After the clean up from Sunday’s storm, we were eager to hit the road and be on our way. The plan was to leave early Wednesday morning, attempting to make it into North Carolina before sunset. Monday was spent finishing up the to-do lists and transporting things over to the RV, which we keep in storage out in Delco. We also spent much of the day keeping our eyes on the weather report. They were calling for more snow on Tuesday followed by freezing temps the rest of the week. Anything water would freeze over and basically stay that way if left untreated, for days. Awesome.
I didn’t sleep much that evening. I was excited for Departure Day and also quite concerned about the messy conditions we’d have to contend with the next day. In checking the weather, I also knew that many states south of us were dealing with freezing temps as well. To a non RVer this may just seem like an inconvenience. But unfortunately for us it could translate into a significant delay until temps warm up. Why you ask?
Here’s the deal. When you live in a state that experiences freezing temps, you should always winterize your RV if you aren’t using it or you run the risk of your plumbing pipes bursting when the mercury drops below 32˚. We usually end up winterizing ours in late November just to be on the safe side. There are basically two methods of winterizing an RV…compressed air or anti freeze. Check out this article for a super quick explanation. We use the anti-freeze method.
Once you winterize your rig you can rest your little head, those awful temps won’t bust up your RV pipes. Awesome. But what about when you are ready to use your RV again? Well, you have to de-winterize it. And without going into all the details of that, I’ll just tell you that you need to run water through your pipes to flush out the anti-freeze.
So when I heard that the states we would be driving through/pit-stopping at I realized there was some cause for concern…the water hookups at the site would be frozen, which would mean we wouldn’t be able to de-winterize which would mean we wouldn’t be able to get have water in our rig. No potty, no showers, no faucet. Ugh.
When I got out of bed (insanely early) I double checked the weather for where we were headed. While temps overnight were below 32˚ it would warm to just about 40˚ during the day. That was our window. We needed to make it to our stop, de-winterize the rig and fill our reserve tank before temps dropped down again. (The reserve tank stays warm so that when the pipes at the site are frozen, we still have our own water on board) So basically we need to move our butts and get going.
We headed over to where we store the RV and started doing what we needed to do to get on the road. Fran climbed up on the roof to knock off the snow that had fallen the previous day. She’s quite brave…
There were a few snags before we headed out delaying us from leaving ‘on time’. The wireless remote for the braking system in our towed car wasn’t working, sigh. Another thing was that the entrance steps to our rig were making weird noises. Neither of those things was enough to call off the departure but the cold temps, snow and ice made things a bit more difficult than we anticipated. We had no idea the impact Mother Nature’s icy chill would have on us later down the road.
We made our way along I95 with no significant issues. The dogs were comfy cozy in their beds and our rig finally started to warm up inside.
After some time on the road, we decided to pull over to a rest stop a short time after passing Baltimore (we thought ahead this year and made sure not to get stuck going through the harbor tunnel again). The dogs were happy to stretch their legs outside but it was COLD so we didn’t want to hang out very long. As Fran was stepping back into our rig we heard a crack and then the steps broke. Wonderful.
The entrance steps are designed to ‘unfold’ and then lock into place. It seems that the freezing temps had made everything very stiff, including the metal bolt that locks the steps into place. It broke in half and there was nothing we could do to fix them. And since they were hanging loose, flimsy in the wind, we had to figure out a way to secure them…you don’t want to be traveling down the road with an extra foot of steps hanging out on the side. So Fran got to work with the bungee cords.
We talked it over and decided that rather than rush to NC we would stop in Virginia. This would give us significant time to de-winterize and see what we could do to fix the steps. So we headed over to the Fredericksburg KOA.
Once we settled in, de-winterized and set up we realized there really wasn’t anything we could do to fix the steps. We would quite simply need to find and alternative solution until we hit one of our longer stays. Fran bought a step stool from the camp shop, which was TINY, but that was the best we had. We’d just have to deal with the almost 3 foot drop from the entrance to the ground. Little did we know the significant role a broken bolt on some entrance steps would play…
The next morning I wake up fairly early, at 5 am. I figured I’d let the dogs out then get started on planning the route for the day. Because of the broken steps, the dogs couldn’t get down without my help. So in order to get them I had carefully step, or rather drop, down to the ground, then reach in and lift them out…I’m a mere 5’3″.
Luke was the first one to do his business in the chilly morning air. Up next was Ozzie. I reached up to grab him and when I got him to my chest he began to howl in the most blood-curdling way. I had no idea what was going on but knew he was in extreme pain and it seemed to be coming from something on my jacket. Somewhere in my brain it clicked and suddenly I knew…he was stuck on my zipper pull.
I knew this because when I first bought my jacket I thought that it was quite odd to have a zipper pull designed like the one on it. It was rather annoying at times because it would ‘get stuck’ on the jacket itself. It was more like a paper clip than your usual YKK zipper.
I knew that Ozzie’s screams were loud enough to wake Fran up but I yelled for her anyway. She had been dead asleep. She ran over and all I kept saying was ‘He’s stuck, he’s stuck on my zipper’. He was snug right under my chin and I obviously couldn’t move him to see just what part of him was stuck on me. Somehow Fran hoisted me and Ozzie up inside. He was still screeching in pain and trying to flail around so I did my best to hold him still while Fran tried to see what the hell was going on. She peered in the space between his small body and my chest and I could tell by the look on her face what she saw wasn’t ok. ‘It’s through his eye!’ she said ‘How the hell did it go through his eye?!’
Once I heard that I knew I needed to keep him close and not allow him to wiggle. I also knew there would be now way we could transport him on our on. We needed help. Immediately. So I told Fran to call 911. During her somewhat ridiculous phone call, which is a story in itself, I made sure to keep Ozz as comfortable as possible.
He had settled down and remained quite still, but I need him to stay that way. I don’t think there could have been a better way to ‘get stuck’ on me, He was right at my chest and I just held him close like one would carry a newborn baby and soothed him as best as I could.
After listening to Fran talk with the 911 dispatcher, I realized something important…it wasn’t through his eye it was through his eyelid. I can’t tell you the relief that washed over me. Yes, the situation was insane and we weren’t out of the woods…but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it was. The 911 dispatcher said that a deputy was on his way to help us.
During that wait time, I was able to maneuver the Ozz Man enough so that I could see the damage. It was clearly through his eyelid and if he moved slightly way from me it pulled and caused him excruciating pain, as you can imagine. My zipper must have caught on the edge up his eyelid and then during his struggle, it pierced and threaded itself through. Keeping Ozzie in a comfortable position was key and helped him to remain very calm. He really was such a trooper during this whole ordeal. I myself remained placid. It’s a bit odd because while I may get pretty worked up over situations, like the stress of packing for the trip, I have always been one to stay cool, calm and collected when bigger, more chaotic things unravel.
The deputy arrived and to sum up the next steps, he was able to cut around the zipper at the top then slowly and very gently zip it up and out of the track. He let us know about the Emergency Vet that was about a 20 minute drive away. We headed right over where they were quite shocked at our situation. They said that this was the first time they had seen anything like it. If you are curious just what ‘it’ looked like, you can view those photos here and here. I didn’t want to just post them without giving people the option to view or not. There is no blood but if you are very squeamish you may want to pass. The vet explained that he would put Ozzie under sedation and remove the zipper. Everything was done and over in less than 20 minutes which is a record for us…our usual ER visits (both canine and human) are never shorter than 2 hours. There was no damage to Ozzie’s eye and he was now feeling quite comfortable on the cocktail of sedation drugs. The vet sent us on our way with some antibiotics and ointment for Ozzie’s eye lid.
And, well, that’s what happened. Chain events take place all the time, one thing leads to the next. The cold weather led to the busted bolt which led to the broken steps which in turn led to the weird way I had to carry the dogs out…and then the accident. Some could argue the chain of events started all the way back when I bought my jacket. Who knows. What I do know is this… We always seem to be unlucky in lucky ways. What if the zipper had damaged his eye? What if we had zero cell phone reception? What if the ER was further away or worse yet, there wasn’t one? Yes, the situation was terrible…but it could have been a lot more tragic.
Ozzie spent the day recuperating and hanging out on my lap while we traveled into North Carolina. His eye was quite swollen but he was in good spirits and enjoyed his comfy spot. We spent the night in one of our favorite pitstop places in NC.
This morning we got up and we are currently on the road heading to Georgia. I’m happy to report that Ozzie is feeling much better today and back to his goofy self. We will be spending a few days near Savannah before our next stop…sunny Florida!! Will post updates soon 🙂