the (often) meandering travels of a student anthropologist
Leaving the fairgrounds, I find out from Darryl, the camp host on duty that day, that after all this time I apparently don't know my black tank from my gray.
This will come back to haunt me (in a future post), but for now, I am relieved. For non-RVers, the black holds the contents of your toilet, while your gray holds the water from from your sinks and shower. The process of dumping your tanks involves hooking up "the stinky slinky", attaching one end to the dump station hole, and the other to a pipe under the chassis. Then to do it properly, the idea is to pull the black valve first, followed by the gray (to help clean the hose of the sewage).
When I dumped my tanks at Bear Creek upon leaving, again with an audience–the camp host, when I pulled the black valve nothing came out. I know that something should come out. The host suggests that I'm probably not using enough water and now have a clog of tissue and hardened poo. "That's the problem when you don't have hookups," he says "and you try to conserve water, then you go overboard the other way, and don't use enough."
I am conserving water when it comes to dishes - I use the 'spray' method after learning from the shakedown trip that it doesn't take many days of dishes to fill that tank. And the only way I will know it is overfull is if the overflow it seeps out the lowest point - the shower stall where I store my laundry. Not ideal. Even with that method it surprises me how much water I am using just brushing my teeth and washing my hands. But maybe I have been too conservative flushing.
For the next week it's a growing worry. When I dump halfway through my stay at the fairgrounds, I can hear some comes out, but not enough considering the use. The following week I use the facilities as much as possible. I'll just have to deal with the problem when I feel better.
Dumping on the last morning, again only a small amount comes out in relation to what I'm expecting. Against my better judgement (and really this is a very bad idea), after opening and releasing the valve several times, I carefully unhook the stinky slinky and gingerly stick a wire up through the pipe. Hmm. No clog on this end. Must be in the tank. The only thing I can do is go to Camping World and see about finding a 'super' waste 'digester'. I have nightmares of more expenses getting the tank dropped and cleaned.
I stop at the water station to fill my fresh tank and say my goodbyes to Darryl, whose conversation has made my stay here such a pleasure. He crawls under my chassis. He thumps the tanks. "No, you're good," he says, "both tanks are empty." But, they can't be. He thumps them again, at each emit a hollow resound. They are definitely empty. He points at the pipes. "That's not your black tank. See how small the diameter of the pipe is? That's your gray tank here under the bathroom shower. See the larger pipe that leads to the tank under the kitchen? That's your black tank."
Oh. Oh! OH!!
All this time I've been emptying my tanks backwards and thinking the lack of 'gray' was a lack of 'black' liquid. If there was ever a facepalm moment this is it.
Feeling blonde, and relieved, I thank him profusely. Well, that's one issue no longer a concern.
For the first time, I take advantage of my Boondocker's Welcome membership and stay with a warm and welcoming couple in north Denver for a last couple of nights.
I'm still trying to kick the flu and need more time to rest. The warm weather and flat driveway out in the country, serenaded by cows, horses, chickens and geese, do me a world of good.
Subsequently, I'm as ready as I can be when I drop Rick off at the Englewood station to say our goodbyes. My anxiety, however, slams into me after he departs, like the train he's catching. It's a long way to Quartzsite, part of the country I've never been in or seen, and I'm facing it in a vehicle I have come to believe, in the deepest part of my soul, is evil and hates me. I suspect I've gendered it wrong.
The carrot on the stick, to get me moving south, is that my first destination is the north side of Colorado Springs–only an hour down the road.
I'm blacktopping at one of the few places I've found, along my route through Colorado, that allow overnight parking–a Bass Pro Shop. Tomorrow I'm visiting with a friend I haven't seen in over ten years, and her husband. If Juno starts stuttering, I'm still, at least, in familiar territory.
It's late afternoon by the time I get out of town and I keep an eye on the temperature gauge as I try to relax and enjoy the trip down I-25. It's one I know well, having traveled it often when Rick and I were first dating and lived in the different cities. It's a beautiful ride.
I think a few times I feel a slight tug, but I'm unsure. It's windy and it could be my own foot letting up on the accelerator pedal when the wind hits. Otherwise, it's increasingly colder as the sun dips on the horizon, and I never see the gauge on my panel rise above two tics.
I let out a deep breath when I locate the Bass Pro Shop and get the nod to park from a manager. Made it in one piece. I seriously consider parking myself in the lobby where there is a roaring fire, huge sofas, people, and Christmas music playing. Everything inside feels so normal, full of cheer, and safe. Outside it is dark, cold, and windy. The sense of isolation hits hard. I've heard other women talk about the loneliness they encounter when on the road but didn't grasp how hard it would be. Regretfully, I head back out to fix Freyja dinner and tuck in.