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Posts Tagged ‘camping’

In the RV world, (and perhaps other worlds as well) we talk about waste holding tanks in terms of Grey tanks which holds water from the sinks, shower and washing machines. We also have the dreaded black tanks which hold the waste from the toilet. There is a sewer hose, often called the, ‘Stinky Slinky’ you hook up from an outlet on the rv to the dump station in the campground. There is a valve you need to open so the stuff in the holding tanks can flow down the sewer hose and into the dump station.

And now you know everything you need to know to follow the following story.

Before we even purchased the RV I read a ton of articles about black water screw ups. All written under the guise of helping the newbie avoid the same fate. I laughed, I cried, I shivered in fear and disgust. In the end I came away with a wealth of knowledge and a vow not to make those same mistakes. I am proud to say that after four years I have not made any of those mistakes. Instead I created my own.

Knowing you are only supposed to dump your black tanks when they are full we didn’t even bother to hook up the stinky slinky at our first two sites. Talk about a good reason to procrastinate!

After several successful sewer encounters I found myself getting a little cocky because the only ‘issues’ we were having was positioning the rv correctly. We have two black tanks and positioning the rv so we could connect both tanks to the dump station proved to be tricky. I’m always able to reach one with the slinky but the other is almost always just out of reach. But we always figured it out.

Eventually, as promised by many blogs, the fateful day came. Once again I could easily reach one black tank but not the other. I just needed another half an inch if even that. I really didn’t want to get out another 10 feet of sewer line for half an inch. They are called slinky’s because the accordion out. Certainly I could make up a half an inch!

I always start from the dump station and work towards the rv. First the fitting to the sewer, then a ‘Y’ connector and then the slinky’s to the Y connector then the other end of the slinky’s to their respective tanks. First side wasn’t a problem. The second tank I stretched the sewer hose really tight and was able to snap it into place. Success! We had not dumped at the previous site so I knew we needed to dump the tanks and while I was bent down at the outlet anyway I went ahead and pulled the valve to let the poop fly. Feeling quite pleased I looked down along the sewer line to the dump station and much to my horror the other end of the slinky was no longer attached to the Y connector! Luckily there was no four foot poop geyser as one blogger promised, nor was there a quickly forming lake Pooperior. There was however, a small poop pond beginning to form. I slammed the valve closed and made a heroic 10 foot leap grabbing the free end of the stinky slinky and held it high in the air stopping the flow of poop. I’m here to tell you it didn’t smell great. And I realized that the ‘pond’ was going to grow a little as I still had to re-attach the end of the hose. I took a breath, (not a deep one) assumed the Super Man pose and slammed the end of the hose to the Y connection spilling only a little more poop. Now what do I do? I looked around, we were the last RV in the row, nobody was around, nobody saw. The proper thing to do was inform the campground who would asses the situation, I have heard that they can charge you if they have to clean it up, or call a company to clean it up. I decided it wasn’t that bad, I didn’t see any lumps, sometimes having Crohn’s disease has its benefits, (some of you will understand). I disposed the rubber gloves and put on new ones. I hooked up our extra garden hose and started to flood the area. It only took a few moments for the gravel to go from brown to clear. Again I looked around, there were no cries of dissent, no fits of laugher, not a face peeking out of another RV. I started to relax even the smell was fading quickly. The whole incident was coming to a close without anyone the wiser. I stood there water hose in hand, I was satisfied I got through this unscathed when I heard my wife’s voice coming through the open window, “Did we have a toxic spill?”

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A big topic on RV message boards is security. We have been in campgrounds all across the USA and have never encountered a problem. But if you read the message boards and FB groups for RV’s it would seem theft is rampant. A little deeper research shows that most cases of theft in the RV world happens when an RV is in storage at a storage facility. But I get the security conscious people, especially when one has been a victim of theft.

I could not help but notice the security measures of one fifth wheel camper that was in a site next to ours. They had a hitch lock on their RV just in case a thief would break in unhook the water, sewer, power and bring in the slides, pull in with a truck and steal the entire unit. A heck of a lot of work when there are plenty of easier targets than a fifth wheel.

But this guy was pretty serious he also used a dog chain to lock his surge protector to the power post. But the two E-bikes were simply leaning against the rv, the expensive Blackstone griddle with extra propane tanks were sitting outside on his picnic table. And lets not forget the high end satellite dish sitting on the tripod in front of his rv all unsecured.

The whole scene reminded me a friend in elementary school. He locked his bike to the bike rack but was so paranoid he wound the lock through the wheels, the frame, the chain, around a peddle and back around the wheels. When all was said and done he had done a great job in locking the bike to itself but neglected to actually lock the bike to the rack.

All of which brings us to a topic that is near and dear to all our hearts. Gun control! Okay this post has little to do with guns and more about the mentality of people. You see whenever the question pops up, “What does everyone do about theft at your campsite?” There is always some fool(s) who respond, “I carry a .38 which will stop anyone from stealing my stuff”.

Really? Do you really think carrying a gun is going to keep people from stealing your surge protector? Do you not think the would be thief is not going to drive around for awhile and figure out if you are at your campsite? Do you really think the theft is going to occur while you are at your site? Your precious gun is going to prove itself to be useless as such a theft occurs. Even if you are there. Are you really going to shoot somebody because they are trying to steal your $50.00 propane tank?

Guns are not the problem folks. Lack of common sense is the problem.

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Scrolling through my drafts I came upon this and thought it would make a good post. I’m not sure why it didn’t make the grade back in the day, but here ya go.

August 29, 2019. This was our third day in the RV and obviously still learning the basics.

We were mighty proud of ourselves today. We were able to hitch up the fifth wheel to the truck without having to get help and when we got to the campsite in Adele Iowa we were able to unhitch by ourselves for the first time. Life was looking good.

We put our awnings out for the first time! How cool is that? Except we realized with great disappointed the fancy little lights on one of the awnings was not working. It is time to start a list of warranty items that need to be dealt with.

We hooked up our sewer tanks for the first time. And despite reading all the horror stories, that task went fairly smooth. The only hitch was the second tank. Our ‘stinky slinky’ commonly known as a sewer hose, was too long and the dump site was up on a little rise so gravity was working against us. Made for a little more work when we unhooked, but all things considered it was quite the success.

Seeing as we had the tanks hooked up we used the washer and dryer for the first time. The RV people were not kidding when they said ‘small and frequent loads’ we were very pleased and soon figured out the extra cost was well worth it. The machines could even handle our queen sized blanket. Very handy considering we travel with five cats and two dogs.

Lastly we used the gas stove, hamburgers were on the menu. We took turns fanning the smoke alarm with a plate to keep from setting it off, we got a pretty good workout.

August 11 2021

A few updates. Not only do we hitch up on our own, we can usually do it in one go, not only that, we used to be envious of people who hooked up without making much noise when the pin hits the receiver, often there would be a loud clunk as the rv would move a little adjusting to the height. Now when we hook up or unhook its smooth as silk with very little noise.

Fancy little lights on the awning have long been fixed and all works as it should.

We have only a had few tiny issues now and again with the stinky slinky which will make good stories but not critical enough that would lead to an epic level disaster. I have found that the people who design campsites that have dump stations don’t understand the concept of gravity. More often then not the dump stations have a sleight uphill grade. One just has to adapt.

Still very happy with our washer and dryer. Last year the belt on the dryer broke. My neighbor and I managed to take it apart get it all fixed up and then by nothing short of a miracle we managed to re install the unit. No easy task having to line up the vent when there was no space to work. But fix it we did and now happily laundering again.

Found the solution to not setting off the fire alarm every time we use the stove or insta pot. You need windows open and plenty of air moving. We spoke to one gentleman who managed to set off the fire alarm when he made a campfire. His windows were open and the wind blew in just the right way. Probably a good thing they are that sensitive. I did read one facebook post where somebody covered the detector with a shower cap while cooking. The winner were the people who wanted to know if they could move the carbon dioxide detector because the dog farting would set it off.

Despite a few bumps in the road we are doing just fine and having a blast living the life. As the old time truck drivers would say, “Keep ‘em between the ditches”.

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Recently we were re watching Tombstone. When somebody was itching for a gun fight Doc Holliday would say, in a very casual laid back way, “I’ll be your huckleberry”. Ominous music would play there would be a close up shot of his opponents gun hand, then a close up of doc’s eyes, and the would be ruffian would walk away. For days, possibly weeks, when anyone looks at me, including the dogs I’d say, ‘I’ll be your huckleberry’. Okay I won’t actually say it, but I’ll certainly think it even without understanding what it means. I know it’s a plant and Tom Sawyer’s friend Huckleberry Finn. But in Doc Holliday’s context I had no idea, more importantly I don’t care. But I’m thinking about it, and then thought about you. Yes you! What if you care? Don’t I owe you an explanation? No, I don’t owe you one, but because I’m a kind generous person I thought, out of the goodness of my heart I’d look it up and share my findings.

Turns out when Doctor Holliday is saying, “I’ll be your huckleberry’ what he means is, ‘I’m the man for the job’. Or, “you looking for trouble? I’ll be that trouble”.

So now you know. You are welcome.

So what else am I thinking about these days?

Driving down a two lane country highway (one direction each way) we came upon a sign which made me wonder what catastrophic event happened that this particular town decided it was necessary to use this particular wording, ‘Do not pass when opposing traffic is present’. Sure makes sense, some may say even logical. Is the usual, ‘pass with care’ to gentle? I guess so.

Public restrooms. I am 56 yrs old and have Crohns Disease I have been in my share of restrooms, yet I’ve never been able to rest in any of them. In fact they fill me with tension, apprehension and dread. We should come up with a better name.

We have noticed that in RV parks very little deters people from having a campfire. First time I noticed this I was sitting in our kitchen looking out the window just watching the pouring rain when I realized the people at the site next to us, (also in a large fifth wheel) were sitting outside in their lawn chairs in the rain. Not under their awnings, just sitting around a smoldering, smoking campfire letting the rain pour down on them. One or two were wrapped in a towel. I thought to myself, ‘freaks’. But I’ve seen it quite a few times now in different campgrounds. Why would you invest so much money, time and effort to be comfortable while camping and then sit in the rain? Could have saved a ton of money and bought a tarp and a rope and make a shelter between two trees.

Speaking of campfires. The woods are safe from me, I can have the best weather for fire the driest wood, plenty of paper and kindling and yes, lighter fluid. We even made our own fire starters. I use the tepee approach leaving plenty of gaps for air to get through and I can usually get the fire started and it lasts until the igniter fluid burns off. Takes a lot to keep it going. It is frustrating when I see people with blazing fires in a rainstorm.

Shouldn’t the word, ‘ambiguous’ have more than one meaning?

There is a car that has a safety feature that alerts when the driver’s eyes leave the road. The problem as I see it, my eyes are going to leave the road as I try to figure out why the car is making noises at me. It doesn’t sound like its a cycle that ends well.

Aspen Dental, they say they take walk ins, they don’t. If you miss your appointment by 15 minutes…forget about it and embrace the pain.

Now if you want to read more posts…I’ll be your huckleberry.

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If you have spent anytime traveling in an RV one thing you learn pretty quick is to establish routines for each procedure in order to avoid those costly and embarrassing errors.

For example, when we are hitching up the fifth wheel to the truck we have a set routine so we don’t forget any steps. To make a long story short this is our routine for when we have hitched up the truck and the fiver, (what rv people call a fifth wheel) and are about to head on out to our new and exciting destination.

My lovely wife Denyce, gets into the truck and inputs our new destination into our three different GPS devices at which time I double check we have left nothing behind, the break away brake and power line is secured between the fiver and the truck, the chocks are all pulled up, our water and sewer caps are secured, All five slides are all the way in, windows are closed and hatches are shut and locked.

On this particular day the last hatch was still unlocked. Imagine my horror when only a third of the key came out of the lock… Well poopy head! All our locks use the same key. The entire fiver is locked and the key to open it is broken. In other words, we had no way to get back into the Mother Ship! I had a minute of pure panic before I remembered we have a second key on my wife’s key ring.

I hop into the truck and the following conversation ensues.

Me, “Do you have your rv key?”

Denyce, “Yes, why?”

Me: slowly holding up my broken key, “the rest in stuck in the lock”

Denyce: “Is the rv completely locked up now?”

Me: nodding. “So where is your key?”

Denyce, “ummm…..in my other purse….in the Mother Ship?”

Me: looking at my wife with slight horror on my face…..sighing

Me, “We have a two hour drive ahead of us, hopefully we will figure it out.”

Denyce, who thinks faster than I do decides to call the next campground and see if they have any ideas. Maybe they know a locksmith or some other type of magician who can help us.

The KOA dude was very nice and suggested an rv service center which was only twenty minutes out of our way. Denyce calls the service center, they ask her to read off the serial number on the key. Miracle of miracles this is the part of the key we actually had and they had four of those keys left in stock! He grumpily said he would be sure and hold one for us.

Collective sigh of relief.

Five dollars and a few hours later and we were at our campsite and able to get into our home on wheels. We learned three lessons this day.

1) Always have a spare key in the truck.

2) There are only a handful of locks which come standard with any rv. Anybody can go into an rv service center, buy a few different keys and have the ability get into every rv in a campground.

3) The $210.00 keyless entry system is suddenly a very good deal.

Well crap! now we have to remember the passcode.

After writing this with my lovely wife I remembered another key story which you can read here

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