Living way out in the boonies of northwestern BC has its pros and cons. Pro – watching wildlife out my front window. Con – a long driveway with drifting problems. Pro – the only dog barking is my own. Con – when the power goes out a person is really on their own. One thing that we have been doing since we moved out here is hauling our own water. We haven’t drilled a well yet and neither has anyone else in our immediate area. All our neighbors either haul water or get it trucked out to their homes. A well would be nice and it is definitely something Luke and I talk about hopefully doing this summer, but for now our truck and a 250 gallon water tank on the back are all we need. We do two or three loads a week, depending on laundry and how smelly our children get.
During the warm months of the year, this water hauling deal is quite easy. A good hose with ends that clamp and a tank are all a person needs. Winter, however, is another ballgame. Hose, yes, and clamps – both are still on the list. Add a good monkey wrench, some heat tape, a screwdriver, and possibly a propane torch and you would be a well prepared water hauler. Don’t forget the insulated work gloves, metal and skin are not made for prolonged contact in below freezing weather. You need the screwdriver to chip out the ice that always seems to collect in the valve where you connect the hose to the tank. The propane torch loosens the hose clamps so you can actually use them as they are intended. Monkey wrenches are great for turning noncooperative valves, and possibly hitting things if they get stuck together (my preferred method for dealing with unruly equipment). The heat tape is for on the valve, so that you can unfreeze it when you get home and need to pump the water into the cistern. Everybody still with me? Good.
Now that the scene is set, let me take you back to yesterday, when I decided that laundry needed to be done and a load of water was probably a smart thing to grab while in town. I drove up to the water station and got bundled up to go out and do my thing. May I remind you that it was a balmy -25 C yesterday? I hopped out of the Dodge with my water pass card, screwdriver, and monkey wrench in hand, ready for the unpleasant task of fighting with cold and unresponsive equipment. The hose was clamped to itself, so I set to work with the monkey wrench and banged it loose. Everything hooked up fairly well except that I, as a vertically challenged individual, have a hard time reaching the valve on the tank in the back of the pickup to close the clamp on securely. Yet another thing the monkey wrench is useful for (I really do like this monkey wrench. It’s big and heavy and blue.). I opened the valve and got the water started. During this whole rigamarole, another water hauler drove up and hooked up to the second station. I stood behind the truck, waiting for the water to get to the exact spot for me to shut the pump off, and he waited behind his. Small talk ensued until his (much smaller) tank had filled and he had to unhook. He took the hose off the station pump and a geyser of water erupted out. Embarrassing, especially for a water hauler pro. I started making some smarky comments, “I think the grate needed more ice,” “Newbie?” “Looks like the town is going to have to bring out the water shortage strategies again this summer.” His excuse was that the handheld controller wasn’t working and he had to go use the main controls right on the station. Yeah, right, I thought. I’ve gotten water when it’s colder than this and haven’t had to use the main controls yet this winter. Off he drove, leaving me and my tank almost filled. It finally got to that point where I had to shut down the pump and close the valve myself. I pressed “close” on the handheld. And held it down. And tried to listen to the pump over the sound of the Dodge. And realized that the pump was not shutting down, not even a little bit, and that water was going to start spilling out of the top, and in fact it already was, and I had to close that blasted valve! The water was spurting out of the top of the tank creating a huge fountain that was cascading down the sides, especially the back which was where I needed to be. I bravely stuck the monkey wrench and half myself into the frozen shock of water and closed the valve off, then ran (gingerly, remember, there is ice all around) to shut off the pump at the main controls.
I got the message, universe.