Our next stop was added to our “plan” by realization that we were within a few hundred miles of My Aunt Marilee, who lives in WashDC.
You may recall several previous “Marilee-Audiences” here in these pages (2017 and again in 2018) . We are acutely aware that Marilee is 107 Years Old. We are not worried about HER; she actually hasn’t changed much in all the years I have known her! But WE are not getting any younger. So if we find ourselves nearby, we find a way to stop and visit.
Our first step in visiting DC is to find a place to roost. Once, we stayed in front of friends Laurie and Paul Wilner’s place in Potomac, Md. Another time, we stayed in Williamsburg. But, this time, we had a NEW and BETTER option!
Fellow Bluebirdbrains Linda and Randy Burdette live in Fredericksburg, Md. [Thanks, Randy Burdette! for catching my ooops! I know and knew that Fredericksburg is in Virginia not Maryland, but my fingers are even more independent than my wife! And for becoming one of our loyal readers! ] Which is 45 minutes only from DC. Each time we’ve seen them, they’ve offered a spot for RV WHERE YET and some local knowledge and fun. Our paths last crossed in Albuquerque this past October, where they AGAIN insisted we swing thru someday… so we decided to take them up on the offer!
(Liz wants me to remind everyone that this is what happens if you mention a parking spot within earshot of me!)
…replacement would be a HUGE problem
Unfortunately, our visit-timing was not really the best. The week we had been in Charlotte, the temperatures were in the 70’s each day. As we contemplated heading north, the inevitable cold front loomed with record LOW temps at night predicted in the mid-teens (that’s Farenheit for our foreign readers).
This made us VERY uncomfortable due to the water systems in RV WHERE YET. The issue is the waste tanks –we can keep the living space nice and toasty with our propane furnaces, so we knew all the fresh water pipes and tanks ABOVE the floor would be fine. However, the waste tanks essentially hang out below the bus, fully exposed to ambient. I worried at the predicted temps these might freeze and crack. If they did, replacement would be a HUGE problem – they are not very accessible.
we were on the horns of a dilemma
Bluebird shipped Wanderlodges with heated mats under these tanks (as well as heated pipe-tape above the floor), and ours has them. HOWEVER, these are considered by smarter and more experienced Bluebirdbrains than me to be fire hazards — wires and insulation likely to be brittle after 40 years. I gingerly turned on the switch for these — no fire or even smoke, but no appreciable heat, either. So, we were on the horns of a dilemma – to go or not to go?
I spoke with Randy and Linda about this dilemma – REALLY hated to miss the opportunity to see Marilee AND experience Burdette Hospitality, both!! Discussing options, we learned that they’d be parking us next to their hangar (they live on a private airfield), with a 50amp electric connection. And that hangar has a full (and heated bath). This would allow us run our propane furnaces and even a supplemental electric heater if necessary AND, more importantly, to NOT use RV WHERE YET’s Waste Tanks at all!
They offered to clear space indoors next to their Bluebird or their Cessna 206, but that was OVER THE TOP gracious, and we decided unnecessary. We had a solution – so we emptied and poured antifreeze into the waste tanks; then headed north…
For the record, there’s Frozen, and then There’s BURDETTE Frozen!
It got every bit as cold as predicted — 20F or below every night for a week — but the Bus Furnaces kept us nice and toasty for a week inside. The short 20’ from the door of the bus to the door of the hangar was more than a little chilly, but we managed it as necessary. So it all worked out.
Until we fired the bus up to leave. More on that, below.
Credibility in weather forecasts must be calibrated to the latitude of the forecaster.
Our visit to Marilee (and daughter Joan) was planned for the weekend, but even more weather challenges were anticipated. SNOWMAGGEDDON! For several days before, the weatherheads on TV were broadcasting alerts about the abysmal weather anticipated. What ended up happening was a tiny bit of sleet followed by rain. Note to self: Credibility in weather forecasts must be calibrated to the latitude of the forecaster.
Although, as Linda Burdette pointed out – its always about the OTHER GUY’s reaction to a snowflake that really matters!
Long-story-short (well, actually, Long-story-long, which is more my style!), we made it to DC with no issues whatsoever. We found a parking spot right outside Marilee’s apartment, and had a DELIGHTFUL visit spanning a couple of days. Marilee continues to amaze.
At the age of 107, she is busy preparing for her next Gallery Opening…
If anyone is interested, she has an exhibition at STUDIO GALLERY (2108 R Street, NW in DC) from May 20 to June 13. Marilee will be at a reception there on Saturday 23 May. If you tell her you are a friend of ours, she will get a kick out of it. Or kick you out. Or possibly both!
While in DC, we stayed overnight with friends Laurie and Paul Wilner in nearby Potomac. We shared a couple of meals, a flight of Bourbon and a LOT of conversation – even with Paul! The last 2 times we passed thru, it was in early April or October – Paul is a Tax Accountant, so in our previous visits we never had an actual Paul Sighting. This time, MULTIPLE MEALS and FULL EXPOSURE to his wit and wisdom!!!
Our second meal with the Wilners was added because Liz almost ordered Crab Cakes at the first. Paul stopped her – forbade it, in fact! Although we were at the Wilners favorite restaurant, and they had excellent Crabcakes, Paul said the BEST in the world were at a little diner in Maryland, not far from Annapolis. We took this as a sign – that we should spend an afternoon IN Annapolis, followed by another dinner with the Wilners. Neither disappointed!
I should also mention that our time in Fredericksburg on either side of DC was fabulous as well! Linda took us on a history tour, which featured a colonial Doctor’s office. There, we learned about the various remedies of the day, which included lots of bleeding and weird poultices. It is not hard to understand why lifespans were shorter back then!!
We also shared a few meals – one cooked by Linda and one by us. One at a local Waffle House, where the manager threatened to conscript me!
I also helped Randy install a new Router for Internal Wifi in his bus – a pretty cool device that either routes through a park’s Wifi or uses a built-in SIM for making a cellular hotspot. We may have one of these in our future (Winegard Air+360 with Winegard Gateway).
Eventually, despite the hospitality it came to be time to leave. This is where we FULLY understood why we don’t do cold weather as a matter of routine in RV WHERE YET. The Bus’ air suspension would not fully air -up. I suspected a little bit of ice in the air lines…what to do?
We could wait for warmth, but I got the sense that Randy was nervous about us in situ, indefinitely. He immediately (way TOO fast!) suggested that he had a couple of kerosene torpedo heaters used quickly heat his hangar and/or airplane engine; one of which could be used to heat the air system under our bus. Implicit in this offer: …AND ASSURE OUR PROMPT DEPARTURE! About 10 minutes and whatever was frozen was not…more or less!
We were able to depart, but eventually it became clear that the problems caused by ice were not completely resolved. Let’s just say that RV WHERE YET was leaning left (and I am not talking about politics). You’ll have to read on to know more about that.