Life got rolling pretty quick on our official Day 1. The night had been a bit colder than we expected but we more or less chalked that up to the cold gripping the rest of the country. By 3am it had gotten to its lowest inside temperature; 56° F. Not all that cold unless you are trying to sleep in it and your body is at its lowest temperature as well. So 3:30am found we learning (and very quickly, might I add) how to get the heat going. I can’t speak for other campers in this department but I can tell you that getting our furnace, heat, and blower going is a bit of a trick. What I found out is that I had to turn the thermostat up to over 80°. Wait a few minutes. Then turn the actual furnace on. At this point you have to listen to the pilot light. It clicks each time it tries to ignite. However, it will only try 3x before you had to shut it all off and start the process. again. 1 click. 2 click. 3 clicks. Nothing! I tried again. The pilot light wouldn’t ignite. By this point I myself was cold standing in the living room area with my boxers on and wondering why I had to learn this lesson now. And that is when it hit me. What systems must be fully operable for the heater to work. Where might the proble…….the PROPANE! I had never turned the propane on because no one cooked that night. No one showered. I had had no reason to. I ran outside to the front of the rig, opened the door, and confirmed that the propane meter was on red. No propane was flowing to any system. I turned the dial on the top of the bottle counter clockwise and could – at first – hear a slight hiss. It was flowing. I went back inside and decided to wait just a few minutes. After a very long, cold, 5 minutes I set the thermostat to 84°. I turned on the furnace and dropped to my knees by the fridge where I could hear the furnace and pilot light. 1 click. Nothing. 2 clicks. Nothing. 3 clicks……and we have FIRE! The furnace roared to life (well, to be fair it just kind started up. There really was no roar to be heard). I ran back to the thermostat and turned the blower on low. From the vents on the floor came a mild sort of warm that brought my toes back to life fairly quickly. I left the thermostat on 80° to really let the chill in the air be broken. After about 6 or 7 minutes it was plenty warm. I turned the thermostat back to 70°, turned the blower off, and went back to bed.
The morning was pretty much how….no it wasn’t. It was cold. It was still dark. The sounds of our normal chickens and neighbor’s livestock had been replaced by a not-so-distant Highway 41. For a moment I thought perhaps I had not give this adventure enough thought. The perk though was that I woke up next to my beautiful wife and daughter. My dad was still there (albeit hunched over from a night in our daughters toddler sized bed). Things were going to be just fine I told myself.
I could see on my dads face the same sentiment that mine felt. We needed coffee and the sooner, the better. We hopped on the bikes (pedal cruisers, mind you) and headed off to Circle K. The ride was all of 1/4 mile or so and they had ample coffee and even some fresh looking donuts. We stood outside the front of the store talking about the misadventures of the day before, how blessed we were to have a safe drive down, and what Crystal and I had hoped to gain from the 5 months ahead of us.
As we pedaled back I had all but forgotten the furnace and the cold and the truck breaking down. I was focused on the temperature getting warmer as a most beautiful sun began to rise over the back side of the RV park. Now things were becoming more like my day dreams. When we got back to the camper Crystal had woken and the two of us sat out under the awning in our reclining chairs. I looked at her with a goofy grin I am sure and said – or rather sung – the first thing that popped into my mind.