A2 layby, Parador Torremocha del CampoFebruary 7 in Spain
The ground had frozen overninght but the roads were dry and clear. There was a free stopover in a nice little hill town not too far away, so after a while we left the motorway and made our way up the winding rural road, climbing above 1km and the snowline. As we ascended, the snow became deeper and deeper, but the road was still uncovered so we continued. Arriving into the town, we spotted the blue 'P' sign clearly marking our intended stopover. Unfortunately it was under about 20cm of snow; there was no way we were going to risk getting stuck so we carried on past the mini snowplough (busy widening the path along the main road) and did a 3 point turn at a T-junction to follow the same route back down the hill.
Carrying on, Plan B was to camp beside the A2, on a slightly downhill stretch. There was supposed to be a pull off, seperated from the road by a semicircle of grass, trees and picnic tables, but this too was covered in snow, so we parked at its entrance. It was quite beautiful to see the whitened landscape all around but because of the altitude, the air pressure was only 900hPa and as the sun set the temperature dropped fast! We battoned down the hatches; closed all blinds, put the mats on the front windows, drew curtains and opened the floor heating vents. We watched the outside thermometer reading fall to below 0°C, then continue decreasing to -5°C, -9°C until when Vicky took Poppy out just after 3am it was -12.1°C. The recorded minimum reached was -12.3°C!!! We spent Christmas in Austria last year and the lowest it got was -8°C!
Luckily there was no wind and the air was dry, but Vicky still had rather a resteless night worrying about whether the van systems would hold up; the fridge had already given up trying to light. When morning came our living area was still warm and there was nothing obviously wrong with the van. There was ice on the inside of the cab windows and the waste water had frozen, meaning the sinks backed up when we tried to drain them.
It was beautiful watching the sun's rays creep over the bright white snow, making the crystals sparkle as they did. Even though the temperature was rising we thought it best not to tempt fate with the van systems any longer, but to get the engine running and hopefully escape to a warmer area pronto. The engine made a funny noise for a few seconds after starting but functioned perfectly after that. The water tank would defrost eventually...Read more