As you all know from G-man's post from John Feeley's earlier, we've been experiencing unseasonably low temps (between -30 and -50F) for almost a week. While he had Internet access, G-man sent a mail to Paul (who works for AK Dept of Transportation) in Manley letting him know that we were still OK, but asking if he had any recommendations for getting Sonja started. We had a full tank of gas in the truck and ATV, but were down to our last 5 gallon tank for the generator and maybe one last fill for the chainsaw from the 5 gallon tank of 2-stroke… not dire straits, but getting a little concerning since we didn't know how long this weather would hold out.
So today, with both of us dreading another 2 mile hike to Feeley's to check our email and the weather liars online, we were pleasantly surprised by a honk in the driveway. And we were surprised since Mark was out in the trees cutting wood, and I was doing some carpentry inside with the generator running… neither of us could hear diddly and Ripley is still too young to properly let us know that someone was coming. Anyway… Paul had sent Pete, one of his co-workers, out to us with a charcoal burner, some charcoal, and a propane weed torch with extension pipe so we could blast the truck out of her frozen cocoon and back to life.
Within 90 minutes we put the battery back in (it's been living inside) and Sonja kicked right over. It took another hour or so for all the ice to melt off enough for us to decide to drive anywhere. Problem was that it was already starting to get dark and it's Saturday. The Trading Post in Manley is normally closed on the weekends and there was no guarantee that they would have gas or that their gas pumps wouldn't be frozen.
Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, we loaded up the truck with extra clothes/food/water/blankets and both fur children, banked the firebox, and then struck off into town. If worse came to worse, we could stay at Gladys's cabin for a few days or attempt to make the drive into Fairbanks. We might lose some jars of food and a few water jugs when they froze, but that's better than the possible alternative, right?!?!?
Big snaps and thanks to Bob and Lisa for opening up the store for us. And also to Chuck, who came out and finally got the frozen pumps to start working again! Big hugs to Paul for being awesome and looking out for us, and also for his wife, Penny, who makes the most awesome chocolate cherries!
Now that we know the best way to get Sonja moving again (and we've got her parked right in the sun on the south side of the tent, not in the shade on the north side) we're planning to drive up the road tomorrow to visit with one of our neighbor's, Dave, who is a HughesNet rep, and hopefully get ourselves hooked up with Satellite Internet. Yeah, it's crazy, but we miss the Internet more than anything and it is the most reliable form of communication in this neck of the woods. As long as the sun can shine right on the generator for an hour or two to get the battery bank recharged, we've got plenty of power until after dinner (when the batteries get too cold and the inverter shuts off) to get online for a little bit and let everyone know how we're doing… and to mail order a crap load of stuff when we need it, since it doesn't look like we'll be going into Fairbanks anymore this season (unless we get a freak warm spell or something).
BTW - the weather liars said that it shoud be "really nice" next week… of course, these are the same weather liars who said it would be really nice this week until it dropped below -20F. The Bastahds!!!