Originally Posted by rxfiller
My wife and I have had our Georgetown 373 for a couple of years now and have had lots of fun with our warm weather trips year round here in, and traveling from, Florida.
This year, we are thinking of taking a trip from sunny Florida to cold and windy Chicago the week after Christmas. It's either gonna be in the 373 or our Tundra pickup with hotel room stays.
I need to hear from all of you experienced winter travelors about your (good and bad) winter travels.
How do these beasts handle on the winter roads? How can you find campgrounds along the way that are still open? What kind of aux heaters for the cabin do you use? What are all of the weird things I wouldn't think of before a trip like this?
Any input is appreciated.
We have a Georgetown too and use it year round. So first off we have the dual pane windows and the underbelly heating. This makes a difference in the morning as the windows are not iced up, the exception is the front windshield (suggestions there later). I'm in Alberta and typically we head south either down through Montana and Idaho Utah or through Montana then West through Washington then down through Oregon then into California. So our route is Rocky Mountains and their inherent unpredictable weather and storms. We do have tire chains - not intended to drive distances with but to get from where we parked back to a main road. We have not used them but it feels better having them (and it's the law in some areas). So first off advice. You are not smarter than the weather. If the weather is too bad, wait! having a weather radio or way to access satelite images on your laptop can really help when deciding to go ahead or wait. Yes you should have minus 40 windshield washer juice (and an extra bottle) and new wiper blades, yes you should carry snow brushes (long sticks with brushes on the end and sometimes scrapers) and yes you should carry a shovel. We've used the snow brush, not used the shovel or chains but if you don't have them... None of that is expensive.
In general bigger roads get cleared. Unless there is heavy snow your big issue is the cold. We bring along an air compressor. Now we're going FROM cold to warm so we're starting out with the fresh water tank empty, the water filter unscrewed, and all the water lines blown out. It was minus 23 here last night. So when I leave I have on board a 3 gallon water bottle with a screw cap and a 5 gallon water bottle with a press fit cap. They both live in the shower pan (they tip the water goes down the drain not across the floor). When we get to where it is warmer we add water to our tank just like those lucky folks in Floriday do all year! On the way home when it gets cold enough that we think we'll start having problems (generally 30F or so perhaps a bit lower) we stop and empty the fresh water tank, hook up the compressor and blow out the lines. This is not tough to do. They sell the connectors at Camping world or Walmart. When it is bitter cold out (meaning minus 20 or worse) we run the generator and run the regular propane heater on board to supplement the engine heater. When it's that cold it the engine heater vents at the front don't keep up with the rest of the living area and not the back of the house at all. I picked up some shower rods that screw tight from Walmart ($6 or so). These by the way are quite handy and not unattractive for placing over your shower (we use 3) to hang dripping wet gear like rain coats or snow pants. One of these between the main living area and the rear sleeping area is a great idea with a comforter over the top. (Twin). This holds the heat upfront. I do the same thing in the heat of summer - 115 outside so the cold stays upfront.
You do not have to have the generator running for the furnace, but if the generator is running, you can also run an electric heater. We have had to do this a couple times when it was really cold. Look for a model that is lightweight - you don't want one of those oil filled radiators flying through the air should you stop quickly. We have a couple electric heaters - none with exposed elements - and both with fan only mode as well as thermostats. Not very expensive.
So if you are planning on staying where there are hookups - no problem, pull out those electric heaters and get the place toasty. We tend to stay overnight enroute at like a Walmart lot so we use the regular propane heater on the MH. WOrks well. One thing to remember is that the blower motor on the probane heater uses electricity. If you are suddenly cold in the middle of the night - your house batteries are probably down so low the propane heater won't run. Fire up the generator and voila - heat again. This shouldn't happen if your batteries are in good shape and you have been even a little careful with using battery power. If you find it happening despite being cautious - time for new batteries and problem solved. OK so we use the toilet no problem in the cold even with no water in the tanks - flushing obviously involves adding water. If it freezes in the black tank... bid deal. There are 5 of us and this has never been a problem. Emptying the tanks in the winter is not an issue. (well ok YOU are standing outside in the cold but not an issue for the tanks). Because the water is rushing out of there it doesn't freeze, do it the normal way - black tank first then grey. If you are parked at a site that has hook ups do not leave the valves for the waste system open. Now you shouldn't do this in summer either, but in the winter if you do it the little dribble out of the tanks will freeze and then you'll have the sludgecicle.
For other purposes brushing teeth, handwashing etc you have to use the water you brought along (like actual real camping!) Cooking is not an issue - except we do watch how many water intensive meals (like pasta) we prepare. Most walmarts have a water bottle filler station - so not difficult should you need more. What about bathing? I had the children by myself last year and arranged for swimming lessons 4 days a week. I'm sure staff was pleased to know this little family took that sign "Must shower before entering pool" so seriously!
Think about what you bring aboard in terms of freeze potential. We run our propane furnace when we are not in the motor home (like while we are visiting a museum) to keep the temp reasonable.
One thing to remember is that your fridge freezer may not work as well when it's minus 20 outside. So USE that feature. Transfer the frozen items from the freezer section to an unheated storage compartment below if they are getting warm. This has not been a huge issue honestly.
Cooking - if you are going to Chicago - great food awaits you! We do lots of scratch cooking on board - proof bread on the dash in the summer - sunshine through the windshield is warm enough to keep the yeast happy! We still do yeast bread, but might leave the oven pilot on to proof the dough. Minor changes.
Pack cold weather gear - more than you think you'll need and use layers - so you have more flexibility as the weather changes.
Why bring the Georgetown? Well HUGE advantage of having your own stuff and your own space! I don't know where you are going specifically in Chicago - busy cities can be hard to manuever. But yes they have trucks in Chicago and where a semi can go... you can too. Watch for truck route signs. In the older parts of the city and burbs there are viaducts that are too short for your 12' 6" height. Parking in the city can be tight. Chicago has terrific public transportation - that might be an alternative to a toad or rental car.
Oh yeah the windshield icing up. We have really only had a severe problem a couple of times. Undo the front curtain so the warmer cabin air can circulate and take off the frost. I put a couple bath towels along the edge of windshield to catch the drips. So the times we had severe frost build up on the inside? Those handy electric heaters to the rescue - pointed towards the windshield but not so close as to make it actually hot - worked quite fast. We usually leave a vent or two just cracked open - a couple of finger widths to help get rid of moist warm air during the night. This helps with the wet on the inside condensation thing - we don't have a problem with that.
Does any of this help? I think you will enjoy the trip!