Heating Disaster

It’s Christmas Eve in “Gallahop”, our travel trailer. We are parked in my sister in-law’s backyard. We just had a fun Christmas Eve dinner with a great pot roast, fun food, and amazing desserts. The children had gone to bed and we had just set out all the presents for the morning. When we got into Gallahop, I noticed it was a bit chilly. Where we are in northern California, Santa Rosa, the evening temps have been in the low forties but our little house on wheels has kept us cozy warm.

Megan had jumped into bed and asked me to turn up the heat. I did but I thought about how it shouldn’t have gotten quite so cold in the first place. I fiddled with the thermostat for a few minutes but got nowhere. So I went outside and checked on our propane supply. We were out!

I immediately was brought back to a Christmas day some 40 years ago. The heat in our house in Smoke Rise had gone out ON CHRISTMAS DAY. We we about to have some 20 relatives coming over with fancy hors d’oeuvres, Christmas clothes, and presents, but the temperature in the house was slipping into the seeing-your-breath range! We set a kerosene heater up in the middle of the great room and turned it up full blast but the temperature in the house was falling quickly and one little space heater wasn’t going to do much to stave off winter! The house would be below freezing in a matter of hours! I imagined pipes bursting and mayhem descending!

Of course, my dad managed to find a plumber that would visit us on Christmas Day. He went into the basement and fiddled for a while. Eventually, he and my dad went to the 1,000 gallon propane tank buried in the front yard and saw that we were out of propane! My dad relayed to me just recently, “The kid forgot to make a delivery. We called the company and they came out and gave us a fill.” I kept thinking how there was no way we could reasonably wait even a day for service!

Now I got to participate in this apparent Christmas tradition. Just a day ago, I was idly considering bringing another propane cylinder to the RV because we had it and it wasn’t doing anything useful in our shed. I had in fact brought it! If I hadn’t made that tiny decision, I would have been tasked with finding a propane refill at 9pm on Christmas Eve, a daunting, if not impossible task! But as it was, I just needed to swap out the tank in the dark, power on the heating system, and breathe a sigh of relief.

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