Powerless! But there is always a plan B! and even C!
Funny my last blog was “What is it we really need to live?” Ha! Power is nice! We lived off grid for over a decade in Baja. When you are responsible for your own power and water you can get quite creative! We lost power on Saturday afternoon after a line of severe thunderstorms passed over us. It was the first time I have heard a warning come over the cell phone, something new. It came on quickly, howled like hell, and was over in an hour for us. All limbs intact, all maple tree limbs intact, yes some storm pruning (next Winters kindling!) but nothing large came down. The storms a month ago took care of most of those “I’m dead and ready to fall” trees! We had “storm light” compared to those a bit further North of us where the radar colours were in the truly scary savage range! and so, out went the power, on went the thinking caps when the update to power returning started to loom further and further ahead.
We have our trailer, aka, the rolling house! Yeah! I just realized I don’t take many pictures of it! With batteries and an inverter my wonderful brother installed for us! GO “Offshore Outfitters” and we have our trusty little two decade old Honda generator….and we had gasoline! What we didn’t have, was propane, well, we did, but it was at about 1% and lasted an hour, before running out, and we had a propane leak.
The first day we were not too worried, surely Ontario Hydro would get things up and running, until we realized the extent of the damage. The cell towers were out so we resorted to the local radio station, Lake 88.1 FM for updates, it sounded grim.
Then we looked at the two 40 lb. tanks, something in the back of mind remembered they were close to their expiration date…yup…they actually expired at the end of 2020 and we’d filled them just before that. I looked online, gasped at the price ($350 each!) said a few choice words about RV dealers and got on the phone while Mike waited at Canadian Tire for the small BBQ tank to be filled. There was a line up in fact, at the propane refill, the large Superior propane truck was pulling away as we arrived having just filled Canadian Tire’s up! There was also a line up for gasoline. All the stations with no power, well, weren’t pumping gas so people came to Perth from Carleton Place and even Ottawa to fill up. That’s when we realized how extensive the power outages were! Now, back to those tanks! I had read they can be reconditioned so I started calling around to the various propane suppliers and asking. Yes, one very lady said at Dicola’s where we get our diesel, we can send them away, it could take a week, or six weeks, and with shipping, it may cost more than a new one…sigh…OK…called LeVac Propane in town. They could send them away she said, but, they just had a shipment of 40 lb. reconditioned tanks arrive and would we like one? for $65…YES! TWO Please! Plus they would give us $5 each for the old tanks! So off we went, bought the tanks, had them filled at a bargain price and now we had to take care of the leak. We had known the switch valve had been acting up as when you unhooked one tank, you could still smell propane coming out of the unhooked line, even though the switch was on the other tank. Levac had a switch, but the lines were the wrong size. Just go to “Golden Triangle Plumbing” in Smiths Falls the lovely lady said, that is where we get our fittings! The thought of avoiding an RV dealer made my day! Off to Smiths falls we went, bought the valve, had a nice pulled pork sandwich at Hanks Fries (he makes his own and will add fried onions if you ask! Yum!) and came home. Took the lines off the old valve, applied leftover from Baja yellow propane tape and we were up and running! After a bit of running around, but it had to be done. We were propane powered!
We left our freezer in the basement alone, it’s fairly new and seals well. After removing everything from the house fridge/freezer and placing it in the trailer we realized the trailer fridge is about the same size as our house one, just a different shape! And we turned the inverter on, ran the generator to charge the batteries, then took the generator to outside the crawlspace/basement door plugged the freezer into the generator and ran it for an hour a day to keep things nicely frozen.
Now water, the pressure lasted the first day then it turned into the bucket brigade up all those steps from the lake. Who needs a gym when you do this! Ha! Two buckets at a time, for washing up and toilets. Now drinking water we had some of so we were fine, we have wine! Wait, I can’t brush my teeth in that, maybe white wine? All kidding aside, I function on my morning coffee! We begged and borrowed drinking water from those fortunate enough to have power, lucky sods! Problem solved. A friend even sent a link to a hand pump you can install on your well head-something to think about in the future! Back to basics! Keeping it simple!
Lights…well, nothing like a oil burning lamp and a gallon of lamp oil to keep you from running into things as it got dark! Candles, surely the cats won’t burn down the house? What more can you do?! Flashlight! Check! LED lights! Check! We are good to go!
Cooking…nothing like having a burner on your BBQ! Also, the trailer has a three burner stove and a oven if needed! Time to eat things out of the fridge! Inventive eating as well! One pot meals:) Get cooking Mike!
Cleaning, well, back to the bucket brigade and nothing like a bracing swim to wash your hair! It’s like having a giant bathtub! A giant COLD bathtub! OK, it’s lake, even better, pet fish to talk to! The Rock Bass is currently guarding her nest by the swim ladder!
No internet! Ha! What are those funny rectangular things with pages called again? Yes! Books! We did get minimal service back once the cell towers got their power back! Everything runs on power! Always nice to have for an emergency! My computer actually has a back up battery, it’s an all in one, so I could down load my photo files to look at. All that time to photograph things! Woohoo! I did some hummingbird stalking! Placing the feeder by the lilac blooms worked brilliantly!
The bad thing about no power is we have no time pieces, except the phone! Our toaster oven and microwave are our timepieces! So, at light, I wake up, at dark, go to bed. Cats were ecstatic! Food earlier! At dawn! Yeah! No sunrises missed this week! I guess Mother Nature decided to throw me a few real doozies for all that waking up early! What a treat! So, looks like I’ll be getting up early for the next few months! At least the coffee is easy to make now and I’ll be fueled for the day! Saludos y abrazos amigos! I have a nice bird blog coming soon and an update on my childhood travels! Stay tuned!