Well, we closed the cabins for the season (our third with Max & Sherri, fourth overall) on Monday. The last guests left Monday morning and we began the chores of shutting down for the year.
The most important (and usually urgent) task is draining the water lines. This year it has been warmer, so it wasn't as urgent as some years, but you never know what the weather may hold. Blowing the lines out is a bit of a complicated process. First you have to install bypasses at all the water heaters, then drain them. Water heaters don't drain very fast—about 1/2 hour per tank—so you need multiple hoses.
While the tanks are draining, you can begin blowing the lines out. Dave had created a nice system whereby he plugged an air compressor into the line (after shutting off the water main! You don't want to inject air into the city water line!), opened and shut a few valves, and voila! You can open the faucets and blow the water out. Of course, you need to remove the aerators or they plug up with all the junk the air breaks loose in the lines from 60 years of use.
Did I mention it's very messy? The compressed air shoot water out at you and around you. I've taken to wearing a rain jacket and carrying a few hand towels to block the water. It seems the sinks are shaped to direct the water right up at your face!
Dave learned from experience that just blowing the lines wasn't enough. There was always a low-lying spot in the mains where the water would pool. Add -20ºF temperatures in the winter, and you have broken mains. Not a good way to start the spring! So, he added a 30 gallon holding tank for RV antifreeze. Turn a few more valves, and go back through the cabins, turning on each faucet again until pink stuff shows up.
Here's where I learned a few tricks, too. If you aren't careful, the pink stuff will puddle in the bottom of the tubs or sinks. Add 5 months of sitting there, and in the spring you have a pink stain. Believe me, with 50+ years of use, the tubs don't have much protection over the enamel anymore. They soak up that pink like a sponge. Guess whose job it is to get it out in the spring? Yep, mine.
Here's where the towels come in handy. Let enough pink come through so you know the pipes won't freeze, but not too much or you'll have a pink sink/tub. Take a towel to that little puddle ASAP before it can soak in. Works like a charm. You still have to use cleanser in the spring, but not a bucket of it!
Oh, did I mention that each toilet needs to be drained, too? The bowl has to be empty or you'll be replacing toilets. Not on my list of favorite (or cheap!) things to do. So, you need to bail out the majority of it with a cup, then siphon out the last bit. Dave used a drill-powered pump—you know, one of those little portable things. But I found that to be too unwieldy, so I just us a turkey baster and suction it out. Don't worry, it doesn't get used for anything else : )
Then it's the laundry. All the blankets, shower curtains, bath mats, and mattress covers need to be washed and stored. In the case of the mattress covers, they go back on the beds right away and we put the bedspreads over the top. The bedspreads get washed in the spring so that all the dust from the winter doesn't matter.
And then all the lawn chairs and lawn furniture needs to be stored. And the grill needs to be put away. And the gas turned off. And the electricity gets turned off in each cabin. And the signs get put away. And all the soap bottles need to be brought in or they will freeze and separate. That's a funny looking sight, but it sure makes the soap (actually detergent) unusable.
Learned from experience: The windows need to be screwed shut or the winter storms will blow them open. This happens gradually, as the rattle of the wind slowly loosens the latches. Eventually, the window blows open and you get a pile of snow everywhere. Or, as happened the first year, the window blows open and knocks a lamp on the floor, which then shatters and scatters everywhere, mixed with snow, of course! Not a pretty sight. So, we learned to screw the windows shut.
Well, today is Wednesday, and all I have left is washing the mattress covers. Not bad for 2 days work. But it's raining today, and I don't want to track dirt, leaves, and grass into the cabins, so they probably won't get done until tomorrow...there's always tomorrow : )