Day 4: Black Tank Battle

by andrew

The day went moderately well: I watched the rest of “The Pirates who Don’t do Anything”  with the kids, the rain stopped, Renee took the kids to the library in town which freed up some valuable project time, I went over to meet our friend’s neighbor to offer replacing the bike ramp / board my son and his friend broke trying to use it as a trampoline, I hauled another load of stuff to get rid of out of the trailer, had a quick but productive talk with Joe, put the chicken in the oven for dinner, set up the computer and flat screen that serves as one of my development machines and doubles as a large picture frame with 40,000 of mine and my dad’s photos (including scans) parading in an endless random slide-show, figured out how to pull down the awning, immediately saw that it had been poorly cared for by the original owners which led to a massive soap-broom-and-hose scrub down session, and set up the exercise bouncer (one of our kids’ favorite things back home was our huge trampoline, and we figured with all the new trailer rules – no running inside, no jumping inside, no bouncing on the bed, etc – they should at least have something they can bounce on rain or shine… and hopefully prevent breaking any further boards-that-are-NOT-trampolines).

And that’s where the day got dicey.

In our first bit of RV life drama, our black water tank clogged up. For those thinking, “big deal…” or “what the heck is black water… is that some sci fi thing like dark matter or something?” Well, the interesting thing about modern conveniences like city water and sewage is that they make us almost completely oblivious to the amount of bodily wastes we each generate on a daily basis. Not so in an RV. One has the blessed opportunity to become intimately aware of the byproducts of such gratifying endeavors as eating.

So, when things stopped disappearing down the toilet, I knew we had a problem. Hmmm. Where to start? The internet of course. After a wee bit of research – the kind one always wishes they had done before the information is actually needed, I launched into action with some great helpers. The scene was hilarious, and now I cannot believe I neglected to have Renee catch some shots, but let me paint a mental picture for you: Imagine me in the bathroom wearing latex gloves pushing a garden hose (metal end cut off) down the toilet as far as I can and holding the flush lever open with my toes while my 3 year old son tries to shine a maglight down the hole so I can see if any progress is actually being made and my wife – who is outside – communicates with me via speaker phone (cell phone to cell phone) so I can have her turn the water supply on and off and pull this lever and push that lever as necessary. And that really about sums it up.

Of course, that was after several other… um… less invasive solutions failed in the attempt. In the end, I think we are on the path to recovery albeit not quite out of the woods just yet. There is still quite a bit of black water in that black water tank. I’ve poured a couple bottles with very scary warning labels down the toilet, and added a bunch of extra water, and I’m hoping things will be sufficiently liquefied by morning to get a clean dump. What an paradoxical notion.

Now, I’m just sitting here at 10:30pm sipping wine, eating chicken, thinking about all the other things I would have liked to have gotten done tonight, and blogging about it. Life has never been better. I know you think I’m crazy, but this is exactly why we hit the road in the first place – well, one of the reasons at least – to face life head on and force confrontations with challenges that we’d otherwise never even know are out there.

And what happens in the process? Why even bother? Because it changes us, teaches us, refines us, sharpens us, stretches us, enlivens us. YHWH uses all of these mundane and even, in some cases, gross / disturbing / painful experiences to strengthen us.

5 Responses to “Day 4: Black Tank Battle”

  • Billy Says:

    You should have taken pictures while you were trying to fix toliet.

  • Eric Says:

    You see, I told you to watch the movie RV! Hopefully in the end, you’ll fare better than Robin Williams did in his battle with purging the tank.
    Post some pictures soon of your adventures so far (but not necessarily of the black water tank adventure).

  • andrew Says:

    I know I know… there just wasn’t time to watch RV (but it’s still on my list 🙂 ). Pictures coming soon! I’d get them up tonight, but Joy is sleeping on the bed under which my external disk for photos is stored at the moment. And I agree with Billy – I SHOULD have taken some photos of the toilet adventure – but I can’t subject you to them because I didn’t… although… we could stage a reenactment I guess… Hmmm…

  • Sarah W. Says:

    Your poop tank story brought back great memories of our family having to do the same when we RV’d. Of course, as a kid I don’t remember such headaches, I had more important playing to do. I do remember having to wait sometimes for what seemed a very long time at dumping stations and that couldn’t have been good. I so admire you guys…or at least think you extra brave. We hope to do a cross country trip with the kids, but wouldn’t dare try it until they are much older. Keep us posted, love the pics!

  • Becca Says:

    Ah, I laughed pretty hard picturing that endeavor! Can’t wait to see you guys!

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