My day started out absolutely gorgeous. I awoke early (6:30 am; thanks Ronni 🙄) to sunshine, green trees and sparkling water. After dressing Rhonda in her warmest felted coat and donning my own down jacket, wool hat and gloves, we took an early morning stroll along the beach. It was 34°F.
I would’ve happily limited this early outing to a quick, 5-minute potty walk and crawled back in bed. Rhonda, however, had already spied some ambitious early-morning spruce-cone gatherers and was eager to disrupt their harvest.
Compromising after about 20 minutes of walking/hunting, Rhonda agreed to continue her squirrel patrol from the warm front seat of the RV while I made coffee to take back to bed with me.
This was a travel day, but we really didn’t have far to drive, so I was not in any hurry to get moving. Besides, it was really good coffee. ☕️
I spent the morning tidying up “Roada” and washing my hair. I ran the generator long enough to quickly blow-dry my short, silver-gray mop, then went about securing everything in preparation for hitting the road.
I had a few essential errands to run before arriving at our next camping spot; gas, propane, groceries and … sigh … I needed to dump my black and gray tanks.
I doubt it is anyone’s favorite chore, but honestly, dumping the tanks usually only takes about 10-15 minutes. USUALLY.
The problems started when I stopped at Fred Meyer in Soldotna. One stop shopping at its best (for Alaska). I replenished my groceries, filled the gas tank and the propane, then headed to the RV dump station.
It was CLOSED. More correctly; not yet open for the season. Stymied! I had another four days of dry-camping ahead. I really sort of needed to empty my tanks.
I sat in the parking lot, cell phone in hand. Finally, after several calls, and with only a few miles of backtracking down the Sterling highway necessary, I successfully located a gas station with a functioning dump station. Oh joy!
I wish I’d thought to take pictures. 😨
The average Class C motorhome’s black tank outlet is under the body of the RV on the driver’s side. You want to drive up as close to the station as possible so your hose can run the least distance necessary. 3-4’ is ideal.
You glove up, remove the cap, attach your stinky-slinky (the expandable, flexible hose that runs from your outlet DOWN and into the dump station sewer hole, and open the valve – gravity does the rest. Easy-peasy.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. That’s certainly how it usually works … but no, not today.
I looked from my tank outlet pipe (about 12” off the ground) to the dump station sewer opening … which was located on a handy (?), 8’ wide, raised wooden platform about two feet off the ground. Huh. 🤔
You may be familiar with the well-known saying, “Shit rolls downhill”. It’s a well-known saying for good reason. Just TRY getting it to flow uphill. I dare you.
So, there I was, standing at the only RV dump station I’d been able to find within 50 miles (I’m sure locals are aware of others – at least one other – but at the time, it was the only option I knew of), trying to figure out how to get liquid sewage to defy gravity.
Btw; this may well be an ideal set-up for some of the really big Class A rigs with actual “sewer bays” built into the side of their rigs at a convenient height. I’m not sure. I don’t have one of those.
Anyway, first things first. I went back inside the RV and changed into a pair of old jeans, an already dirty sweatshirt and my oldest tennis shoes. I didn’t see this going very well – might as well be dressed appropriately.
I ran my flexible hose from the RV to the sewer opening and secured it carefully. Try to imagine a 6” diameter brown slinky; first it drops 12” down from the RV to the ground, where it runs for two feet. Then it curves back up about 24” to the wooden platform, to run horizontally about 6’ more to the sewer opening. It then drops into the opening, secured only by the heavy metal lid and a good-size rock to hold it in place.
Double-checking the twist-on attachment from pipe to slinky, envisioning the disaster if back-pressure caused the connection to pop free [💩💩💩], I gulped and pulled open the valve to my black tank. I was committed to dumping the tank, one way or another.
Swoosh! The flow gushed through the hose … and, as expected, gurgled to a stop about 4’ later, when it reached the elevated section.
The only way to propel the contents of the hose further was to raise a small section of hose higher than the platform, collecting poop in a U-shaped loop, and then hand-massaging it forward (keeping the RV-side of the hose raised), climbing up onto the platform and allowing whatever was trapped on the outgoing end to then flow sluggishly downhill to the sewer.
Of course, this method also allowed some fluid to roll backwards towards the RV, where the weight of the hose continued to put pressure on the connection. 🥺
Jump back down off the platform, raise a section of hose to trap more fluid, carefully raise the trapped loop of fluid above the level of the platform, climb to the platform and encourage the content forward to flow into the sewer … and repeat.
Don’t ask me how many times I performed this awkward slinky dance. I truly lost count. Thankfully, I found myself eventually wiggling an empty hose, making sure there was nothing more to drain. Relief washed over me. The connector had held through all the man-handling.
I then started the dance anew, this time with the gray water tank. Admittedly, the mental pressure was off – a failed connection at this point would only mean a big puddle of wash water rather than human waste. Still, it was yet more work, more climbing on and off the platform, and the added task of trotting to the back of the rig to run the gray-water pump periodically.
Nearly an hour later, exhausted and dirty, with my knees and feet aching, I washed out my slinky, washed down the platform, stowed my now clean gear and drove away from the dump station from hell.
This will NOT be a dump station I return to. Nope, I’d sooner pee in the woods.
The remainder of the day went smoothly. By 4:00 pm, Rhonda and I were settled into our familiar spot at the Barn Hunt Trial site just outside of Soldotna. Not nearly as picturesque as our last campsite, but only a few yards from where the weekend’s fun would be happening!
Three glorious days of rat hunting for Rhonda! Let the fun begin!