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But It’s The Desert!

December 22nd, 2009

It snowed. And then it snowed some more. It snowed so much that Amazon/Integrity hired buses to bring in their staff from Reno. It was nice of them, but I wish they wouldn’t have called me at 1pm to let me know that they were going to do it.  I am not in Reno and the call woke me up a couple of hours earlier than I would normally get up. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I been able to go to sleep at my normal time, but we went to sleep a few hours later than scheduled. So, after 4 hours of sleep I awoke to this:

The snow is just starting. Fernley, NV
The start of the snow day in Fernley, NV

A light snowfall. I know. Its not a big deal. There isn’t much snow out there at all. Its about as much snow as I expect when there is snow forecast and usually its gone by the next afternoon. However, this was no ordinary snow day for us.

An hour or so later, the snow had really started accumulating. The ground was completely covered. I was pretty grateful that the diesel had come equipped with a block heater which appeared to be working well.  In the next picture, you can see the “glacier” that had formed on the hood calving thanks to the block heater.

After an hour of snow. I guess the block heater on the truck works. Fernley, NV

I worry about the diesel in cold weather, and I was pretty happy that it was plugged in. Thankfully, we have only had one cold weather related problem with it. That’s when we discovered the block heater and after a half hour of trying to locate the plug (that was in an hole too small for even my hands), we plugged it in and were good to go in a few minutes.

Because of our good fortune, I figured that the couple minutes of excitement we got watching the snow fall off the hood was going to be it for the day. I was wrong.

We went about our normal “morning” routine. When we headed of to work, we had some difficulties going up the steep slope we always use. No problem. We just took the other route. At that moment, we decided it might be best to put the truck in 4×4 and also avoid the interstate.

Other than watching a few vehicles lose traction, the rest of the trip to work was uneventful.

Work was work. 6pm-5:30am. The only difference is that we were recovering from a bug we picked up and were feeling mildly sick. There were also rumors that the interstate was shut down because of the weather. They seemed to be true. We can see the interstate from the job site and there wasn’t any traffic on it.

The real fun began after work. Johnny had offered some guys a ride home. He was going to wait inside for them, and I was going to go get the truck warmed up. Too bad the truck had other plans.

After 24hrs of snow in Fernley, NV. I am guessing it got to around 8".

The truck didn’t want to start. It sounded like the batteries, but I figured that the diesel had gelled. I initiated the glow plugs a couple of times to warm it up. Johnny showed up at the truck a few minutes later, by himself. The guys were staying to get in more overtime and had found another ride. I bet they don’t know how lucky they were.

So again, my first thoughts were that the engine just needed to be warmed up but the glow plugs weren’t doing the job. No problem. We had the generator with us. We would just push aside the 5″ deep snow to make a spot on the ground and plug the truck into it. Unfortunately, we neglected to put a drop cord in the truck. Duh!

Johnny was convinced it was the battery, and I was convinced that the block needed to be warmed. Either way we needed supplies. Johnny being the super awesome guy that he is, trampled through the snow and ice (in a sweater, sneakers, and light nylon pant cargo pants) to Walmart where he picked up a quick charger and a drop cord. I waited in the truck like the “cold shy” person that I am.

Johnny returned with the cord and the charger. He freed the hood that had frozen shut, hooked everything up, started the generator, and we hunkered down (a phrase we normally reserve for hurricanes) in the truck anticipating another successful self rescue.

After a while, we started getting impatient. Johnny kept looking at the charger’s digital readout to see how much the batteries had charged. They hadn’t. He then walked over to our job site to see if someone would give us a jump. The only traffic that we had seen were compact cars that couldn’t possibly jump the F350. Johnny came back with a battery pack that the security desk gave him. It didn’t help in the slightest.

While Johnny was returning the battery pack, I decided to give my insurance provided roadside assistance a call. We had neglected to call them previously because we assumed it would be hours before they got to us since there were snow related car accidents everywhere. We were wrong. While I was on the phone, Johnny had returned with a truck that was willing to give us a jump. They tried for about 5 minutes and then Johnny sent them on because roadside was on the way, and he didn’t want to hold the nice people up.

My insurance company told me that they would have someone there in 40 minutes. It seemed like a good time to abandon the truck. We went into work for some warmth and coffee. Did I mention the temperature outside was probably in the single digits?

A few minutes later, I get a call from the tow truck driver. He said that he had been waiting on us for 5 minutes. Johnny headed straight there. The guy told Johnny that he had been hooked up to our battery for 10 minutes (I think the guy had some real concept of time issues). Anyway, the truck didn’t start and he said he was giving up on us. Johnny hinted at how nice it would be to get a ride to Walmart so we could purchase two new batteries. The driver offered to tow us the 1/4 mile to walmart for $150 and then left. I can’t say that I blame him, really. There was real money to be made elsewhere with a tow truck that day.

After 24hrs of snow in Fernley, NV. I am guessing it got to around 8".

The clock was now rounding 10:00am, and we decided to do what we should have done all along: bite the bullet and replace the batteries that were in the truck when I got it with some new ones. So we hiked over to Walmart and purchased two new batteries (my big ass truck requires two). After a sandwich (mmmm.. I had forgot how much I like pastrami) and a warming up period, we snagged a cart to ferry the batteries and proceed back to the truck. I can tell you that pushing a shopping cart a 1/4 mile through 5″+ deep snow isn’t the most fun we have had so far, but we thought that it had to be a lot better than slipping on some ice and falling down while carrying two heavy duty truck batteries.

We made it back to the truck and installed the batteries. The truck cranked right up. Johnny tossed the old batteries and the shopping cart into the back of the truck. We went to Walmart to get our money for the battery cores and (of course) return the shopping cart.

On the ride home, we watched some more people who had forgotten how to drive in the snow slide all over the road. Perhaps they never knew.

We made it home safe, albeit late. Too late do to anything but sleep.  After the night we had, all we wanted to do was sit back, relax and have a drink. Unfortunately, the reclining chair was already occupied… with a lot of snow!

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One Response to “But It’s The Desert!”

  1. Rene says:

    Wow. OK now I know why it took you 5 hours to get home. Like I said, you guys are way, way heartier than I am.

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