It’s Day 337 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve. Deb and I are ok.
Fauci thinks we’ll wear masks through next year — as in 2022. He can kiss my ass, of course.
Now I’m gonna go off on a bit of a tangent, reprising and expanding something I wrote in a Facebook comment sometime last summer. If you came here for the politics, today’s not your day.
Some folks drop their hard-earned money on an RV, either a motorhome or a towable, and then end up parking it (or selling it) after just a few trips. And I’ve learned that there are two common reasons people do that.
The first is that an RV requires maintenance — regular, ongoing maintenance. And sometimes things break. Generally it’s the kind of work that can be (and arguably should be) done by the owner. There are people who don’t expect that and simply aren’t into it. Those folks are better off in cabins or motels (or at home). No shame in that.
The second reason someone sells their relatively new (or newly acquired) RV is that they must confront the unglamorous yet necessary task of dumping the rig’s waste-water tanks. Further explanation would be pointless.
As for the maintenance, I don’t mind it. Actually, when we purchased the Bumper Bunker last June, I found that it scratches an itch that had gone un-scratched since I’d sold my last motorcycle. I dig the ritual and the process, the tools, the deliberate nature of most maintenance and the odd fix. I enjoy the payoff of doing necessary and important things correctly.
The business of winterizing an RV, a fact of life in these northern climes, is one job I was tempted to pay a dealer to do. After studying the steps in the process, however, I decided to try handling it myself. Now I’ve done it twice — once on the Bumper Bunker and once on Ernie. Tedious but not difficult, it was very satisfying.
The waste-water chore is an entirely different matter. Pretty much any RV with onboard water has tanks that’ll need dumping. It has to be done. It can’t be ignored or outsourced. There’s nothing enjoyable or satisfying about it. It’s just part of the deal.
For those unfamiliar, there are two types of waste-water tanks — a “gray water” tank that captures what goes down the sink and shower drains, and a “black water” tank for the toilet. They both dump (drain out of the RV, that is) from a single outlet pipe on the left side of the rig, near the ground. And “dumping” means connecting a large corrugated drain hose (aka, the “Stinky Slinky”) to the outlet, opening first the black-water valve and then the gray-water valve. Waste water flows through the Stinky Slinky into an in-ground sewer drain provided at most campgrounds, some truck stops and certain Interstate rest areas.
Deb and I have done it now numerous times with the trailer and once already (before winterizing) with the motorhome. It’s really pretty simple. But it is a process.
In the interest of education, then, as a public service, I’m about to describe how we tackle the task. It won’t be as entertaining as your typical YouTube video, but I hope you’ll find it useful anyway. Before getting into the step-by-step stuff, some fundamentals:
- This is a job best done by two people — not impossible alone, but much easier with two. Decide ahead of time who’ll do what.
- Everybody plays. No one gets to call priss privileges.
- It’s smelly. Deal with it. Some of it’s yours anyway.
- Accidents happen. Don’t get cocky.
- When you witness an accident happen to someone else, do not under any circumstances laugh — not at the time and not later, not even privately. As I’ve been known to say, laughing at someone who falls victim to a poop bomb is like freebasing karma.
- Many RVers, I think, if not most, dump their tanks as they’re leaving a campground at the end of their stay. If you strike camp and roll out at a popular time — say, on a Sunday morning — there probably will be a line at the campground dump station. Plan for that, and be prepared to wait.
- Related to #6, when you get to the head of the line and it’s your turn to dump, discipline yourself to completely ignore the people waiting in line behind you. Forget they’re there. Don’t hurry, and don’t let anyone rush you. Focus. Slow is fast.
- Accidents happen.
So, with all that on the table, here’s how we do the deed.
STEP 1: Put on a pair of disposable gloves (nitrile is cheaper and friendlier than latex) and get out all of your dumping gear — sewer hose, drain elbow, seal, etc. Don’t start until everything’s ready.
STEP 2: Put the hose in the hole. (Hey, now.) Seriously, attach the elbow and seal to the outlet end of the sewer hose, insert it SECURELY into the sewer drain (in the ground) and KEEP IT THERE.
STEP 3: There’s a cap on the outlet drain pipe (on the RV) — BEFORE removing it, verify that the gray- AND black-water valves are CLOSED. Then check them again.
STEP 4: Remove the cap from the outlet drain (on the RV). Don’t panic if a little stuff seeps out. It’s normal, apparently.
STEP 5: Attach the other end of the sewer hose to the outlet drain (on the RV). Make sure it’s on there SECURELY and DON’T touch the tank valves until it’s on and locked in place.
STEP 6: Confirm that the outlet end of the sewer hose is still SECURELY in the drain (in the ground), and THEN pull open the valve on the BLACK tank. Let it drain completely.
STEP 7: Pull the valve on the GRAY tank. Let it drain completely. The gray water will help flush any remaining black stuff out of the sewer hose.
STEP 8: After both tanks have thoroughly drained, SHUT BOTH VALVES COMPLETELY. Check to make sure they’re CLOSED. Then check them again.
STEP 9: Confirm that the outlet end of the sewer hose is still SECURELY in the drain (in the ground), and THEN remove the other end of the sewer hose from the RV. Hold the open end of the sewer hose UP and reinstall the cap on the outlet drain (on the RV).
STEP 10: Lift the open end of the sewer hose UP to shoulder height and walk toward the end that’s still in the ground. Let any water remaining in the hose drain as much as possible.
STEP 11: Remove the hose from the hole (in the ground) and stow all of your dumping gear. Make one last check that the valves are CLOSED and that all caps are SECURELY in place.
STEP 12: Check the soles of your shoes, throw your gloves in the trash, smile and wave at the campers in the RV behind you — the ones who waited patiently for you to finish — and roll out.
If you drive away thinking that you must’ve checked the condition of those tank valves 17 times during the dump, that’s just about right.
It doesn’t hurt to get familiar with your RV and dumping gear before doing this for the first time — for example, learning what it feels like when the Stinky Slinky is locked securely onto the RV’s outlet pipe. Performing a dry run (everything except opening the tank valves) at home, before you have to do it under fire (and with an audience) is a great idea.
Some campgrounds offer “full-hookup” sites, each with its own sewer drain. They tend to be in high demand and book quickly. There’s no audience and no shot-clock when you dump on your own site, but the steps are the same.
Sooner or later, by the way, you’ll dump under less-than-ideal conditions. It’ll be pouring rain, bone-rattling cold or brutally hot. Or the fixtures at a dump station may be crude, cranky or broken. Be prepared for that. Have a backup plan. And hand sanitizer. And an extra pair of shoes. Just sayin’.
And remember, accidents happen.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.