Wednesday, January 7, 2015

RV ice shanty

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We headed for the warm sunny south the first part of November. We arrived in Florida and it was freezing. Since this is our first year traveling, we were a bit disillusioned. The only place on the map that looked warm was Arizona and Southern California. We made a hard right on I-10 and headed west. By the time we reached Deming, NM it was snowing. We have had the weather app out, scouring it for a warm place. None to be found unless we head for Southern Mexico. Is this what RV winter travel is all about? We could stay home wrapped in our blizzard blanket a lot cheaper than chasing the sun all over the country. Are we asking too much? Did we miscalculate? Should we sell this motorhome with a cracked frozen water pipe and look for a tent to rent in the Virgin Islands?
—Rolling Ice Shanty in Ajo

Dear Ajo:
You did miscalculate a bit. I think Mark Twain put it best, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” My advice would be to slow down. I know gas is cheap right now, but as you have discovered, the jet stream can move faster than your motorhome. Stay south and let the warm weather find you. Don’t drive thousands of miles looking for it. You can expect bouts of cold weather all over the south during the winter months.

I understand why you had the misconception of warm sunny weather. You never see an advertisement of RVer’s huddled inside their rigs trying to stay warm. More often you see them basking in the sun enjoying outdoor activity in shirt sleeves. The cold reality is “weather happens.” When it does you have to deal with it, usually for short periods of time.

Sorry to hear about your broken pipe. My suggestion would be to study your rig’s plumbing and figure out what must be done during long nights of below freezing temps. Running your furnace heat through the duct system is better than just using an electric space heater in the coach. It helps to keep the basement storage area warm and protect it from freeze damage. If you have exposed holding tanks and pipes, consider heat tape. A light bulb in the plumbing compartment can often prevent a disaster by contributing just enough heat to keep things from freezing up.

When you are feeling cold and despondent, turn on the weather channel and watch people commuting to work on the Dan Ryan in Chicago at 10 below. It will make you feel warm all over.
—Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you were in northern florida, perhaps the panhandle, in November. Florida is a very large state. If you drove from the Alabama-Florida state line to Key West it would take over 16 hours. Where we live, in SW Florida, November was unseasonably warm in November, and it is one of the few places in the continental U.S. that is still seeing temps in the 80's in January.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Ajo went far enough south in Florida. If he only made it to I-10 and then took a right, he was still in the freeze zone. Yes "weather happens" but much less so in south Florida which I consider Stuart and Jupiter Beach and further south. If you prefer the west coast of Florida you need to go a little further south due to the fact there is no gulf stream over there to warm things up like on the east coast.

Doug said...

You will generally find above freezing temperatures in Florida if you stay south of Tampa. Arizona is generally above freezing if you stay at elevations below 1700 feet. Even then, Arizona may get a few days of frost. Nearly all the other states will have freezing temperatures during the winter but it will be warmer than Michigan or Minnesota. :)

Anonymous said...

Key West, Florida is always warm. We put 15,000 miles on our truck yearly and watch the weather channel. This year we enjoyed several inches of snow outside San Diego. We have come to the conclusion that the only guarenteed hot spot.....might be Key West.

Anonymous said...

You just didn't go far enough south in Florida. It is often cold and occasionally snowy in northern Florida, rarely below Orlando, and never in the Keys where we are now. Most people don't realize how big Florida is, but it as about as far from Jacksonville to Key West as from Jacksonville to Baltimore, Maryland, with a similar difference in the warmth of the climate.

Anonymous said...

Take a deep breath and enjoy your new found freedom. No place is perfect. We're in southern Calif. in the winters and there are always some cold days but mostly it's shorts and tee shirts or nothing at all for us. We spend the winters in a clothing optional park and play lots of tennis and Pickleball and chuckle gently at the weather reports from the east. Talk to Canadians, they know all the best winter spots. Most of all, enjoy what God gives you, find out how to manage your rig effectively, and BREATHE.

Anonymous said...

Weather happens all the time no matter where you might be or when. Years ago in August the supposed warmest month in Michigan my wife and I were invited to the "warm" U.P. on our motorcycle. We had been up there in previous years and have always experienced freezing temps in the same month but were assured the weather was a beautiful mid 70s. Away we go on the bike. The first day was a little cool,upper 50s. So we spend the night in a motel only to wake the next morning with ice and snow. It warmed up to a balmy 45 that day and never got above 55 the week we were there. The following week saw a return to the 70s. So no matter where or when, if it's going to get you it will.

Tim Fitch said...

You made a hard right at Route 10, that means you never made it to the real FL. You have to venture South of Orlando to find warm weather.
Give Fort Myers, Naples a try. It is seldom "COLD".

Walt Long said...

2nd year in Why AZ just below Ajo got 28 deg on coldest generally is in 40- 50 deg at night 70 80's day times one week of the year is a cold week love it here in Coyote Howls east never had pipes freeze all wrapped with foam works for us Walt