretty much broke. Nothing new there I guess!
So I had my Mom follow me to the nearest gas station. Next town over. Guess it was about 10 miles or something like that. Really got to plan things like that out before hand! Anyway, now its all full of gas, and the battery has a bit of a charge on it, and I dumped a bunch of anti freeze in it, so hopefully the drive to get gas was enough to circulate it and I'll be good now. Sooner or later I'll be getting some kind of engine heater for it, and then I'll be cool like everyone else up here. That's the first sign of a "native" car up here, all cars here have engine block heaters, and you'll see all the cars with short extension cords sticking out of the grill. At night, you plug in the car, and the heater runs all night, and in the morning the engine is much easier to start.
Then for more entertainment, since I'd done so good at starting my van, I decided to start the snow plow truck. Last time I'd tried, it was also frozen solid and wouldn't even crank over. Today, being much warmer, I fired it up on the first or second try. As it was warming up, I walked back to my van and got my ice scraper, so I could see out better. Once all warmed up, I headed out into the field to get a bale of hay for the horses. These bales are the big round ones that are about the size of a small car. Rather than trying to pick up the bale, you just kind of push it with the snow plow. Took a few tries to get it to go straight, but by the second bale I had it nailed!
Ok, so push the bale across the field, through the yard, and up to the horse pasture gate. Look around, ok, there are the horses... and the llama. Or is it spelled lama? you know, the extra tall sheep looking fuzz ball. Yeah, we have one of those, too. Not sure why, but there it is! So, get the gate open, push the bale through the gate, and look behind me just in time to see the llama make its escape. DAMN! Jump out of truck and close the gate, to keep the remaining horses in. But that creates a bit of a dilema. If I can get the lama turned around, I'll have to get the gate open again. Creative problem solving right?
First things first, find the lama. Oh, good, its over eating the other hay bale. At least its not running for the open field right? So for the next few minutes I chased the lama around the bale. Honest, the stupid thing just kept turning left. Must be a NASCAR fan or something. Finally I got it away from the bale, and about the same time it realized that I had pushed a new bale into the pasture, so then it was pretty easy to convince it to go back in through the gate, once I got it open again. Whew, that could have been much more difficult!
Just a quick push of the bale across the pasture, and I had the whole herd following me. Pick a spot, park the bale, back the truck up a few yards, and jump out. With my trusty knife, I cut the strings off and pulled some hay loose for the eagerly, but not patiently, waiting horses... and the lama. Getting the truck out of the pasture was much easier, with the new bale now opened up, you couldn't chase the hungry critters out if you tried!
We're almost out of coal, so while I had the snow plow running, I pushed the snow drift away from the coal bin, and also cleared some snow so we can bring in some water to refill the tanks on the other trailers.
Its amazing how many things you take for granted, until you have to do them all yourself. When I rented an apartment, if the water quit, I called someone. Someone else shoveled the snow from the sidewalk. Except when I was the manager, I was the one who got the call. But streets were plowed by someone else. Here, we have essentially a trailer park, with streets, a zoo, our own water system, sewers, the whole deal.
Its about an hours drive to town, and with winter full on, we don't always know if we'll be able to get to town. That means stocking up on groceries.
We burn coal for heat, in addition to the natural gas furnace. Coal is cheaper, only about $30 per pick up load. Its handy having a coal mine just down the road from us! Natural gas is cleaner of course. I'm really not a fan of coal, its dirty, there is a thin, or sometimes not so thin, layer of black dust on everything. But it sure burns nice and hot!
Having coal and natural gas is nice for a back up too. If the power goes off, the goal still burns. Some of our heaters will burn even if the power goes off, but the big furnaces wont. I guess if the gas ever stopped flowing, we could do coal and electric heaters. And we also have a pretty good pile of wood too, so we'll be nice and toasty.
--- New Update ---
Ok, I wrote all that yesterday. Today we took a truck, with a big water tank, into the nearest town, and hauled some drinking water. Think we got a couple hundred gallons. Cost us $3, so that's not such a bad deal right?
Then, after topping off water tanks for half the trailer park (haha) we dropped the water tank, and went to the local coal mine. We got a very full load on the truck this time, about 1200 KG of coal for $56 and change. Then I spent the next hour shoveling said coal into our coal bin. Yeah, I'm gonna probably feel that tomorrow! But I had a good groove on, and I sure didn't want my Mom to show me up, so I chased her away before she took my shovel away.
Then it was break time, so I did online job applications for about 20 places that wanted people who could speak, write and read English. Guess that's a big deal, with all the immigrant labor here now!
So way I figure it, I should be rolling in loonies in no time. Creditors, please stand by!