When I was still working, even my housing while I was traveling was pretty much off the grid. I had an office in Boulder, but my main office was up in Frisco near the big Colorado ski resorts. The office itself was at 9200 feet above sea level. If you are familiar with Breckenridge, A-Basin, Keystone and Copper Mountain, that’s where it was (About 20 minutes east of Vail). For many years when I was up there I stayed overnight in my “Hotel Room”. My hotel room was my 24 foot fifth wheel camper. I kept it parked full time about 40 minutes north of there in a small hunting town called Kremmling. During the summer, things were fine. I had the usual full hook ups of electricity and sewer and could use the shower in the trailer. Winter, however, was a different sort of duck. As Kremmling was about 7500 feet above sea level instead of Frisco’s 9200, the coldest air from the high country would come rushing down and settle in that basin. This rendered water hook ups impossible. It is February 2nd 2020 right now as I write this, back then during a February in the mid-2000’s, I ran out of propane in the middle of the night up at the trailer. I got schooled right quick about what it must be like to live in a deep freeze. I piled every sleeping bag and blanket I could find on top of me along with my sweat pants and sweat shirt. That morning, as with every morning, I had to get up and head over to the showering facilities to get ready for work. The thermometer at the main building showed 35 below zero F. I took my shower and after the 50 yard walk back to the camper, my hair was frozen. The memories of my life would scare most people. It has certainly not been ordinary.
Which leads me to this current SHTF fiasco (When the Excrement Hits The Revolving Oscillator). I would have never dreamed this scenario up if I was playing for money. Ok, so I’m not the first person to attempt suicide via digging into a cable or gas line. It’s getting fixed, and all will be well. In fact, I just got a call from the electrician and he will be coming out tomorrow! Something about a “Butt Joint” – an unfortunate name in any case. Anyway, this whole episode reminded me of living in my trailer in Kremmling during that cold February. This cable severing couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I was out working in 70 degree weather when it happened. That night the temperatures plunged into the 20’s and tonight will go into the single digits. As I have described before, the power grid is our back up. Should the solar not produce enough because it is CLOUDY! The grid fills in the gaps. The next day (today) the forecast is 5 inches of snow, single digits, and no sun! I have been playing the power conservation game all day! Because it is cloudy and everything is covered with ice, the solar panels aren’t charging the batteries like they should. So to combat the problem, I’ve shut down the water pump, turned off any and all vampires, turned the thermostat down to 55, put on layers of clothes, am proud that this winter’s weaving project has been blankets, got a propane heater for the basement to keep the water pipes from freezing, hooked my sleep machine to a separate deep cycle battery, cooked on a propane stove and hunkered down. It might not be 35 below like Kremmling, but the years up there taught me a lot of tricks. Hopefully, it is only one more night if this guy shows up. Otherwise, Tuesday night will be down to 1 degree F and I will NOT have the battery power for that. “Well, Jon, why don’t you use a generator as a bridge?? &*^%$#$%^&%$#@$%^%$!!! I DO have a generator! When I realized what I was up against I tried to fire it up and found out that the carburetor is gunked up! It might be time to replace it. The generator WAS supposed to be a redundant back up (The one we have is more powerful than the panels and is supposed to run on gas or propane.). Doesn’t anyone make anything reliable anymore? So as with the food challenge I took in November, this has exposed some big gaps in the farm’s sustainability and self-reliance capabilities. Namely, if the grid is down (In this case it is because of a severed cable) and it is winter and snow-storming, we have some serious adjustments to make. My first take is that we MUST have a non-electricity dependent source of heat. If I didn’t have to worry about running the furnace turbine on the batteries and we had a pellet or wood stove, this would have been a piece of cake.
So the moral of this story is that you can find yourself stranded for any number of ridiculous reasons – especially this one that we shall call, “Head Up Your Ass-itis.” Prepare to improvise. There WILL be things you can’t imagine. Now if we can just keep our goat from kidding until AFTER the power is restored that would be fabulous. Stay lucid ya’ll. Dementia comes in all forms!