Snowmageddon in Hill Country: A Big Texas Howdy

February 11, 2021: Ground Zero at Buckhorn Resort in Kerrville, Texas. Just the day before it was 70F and we grilled steaks. But now whenever the wind blows we can hear tree branches breaking everywhere. Everything has a thick coat of ice on it. We’re stocked up on food, bought an extra space heater and our dogs are okay. Just hoping the electricity stays on for the duration but in these type of weather events it usually doesn’t. Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

This is the beginning of an unusual, almost weeklong and deteriorating weather event. Three severe winter storms are expected to roll in back to back. Some campers left the day before, probably heading to warmer climes. By the time we took the storms seriously, we realized we had no choice but to ride it out. At least it’s not snowing yet. Spoiler alert #2: It did.

Enter the pergola of a thousand daggers if you dare.

February 12, 2021: Nice warming trend expected after Thursday. The high for today is 29F with 95% humidity. Governor Abbott issued a disaster declaration.

February 13, 2021: Waiting for the big thaw in Texas by the end of next week. The high temp will remain below freezing for the next several days. More than 4.5 million homes and businesses were left without power. All of Texas’ 254 counties are under a winter storm warning. Every. Single. One. We saw a propane truck at the resort selling propane to campers. We politely asked him if we could buy propane from him. His answer was a resounding “No!”

February 14, 2021: It’s 24F and already beginning to snow. Electricity has still not been restored. The weather is brutal and the roads are like ice rinks. The vibe at Buckhorn Resort sucked but it served its purpose since we were gone most days playing tourists. The diesel pusher owners had ignored us for weeks. They literally sneer at our California plates. This is our first introduction of how some Texans hate Californians. They assume we’re liberals and want to turn Texas blue. It’s the furthest thing from the truth in our case and we can’t wait to leave this park. Your personal experience may differ from ours but this isn’t our first rodeo with bigots. Maybe Texas isn’t for us, after all.

Team work makes the dream work. In hardly anytime at all we were packed up and ready to evacuate. Left Buckhorn Resort in the middle of a sideways blizzard with no regrets. Still no electricity after 16 hours. Refueling at a local KOA! Very nice owners on site but electrical grid is sketchy. Then off to another park with full power! We’re taking it slow on icy roads but driving separately. So far, neither of us has skid. Living in Big Bear, California, through several winters taught us a lot of useful road skills.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Kerrville has power!! Even an open convenience store. Heater, hot food and Netflix here we come! Or will we?

February 15, 2021: Good news! After 4 hours without electricity at Jellystone we have been informed by the ranger that rolling blackouts will begin with 45 minutes on then turned off for 15 minutes before coming on again. We can deal with that! When it came on I hurried and made a hot breakfast in my air fryer—bacon then cinnamon rolls. Washed it down with hot coffee. Now power’s off again but at least we’re satisfied. It’s currently 12F.

February 15, 2021: Unfortunately, we just lost power again. At least we got to make a pot of coffee! Looks like we’ll be catching up on reading about Texas history today. We heard half of Texas is off line because wind turbines in west Texas have frozen. Millions are without power or experiencing rolling blackouts. Officials claimed 23% of Texas power comes from wind turbines. Texas had isolated its power grid in 2002. Later, it was determined a failure to winterize natural gas resources played a significant role in the crisis.

No power in below freezing weather doesn’t has to mean no hot dinner. Texas kielbasa, mash potatoes and French cut green beans, courtesy of my hot husband.

February 16, 2021: Power stayed on long enough to nuke a hot bowl of chili, to wash the dishes and get a little organized again. It doesn’t take long for clutter to take over a small space. Pipes thawed out but the gray water valve is still frozen. So now the power’s off again. Time to hibernate. It’s still hell naw degrees out there. We heard some public figures and actors were rallying across the USA and raised millions of dollars for affected Texans. God bless America.

February 17, 2021: Someone built a giant snowman! Gotta love kids and the young at heart. A friendly neighbor wandered over to ask if we needed help with our awning, as ice prevented it from closing tightly. John and he fiddled with it and got it unstuck. It’s pouring rain now but expected to transition to snow later today, continuing tonight and tomorrow. We had power for two whole hours this morning but it’s now off again. Hoping for a warmer weekend. Water service is disrupted for more than 12 million people due to pipes freezing and bursting.

We finally found the one and only open mini mart in our part of town to buy some sodas, snacks and a six pack of Lone Star. It came to $34. John forgot his debit card in the Jeep and asked the cashier to let him go run and get it. The man behind John told the cashier to just add it to his bill. John offered to go get cash to pay him back but he refused. The gentleman declared, “We’re Texans and we’re all in this together.” This act of kindness would have never happened to us in California. Thank you, kind sir! God bless you! We promise to pay it forward.

We have been doubly blessed today. We found an open NAPA store in town to get what John needed to fix the generator and now it’s working again! All the other stores and businesses are still closed except the propane station that had a 1/4 mile of vehicles waiting in line. Only that one particular block had power. Thank you, Lord.

Alas, RV projects never end. Especially when you’re living in one full time. The king mattress felt especially cold last night even with a 2 inch foam mattress pad. It was almost zero degrees outside. This morning we discovered why. Power just popped back on for a few minutes. We’re drying things out and laying a condensation shield. Hoping power will stay on long enough for a hot lunch and to thaw the pipes. 

Our RV park currently has 71 cabins it cannot rent because of busted pipes. Our pipes are thawing out but thankfully didn’t burst. There was a boil-water advisement then a water shortage throughout town. Plumbers have been plenty busy.

Caught up with cooking, chores and scouring the internet for weather news. Thank Heavens for wifi. Back to reading books and board games. Wondering if we should slow down on beer pong since it’s too cold to play strip poker so back to Scrabble it is. (joking!) Seriously looking forward to a long glorious hot shower, Netflix, the grocery store and going to a laundromat but we’re currently wearing everything we own in layers. Sometimes the little things are big things.

We were excited to go to our very first H-E-B store. We heard they have an amazing assortment of food from all over the world. Their company motto was: Here, everything’s better, together.

But on February 18, 2021, Kerrville’s H-E-B shelves were bare. All that was left in the frozen aisle was crawfish pie and venison ground meat.

February 19, 2021: Good morning from the frozen tundra of Texas Hill Country. First day of above freezing temperatures in a week expected this afternoon. Maybe 72F by this weekend! We’re going on two days in a row of nonstop electricity. Life is returning to normal. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, linemen. Kerrville is slowly reopening after days of being closed and everyone is looking forward to recovering as quickly as possible. Experts said a prolonged winter event like this hasn’t happened in the past thirteen years. Later, scandals were discovered, investigations were launched, top electric company officials were fired and class action suits were filed.

A very special thanks to our new friends, Leah and Alan, who we met last week at Bandera’s Cowboy Mardi Gras. Their texts to see how we were faring and invitations to camp at their Boerne home really meant a lot to us. Dubbed Winter Storm Uri by the Weather Channel, was the most costly natural disaster in United States history. The Texas freeze in February 2021 cost $195 billion. This topped the previous record of Hurricane Katrina (2005) disaster of $125 billion. We have met so many exceptionally nice people wanting to help others during this mess but be assured we appreciate each and everyone of you as we move forward. Many locals experienced outages and burst pipes yet still opened their hearts and homes to strangers because, heck we’re Texans and all in this together. Someone special told us that just a few days prior.

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