Wednesday , September 13 2017
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(photo courtesy of the Traveling Travaglinos, the founders of Fulltime Families.)
(photo courtesy of the Traveling Travaglinos, the founders of Fulltime Families.)

Black tank disaster leaves RVer naked in front yard

Submitted by Kimberly Travaglino, from Delray Beach, Fla., who has been RVing in a fifth wheel since 2007:

Warning! This story is NOT for the faint of heart and it is not recommended you read this while eating or even chewing gum!

I’m busy. I’m bustling around the camper situating this, organizing that, and doing all the general routines that decompress my life after a long travel day. Like the slides on our camper that expand, so expands our life as we settle into a new parking spot. A spot where we plan on spending the next eight weeks. When you find free parking this good, it’s hard to leave. However, after today’s episode we might get kicked out before we even unpack.

Which would be a shame because the amenities this spot offers will blow your mind. Sometimes a clean laundry room and a swing set that does not necessitate a tetanus shot, is the best you can hope for, but this place offers free high speed Internet (complete with free streaming Netflix), free meals, free babysitting and free laundry with their free full hook up.

What is this dream come true of a campground? Well, it’s the Grand’s driveway of course! We have arrived the weekend after Thanksgiving and we’re planning on staying through the New Year.

As I move the coffee pot out of its travel spot in the sink and back onto the kitchen counter, my gaze rests out the window and I catch a glimpse of Chris, his dad, and the sewer hose. My immediate gut reaction is, “this is not going to end well.” But, the thought is so fleeting because I really have so many “pink” jobs on my list. My friend, Margie calls the inside jobs that lady RVers do, “pink jobs” because they are geared towards women and provide comfort and nurturing to the inhabitants of the camper.

As you might have guessed, Chris is in charge of the “blue jobs,” like hooking up the water, putting the stabilizers down, plugging in the electric and the ultimate blue job, which Chris seems to be in the midst of, dumping the sewer.

I’ve said it many times but it seems worth repeating, the vast majority of families who live in sticks & bricks (permanent dwellings like houses) totally take sewage for granted. To put it delicately, those families do their business, flush it away and never give it a second thought.

Families like mine, RVing families, have the opportunity to interact with their waste on multiple occasions as all of it is stored in a holding tank affixed (very tightly one would hope) to the bottom of their vehicle.

For those who have never made the acquaintance of a black tank, I’ll provide a little more detail.

Firstly, waste is created, then flushed down with the equivalent of a thimble full of water. Why so stingy with the water you ask? Well, the more water you flush with the waste the faster the tank fills up, the more frequently the black tank technician in your house has to empty it. In our camper, we aim for a once-a-week routine, so we try to conserve during flushing.

Secondly, the waste sits. That Indian food you ate on Monday, the hot wings on Thursday, the touch of the stomach flu your toddler had on Friday (or did he get his hands on some hot wings while you weren’t looking?) — it’s all sitting there, stewing, waiting to be released into a mysterious abyss, a hole in the ground that usually sits to the right of your camper.

That is, if you’re at a campground. If you’re parked in your in-laws driveway, the septic “receiving hole” may be a good 50 feet from your camper, as it was in our case on this bright and beautiful fall Florida day.

Now here’s a quick math problem for you:

Chris needs to dump his black tank. The dump site is 50 feet away from the camper. Sewer hoses come in 25ft lengths. How many sewer hoses does Chris need to reach across his very generous and patient parent’s front lawn to connect our camper’s black tank to his parent’s septic clean out?

If you said “two” you’re probably smart enough to know that it would not be wise to connect those two hoses together with duct tape!

This happens to be the exact moment I poked my head out again. As Chris was connecting two hoses together with a big silver roll of duct tape. Again, a fleeting feeling of dread came over my body but I was still (and very gratefully so) busy.

Had I not been busy, I would have caught the entire episode on video and would now be writing to you as the creator of the viralist (and vilest) video of all times. But, alas, I walked away and that’s when I heard it!

“TURN IT OFF” he was screaming, “TURN IT OFF” came Chris’ both equally desperate and demanding cry. But his befuddled father, was mesmerized by the 6-foot poop fountain erupting violently at the epicenter of his pristinely manicured front lawn.

It seems that when duct tape makes contact with poop, it loses its adhesion. Who knew?

This is where Chris did his own calculations and estimated that it would be easier to hold the hoses together with his bare hands and be done with today’s dumping activities then to abort the process half way through and have to come up with a Plan B that did not utilize duct tape.

And so, as I’m glued to the window, watching this all unfold from the safety of my tinted panes, I see my brave and courageous husband take one for the team.

Holding the two dripping, seeping, leaking hoses together at an angle that allows the last quarter of the tank contents to drain, he stands perfectly still like a marble statue (like an ode to Neptune of the Black Water) holding his breath and pursing his lips for what seems like an eternity. One deep breath and he’s a goner.

You would think that karma would take pity on Chris, but there was one more surprise in store for him.

As I mentioned previously, this all went down on a bright, crisp fall morning, not a cloud in the sky and not an insect around. Within seconds of the very last drop, my husband completely disappeared in a cloud of buzzing, undulating flies.

If you’ve ever seen a bee keeper covered in honey bees, then you can accurately picture what Chris looked like.

They swarmed him in plague proportions. The scourge was so bad, he had no choice but to strip down completely naked in the front yard, top, bottoms, flip flops, the full Monty, leaving his soaked and stinky clothes to the pests.

A path was cleared as he made a bee line 😉 straight into his parents bathroom to take an hour-long hot shower.

You would think that this Black Water Baptism might teach a man a lesson but unfortunately, some people are more stubborn than others and not six months later, Chris decided to drill a 3-inch hole into our precious poop receptacle.

As you may imagine by now, that didn’t go well either, but that’s another black tank tale best saved for a time when you’re a bit less queasy.

LESSON LEARNED: This was unfortunately one of many black water baptisms that Chris can attest to. I don’t think he’ll ever learn his lesson.

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