Monday, December 11, 2017

Snowed in. But at least the power is on.







Monday morning here. It's coming up on eleven a.m. and the outside temperature is up to 29.

The power is on, so other than the fact that we are snowed in solid, life is pretty normal at this point.
Lots of people haven't been so fortunate. I listened to the scanners last night, and I'd say parts of the county are still in bad shape.  The Sheriff's Deputies are having to walk in to places like mine, they drive up the secondary roads as far as they can, then they have to hike in the rest of the way.  They are doing lots of welfare checks. Some elderly person lives out in the woods, up a "possum trail", and the phones are out, so their grown kids call the Sheriff and ask for a Deputy to go out and check on them.



Last night, one of the Deputies walked in over a mile to a place. When he got there, nobody answered the door. He busted in, and there was a man (65 years old) laying on the floor in the kitchen. He had been laying there for 16 hours, no heat, and in severe pain from cramps.  The Deputy called on his hand held radio, and the Fire Department sent two of it's people out in one of those Gator things , the off road vehicle with a little cab, huge tires, and a bed. They had to haul him out to the road.



That's the  type of event older people dread out here. If the phones go, how can you call for help? And if you do, can they get in to you?  Most of the calls wound up with the older people being home, but no heat, and the Fire Department evaced them and their little dogs to town, where relatives picked them up, or they went to a motel, or to one of the churches. The churches here fill in a lot of the social needs, including opening up and providing cots , heat, food, and sanitary facilities to people who need them when this kind of thing happens.




This is very heavy, wet snow. There are trees down everywhere, and I had some big limbs crashing down right around the house. One I had to pull of the roof of the apartment with a rope.  It looks pretty but it's the kiss of death for a county where the power and phone lines are virtually all overheaded.  Maybe our EMC could have buried more of the main lines, if they hadn't spent millions on their plush new headquarters, with fine carpets and mahogany furniture.


You can't walk in this stuff.  It's deeper in the forest, and after the first night, the bottom was ice and the top was heavy, clinging snow. We had temperatures in the teens at night, and up into the twenties by day.






My generator went down almost immediately.  I am pretty sure it was bad fuel.  I store a lot of diesel, and I put stabilizers in it, but if you don't use it up, it can still go bad. I think this time around, I tried to squeezer just a little extra time out of it and failed.  The moral of the story is to store less fuel, so this doesn't happen again.  Typically, 7 or 8 days is about as long as even the worst power failure lasts here, so I really only need to keep that much fuel on hand, plus an expendable reserve.

Losing the generator has more of a psychological effect than anything else. No generator, no satellite television, no internet.  That leaves satellite radio, which isn't much good for local events, and the weather radios. Those were all so overwhelmed with static that they were almost useless. The weather radio is broadcast from the top of a mountain up here. When it snows, the repeater fails when the battery goes dead. So then they send it from some place in North Carolina and the signal is so weak it's useless.



We had plenty of water. I keep about 300 gallons stored all the time. So water for cooking ,washing dishes, the bathrooms, and the animals was not a problem. We had plenty of food for everybody. We heat with a propane system that doesn't need electricity, so heating in the main house and the apartment was not an issue. I had to heat the barn and shop with kerosene heaters, but I had 30 gallons of that, enough for more than a week.




Our county has that new system we bought for sending out messages in an emergency, so from time to time we would get one of those, until our cell phones ran out of power.  Without the generator, we couldn't recharge them, so no text messages. I need to buy something that stores power and lets you charge your cell phone. Ours are old, they won't recharge off a USB port, they have to have a regular ac plug in. Must be something out there like that.

The radio stations (there are two local ones I can get now) were useless. No information, just their regular program. Not one word of useful information over the whole three days.


Today we are just waiting to see if the back roads, and especially the Jeep trail down the mountain, will melt off enough for us to get out at some point in the near future.  


Cartoons:







Thought for the Day:







Being snowed in is not all bad:


36 comments:

  1. Do you not have one of the chargers that plugs into the utility port in your vehicle? They're not that expensive.

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    1. Gorges, my cell phone is a Nokia that is about 8 years old. I had a charger like that, but it quit working and I was never able to find one that worked with my phone again. I went to AT&T and they told me I just needed to replace the phone, as nobody makes accessories for it anymore. Walmart said the same thing. But my phone works fine, I only use it for calls in town, or for texts. If I buy a new "smart phone" I have to pay an extra $40.00 a month for "smart phone access", and it just isn't worth it to me. I have a Kindle, so I wouldn't do "internet" on a phone even if mine would. I always look to see if they have a car charger for it when I go into a gas station, as my wife says they have more of the old stuff, but I haven't found one yet.

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  2. I'm sure you've thought of this, but since you heat with propane why not get a small, portable propane-powered (or tri-fuel) generator to use as a backup for critical systems in case the main genny doesnt work?

    I use a Honda EU2000 (gasoline) for my emergency needs but I try to run it for at least a half hour every month to keep it in good shape and keep things from sticking. For cellphone charging, I just bought one of those battery-car-chargers. Plug it into the wall and leave it there. When the power goes out I can charge my phone from it's built in inverter at least three or four times on the battery. CostCo has 'em on sale this week for around $75.

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    1. I'm considering phasing out the diesel generator altogether, in favor of a small, portable generator. Propane is easier to store, gasoline generators are cheaper and more common. If the diesel has a problem other than just the fuel,I'm going to "survey" it and get a new one. The diesel has been used fairly often for almost twenty years, I think I got my money's worth out of it.

      I had never heard of a device you plug into the wall and just leave, sounds good. It has a regular ac plug in on it? My regular charging cable plugs right into the ac on the wall.

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    2. I think that Zero is referring to something like this: https://www.samsclub.com/sams/1000-peak-battery-a-1000-peak-battery-a/prod20581005.ip?xid=plp930201-auto:product:1:1

      It is a multi-function device that provides jump start capability lake a charge pack, device charging via USB ports, an air compressor, and a light. I have one for each car, and I have had had two opportunities to use them. They saved the day both times.

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    3. The Sam's Club Fatmax model I linked to has some very negative reviews, so you might want to find a similar unit with better build quality. I have Duracell ones, and they have been reliable.

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    4. My Duracell Powerpack Pro 1100 has two AC outlets you can use to charge phones, laptops, etc.

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    5. I've got something like you are describing, I bought it at Home Depot. But mine doesn't have a plug in for AC out, just for AC in to charge it. The Duracell powerpack sounds good. I'll see if I can find it in town. Duracell is a good brand.

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  3. what are you treating it with? i use pri-d in mine and even in worst conditions it keeps the diesel fresh. in winter add some seafoam to it. never had a prob and some of my cans sit for several years. there's another one i use too but i can't remember the name right now. it adds an anti sludge factor and amps up the cetane level a bit for winter. i'll check tonight and let you know the name. hang in there. oh, we have one of those power packs that runs off a folding solar panel for emergency phone charging. not too expensive but handy.

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    1. I use the diesel additive that Walmart sells, can't think of the name right off hand but I have several bottles out in the shop. This fuel I have in one of the above ground five hundred gallon tanks is about 3 years old now, but as I have used it, I've added to it which mixes the old with the new. I've kept the proportions of additive to fuel correctly. It may turn out to be something else but it sure acted like bad fuel. I ran the generator last month for half an hour and had no problem...

      I would certainly like to try some of that stuff you are using, it sounds more "purpose built" than my generic diesel additive from Walmart. I'll pick some up if you can let me know the name.

      I had one of those power packs like you have, but you had to be able to plug into a usb port to use the charger. My old phone has to have an actual ac style plug in like on a wall. That's the main drawback to it.

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    2. Best two products to use for stored diesel are PRI-D and Howes. Howes for short term and to clean up if you have issues with water. Pri-D for long term storage along with Bio-Kleed for anti sludge/anti bacterial.

      Set the tank so that you have a drain,and monthly drain for water. Usually less than a cupful.

      You'll never have issues again.

      If you think it is a fuel issue, it might be the fuel filter (likely). change it, then prime it according to the directions. Prolly solve the issue.

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    3. well then one of those backup power supplies would work, the kind with a little inverter built in. common on jump starter power packs. i have one my sister gave me years ago. keep it plugged and ready. i jump vehicles with it regularly as we have way more vehicles than we have operators here and we forget to run them often enough.

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    4. B, the PRI was also recommended by some other folks. I am going to try to find it, either in town or on line.

      My big 500 gallon fuel tanks are mounted on stands, and they have big water filters with drains. I haven't changed the actual filter elements in awhile, and clearly I need to do that. The filter on the line from the fuel tank to the engine on the generator I try to keep pretty clean, but it has been awhile since I actually pulled it off and cleaned it.

      Riverrider, I'm leaning towards getting a new one of those that has the capability to charge from an AC outlet to my phones. I have a Block and Decker that I thought was pretty good, until I found out that everyone else has a charging unit they can plug lamps and things into..... I don't know why I didn't think about that issue when I bought mine.

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  4. I am always amazed of how something so beautiful can also be so dangerous. especially when the melt starts and then it all refreezes. I know the next couple of days are suppose to be a bit warmer ( at least here) but then another major cold front is to come through Wednesday. Just take care and you guys stay safe

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    1. Tomorrow it will start out at about 36 here, but by dark it will be in the low twenties. We took salt, the shovels, and an ax and got the Jeep out to the hard surface road this afternoon, took about two hours of struggling to make it. But if we hadn't, and this new cold front had come through, the melt from today would have frozen and we'd have been stuck here. I didn't think M was going to make it back up to the house from where we parked the jeep. It's almost three miles, and most of it was walking in snow. And that on top of the work to get the vehicle out. You really start to feel your age at times like that.

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  5. Up here in Maine we got your storm on Saturday noon and it went most of the night. Got about eight inches of wet soppy stuff. By noon on Sunday we had the driveway cleared out and the roads were plowed. Can't imagine owning a house here without a proper generator. You just can't be without it. During the big windstorm in October I ran my Generac for twelve hours. My parents had to run their standby unit for eleven days before they got power back. A few years ago when we were doing some extended car camping/traveling in Newfoundland and Labrador, we bought a small 400 watt inverter to charge camera and cell phone batteries. The power cord plugs in to the cigarette lighter drawing 12 volts, and then you can plug your standard 110 Volt chargers in to the unit. Well worth the money and unlike a dedicated car charger for your phone you are making 110 volts you can charge any of your battery powered devices. Works real slick. Might be just the ticket in your case.

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    1. My diesel has a lot of hours on it. It's horrifically heavy and so noisy sounds like a tank engine ticking over. I'm about convinced it's ready for retirement. Something light, on a cart, and quiet would be worth the money.

      I got a comment from another fellow who recommended one of those inverters that plugs into the vehicle and has the a.c.plug. I remembered then that I had one in the Jeep that I used to use to power a laptop. Don't know why it didn't occur to me to use it!

      I have become reliant on the generator and it really messed me up when it quit. Not that it really was that essential, but psychologically, not knowing what was going on in the county was really frustrating and aggravating.

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  6. You can get a 100 watt inverter from amazon for under $20 that plugs into your cigarette lighter. You might consider getting a golfcart battery, trickle charger and an inverter. The trickle charger keeps the battery charged so it's ready when you need it.

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    1. The minute I read your comment, I remembered that one of those devices is in the Jeep. I used to use it to power a laptop with a road navigation program on it. I could have used it to charge the cells no problem. I forgot I had it. Thanks for the memory jog.

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  7. Harry,
    We always check on the elderly, especially those who live out in the country after bad weather or a storm.

    It's good to hear you and your wife were prepared. I would suggest purchasing a couple of cell phone power packs and have them charged and ready for emergency situations. You can pick them up any where for the cost of $15 dollars and up. We have one for every phone because of all the bad weather we have.

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    1. Sandy, I am going to do that, if I can find some our phones will work with. Most stuff today depends on being able to charge using a USB port and our phones won't do that. A couple of comments reminded me of the fact that I actually already have an inverter that plugs into the car lighter, which would charge my phones. I just didn't think of it in that connection, I used to use it for a laptop!

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  8. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Maybe check out one of those UPS 'Universal Power Supplies' to charge your cell phones, run laptops and for radio backup power.

    UPS's are used to keep power up for computers during blackouts and depending on size and money they can run for days.

    Try new fuel on the generator and see what happens. If it works okay than its bad fuel. Now there may be water in the diesel and if the genny got water in it then it may be toast. If you buy another generator. Get one with a 'pre fiter' to stop water from getting into the fuel lines and injectors on the genny. Also get a 'muffler' on a generator. I think some of the newer fancy, diesel genny's have some kind of muffler.

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    1. I have some of those line conditioners/battery backups for my electronic gear, but they are getting long in the tooth and I can't actually run anything off them for more than an hour or so before they go dry. I'm not sure what the effect of trying to charge a cell phone would be. Buying a new one for that purpose would work, but they run a couple of hundred dollars for a good one with a good clamp speed, which I need for the crappy grid here.

      I am certainly going to try to get a generator that isn't so obnoxious. The diesel stinks and is really loud. I have seen some little gasoline generators that are a lot better. My generator dates back to 1999 and they have improved a lot since then.

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  9. We used to get 6 ft of snow every year when we first moved here in 1994. Since then, there has been a lot less. One of the first things my DH did in those days was buy a good used JD Johnny Popper with a back blade...sure saved our bacon. Then we started snowmobiling to the neighboring ranch, thru the meadows, to where our truck was parked so we could get to town for groceries. Nowadays, we just sit back and enjoy the snow cause we are stocked up with plenty of food for the critters and us and wood for heat and propane to cook. Last month on QVC they had a TSV for a Halo Bolt that is a reserve battery. Will jump your car, charge the phones and has a 110ac plug for a lamp that lasts about 4 hours with LEDs. It also has a plug in for the car to charge it that way. We have already used it for a table lamp and to blow up an inflatable bed. Handy gadget...surprised M didn't pick up on that. We also like those solar lanterns and flashlights that light the dark nights....can't stand the smell of kerosene lamps. Luckily our power doesn't go out like it used to. Now it is usually just a couple of days. The snow sure is pretty, though, and your place is so beautiful anyway. Looks like a picture postcard. Hopefully the guy at the bottom of the hill saves you some of those steaks, lol

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    1. Tewshooz, I've got one of those power boxes for starting cars, it has the two cables on it, and a USB port, and an AC plug but only to plug it in to charge.The 110 AC plug for a lamp you mentioned is what we need. I'm going to go to Home Depot and see what I can find once we can get out of here. I got the Jeep out after about 2 hours of back breaking labor on Monday, when things thawed out a little. But then a big new cold front came through, everything is like glass out there, and we can't walk all the way down the mountain to where the jeep is sitting by the hard surface road. I am sure getting tired of being stuck here. I'd like to go to the library and the grocery store, if nothing else.

      That old guy is a life saver. We help each other out, but he has done more for me by far than I have for him.

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  10. harry, power service diesel additive. i get mine at advance. white bottle w/red and black writing. https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/power-service-diesel-fuel-supplement-antigel-80-oz

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    1. River Rider, thanks. We don't have an Advance here, but I can see if I can find it at an auto parts store, or maybe order it on line.

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  11. Harry,

    Maybe it is time for you and your lovely bride to either get your own Gator or one of those 'off-road' golf carts. We don't want to read in the news that your bones were found, picked clean, on the drive to your house, in spring because you fell down in bad weather.

    Some of the golf cart versions, either battery powered or gas powered, are powerful enough for your land. And it would make a nice way for your wife to tour your property.

    And they are quiet enough you can sneak up on people pretty easily.

    Just consider it, for the children (and us people out here.)

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    1. Andrew, we have talked about a Gator type vehicle. They sell new ones in town at Home Depot, and also at the tractor dealership. You can get a nice one , with a cab and a flat bed, for around $6000. M wants to get one, but I am wondering if I really want something else to take care of. Seems like I spend half my waking time fixing the truck, or fixing the car, or messing with the generator....

      We are going to look at them again though.

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  12. Hi Harry :) The snow looks so beautiful on the trees and on the roof of the house. We had a snowstorm overnight but thankfully it wasn't too bad. We're just gathering up the motivation to get out and shovel the drive. I hope your roads are good enough to drive on. Any time we get snow, I'm always a little nervous about being stuck here, though we do live in the village. When I lived in New Brunswick as a teenager, we got snow, and there were days when we were really snowed in! Losing power is scary in the winter. That poor man...so lucky he was found, what an ordeal. I love and hate cell phones, but I think if you live deep in the woods alone, it's always a good idea to have them to call for help if needed.

    Looks like your cat found a bare spot! Funny! :)

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    1. Rain, it looks nice but I am sure tired of it. There's still snow all over the place, it just won't melt away. Then what does melt, freezes at night so if you try to drive back up to the house after dark you can't make it! It is wearing me down, I tell you true.

      I don't mind getting stuck up here for awhile, but that's when the power is on or the generator is working. This last time, neither of those was happening and it was not fun. We could still heat the house and all, and cook, but sitting around trying to read with a head lamp was not my idea of a good time at all!!

      I hardly use a cell phone, because they don't work reliably here. But when the land line goes out, they are all there is. So once the internet was down, the land line was down, the two cells (mine and hers) were all we had to communicate with. Then they went down......

      That thing with the old geezer happens here all the time when some big storm comes along and knocks out the power. In summer, you swelter in the heat and humidity. But in winter, if you have no alternative source of heat, you can die. He was lucky the Deputy kicked the door in. I think a lot of them would have just said nobody was home and left.

      The cats don't seem to mind the snow at all. They just carry on with their normal cat lives. My dogs stay in the dog house, they hate it when snow freezes between their toes and balls up. They hate it when I have to clean that out too!

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  13. Harry-so glad that you are o.k. Your post reminded me that we need to run our generator and check it out. When we built our house, we had the power lines run underground. It costs more since we live a distance from the road, but we don't have to worry about trees falling on the lines. Of course, all the power lines on our road are above ground, so there is always the possibility of trees falling on those lines. I hope by now, that you and M have been able to get into town. Take care-Jana

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    1. Jana, our power lines up to the house are underground. It never occurred to me not to do that. But most of the county is overheaded, so just like you, if one of those falls I am done for.

      Miriam and I have been able to get out for a few days now, but not consistently. What happens is that the snow isn't melting much because it hasn't gotten above freezing much here, especially down in the ravine the jeep trails runs along. So what does melt, freezes again at night. When you try to get out the next day, what was just spongy yesterday is sheet ice today. I had a terrible time trying to get back up the mountain yesterday as I got back after dark and it had already frozen over again.

      My generator has never failed me before, and I've had it since 1999. It was an ugly surprise. And the worst thing is, I had gotten so used to it that I didn't have a backup plan. That doesn't happen to me often, I am a natural worrier and a control freak, and I usually cover the bases in depth. Not this time though.....

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  14. You could just buy a big battery and use a power inverter to charge the cell phones. We have a set up like that we use for small appliances if we don't want to use the generator. You got more snow than us. Got three inches.It's bitter cold here today.

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    1. Lisa, today is the 15th. It's about 3:45 in the afternoon, the wind is blowing outside, and the temp is 27. I got the car out, but the melt off is freezing every night and so it is really hard getting in and out of here still. I'm about burned out.

      That rig you have will work. I was thinking along those lines, then I got a new "American Survival Guide" and lo and behold! They had a review of exactly what I needed in an affordable package, so I will probably order one of those.

      P.S. we had a good six inches all over and a lot more where it banked up. Never had a snow like that I can remember this early in the year. Makes me wonder about January and February.

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  15. Oh wow you did get a lot of snow. We haven't gotten any! Maybe a flurry or 2, but nothing that stayed. Nebraska sure needs the moisture! I bet farmers want moisture for their land. It's crazy! I saw it snowed in many spots in the south. Smack dab in the center of the US is nothing.

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