Yes! We actually made it into the city for our big, monthly shop!
Oh, it is SO good to be stocked up again! 😀
It almost didn’t happen, though. The noises the van was making was still a concern.
It was a whole lot warmer today – a balmy -23C when I went out to do my rounds. With almost no wind chill, I finally got to do my more extensive rounds, plus check on the van.
The cats were certainly more active, with the warmer temperatures. I’d gone out to give them warm water and a cat bed I made for them last night, and I was actually able to stay in the sun room for awhile and pet them, sans coat! Quite a while longer than intended, as at one point I had 5 of them that dashed into the Old Kitchen while I was going into the sun room. I had to lure them out with kibble, which meant that there was still quite a lot left over by morning.
One of the things I’d done was move the heat pad away from the water bowl heater set up, as the cats had knocked the water bowl off while there was still liquid water in it. Water and electricity: not a good combination! For a while, I though the electric pad (which was off at the time, thank goodness) was too damaged, but I gave it a try anyhow, after moving it into a small box, to hold in a bit of the warmth. As you can see in the photo, the pad did start working again, and Butterscotch had claimed it!
After feeding the deer and the birds, I headed out to check the trail cam, pausing to start the van along the way, and get a video of the engine to record the noise it was still making. I left it running while I continued. In the process of checking the fence line, I noticed that several sections of the Christmas lights on the south fence were drooping a bit more than they should.
Here is why.
This is the section of fence that snapped when a tree fell on it, shortly before we moved here. When I finally reached it and cleared it away, I jerry rigged it together with some zip ties, linked together. As you can see, one of them snapped in the cold. I had made it quite taught. With the bitter cold we’ve been having, the metal would have contracted slightly. The plastic would have become incredibly brittle in that cold, and it wouldn’t have taken much for it to snap.
I will leave it for now, but when I do get back to it (likely when I switch out the Christmas lights for a string of white lights I have waiting), I plan to use wire to rejoin it.
After I finished my rounds, I went back to the van. It was still making the noise, which a bit of research suggested it was possibly air or water in the power steering fluid. I shut off the engine, then popped open the cap for the power steering fluid, and took another picture. The fluid was looking rather milky and foamy! I topped it up, capped it, and started the engine again, recording another video of the noise.
Once inside, I uploaded the videos and sent the photo to my older brother for some feedback. I was quite sure that the biggest problem was the cold, but I wanted to err on the side of caution.
While waiting for a response from my brother, I was able to see the outside cats enjoying their new bed.
When I first looked, Big Jim (in the back of the photo, was poking at it with one foot. When I saw what he was doing, I dashed to get my phone and got back just in time to see The Outsider, who was at the back, come over and claim the new cat bed, while Jim claimed the foam insulation.
Even with a blanket over it, that gridwall would still be pretty cold – plus it has all those gaps – so they make good use out of anything to help keep their little paws warm while up there!
Thankfully, it didn’t take long to hear back from my brother. Also, it turned out to be a good thing I got two videos, because for some reason, my brother could only view the second one. Between that and the photo, he was concerned enough to phone me from a conference he was attending! He was worried that there was water in the system, and he had past experience of how much damage there could be if it froze. Now, it might have been just a bit of condensation, which isn’t too much of a concern, but unfortunately, we have to consider the possibility of vandalism, too. After discussing it, he felt it was safe to drive it to the garage that last serviced our van, in the town my mother lives in. It was still early afternoon, so I quickly called the garage, and they said they would take a quick look at it to determine if it really was water in the system; then we would decide the next steps.
Within minutes, my younger daughter and I were on the way. It was a relief to notice the noise reducing as we drove; especially when we got to highway speeds. The last time I drove it, accelerating caused the noise to get louder.
Once there, the mechanic took a close look at the fluid and assured me it was just air. As we spoke, I asked how concerned I should be if, say, we drove to the city. He didn’t hesitate in saying he’d have no concerns driving it. The power steering pump will need to be replaced, eventually, which is something I’ve known for a while, but there is no urgency at this point. Worst case scenario, I lose power steering and have to manhandle the van to get home. He was able to give me a general idea of how much it would cost to get it done, so now we know how much we’ll need to set aside. It’ll be just over $400. Which we could do, if we weren’t already setting aside funds to get the trees cut away from the house and power lines in the spring.
After he reassured me some more, we decided not to go home, but head straight to the city to do our big shop – after texting my brother to reassure him, as well! (Yay for being outside the cell-phone dead zone!)
I am happy to say that, by the time we got to the city, the noise had pretty much gone. If it was still there, the road noises were loud enough to drown it out.
Since we hadn’t done a Costco shop in 2 months, we didn’t even bother with a shopping cart and went straight to using a flat cart. Even then, I decided against getting some non-essential items, due to lack of space. Once finished there, we were set to go to a nearby Walmart for some non-bulk stuff we needed. Which is when I was contacted by my SIL, wondering if we were still in the city. They were stuck in traffic on the way home from the conference they’d attended, and were we up to meeting for dinner? We certainly were!
So that was awesome. We see each other too infrequently, so it was great to be able to take advantage of the situation.
Where we met for dinner just happened to be right next to a Micheal’s, so we all ended up heading there, next. With their feedback, I picked some yarn out to make a baby blanket as a gift; they are going to be grandparents! We’re all pretty excited about that. 🙂
After saying our goodbyes, my daughter and I made one last stop at a nearby Superstore to pick up a few things we’d missed, and then it was finally time to head home!
By this time, the winds had picked up and there was a lot of blowing snow on the highway, but the van held out just fine.
Once home, we backed the van up to the house to unload it, relay style – though there was a hiccup when The Outsider managed to dash into the house! It took a while for my older daughter to be able to snag her and put her back outside.
Oh, how we want to make her an indoor cat!!
By the time we were done, and I was coming back from putting the van into the garage, there were cats all over the place! Beep Beep, however, gave me a start, while I was in the garage and she came jumping down from the rafters! The certainly explains why I’ve found things knocked over on the shelves at that end of the garage!
As we put things away, I took stuff into the Old Kitchen to put into the freezer. After my first load, I closed the freezer door, only to see a Beep Beep in the window, watching me!!
Once we were done, I made sure to get them some more warm water and top off their kibble with some that wasn’t frozen. It was warm enough that there was no ice in their water bowl, but they were still happy to have warm water to drink. Even Rolando Moon came inside to drink; normally, she’s more interested in food and water outside, not in the sun room. But then, I also found an old pillow that I put on the kneeler next to the water bowl heater, so having something soft and insulated to sit on while drinking was probably a bit of a deal breaker for her. 😀
So we are now set for the month; the few things we didn’t get, we can find locally fairly easily. I am far more confident about the van, after getting it checked out; though we know that we’ll still eventually have to replace that pump, the warmer temperatures and a good run made a huge difference.
Which means I have no worries about heading out again tomorrow, to pick up other prescription refills and, if all goes well, head even further out and pick up those repaired chain saws. That will depend on whether the predicted snowfall will be an issue.
Oh, but it feels so good to finally get the big shop done!