leaks, weed, and poop sprinklers.

It’s harder to keep this thing current than either one of us thot it would be, I think.  It seems like we have the choice to either go live life, or write about it, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do both.  Which is funny, because we’re supposed to be simplifying our lives.

Right now I’m in Baton Rouge, LA.  The family is in Cambridge, OH.  I left Sunday morning, on a two hour Greyhound ride to the Columbus airport.   Got hit up twice from the door of the bus station to the curb to buy weed.  Amazing.  After reflecting on it, I think they were probably cops.  I mean, really?  Twice in 50 feet?  The first guy held the door open for me.  When I thanked him, he asked if I had any rolling papers.  So here’s me, the clueless goober: “No man, but I can give you a smoke…?”.  Haha.  The look on his face was one you reserve for a child who’s innocently stumbled into a not so innocent situation…  He was pretty compassionate.  Haha.  But… persistant!  He says “hey, do you party?”  Ok, so, I’ve been on good behavior for so long, I still didn’t get it.  For a split second, the clueless goober in me is thinking: “wow!  Is this guy hitting on me?”.

Too much.  The light came on.  “No, man.  I sure don’t.  Sorry.”

The second guy had the same approach.  Asked me if I had any rolling papers.  I was ready!  “No man, I sure don’t.”  Asked me if I smoke.  I had a Marlboro hanging out of my face and burning my eyes.  “No man, not for a while”

He stood there for a bit, watching me.  Then he let me know that the street was closed off, and my taxi would pick me up around the corner.

So come on.  Cops?  Or not?  (Do drug dealers read people that well?  Do they care whether I stand there all day waiting for a cab that would never be able to drive down that street?  More to the point, would they care even when I wasn’t buying what they were selling?)  Either way, I guess it’s been a while since I could be confused with regular “bus people”.

I used to blend right in, so, I recognize the differences between “bus people” and “regular” society, and I don’t feel bad about pointing out that there IS a difference.

But, I’m not here to talk about bus people.

Cambridge OH.  We pulled in around 7pm to the Spring Valley Campground.  Left Lake Fairfax Park (Lake Fairfax, VA) at around 11am.  That was a nice little layover too.  Got to visit w/the kids’ Aunt Jamie.  They call her Chachi, but, I have no idea how to spell that right.  Jamie and Paulie, and their two boys, PJ and Dominic.  And, from the looks of it, I may not be able to spell Dominic either.  Well, however you spell it, that was a visit that we could have made last for a month, if we’d have had the time.  Jamie and Paulie are really good people, and they really made us feel welcome.

We woke up Saturday morning around 8, and got food in the kids, and got everybody dressed by about 9.  Started getting everything moving to break camp, and finally had the truck hooked up by 11.  That kind of took us off guard, but, I guess if it takes two hours to break camp, then that’s what it takes.  By the time we got the inside secured for sea, got all the chairs stowed, and the carpets rolled up, pulled in the slide-out, and got the trailer hitched, it was probably 10:30 or so.  Took another half hour to get the stabilizer jacks up, the trailer pulled forward, and all the leveling blocks from under the tires put away.  One thing I do like; is that these steps are all becoming very methodical.  There are steps that need to happen every time.  It’s easy when you find your cadence doing it.  I think we’ll be able to knock some more time off as we do this more often.

Again tho, we were taken off guard in our estimation of how long things would take when we pulled around to the dump station to empty the tanks.  And, speaking of the tanks, I want to point out right now something that we found recently, tried, and found hugely successful.  We’ve been noticing that the smell coming from our drains (grey water) and out of the toilet when we flush it (black water) was RAPIDLY getting overwhelmingly disgusting.  We’ve been doing the little enzyme treatment that they sell in all the RV stores.  We even played around with some double doses of it.  The smell was getting gross.  Well, it started out gross.  It was getting unbearable.  So, I started scouring the internet for other peoples’ solutions, and I came across the (so far) best thing out there.  It’s called The Geo Method.  This guy, Charles Bruni, wrote an excellent article, that is definitely worth the read, but here’s what he has to say in a nutshell:  on an empty (black water) tank, add 2 cups of water softener (we’re using Calgon) to 1 gallon of hot water, and mix thoroughly.  Pour this solution into your black water tank (via the toilet, of course).  Add to the tank some liquid laundry soap.  (we’re using the cheapest stuff possible… after all, we’re just pouring it down the toilet!)  And, for now, that’s it!  Use the toilet normally.  When it’s about half full, add some bleach.  He says use half a gallon, and since it was getting really bad, we’re not skimping.  Then, (as most RV people already know), you only dump a full tank, and you dump black water before grey water.  In the case of Lake Fairfax Park, where they had bathrooms close by, and the black water didn’t fill all the way, I hooked up the flush line at the dump station to the black water flushing port, and filled the tank to capacity using that.   (for those that don’t know – there are different gizmos out there to wash the walls of the black water tank, to get the … “debris” off the walls.  It’s basically a sprinkler system to wash the dookie off!)  After the black water tank was filled with the poop sprinkler, I left it running, and opened the drain.  You can hear the difference in the drain tube when you start losing volume.  When the sound stopped changing, I reasoned that I had steady flow (that’s a nod to the oil drilling industry!).  I let that run for about five minutes, and then shut off the supply.  I waited until I couldn’t hear flow anymore, and then closed the black water valve, and opened the grey water valve.

Now, despite what logic would tell you, it seemed like we were getting worse smells out of our grey water tank than our black water tank.  I guess it kind of makes sense.  There are all kinds of different chemicals and/or methods to control the black water tank, but not a lot gets advertised about all the little grimy things that get washed down the bathtub drain, the bathroom sink drain, and probably more of the problem: what gets washed down the kitchen sink drain.

I guess if you think about it… all this stuff goes into a holding tank that doesn’t get treated (chemically), and doesn’t get its own cool little sprinkler, just kind of sits in there and rots away.  Eww.  Anyway… the Geo Method says to treat your grey water tank the same way.  Water softener gets added, bleach at half full.  The difference is the laundry soap.  You should probably have enough soap in there already.

We’ve dumped exactly twice doing this.  And already, you can keep your foot on the flush pedal, and peer curiously into the depths of the 40 gallon black water tank, and breath comfortably.

Ok, what else did we learn?…

We learned that we need another set of those RV leveling blocks.  We have two.  When we stacked them under the driver’s side trailer tires two deep, and then put one each under each stabilizing jacks, we used each and every one that we had.  We need more, because the slope wasn’t even that drastic.

We learned that water leaks are no joke in an RV trailer.  The fresh water inlet line decided it was too tired to stay together at some point.  It split.  While I was filling the fresh water tank before setting up camp at Lake Fairfax Park, Gracie called from her window “Dad, you’re leaking water!”  Investigation reveals a split in the fill-up line half the circumference of the hose.  Hhhhh.

Over the course of the next two days, and all of their events, I pulled the hose.  While pulling it, I realize that I don’t have anything to reseal the plastic housing (to the outside wall of the trailer) where the fill-up nozzle is.  And of course, it didn’t come off smoothly.  But, I got it off.  Pulled the hose clamps on either end of the hose, and pulled the hose.  The wood frame of the trailer right there is completely waterlogged.  And the lining that runs the length of the trailer reacts like a water bed when I was down there and pushing on it to find out if any water got in there.  That’s awesome.  (that’s sarcasm)  The best thing I can do right now is get in there with a little (LITTLE!) drill bit and punch some holes in the lining to let it drain.  Probably not the best solution, but probably much more affordable than the best solution.

While I was putting the housing back on and wondering how I would keep rainwater from seeping in now that I’d just about destroyed the soft sealing goop… I find that the wood is so completely waterlogged, that the screws have rusted.  Rusted screws just … well, they just suck.  They don’t rust on the outer edges, where it’d almost be more useful.  No, they rust IN the grooves, making the groves almost even with the ridges.  Whatever… the anatomy of a rusted screw.  Who cares right?  Well, when you take this very small ridged, over-sized grooved junk and try to screw it back into waterlogged wood, you find out right away why it sucks.  Because now, no matter how much you turn, it’ll never get past “not even close to tight”.  My water spout screws have been listening to the Byrds, and now they just turn, turn, turn.

Super.

And, oh by the way, this is all discovered a day before we have to get on the road, and two days before I fly out.

Ok.  That went from “things we learned” to “things I can gripe about” waaayy too fast.

Haha.  What’d I learn?  Weight and space are things well spent on things like: common screws.  Even sorta  common screws.  And monkey snot.  I don’t know what it’s really called.  Plumbers putty?  In the navy we called it monkey snot.  It’s thick, waterproof, and never (supposedly) dries out… which means it’s re-usable forever.  It has the consistency of “too-dry” Silly Putty.  That’s what I need to reseal the housing on the fill up spout.  The self-adhering rubberized tape was a good choice to bring.  When I went to Home Depot to get a new hose, with my hose in hand, it had printed on it *1-3/8”*.  So that’s what I bought.  It wasn’t until the next morning when I went to install it that I realized that I bought 1-3/8” OD tubing.  What I needed what 1-3/8” ID tubing.  Well, this is the morning we’re breaking camp, so, I’m not going to Home Depot again, and I’m not driving down the road with the top of my fresh water tank open to road grime and whatever else my truck runs over while we drive from VA to OH.

Ok, so, I guess there was a lot that happened this trip.  We filled the truck’s rear tires to 80psi (warm).  Supposed to be 85 (cold).  Didn’t have time for that when they were cold, so we faked it.  Also, we’ve been keeping a thermometer on the trailer tires.  So far, they’re doing good.  But, the passenger side rear is running 5-10 degrees higher than all the others, and the tire pressure’s good.  Looks like I’ll need to find some time to get in there before long, and make sure it’s not a bearing issue.  Right now, I couldn’t tell you if the brakes are on the fronts, the rears, or both.

All in all, it was a great week.  I can’t believe we didn’t start doing this sooner.  I really had a great time, and I can’t wait to get home and drive to the next stop with my Awesome travelling family.  I have a lot of work cut out for me.  And, at the same time, I’m still in the process of getting accustomed to this lifestyle.  But that’s going to be easy.  I love it.  We go to bed in the wee hours of the night, after days that are action packed (I can’t even express how incredibly busy our days are – and all we’re doing is relaxing!!!).  We wake up when our bodies tell us to.  And, unlike the house, where we can sleep until 10 or 11… we’re getting up at 6 or 7!!

I’m more excited about this now that we’re doing it than I was before we started it.

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