The Iciest Thanksgiving

We spend Thanksgiving in the pop up camper.... in an ice storm.

The Iciest Thanksgiving

Posted January 04, 2016 by Bailey Mareu

The Setup

We had originally planned to head south right after we attended the wedding in Minneapolis the weekend of my birthday - the first weekend of November.

My trip to visit a friend in Florida ended up getting pushed to after the wedding since I had waited too long to buy my airline ticket and it was substantially cheaper to go in November rather than the end of October. Phil still had upgrades to do on the camper so not a big deal. I was going to be getting back to Lawrence - where Phil was staying with a friend and making camper updates - on November 17th. We might as well go to and stay at Phil’s mom’s for Thanksgiving, right?! Famous last words. We could then wait for the traffic rush of the holiday weekend to go by and then hit the road to New Mexico.

I don’t remember when we first looked at the forecast for central Kansas for Thanksgiving. I do know it was going to be in the 60s in the days before. Thanksgiving was going to be colder - in the 30s - and it was going to start raining. Over night, the temperature would drop more and ice was likely. One night of bad weather didn’t seem bad. It was the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday full of ice and snow and cold that would be the problem. 

The night before Thanksgiving, Phil and I went to Ellsworth - about 25 minutes away - and got some groceries. And beer. And wine. And whisky. 

This weekend in the camper would tell us how well we could do with freezing cold temperatures. 

Thanksgiving and Falling Temperatures

Thanksgiving was delicious - the stuffing was my favorite! I made a pie crust that turned out better than any other pie crust I had made. The food processor made it really easy - it’s hard to hand mix cold butter! I bought the apple pie filling from Grandma Hoerner’s on our way to Bushton while still on I-70. It was extremely delicious. 

Our space heater in the pop up camper had been on all day. But that night it really wasn’t that warm. Phil used a blanket to block off part of the camper so we could concentrate the space heater in the pullout where our bed is. Before we went to sleep that night, he added a second blanket above our sleeping area. The heat we were pumping in was just escaping through the canvas above our mattress; adding a wool blanket helped trap the heat inside.

It was a little cold when we first got into bed and watched two episodes of Bob’s Burgers on Phil’s laptop but I woke up overnight and was positively cozy from all the blankets and body heat from me, Phil and Emmy (we’re considering getting more cats to help keep us warm on exceptionally cold nights! ;) ) 

Friday morning, we slept until almost 10am (we had forgotten to set an alarm); we grabbed clothes from the camper and went inside. It wasn’t going to warm up AT ALL that day and we were lucky to be at Phil’s family’s house to have a warm place to get some work done (and unlimited internet!) It had rained and sleeted over night and continued to precipitate off and on during the day. Ice built up on trees and on the bird feeder in front of the house.  I drank tea all day and barreled through the work I had to do. I had pie for breakfast and pie again after dinner. I watched the small gray birds land on the bird feeder out the front window. The gray, cold sky never faulting. 

The Coldest Night

Friday night, we went back out to the camper. Phil had knocked as much ice as he could off the canvas above the slide outs. It seemed a little colder to me but Phil was warm, even without blankets. We watched some tv and drank some some ice cold beers (they’d been in the camper). 

Emmy was more snuggley than usual - she’s a great cuddler, especially when it’s cold. We huddled under all the covers and had a great’s night sleep (we sleep 100% better in cool weather than hot weather). I even woke in the middle of the night to take my socks off because they were too toasty.

Saturday morning we awoke and celebrated making it through the coldest night yet in the pop up camper. And hopefully the coldest we would ever see as the forecast showed the temperature rising slowly, yet steadily, over the next three days.   I continued my current obsession with tea that day and read and wrote some. Phil continued work on his personal web projects. We stopped by some old friends of Phil’s who live in the same town as his mom. Saturday evening was the same: watched some tv (more episodes of Gotham and an episode of The X-Files). This night, we decided to make hot toddies since we had all the ingredients (whisky, lemon, cinnamon, cloves). We had never had a hot toddy before and it’s definitely one of our new favorites. Maybe it was the warm drinks, but it definitely felt warmer than our previous two nights. I didn’t need my socks or sweatshirt on under the covers of our bed. 

Sunday was more of the same. I was antsy to go do something. I generally can’t go more than a day without leaving my current location. The roads still seemed kind of icy so we decided not to go to Great Bend as planned - 30 minutes away - and took the normally short 10 minute drive to Holyrood to get a soda and a snack and to test the 4Runner’s skills on icy, gravel backroads. 

Preparing for Departure

On Monday we started prepping the camper and the 4Runner. We had decided Tuesday - December 1st - was the day we would head southwest to warmer temps. We made our trip to Great Bend for some food and supplies for our travel day. The sun came out for a bit for the first time in over four days and the ice melted from the highway. We could only hope that our frozen Lil’ Poppy would also thaw before we needed to take it down to pack up and head out the next morning. 

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