We Survive a Windstorm in an RV

*BANG!*

We woke at 2am Sunday morning to pinecone missiles hurdled from on high.  They were launched with gusto from the 100+ foot fir trees above us by the gale force winds of a windstorm reaching 60mph.  I seriously believed they were coming through our 5th wheel’s Thermoplastic Polyolefin roof. Unnerving as this was to listen to, even more frightening was the roar of the windstorm through the trees above. At any moment one of many branches might break off and plummet though into the interior of our bedroom.

The thought crossed my mind, “Should we pull in our slides?”  We have heard this might be necessary during a windstorm. However, we decided it was not needed this time. Why?

  • When the slides are in, the bunkhouse is cut off from the rest of the trailer. I would not feel comfortable leaving the kids in their beds.
  • Slides should be pulled in during windstorms to protect slide toppers from being damaged, or so I have heard. As we don’t have any yet this is not a concern.
  • Somewhere I read that by closing the slides you decrease surface area and thus decrease the movement of your trailer during a windstorm. Our 5th wheel’s weight is about 15,000lbs and we are protected from direct gusts by the terrain.  We felt hardly any motion as we lay listening to the wind in the treetops.

Were we prepared for a windstorm? Not completely. Garrett is usually pretty good at checking the weather apps to be ready for inclement conditions.  He uses the Apple weather app and the MyRadar app to get this information. However, this squall surprised us, coming in with a furry and blowing itself out in a matter of hours.  It left in its wake a chaos of limbs and debris battered about by the northbound wind. Fences smashed, roofs torn and powerlines destroyed.  The greater King and Pierce counties (about 119,000 homes) were plunged into darkness.

We have no power

“We’re finally being forced to boondock. Let’s treat it like a practice session.” This was my cheerful comment to Garrett next morning as he came in to report that church was cancelled and the entire city of Covington was dark.  “Only the Fred Meyer’s has power because it’s on the hospital power grid.”

Predator 3500 Inverter Generator
Courtesy of consumerreports.com

Our batteries were nearly depleted so the next logical step was to get the generator running.  We purchased the Predator 3500 watt in September but had not needed to use it yet; it remained as it had been, fresh out of the box. Now, gas and oil were poured into it and the massive machine roared to life. Still no power! We did not have the correct 30 to 25 amp adapter necessary to direct the energy from this noisy beast into our electrical system. Garrett braved the roads again in search of the device. Failing several times, he finally located one at the illustrious Camping World.  The dashcam footage of this trip gives a little taste of the destruction caused by the wind.

It’s alive!

Once again, the generator roared to life, this time connected to our power grid and giving me the needed energy to prepare a warm meal for my tired but happy trio of little people.  Earlier, Emma (7) and Timothy (5) both wanted desperately to get out and help the numerous camp hosts/grounds crew clean up the littered RV park. Armed with only their collapsible wagon they started out that morning with Edison (2) in tow. I took a watchful perch on top of the rig to sweep off our roof and clean the gutters. So excited to help were they that no adult in the cleanup party complained if they were in the way or if there was too much child chatter. Good. My mom heart hoped there would be no rebuff but an acceptance of their desire to help.  I have found this builds a great work ethic in my little ones. It also gives them that warm feeling gained only by serving others.

Piles of Debris

Many hours and multiple piles of debris later I coaxed my brood in for hot cocoa, lunch, and a much-needed break.  As we rested Emma turned to me and said, “Mom, I like windstorms, they give us lots to do.  I helped a lot, didn’t I?” Yes, you did daughter, and I am very proud of you.

Power was restored to us about 24 hours after it first went out. Many others remained without power or easy access to their homes for several more days.  Thus, ends our story: we survived our first windstorm in an RV.

Challenge Accepted & Elevated!

One little video. That’s all it took to prove again the power of social media to elevate the story.

Let’s back up about a month so I can explain. Garrett and I are members of Fulltime Families (FTF), a community built specifically to support and assist families who travel and live full-time RV lives.  Thanks to Doug and Harmony of Fummins Family we were invited to join FTF and their myriad of FaceBook groups. Fulltime Families Filmers Branch was one of these groups, geared toward content creators of the YouTube genre. It was this group that announced a December video contest, an InstaPot holiday recipe challenge!

So, in the spirit of Christmas and Charlie Brown, we put our creative juices to work both in the kitchen and on the screen. We submitted our 3 minute tutorial with the hopes that the cuteness factor would win us the prize.

Since the competition was solely within the FTF community and we wanted to share it with other Nomad friends, I posted a link to our curry chicken masterpiece on Epic Nomad Life (ENL). That is when we experienced “Elevate the Story” firsthand. On December 18th our little video was featured in an ENL article highlighting its creativeness. Within 24 hours that post garnered over 100 views of the video and 13 new subscribers to our YouTube channel Diary of a Family!

Elevate the Story [link to article] is the ENL slogan that pushed RV travel vloggers to produce a world class documentary on the nomadic lifestyle. And now this slogan has become the heart and soul of this extraordinary community; A community we can get behind because they support family friendly content and the creators behind that content. In supporting us ENL has enabled us to support others!

And now this blog; a completely unknown endeavor for me. I would not have attempted to undertake this new type of storytelling without the encouragement of the ENL community. As to whether or not we should win the competition? You be the judge of that! [link to video]

Second Thoughts

Journal Entry, May 25, 2018

Have you ever had something you really loved but didn’t realize how much it meant to you until it was taken from you?  Have you planned some amazing life change, like moving out or going away to school or even trading in a car, and for a moment the anticipation gave way, if only for an instant, to anxiety, nervousness, or downright dread?  The incredible life change approaching is now shadowed by regret and even a hint of fear.  I am having such a moment.  We are selling our house.

The first house we bought together, this house of many sweet memories and also dark and painful ones. I thought it would be easy to leave it behind, to move on and experience the new and the better.  As a person I am not very sentimental when it comes to personal belongings. I am what you might call a self-proclaimed minimalist.  Perhaps this is an inherent trait, passed down to me by my ‘no-nonsense’ grandmother, or maybe I learned not to draw my value from what I own because I’ve never had very much.  Whatever the case, we had always talked of the possibility of leaving this abode if it no longer suited our needs, and I was fine with that.

Well, that’s what I thought.

The Decision

July 2017. Our first family camping trip to Rainier National Forest. He was hauling a friend’s borrowed pop-up trailer behind our Ford F-150 when he suggested it the first time. “We could sell our house and move into an RV, travel the United States.” I looked at him funny. Husband, are you nuts?!  The realist in me needed some cold, hard facts to even consider the change as feasible. In the end he convinced me.

Which brings us to today.  Months of preparation and months more to come. Time and energy poured into project after project as our tired-out rooms get some much-needed touch ups. Now they are cheerful and happy, but I am sad.  Why am I sad? We have reached the point of no return. We have made steps, and large purchases, that cannot be undone. To pay for them we must give up our much loved ‘sticks and bricks’, and in that knowledge my heart aches.

Grieving

Chaplain Peter, a wise and loving man I know, reminded me that grieving is ok, even if it is just for the home you are selling. “You made memories there, you did life in those rooms, and there is a strong connection made to the place where roots have been established.” Chaplain shared with me how his family also had to let go of a much-loved home.  Walking from room to room they remembered the memories that had been created there, sharing their most treasured moments.

As I walk through our front door my mind goes to the most recent and fondest memories… being greeted every evening with excitement, exuberance and love. “Mommy! You’re home!” And watching as the baby learned first to smile, then to crawl, wave, walk, and run to me. Now he is my toddler, tall enough to open the door and welcome me in with toothy grins! (He is so proud of himself.)

Our yellow kitchen, now partially painted with cabinet doors off their hinges (its been months since we started painting in there), this has been a gathering place.  Hours of canning in the summers, meals as a family, holidays celebrated together, and evenings of food, friends and card game fun!

Hot soaks in the bathroom at 9 months pregnant and feeling like a whale, then laboring with my boys, praying for strength to make it through. I have to be truthful, I labored ALL OVER that house, supported by the most gracious and attentive husband. Finally, I welcomed each boy-child, on his special birthday, into my arms in this very bedroom, protected from the cold dawn. Across the hall in their bedroom I spent many hours with our children. I cuddled with a much younger Emma on her brand-new toddler bed, or sat nursing whichever boy was the baby at the time. Many bedtime stories were read and so many bedtime prayers were heard.

Intentionally Us

Selling our house will not be easy. But thinking back through the last 6 years I realize all my fondest memories of this house are entwined with the memories of building our young family. The love, the pain, and the work it has taken to make us who we are. Together, Daddy and Mommy, Emma, Timmy and Edison. I cherish the moments that have been made and look forward to new opportunities that create memories.

And now to a new adventure, one that will bring us closer together as we learn, grow, experience. We are Diary of a Family, intentionally living life, being Intentionally Us. Read on to follow us on this experience of a lifetime.