Robbie has an Alaska style cabin that he built at the end of his runway. It has no electricity, but it has LP, battery powered lights, a stove, a rudimentary sink, etc. There is a futon downstairs and a bed upstairs.
On day one, we made it out to the cabin to find that there was a bird that had taken up residence. After some shooing and hilarity, we finally got the bird out. I’d discovered that Carter had forgotten his sleeping bag on the way down, but there was heat in the cabin, along with blankets and whatnot. We’d be fine. After saying our goodnights, we built a fire in the little fireplace because the heat apparently didn’t work in our LP heater. Not to worry, we’ll fix that tomorrow.
You see, part of picking early March was I knew the weather would be cool but not cold. Robbie had heat in the cabin, but of course no A/C. If we waited till later in the year, we’d be sweating in this little Alaska cabin, but with North Carolina heat. Better to enjoy being snug in the cabin with the heat going in early March.
Except as I said, the LP heat didn’t work. But no worries, we had a fireplace. In fact we arrived to find a fire already going, and the lights on. The cabin was warm and cozy, and it was a very nice welcome.
Except the fireplace made the bottom floor warmish, and the loft where I was, a sauna. I was laying on the bed in shorts and a t-shirt sweating while Spork snuggled in on the futon. Since he’d forgotten his sleeping bag, I gave him mine with the thought that it was warmer where I was. And it was. Till the fire went out. You see, in the dark, we’d walked right by the stack of wood available for rebuilding the fire. During the night, in the cold, I didn’t feel like venturing out to find more firewood.
So the fire went out, and then it was the same temperature above as below, which was about 30 degrees. There isn’t any insulation in the cabin so without constant heat going it quickly cools to ambient. I lay there, in the dark, wrapped in every blanket that was available, freezing and picturing Spork snug in my sleeping bag. It is a really nice sleeping bag, more like two huge heavy quilts sewn together. It must weigh 15 pounds. The next morning, when I finally braved the cold enough to get into my frozen clothes I found Spork asleep under what I can only describe as a thick sheet. It certainly wouldn’t have qualified as a blanket to me. My sleeping bag was laying beside him, still unpacked. At least I had real blankets, he’d slept all night basically bare. I fussed at him for not unpacking the sleeping bag and using it. But at 13, he’d simply crashed and went to sleep after an 11 hour work day. I felt like a bad dad but he just thought it was funny.
Day 2 Robbie replaced the heater in the cabin with a new one, so this time we had LP heat. We also knew more about where the wood was for the fireplace so we could keep the fire going longer. We built a nice fire, chased the birds again, several times, and turned the LP heat on low. Spork snuggled into my sleeping bag and I used the blankets again. Again early in the morning I woke to a cabin that was cold. Not frozen, but certainly not snuggly and warm. I’d say it was 40 degrees in the cabin, perfect if you are in my sleeping bag (I made sure he was in the sleeping bag this time). Not so much under the blankets I was using.
Day 3, I had this thing figured out. I had the fireplace ready to go when we walked in. I struck a match and had a fire going in just a few minutes. I turned the LP heat to high, the fireplace fully stuffed, and went to bed. It had to be 95 degrees in the loft this night, and it never stopped. I was dying of heat exhaustion. Finally I opened a window, just a crack, to let some air in. Our tweety bird immediately flew in and again we spent the night chasing birds around the house. Spork had been asleep just long enough to Zombify so he was stumbling drunkingly around trying to help while I cursed this bird. This took about 30 minutes. Finally we got him out and I went back to bed, to sweat, and sweat, and sweat. Turns out instead of a low of 30 degrees like we’d been having, it was only going down to 47. We’d finally gotten the heat figured out just in time to not need it. I roasted and barely slept.
By day 4 we had things figured out much better. The birds had apparently moved on to another house and we were able to match heat and cold pretty well. There was some angst as we wondered if our LP would run out during the night but it all worked in the end.
Day 5 we tidied up the cabin and locked it up. We would be back again the following week for another five days. This time with more sleeping bags and kindling to start a fire.