It’s Cold Up Here!

After we left SIT, we headed over to Vermont RV and had our heater looked at. Now Matt is a really handy guy…but we didn’t have time to order a part ourselves and figure all of it out. So, we went to a professional. Apparently, the computer in the furnace blew out and we had to get it replaced if we ever wanted to be warm again! So we had the repairs done and headed back to our slab of cement in front of Home Depot to relax and go to bed. All was going well…until we tried to turn on the heat. It wouldn’t work! We eventually figured out that our battery bank was too low to kick it on. We have been “camping” in a lot of parking lots lately (otherwise known as “boondocking”)…and we’ve been running down our battery. Our solar panels charge it during the day, but we just don’t have enough batteries to keep up with it. We are in need of a few more batteries…but they are about $200 a piece and that’s not really in the tour budget right now. If you’re interested in helping out with this specific need…please click the donate button found here and designate it for “solar power”. We are still looking for a solar power company to sponsor the tour as well (to provide us with an inverter/charger)…if you know of someone with these resources, please let us know.

Needless to say, it was a little chilly in the RV that night. It got down to 32 degrees outside and it was about 45 degrees inside. Oh my. We hung quilts over the windows in an attempt to block the breeze coming through our bedroom, but it didn’t help much. I froze all night. Matt seemed fine. And Bella…well, she is cold-blooded for sure…she kicks those covers right off. I’m a Midwestern girl…and went to college in freezing North Dakota (Go Sioux!) so I’m not afraid of the cold.:) I just like to be warm when I’m sleeping!

We have slowly figured out how to keep our heaters running…just like everything else on the tour, we learn as we go! The RV was definitely not made for winter climates…the veggie system is fine to -20F, but the blue beast is not insulated well and is cooooold! I’ve been wearing layers of clothing, a stocking cap, and fleece pants to bed. I’m looking forward to the south…bring on the sunshine!


  1. Big hugs to you all…. prayers being said here!

    Comment by Alicia — October 15, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

  2. Sara-we camp in our popup even when its in the 40′s at night. I know what you mean about cold. However, a space heater in the bedroom area should keep you toasty, but make sure to get one with a thermostat. Also you might want to switch to 3 sleeping bags, instead of blankets, on top of your bed. They do the trick so much better. Peace and love, and warm feet of course.

    Comment by Melissa — October 15, 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  3. Thanks Alicia! And thanks Melissa for the tips :) I should clarify…we are totally “off the grid” in parking lots, so we don’t have use of a space heater (which would have to be plugged in). Our outlets won’t work unless we get the inverter/charger for our solar set up. We could run the generator all night long to power the plug ins (we do have the space heaters), but we don’t like to do that (loud, expensive, and it runs on propane).

    It’s amazing the difference between 40′s and 30′s…it was in the 40′s the next night and it made a huge difference!

    Comment by livelightly2 — October 15, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

  4. Oh WOW I’m shivering just thinking about how cold that was!

    As a former Boy Scout, Jim says that the secret to staying warm in bed is to sleep naked! He swears by it. I’ve seen him sleep sans PJs in a 20 degree sleeping bag, on the ground, with snow all around. He’s a nutcase. Me, I’m not brave enough to try it.

    Comment by Rene — October 15, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

  5. Hi Sara!
    Bless your heart, I can’t even imagine weather that cold! Here in south GA, it only gets that cold a few times a year….and when it does, school is usually cancelled! :)
    Speaking of the south, I am sure your trip is probably pretty much set, but several of us have been talking and we would LOVE for you to come here. Are you going to Savannah, by any chance? We are right on the way. We are in a university town (17,000+ students), so I am sure there would be many people interested in veggie oil. And I would be so thrilled to meet you! Will you email me if you have flexibility in your schedule? If so, I will email you with my little “plug” for our town! Thanks!

    Comment by Laurel Sauls — October 15, 2007 @ 8:10 pm

  6. Sara-I didn’t get the connection LOL. No electricity no space heaters (grinning at self). However, the sleeping bags truely make a world of different. Air doesn’t creep in at the edges and it traps in your body heat. AND they are flannel lined, oh so comfy. Maybe hot water bottles would be nice for your feet. Even with the inconviences, I am smiling thinking of how cozy camping life truely is for a family.

    Comment by Melissa — October 15, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  7. PS if you take Rene’s suggestion you might need some of those cloth diapers in your next post for all those new baby Janssens’. LOL

    Comment by Melissa — October 15, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  8. Ha :) Melissa…you’re funny. We do have nice “mummy” sleeping bags for Matt and I. We should try them. I like them because them…because it comes up around my head and keeps it warm.

    Comment by livelightly2 — October 15, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  9. Hi Sara, Matt and Bella,
    I have to side with Bella…I’m extremely hot-natured so I always sleep with minimal covers. I lived in Maine for about 4 years and a few months before I moved, the temp hit -17 (with the wind chill) and I have to admit that was the day I broke down and bought an electric blanket. I know that’s not an option for you being off-grid and all.

    I also second Rene’s husband, Jim. If you sleep naked in a sleeping bag…your body acts as a radiant heater. You’ll be ridiculously toasty, probably break a sweat even.

    On another note, I heard about a way to insulate walls without adding insulation. I don’t know if you use a special paint or if you buy an additive for existing paint, but there is a ceramic powder that is in the paint. Once you paint your walls, you’re insulated for good! (Also, probably not an option since you already painted, but good to keep in mind).

    Kristy in VA

    Comment by Kristy — October 16, 2007 @ 7:00 am

  10. Head on down to Alabama! In Birmingham today, we hope to experience a sunny high of 82 and a low of 65! Ya’ll are making me jealous! I’m ready to break out the fall clothes, but we’re still in shorts down here! Peace.

    Comment by Whitney — October 16, 2007 @ 7:50 am

  11. Hi Sara! I’ve enjoyed following your family’s journey and you’ve been a big inspiration to our family to help us simplify and lessen our impact on our environment. I never realized how “consumed” we were by consumerism until we started simplifying our lives. We are so much happier now.

    The prior suggestion about stripping down before getting in a sleeping bag is spot on. My hubby was a Scout and they did a campout in -40* weather one winter! Hubby and one other guy were the only ones who stripped down to their skivvies before getting in their bags and were the only ones who stayed warm all night!

    One last thing before I go . . . Go Bison!!!!

    Lynn — NDSU alum ;-)

    Comment by Lynn — October 17, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

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