December 23, 2013. Daylight comes about 0800 and we wake the kids. I figure this is like pioneer days and we have to use all of the daylight to get any work done. No sleeping in for the children, early bird gets the worm.

I get back to work with the generator. While outside, I see my next door neighbor who has been running his generator next to his garage. I go by and ask him how he has it set up. He tells me that he has it hooked to his furnace and has heat. Whaaaaaat!!! My head tilts to one side like a puppy and I ask him how so. He offers to take me in and show me.

He has a few extension cords running through his attached garage. One cord goes to his furnace/hot water heater closet. The end has been cut off and it has been wire nutted to the wiring of the furnace. AMAZING I thought. Now my head is reeling. He says he has his refrigerator, furnace, tv and a few lamps hooked up. I thought that maybe he has a very big Honda generator. Looks like one from far away. Upon closer inspection, he has a Coleman 1850 watt generator. This is just about the same size as the one that I have. All sorts of ideas are going through my mind now. I go back to my generator with a renewed vigor. I didn’t know you could have a generator run the furnace unless it was hardwired like a whole house generator. If I can get it to run, can I actually run my furnace? I fervently go about checking this out. Even if I have to get another cord to bastardize, it might be worth it.

For breakfast on this day Amy rigged up a way to make a stove out of buffet pan burners, cooling racks and loaf pans. She heated up some water and made oatmeal. It was warm but that is about the best it got. I like to cook the oatmeal in the water, like the directions suggests. Rarely do I pour hot water over the Quick Oats. I guess these are rare times. Even though I didn’t like it, I toughed it down, because I knew I would need the calories.

Something in the back of my mind troubled me, though. I’m not an electrician but I know that cutting an extension cord and jury rigging it to the furnace isn’t anywhere up to electrical code. What type of circuit breaker protection is there? Will I void the warranty on the furnace that we got a year ago if we do this? None of it matters if the generator is doing what it did yesterday, cutting of after ten seconds of being hooked up, so I get back to work. Wouldn’t you know it…the same results. Here comes that despair monster again. I tried so many different things but I couldn’t keep it running. So much for a chance of heat; I probably should have talked with my neighbor and got some tips fromhim.

While I’m going back and forth in the house I check the website for our power company. Around here we call it Consumers Energy. I check the outage map. There are outages everywhere! When I check the estimated restoration link, it shows power estimated restoration 2330 on December 28th, 2013. That is 6 days away with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day smack dab in the middle. I knew it was bad but not this bad. I’ve been through your occasional power outage. I think 3 days was the longest and it was during warmer months. According to our energy company, this is the worst storm in their 126 year history in terms of damage it caused. I drive around the neighborhood hoping to see some activity with the Energy workers. Nothing. I even see a couple houses with downed power lines that were roped off. I figured if downed power lines aren’t getting any attention yet, we were definitely in for a long haul with this ordeal. One benefit to being able to check things on a smart phone is that you can see what the newspaper is saying. This outage is so widespread that they have put a call in for mutual aid assistance from other states. Even as far as Washington D.C. WOW. Although I’m glad to here reinforcements being called in I also know that they will take a while to get here and set up. Friends all over the area on facebook are reporting the same. Not looking good at all.

We also got about 15 bags of ice to pack in the refrigerator and freezer to hopefully keep as much of our food as possible. I’ve heard many stories of people losing an entire refrigerator and freezer of food. A couple months before all of this my wife’s parents had a 3-4 day power outage. We were trying our best to help them and Amy came up with the bags of ice idea. It worked great for them. I don’t think they lost anything of significance.

I called the hotel where I made the reservation at their local number and couldn’t get any answer. I call the toll free number for the hotel and they had no information either. Now I’m starting to think that the hotel might be out of power as well. I call another hotel close by, nothing again. Not good. I’m a little panicked as that great idea may have backfired on me. The hotels might be all filled up. CRAP. I get back in my cold truck where I am charging my phone and start looking. I find a Comfort Inn about 2 miles from our home. It’s available for the next four days so I book it figuring we will have up to 6pm each day to decide if we want to use the room. Around 5pm I get an email, confirming the reservation and stating that the point to cancel has already passed. WHAT!!! I thought I’d read it wrong. This can’t be true. Usually there is only advanced cancellations at vacation spots. Right?? Wrong. After looking again and calling the local hotel, I am informed that there is a 24 hr. cancellation policy. I’m dejected. It felt like it couldn’t get any worse. It’s Christmastime. We’ve spent a bunch of money on gifts and food and now on top of that because I wasn’t paying attention, we are on the hook for a room that we might not even use. Well back to the grind.

Around the same time I bought the generator I bought a double burner propane stove that hooks to the little green 1lb. propane bottles. I never tried this thing either, but I was determined to get something working on this day. I hooked it up on a table at the front of my garage and turned it on. DANG, now that’s a fire. I told Amy to pull out the hotdogs. We were going to have hot food tonight. She even put some baked beans in a pot. She had it sent out with the top on so the outdoor cooties couldn’t get in. As fast as this thing was cooking that wouldn’t be a problem at all. Good Eats. I also wondered if I could cook inside with this thing with enough ventilation. Millions of people around the world cook with propane indoors. Something else to research.

Tonight a little change to the sleeping arrangements. It was getting cold in our bedrooms upstairs, so we all slept on the first floor. Amy and I were in the living room and the kids in the family room. It was cold but we made it work. Earlier today we asked the kids if they thought we should get a hotel room. They all believed we could tough it out. Internal temperature of the house: Approximately 55 degrees.

Next…Christmas Eve. The holiday season begins. See you then Constant Reader.

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