I've been dreading this day all week... last night I couldn't sleep... tossing, turning... at one point I woke up in a cold sweat. But there was no avoiding it, the day was now here. This day comes in an awkward time of the year where the natives cry out in discomfort at the daytime heat, only to shift to shivers of cold at night.  I will be relieved when it is over.

So I get out of bed and grab a cup of coffee. It's going to be quite a journey so I have a 2nd cup. I don't know when the next time I'll be able to eat, so I make myself a sandwich... turkey, ham, swiss... I'm going to need all the protein I can get.

I gather my supplies. Like a climbing expedition up Mt. Everest, I plan things out and have everything ready. Once I go up, I'm committed. To have to come back down would be an admission of defeat, and an acknowledgment of poor planning.

Gloves, kneepads, toolkit, replacement pads, spraypaint, shop vac, extension cord, bearing oil, another sandwich, and a travel mug of coffee. I carry all of these things up the ladder and place them at the edge of the roofline... this is "base camp".

Like a mountain climber tossing a rope, I plug the extension cord into the outside socket and fling the coil of the extension cord onto the roof. It lands with a reassuring thud.  I now make my final ascent up the ladder and onto the roof.

I've got work gloves and knee pads on. This task is too challenging to fake "manning up" and going without protective gear.  I'm at a stage in life where the practical trumps the appearance.

I open my toolkit on top of the cooler, and like a mechanic working on a snowmobile in the middle of the tundra, I begin to expose the cooler's insides.  The pads on this cooler are not those straw/seaweed variety... no, these are the monstrous corrugated paper ones. The new pads including the box they came in weigh no more than 5 lbs. The old ones I'm replacing, approximately 50 lbs. Talk about mineral build up!

So I begin scraping the water pan... minerals are flaking off.  I then take the shop vac and begin cleaning out the pan. fine dust starts billowing out of the exhaust and into the air. It was like a blinding snowstorm. I cover my face... I forgot to bring a mask, but I will not admit defeat.

The pan is clean.  I top up the bearing reservoirs with oil. I remove the metal trap that closes the opening for winter.  I install the new pads.

Now comes time to deal with the float valve. This value shuts off the water when it reaches a certain level. If the float is too high, then the water overflows and runs down the roof. If the float is too low, then the pump will not get enough water and the cooler won't cool and the pump can burn out.

So with the same careful measuring eye that Indiana Jones had in weighing the pouch of sand to match the weight of the idol, I adjust the float.  I reassemble the rest of the cooler.

Unlike expeditions up Mt. Everest, I can't leave the things that I brought up. I toss the old cooler pads off the side of the house... they land with a loud crash and shards of mineral encrusted paper fly everywhere. The impact is so forceful, flakes of these shards get embedded into the neighbor's wooden fence.  It is then that I hope that Eva didn't think that I fell off the roof.  Note to self: Let Eva know when I'm tossing things down off the roof.

I bring everything else back to the edge of the roof... hoping to say goodbye until the autumn when I'll need to return to shut things down. I double-check to make sure I have everything.  (One year I had forgotten an adjustable wrench up there and spent the whole summer looking for it) A sentimental tear wells up as I bid farewell to the cooler.   I download the equipment and tools.

We're in the final stretch now. I turn on the little brass valve on the outside spigot that is the water supply for the cooler. No leaks!  I climb up the ladder and I can hear the faint but distinct spraying and gurgling of water as the pan fills. I'll come back in 20 minutes to check the water. The level is just about right. I gently bend the float arm to allow just another 1/4" more water and wait for the valve to shut off.

In the house, I plug in the power to the cooler and turn on the controls... HIGH / COOL. I can hear the pump engage and 30 seconds later, the cooler's motor kicks in.  The temporary but distinct odor of the new pads may be annoying to the rest of the inhabitants, but it is a reassuring one for me. The air is coming through the pads. (For some reason my mind considered the possibility of something going wrong and the air coming from somewhere else)

Is the air coming through the vents cool because the cooler is working or because the ambient temperature outside is cool? Will I need to return to the roof and verify firsthand that the pads are wet and cooling?  I decide to write in my adventure journal instead and wait for the heat of the day to confirm that the cooler is working.

For the ladies, this is a little insight into what us guys go through to get the house ready for the summer heat.  For the guys, a little commiserating, brothers-in-coolers as it were.

NB: This was actually one of the smoothest cooler activations I've experienced... generally, this task requires at least 1 and often 2 trips to Ace or Home Depot.