Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ode to the Furnace

Though it's decidedly time to head south, following the birds to warmer lands, I have one more friend to visit, who lives in Corning, New York. I wave goodbye to Michigan and hello to the Buckeye State, planning to make my way through Amish country and Pennsylvania forests to New York, stopping to visit my Aunt and Uncle at their home near Cleveland.

Fam Damily

After a night with my family, I roll eastward toward Corning, NY, the cold settles in. I drive through rural Pennsylvania, edging along the Allegheny National Forest, winding along through the trees until I come to Oil City, where I decide to park for the night. Oil City is a cute, but depressed-looking little place. It's a picture perfect northeastern industry town, but unsure of what it will become now that industry is heading south.

I find a darling street and park in front of an apartment building, but it's cold. And since I have nowhere to plug in my van, I have no electricity, which means no heat. I bundle up in my hat, scarf, and mittens. I make pot after pot of hot tea, but no matter what I do, my fingers and toes remain numb. The blanket of night envelopes the town, but instead of insulating us, the dark brings a chill. I check the thermometer: 29 degrees.

At 8:30 I can take it no more. Even though it's dark, and even though it's late, I lock down Vanta C, look at my map, and decide to drive further. It's the only way to get warm. I determine that this is insane, and I need to find a campground so I can plug in. I drive and drive, turning down deserted roads to follow signs promising RV parks, but they are all either non-existent or closed for the season. After a few hours, I get to Warren, where I fill up a hot water bottle for my sleeping bag and bury myself inside, still wearing my hat and scarf, and then I go to sleep.

The next day, a snowstorm hits, and I decide to make it to Corning, where electricity awaits, as fast as I can. Still, numb in the fingers and toes, I maneuver Vanta C through the snow, into New York. I haven't brushed my teeth in two days, because I can't bear to touch the freezing cold water which pours from the faucet of Vanta C, and I certainly haven't changed my clothes. After two days with no heat in weather that's below freezing, I make it to Corning. I'm a day early, and my friend is nowhere to be found. I try to boil more water, but my stove suddenly doesn't work. Shit. I'm out of propane. It's a Sunday night, nowhere to get any until tomorrow, and I think I'm starting to lose my mind from this cold. It's inescapable. I can't take it anymore. I'm hungry, but I can't cook anything. I can't drive anymore. Even if I find electricty, I can't run my furnace because it also needs propane. I really think I'm losing my mind from two days of being inescapably frozen.

Pretty, but effing cold.

I call mom and burst into tears as soon as she answers the phone. She, who, unlike me, has heat and therefore still has her wits about her, comes to the obvious conclusion that tonight will be a hotel night for me and Ralgh. Mercifully, she stayed on the phone with me through my breakdown, directing me through Corning to a cheap-ish motel. In an hour or so, I'm soaking in a hot bath, puffy-eyed and weary, but cheering up.

No news here: people need shelter from extreme temperatures. What I find poignant, though, is how little time it took for an already emotionally worn down Eva to completely lose her shit. I knew it would be uncomfortable to be cold for a couple of days, but I didn't think it had the power to turn me into a useless, quivering mess with furry teeth and dirty underwear so fast. I guess I'm not quite as hardcore as I thought. I want to go home.

But, dammit, I'm not going to.


LiveWorkDream said...

Eva you are definitely hardcore. That cold is insane. I'm so glad you're OK. Please get out of the north, FAST and go find some warmth OK?

Cija and I had a great time reminiscing about you, wish you could've been there.

Be safe, travel well. We think of you often.

Trina said...

Oh man, I fully did not comprehend the state you must have been in that night! I'm so glad you called your mom, love those helpful moms!

Jeanie said...

and THAT is why I left NY! Stay warm, lil' lady!

EvieG said...

Um, cold.

Rachel Tamed said...

Eva froze her balls off and lived to tell the tale...that's my girl!