At about 0530, on Sunday, December 22, 2013, I wake up, which is my normal time during the work week. Since I don’t have to work for another 10 days, I figured I would sleep in. Sleeping in for me is 0630. My wife laughs at me because I’m such an early bird. She is a night owl, so we’re very different when it comes to that.

At 0600 our son Jorden comes in the room and says that he thinks that the power is out in the house. My first thought is this isn’t going to be good. I remember the coming storm and how wide spread it was and that it was supposed to be freezing rain. I look outside and it was beautiful. Simply Beautiful. All the trees were covered with a 1/8”-1/4” layer of ice. It looks amazing but it also can do a lot of damage. I know that all that beauty weighs a lot and can knock over trees and down power lines. I look outside and can see that people across the street have power but that doesn’t really mean much since we are apparently on a different grid than them. Often either they have power and we don’t or we have power and they don’t.

As I’m speculating that this can be pretty bad, I go on my smart phone and look for a nearby motel that we can stay at. If this is as widespread an outage the rooms often fill up quickly leaving little in the way of options. I get  a little busy work done and take out suitcases just in case we might need them. I figured we have until 6pm each day to decide whether or not we need the hotel room. That gives us a little flexibility just in case the power comes on.

During the morning my wife calls her parents and they say that they have power, which was good. They live about 10 miles to the north of us. She figured that if it got too cold for us, we could hang out with them. Sounds like a plan to me. Six hours after our power goes out, BAM, her mom calls us and says, “Guess who’s power just went out?” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

It’s now afternoon and I get my generator out. I like how that sounds. Like I’m all prepared and have just been waiting to use all this knowledge that I’ve gained studying prepping over the past few years. This part of the story wasn’t meant to go smoothly. About two years prior I had been looking for a generator. I’ll admit I didn’t do what I should have done and really researched the topic. Finding out the best brands, what size did we need, how to hook it to the house, what is a transfer switch.This would have been the best thing to do. I did none of that. Just a few glances at the local hardware stores is all I did. I didn’t want to pay the $300 to $700 that it looked like it would cost.

One day I’m shopping in the local Aldi (a discount Grocery Store) and I see a few small generators in the $150 range. I like that price a lot better. I happened to have some money in my wallet so I bought one and took it home. Once there I unboxed it and put in on a shelf in the garage with all the intention of reading the manual and trying it out during the summer of 2013. None of this happened. A year of seasons came and went and just yesterday, the 21st of December was the first day of Winter. This season would prove to come in like a lion in many different ways.

Since this is the very first time pulling out the generator, I read the manual. Sounds simple enough; choke, start, run, sounds like a lawn mower or power washer. I put it in the back yard and get it started, which sprang to life quicker than I expected. I also see that my next door neighbor has a generator running and as a matter of fact it was running all night. I figured the next time I see him, I’ll ask for some advice on this generator thing. I’m fairly technically proficient, but new is new. As the afternoon chugs along, I get some extension cords out and start hooking up a few things to the generator. Nothing really that big; cell phones, lanterns and the like. Seems to work ok so I decide that I will unplug the refrigerator and hook it to the generator through a cord going out the dining room window. I hate to crack the window as that is introducing more cold air into our already freezing house.

As soon as I hook up the refrigerator, the generator shuts off after about 10 seconds. I can’t figure out why. The generator circuit breakers aren’t even tripping, so that I’d have to reset them. Even though I didn’t test this unit out, the reason that I bought it was to be able to keep food in the refrigerator and Deep Freezer safe. Now even that wasn’t working out like I had planned. Despair is creeping in little by little.

Once darkness falls, we light up some candles and touch lamps and have a pretty nice night, talking, playing games and eating together. All the things that often escapes modern families with the advent of all the gadgets that so occupy our time. The temperature inside of the house was still in the low 60’s so we layer up and hunker down for the night. I cancelled the first night of the hotel room since things were going well in spite of everything.

Stay tuned, Constant Reader…the despair continues.

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