Winter in Central Oregon
According to historical weather data December and January are the coldest months of the year in Central Oregon. Average high temperatures are around forty and lows are around twenty. This year winter began with an Arctic Blast that resulted in high temperatures in the single digits and lows as cold as -27 for over a week. It was the coldest temperatures we have ever been in. Fortunately, we were prepared for cold weather (although we not prepared for anywhere close to as cold as it was). A few years ago we added some extra insulation to our RV to help with extreme heat and extreme cold. We had done our homework and knew that Bend was going to be the coldest place we had ever lived in the RV so this summer we put a skirt around the RV to help control the temperature under the RV. In addition to these things, we had a large propane tank installed in November so that we would be assured of having plenty of propane for heat. We filled up our one hundred gallon onboard fresh water tank so that we would have emergency water if necessary. Our windows were all covered with plastic film to help insulate them. Our water hose was well insulated and heat taped. We put antifreeze in our sewage tanks (a total of one hundred fifty gallons of storage) so they would not freeze. We hung a lightbulb under the RV where our water hose connects to the RV so the heat from the bulb would help keep the connection from freezing. We added a small electric heater inside the RV just in case we needed supplemental heat.
While we were preparing for winter, some of our neighbors were not. When the snow began falling we were warm and cozy inside the RV. As the temperatures dropped lower and lower we unhooked our water hose from the RV resort’s water source and closed our sewage holding tanks as a safety measure to help prevent freezing in well below zero temperatures. We plugged in the diesel truck so the block heater would keep the engine warm. The temperature continued to drop and the snow piled up. Life continued in Bend - the snow nor the cold seemed to stop people from going out or kids from going to school. It did not warm up and the snow did not melt. The Deschutes River which runs through town froze solid. The Christmas Parades (one on the streets and one on the river) were canceled for the first time in the history of the parades. Moxie and I shortened our walks because of the cold. Mary stopped driving the truck to work because there was nowhere to plug up the truck at work and the engine would freeze during the day. Those were our only concessions to the cold.
Our neighbors were not doing as well as we were. Most did not have running water and many had their sewage tanks freeze. Several had their refrigerators stop working because of the cold and some were cold inside their RV. We had running water, a working refrigerator and were cozy warm inside the RV without the furnace running full-time. As the cold continued, we started conserving water by taking showers in the resort bathrooms and washing dishes in the resort kitchen. After about two weeks, it slowly started warming up. When highs were around freezing and lows were in the teens we decided to hook back up to the RV resort water and sewage. Both were frozen. The rv resort staff said we needed to wait and hope for warmer weather for a few days - which we did. During this time the sewage thawed, but the fresh water did not. We started carrying water to add to our holding tank and continued to conserve water. On day three the RV park decided they needed to investigate our water situation and figure out a way to get us water since the problem was obviously not our equipment but there’s. After an afternoon of removing pavers, using a heat gun to thaw the ground around our water source and installing new heat tape and insulation to our water source, our water was restored. Temperatures are back to normal for this time of year and we are back to RV life as we know it. As far as our neighbors - many still do not have water and the folks next to us have called it quits and rented a house.