A Day Full Of Adventures, Van Overheating Climbing a Mountain, Hiking in Sleet Wearing a Swim Suit and Stranded in a Blizzard

Saturday, March 23, 2024 

Dear Diary,

I woke up at 4:30 AM and wrote my blog until 6:30 AM. Angel woke up and crawled in bed with me. It was super windy out and the wind was scaring her. I tried to go back to sleep but gave up that idea at 7:30 AM. I prayed my thanksgivings and gratitudes:

  • I am grateful for family. Thank you for my children and grandchildren. 
  • I am grateful for health. Thank you for a strong healthy body. 
  • I am grateful for wind. Thank you for fresh air. 

Christopher called and we talked for a while. Then Angel woke up and we got dressed and went into the house. I made tea and started juicing pineapples and made 2 64oz. smoothies. Bri and Sam has gotten up. The kids played and I chatted with Bri. I started a new batch of bread to bake and Bri went to the store. I decided to get started on clearing out Bri’s garden space right away. It was super windy out but a sunny and nice 47 degrees. The first thing I did was pull the garden fence out of the grass. It had fallen over and grass had grown up over it. It was stuck in the grass good and it took a lot of effort to get it pulled out and set up. The garden gate was completely covered in grass and no matter what I tried, I could not get it out. Finally, I let it be and got started digging out the garden. The grass sod was so thick in the garden that I could barely get the shovel through using all of my weight and all of my strength. I dug for about an hour and only got a tiny bit dug out. I went in the house to take a break, and drink some smoothie when I suddenly realized I had completely overdone it. I could barely move my arms and legs. My left arm ached and ached and my elbow hurt. I drank some smoothie and sat down in the living room. I sat there for a long time with my eyes closed, breathing. Waiting for my strength to come back. Bri was back from the store and I told her that I wouldn’t be able to get her garden dugout. It was too much for me. I didn’t like admitting that because I like to think that I’m super strong and can do anything but the garden had gotten the best of me. Shawn got up shortly after that and started working, he was on call this weekend. I also told him that I couldn’t get the garden dug out. Shawn said that they had a rototiller that he needed to work on to get it running. He would work on it when his ankle healed and they would use it to dig up the grass in the garden.

I kept drinking my smoothie until my strength returned. My left arm and elbow still ached but I knew if I let it rest and didn’t use it to do anything strenuous it would get better. I decided taking the kids to the park would be a good relaxing thing to do and they were excited to go. We weren’t at the park very long when the temperature dropped and it got a lot colder. We stayed only a short while because I was getting cold. When we got back, I went to the store to fill up the propane bottle for the pop-campers heater and get t-posts to fix the fence and buy a replacement handle for the bathtub faucet. I drove the back way to the store along the mountain line. Clouds were low on the mountains and it was snowing on them. Angel had been wanting to play in snow since we got here and I thought it would be fun to drive her up to the snow line when I got back from shopping. 

I got everything I needed from the stores. Bri helped me unload the t-posts when I got back so that I wouldn’t strain my left elbow anymore. Then I asked Angel if she wanted to go for a drive up to the snow. She was super excited about that idea and Sam wanted to come too. Shawn said all the roads up the mountains were closed for winter except one and it was a really rough road. I was sure I could make it up in Ruby, the van my other son Scott was letting me use. She was all-wheel drive and had good climbing tires on her. 

The kids got ready and we headed off up the mountain. Shawn was right about the road being rough, there’s not roads like this is central Texas. It was steep and rocky and intense. We were full blown 4-wheeling up the side of the mountain. But I grew up in country like this. I knew how to drive dirt roads like this and the kids and I were having fun. Then I saw smoke coming out of the hood. I looked at the temperature gauge and we were over heated. I immediately stopped and backup down the mountain until we were at a flat enough spot to park. I turned the engine off and opened the hood. I saw that some antifreeze had came out but I had caught it soon enough that no damage was done. I called Shawn and told him what happened. He called Scott and Scott said that when he had been working on the van getting it ready for me, he hadn’t put the fan shroud back on. That wouldn’t have been a problem driving highways and around town but climbing a mountain the radiator didn’t get enough air flow to keep it cool. Scott said he didn’t expect me to go 4-wheeling in it. Well, he should have known that his mother would not be able to resist going on adventures, especially where there is an abundance of public land. Public land is the thing I miss the most living in Texas. I never realized what a luxury it was until I moved where there wasn’t any. Texas has 1.7% public land and its mostly in the form of state parks where you have to pay to go in and pay for camping and camp with a bunch of other people and stay on the paths and follow all the rules. Public land is free and you can camp anywhere and you can go anywhere for miles and miles and miles. Utah has 74% public land. Idaho, where I’m from, has 60%. Nevada is close to 80%. In Texas it’s almost all private land. I didn’t take that into consideration when I moved there but I wish I would have since I have such an adventurous spirit. 

Since, I now knew there was nothing seriously wrong with the van, I would wait for it to cool off and head back down the mountain. I called Christopher while I waited and the kids ran around and played. Christopher and I talked for a while until the van had cooled down enough the drive it. He suggested I add more antifreeze after I got back and before driving it anywhere else. 

We got back down the mountain and made it to Shawn’s with no problem. The rest of the afternoon, I rested and chatted with Shawn and Bri. My neck and back were really stiff from overdoing it that morning and my arm was still sore. I got to thinking that it would be nice to soak my sore body in a hot springs. I looked on-line to see if there were any hot springs nearby. There was one an hour away that was only a 10 minute hike. It was 6 PM and I could make it there by 7 PM, soak for a couple of hours and be home by 10 PM. I decided that’s what I was going to do. Bri and Shawn said I could leave Angel there with them and I headed out with Little Bit.

The drive there was beautiful. You could see for miles across the high desert, with the mountains in the background. About halfway there, I stopped to get a branch of sagebrush to take home. The smell of sagebrush is amazing. It instantly brings me back to my childhood. I like to bring some home when I visit Idaho or Utah so I can randomly smell it and be brought back to my childhood. I grew up in southern Idaho until I was 11 years old. Then we moved north to the Boise area. My dad loved the high desert and took us kids on many adventures out there. He was an adventurer and I blame him for my love of adventures. 

Near Summer Lake, Oregon, 5/15/10

It was raining when I arrived at the trail to the hot springs. I was surprised it was located in the middle of a city. Most of the drive there had been in the middle of nowhere, then I drove into a metropolis and thought maybe the gps was wrong but it wasn’t. It lead me right to the trailhead. I knew I was at the right place because people were walking down the trail in the towels and swimsuits. It was 36 degrees and raining and people wouldn’t be dressed like that unless there was a hot springs nearby. I changed into my swimsuit in the back of the van. I put on my coat and shoes and walked to the hot springs with a towel and Little Bit on the leash. The walk was farther than I expected and the hot springs pool was full of people when I arrived. It had started raining harder, so I set up a board leaning against a log for Bits to stay under and I put my towel, coat and shoes under it too. It was really wet and muddy out and the hot springs was murky but it felt wonderful. Shortly after I got in a thunderstorm started up. Rain was pouring down and lightening was flashing all around. Everyone except me got out and left. I had the entire pool to myself. I doubted that lightening would hit the hot springs especially since it was right next to a lake. The lightening would hit the largest body of water.

I floated around in the warm water watching the lightening show. It was an incredibly amazing show and I decided if I did die from a lightening strike, soaking in the hot springs would be a good way to go. I soaked for an hour or so and when the storm was over people started showing up again. The rain died down and I got out. Little Bit had not stayed in his shelter and had been running around exploring. I got my coat and towel and shoes and discovered the wind had blown the rain in and everything was soaking wet. I didn’t bother putting any of it on because that would have been pointless. So I carried it all and started walking back in my swimsuit and bare-feet. Suddenly the wind picked up and it started sleeting. It was instantly freezing cold out. The sleet was pounding me in the face and I was cold cold. I kept walking, thinking warm thoughts. My feet and hands became so cold that I couldn’t feel them. I knew I needed to get to the van where I could warm up. I kept going at an even pace, thinking tonmyself, “I am doing this for fun”.
Finally we arrived at the van. My hands were so cold I could barely feel them to unlock the door. Bits and I scrambled in. I started it up and turned the heater on. Thankfully, I had left a dry towel in there, I stripped off my swimsuit and wrapped myself and Bits in the towel. When I was warm enough I put on my dry shirt and pants. My socks were soaked and even though they were wool, I couldn’t convince myself to put those cold wet socks on my feet. Wool socks will keep you warm even if they are wet and I would put them on if I absolutely had to. 

I called Christopher while I was warming up and told him about almost freezing to death. I was surprised he was still up because it was almost 10 PM Texas time by then. We talked until I felt warm enough to drive. I got off the phone and started driving back to Shawn and Bri’s. It was snowing by then but it was still above freezing and the snow wasn’t sticking to the road. Shortly after I started out the front windshield kept fogging over and I could barely see the road. Once I got out of the city and didn’t have the street lights to help light up the road, I couldn’t see the road at all. I managed to pull over on the shoulder. The front windshield was completely fogged over and the snow was coming down harder. I didn’t know how I was going to get home. I checked to see if the window defroster was working and it was blowing out cold air. I called Shawn and he said to turn on the a/c and roll down the windows to keep the front windshield from fogging over. I rolled down the window and snow was pour in making it even wetter inside, plus I had no coat or anything to keep me warm. I told him that wasn’t going to work and that I would just have to sit out the storm. Then suddenly the heater started working and the front windshield cleared up. I told Shawn the heater was working again and that I could drive now.

I got back onto the road and headed out into the middle of nowhere to get back to Shawn and Bri’s house. It was slow going. The blizzard was in full swing and I couldn’t go over 30 mph without the snow blocking my view of the road. I wasn’t in a hurry though and was happy to safely take my time. Every once in a while a car would come up and slowly pass me but mostly it was only me on the highway.

I was content and warm, driving along, listening to uplifting music. When suddenly the heater started blowing cold again and the front windshield instantly fogged over. I knew I had to pull over ASAP and there was no shoulder on the road. I slowed to a crawl and said a quick prayer. I wiped the fog from the window and through the snow, I saw a dirt road. Thank you Jesus! I pulled off the highway and felt incredibly grateful that I was safely stopped off of the highway. There was another car parked there covered in snow. I didn’t think anyone was in it until the door opened. I put on my wet shoes and walked over there. I asked if they were ok. It was a lady and she said she was fine but had pulled over because it was too hard to see in the blizzard. I told her I had done the same thing. She said her mom was coming in a pickup soon so they would follow her out. I told her I would move out of the way. I pulled the van up the road and turned around. I turned on my hazards so I could be seen and called Shawn. He said he could get Bri to drive him (he can’t drive with his broken ankle) and they could come out and get me. I told him that there was no reason for them to drive out in this storm and that I could just wait it out. My weather app showed that the blizzard would be over in a hour or two and I had grown up learning survival skills. I would be just fine. I got off the phone and put Little Bit in my shirt so we could keep each other warm. A big pickup showed up and the lady followed it out. It must have been her mom. Bits and I sat there for quite a while watching the snow. I was cold but barely and I knew I would be fine. There was still the option of putting on my wet wool socks if my feet got too cold. I had 3/4 a tank of gas and it was plenty to keep the van running. I kept checking the heater but it continued to blow cold.

After about an hour a car came up the highway and pulled off the road next to me. A older man got out and I rolled down my window. He asked if I was ok and I said yes and told him about my situation. He checked my fuses and looked under the hood. I asked if I could possibly warm up in his car. He said of course and assured me he was safe. I could already tell he had no other intentions but to help out. I got in his car with Bits and he turned his heater up. It was blissfully warm in there. The man asked about the fuses and I called Shawn to see if he knew about them. I also mentioned maybe the heater problem was caused from the truck overheating earlier. Shawn said that could definitely be the problem if the radiator fluid was low. I had forgotten to check it before I left. The man said he might have some. I told Shawn we would see if we had any and got off the phone. The man checked his trunk and checked the van but there wasn’t any. He was looking around in his back seat when Bits started panting. I took him out of my shirt thinking he was too hot. He jumped out of my arms onto the console and pooped diarrhea all over. I yelled, “oh no”. The man looked up and asked what was wrong. I told him my dog just had diarrhea in his console. He threw me a handful of rags and I quickly put Bits outside and wiped it up. I kept apologizing and the man said it was fine, accidents happen. I still kept apologizing, this man had stopped to help us and my dog had pooped in his car. The man kept assuring me that it was ok. I thanked him for his kindness. I cleaned my hands in the snow, put the dirty rags in a plastic bag and put it in the back of the van. The man handed me a huge thick blanket that he kept in his trunk and said he had to get going but this should keep me warm. I thanked him over and over. He wished me luck and left. The snow had stopped by then. I got in the van, wrapped myself up in the blanket, rolled down the windows, turned on the music and started driving back. I had a wonderful drive the rest of the way to Shawn and Bri’s. With the windows down, the front windshield stayed clear and I was delighted to have survived a fun day full of adventures. 

I arrived back a little after midnight, Shawn was up gaming and Angel was still awake watching TV. I talked to Shawn for a bit. Then I took a long hot shower and went to bed out in the pop-up camper with Angel. We fell asleep around 1 PM. 

Thank you for reading my blog, and being a part of my life. I dearly appreciate you. 



P. S. This blog post was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

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