Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Redford and Fall Colors

On Friday, Oct 23rd we  fired up the motorhome and left the sticks-n-bricks to visit our Grand-daughter Sara at Radford University.  Of course we picked the wrong day to drive south on Interstate 81 as there was about a 2 hour back up as we neared Roanoke.  After the four hour drive extended to six hours, we finally arrived in the Radford vicinity. Our favorite park at Claytor Lake had no vacancy.  So we spent Friday and Saturday nights at a small park (the Interstate Overnight RV Park) near Christiansburg.  It was not much more than a gravel parking lot, but it had full hookups and was fairly quiet.

That evening we had dinner with Sara at a local Radford town restaraunt. After picking up a few things at the Walmart we retired to the RV.  Sara met us for breakfast the next morning at the Cracker Barrel.

After breakfast we headed for the Blueridge parkway.  Enroute, near the little town of Floyd we found an interesting local bakery and bulk foods store.  The bakery appears to be run by Mennonites and had a lot of really good locally made breads and candies. 

In Floyd, there was a farmer's market with a number of craft and art shops.  Floyd is one of Virginia's centers of  bluegrass and old time music.  The Floyd General Store also hosts a weekly radio show and a number of music performances.  We had been through the town a couple of years ago, but had not stopped to wander the streets.  On Saturday there were a couple of musicians playing at the store.  We stopped for coffee and enjoyed a few of their songs.

Traveling on to the Blueridge parkway, the colors were probably at their peak for this year.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy and not the best lighting for photos.  Here are a few of the many photos from the Blueridge.

On Sunday the weekend crowds gone and we were able to move the RV to Claytor Lake SP.  The campground was practically vacant by 6PM.  That evening we enjoyed dinner at a local Pulaski steak house. The temperatures were pleasant and we had a good campfire; plenty of conversation; and  roasted chestnuts.

Monday morning we broke camp and headed East to the Thousand Trails RV Park near Lynchburg. The park had mixed reviews on the various RV web sites.  Although the area is hilly with number of less-than-level sites; the park with its lake and club house look nice.

This park was also nearly vacant as this is their last week before closing for the winter. Unfortunately, the weather turned nasty with cold wind and rain on Monday.  We'll be heading for home tomorrow.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Great Winter Flood

Wow!  It sure has been a long time since I've posted anything.  I think writing has to be a compulsion to want to post regularly.  For me it seems like there is nothing worth saying unless we are traveling in the RV and exploring new regions.  This will be long posting.  It has taken me quite a while to feel like spilling my guts on our 2015 disaster.  The last time I made a blog post, Ina and I were happily snowbirding in central Florida.

While enjoying the 75 degree Orlando weather in mid-February, I logged onto one of my web cams and I noticed some pink colored debris on the kitchen counter.  As the morning light grew brighter I could see that the floor was wet.

I then called one of my neighbors to check on the house.  Within the hour he called me back to let me know that the house was flooded with water flowing out from under the doors.

At that time the Washington DC area was experiencing historic low temperatures with a heavy snowfall and many people staying home from work.  It took a couple of hours for my daughter to arrive to survey the damage.  As you can see the damage to the house was extensive.  We were lucky that only a few furniture item were destroyed by the water.

Thanks to a lot of hard work by my daughter, her husband and a wonderful neighbor, the water to the burst pipe was turned off and the standing water was pushed out of the house. Soaked carpets, fallen drywall, and insulation was cleaned up.

The next day, we packed up the motorhome and began the journey northward.  Three days later we were driveway camping in front of our house with night-time temperatures in the single digits. 

To complicate matters we were limited to a single 15amp extension cord (thus unable to use more than one electric heater).  I was so thankful to have our 8000BTU propane catalytic heater.

Although the coach is equipped with arctic pack  heaters for the holding tanks;  the pipes connecting the water pump, fresh water, and water heater tanks have no insulation and would quickly freeze during the cold night.  Additional electric heaters could not be purchased (they were sold out everywhere).  We also found that what works at temps as low as 20 degrees would not work at 6 degrees.  I had previously used an incandescent  lamp in each utility bay to prevent freezing.  The pump was still freezing. Of course using the unprotected garden hose hook-up was out of the question.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  Here is my solution:

An  iron (from a thrift store) controlled by a thermal cube outlet (from a farm store).  The plywood and tile sandwich on the face of the irn radiates the iron's heat.  The iron set on "cotton"  provided adequate heating and kept the pump and pipes from freezing.  Needless to say, we rapidly became experienced winter campers.

After initiating a claim with State Farm, it was about ten days before we could get a flood remediation contractor (ServPro) to start work.  ServPro and all the other contractors were swamped with frozen burst pipe jobs.

The damage was quite extensive.  A pipe supplying water to our refrigerator's ice maker had frozen and burst above the kitchen.  We think the water from the half-inch copper pipe flowed for over eight hours. Two thirds of the hardwood floors in the house were ruined.  The newly remodeled kitchen cabinets were ruined.  All the ceiling drywall in the kitchen had to be removed.  All of the drywall in half the basement was also removed.  The water bill for February indicated consumption of about 21,000 gallons!  Imaging that much water in your house.

 After removing all the soaked drywall and pulling up the ruined hardwood flooring, ServPro began several days of drying.  Sixty (that's right, six zero) fans were placed throughout the house along with six big dehumidifiers.  A 500Kilowatt diesel was parked outside to power the fans for three days and nights.  the result:  A hurricane inside and a rock concert outside. The neighbors, thankfully did not complain.

While restoration work was underway on the house, We moved the motorhome to the military campground  on Fort Belvoir.  By mid-May if became difficult to renew our site there.  Reservations are limited to a single 14 day period with renewals on a first come basis.  We then moved to the KOA run RV park at the Prince William Forest  National  Park.  Finally, on  June 25th repairs were complete and we were able to move back into our house.  The period from flood to completing repairs was about 130 days.  Although, living in the motorhome was not that pleasant in the cold weather, the alternative would have been living out of a suitcase in an extended stay hotel.

So now we are nearing another departure for our southward snowbird journey.  This year we plan to linger the entire winter in central Florida with a fairly early mid-March return northward.  Unless another disaster ensues, we are looking forward to a summertime trip across the northern states.