Thursday, July 14, 2011

Passing trains that have no names...

Sorry I haven’t been online for a few days – was planning to put one together on the 12th and ended up camping for the night in the path of a thunderstorm.  Since our camping site was directly over a large (but beautiful) tree – I didn’t think it was prudent to sit there, on an electronic device that was tethered to a small post of electrical wiring, sitting in a metal box, and continue typing away while lightening cracked overhead…call me “chicken” but when it comes to lightening – I’d make Colonel Sanders mouth water and I DO believe all those National Inquirer stories like the woman while sitting in her bathtub talking on her phone during a storm got short-circuited…permanently. 
A few days ago, we were on the way to an intermediate stop that would put us in close proximity of a rendezvous with family members in Fort Wayne.  Our odd schedule and less than stellar performance getting out of the chocks meant were wouldn’t be able to catch them on the Eastbound trip, but will now catch them on the flip side.   
The destination we planned for today was Kankakee, Indiana and while it would take us off the main highway and down into smaller routes that traversed some interesting little towns and some VERY flat, straight patches of road.  It was fun to have different scenery than the Interstate. 
Donald did an excellent job mapping…plotting…planning or trip, and doing all the driving…he’s just awesome.   SO – you might wonder what exactly am I doing and in addition to being the consummate housekeeper for a vehicular kennel (that isn’t managed by Animal Control) I’m the one in charge of monitoring the levels of fluids in the various holding tanks.  Yes, not only am I responsible in making sure we have adequate water until our next stop, but I’m also the Chief Operator of the Poop System – COPS for short.  (Yes, I just figured out that acronym for the folks I work with - who are REAL COPS!)
For those of you not familiar with how RV’s work, I’ll give you a brief overview of a couple of things that I’ve learned.  While Donald and I share the dumping process (there are certainly enough latex gloves to cover us both) we’ve learned that two sets of hands are MUCH better than one when it comes to keeping really nasty hoses all going in the right direction at the right time.  If you’ve ever watched the old series, “Lost in Space” when Robby the Robot started waving his hose type limbs and shout “WARNING, WARNING, WILL ROBINSON” – you might understand how those flailing hoses can become quite unmanageable – quickly!
So, the other part of the waste management system (other than the dumping) is to make sure that while you’re carrying around 20-30 gallons of “YUCK and MUCK”.  I said I’d be giving the “uncensored” version of our trip, here’s the sanitized version – if you’ll forgive the pun: 
First off:  It’s important to make sure the holding tanks are properly monitored so that the amount held in each is at the appropriate level so that as you fly down the highways and byways you are not mistaken for a Porta-Potty on wheels. 

Secondly:  It’s necessary that you do not exceed the amount of fluids in any of the waste holding tanks as even the smallest miscalculation might result in an incident requiring the services of a HAZMAT Squad or the filing an environmental impact statement. 
In order to facilitate that obviously unsuitable situation, we’ve learned that you need to drain the tanks frequently, or whenever the Tank Testing equipment tells you to.  However, a day or two into the trip (when we had the tires incident, and all the other stuff going on) we realized the Tank Testing light – you guessed it – didn’t work.  So we became very aware of what went into and out of our tanks.  So, when we completely emptied the tanks after day two - we were under the impression that we were “good to go” - you veteran RV’ers are already grinning, aren’t you!
Yep, well about half way to one destination (and having successfully completed our first mutual dumping exercise) we were patting ourselves on the back for completing the task without, how should we say…letting the sh*t hit any fans.  We were blissfully tootling down the road (in 90+ degree weather) when we started wondering what the heck had gotten stuck underneath our vehicle ‘cuz something certainly had crawled up there and died! 
When we walked into the bathroom (which is about the size of our standard high school locker) it made our eyes water.  Okay, back to the drawing board, or in our case, the RV-ing for Dummies book, and lo’ and behold – we found a checklist that looks something like this: 
·         Empty (in an appropriate place) the holding tanks for the “grey water” and the “black water” - CHECK!
·         Add the appropriate chemicals to deodorize holding tanks – CHECK!
·         Continue to add these chemicals on a daily basis, based on the use, and temperature of the holding tanks – CHECK!
·         Ensure that after emptying the holding tanks and they are well flushed, add enough water to ensure that they have enough water for the deodorizing chemicals to react efficiently – OOOPS! 
We’d put in the chemicals, but there wasn’t enough water in the now empty tanks to give the deodorizing chemicals a fighting chance! 
You can bet that we quickly found a water hose, filled them to the appropriate level, and have been adding more deodorizing chemicals on a regular basis.  I can assure you we now travel without cars and trucks swerve off the road to avoid us…         
…and we just thought they were giving us a wide-berth out of respect. 
Let’s see, where else have we stayed…
We spent one night at the KOA Park in Kankakee, Illinois.  When Donald said where we were going to spend the night, I got sorta misty eyed.  Kankakee is a town mentioned in one of my favorite songs (back in the early 70’s) about an old railroad train that ran through that small town in what was (and still is) a bastion of the finer days of railway travel. 
The song is “City of New Orleans” and if you Google it, you’ll get all the details.  The part of the song that I remember is it talks about this train rolling along “past houses, farms and fields” and it make me think about what people are doing these days in our RVs…getting off the beaten paths.
When others are heading for more fancy, more “entertaining” destinations, there is a group of people who want a simpler type of vacation.  In more than one of the campgrounds we’ve seen a LOT of kids riding bikes, scooters, skateboards, running, playing badminton and laugh and squeal as they jump, skip and bounce up and down between campsites, the pool, the playing fields and the woods and fields surrounding them. 
We’ve remarked how infrequently we have seen kids on video games, or watching TV, but every now and then hear a little whining, “…do we HAVE to come in and go to bed?”  …where I’m sure they fall asleep immediately – exhausted from all the activity of the day.     …and here I sit on my laptop…geez! 
The more we continue on this adventure, the more we like it and have started looking at destinations that we can do on three or four day weekends when we return. 
So, I’m shutting this down for the night and hoping you have dreams filled with sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors and new places…you know, the ones like you had as a kid when you fell asleep, spent from a day of playing outdoors. 
Oh yeah – and FIREFLIES are magical!!!  I don’t want to know how they work; I want to keep thinking they are fairies like mystical sparks caught on the wind!

1 comment:

  1. Are you there yet? Are you there yet?
    Yes, fireflies are indeed magical beasties. I miss 'em, but I don't miss the heat.
    Sorry to hear of your olfactorial inconvenience...can I just say "Ewwww!"
    I too visited Wall Drugs on my way across the "fly-over" states...fascinating place!
    Hope all is reasonably well with you, Donald and the critters.