Monday, October 23 and Tuesday, October 24
Lake Thunderbird State Park, Oklahoma and Sayre City Park, Oklahoma
My black/grey water tank is leaking. Something must have gotten knocked loose during the storm. It’s leaking from the pipe, as far as I can tell, not from the tank itself, which is good news. The bad news is that I suck as an environmentalist and a human being: I have known about this leak for, uh, about 28 hours now and yet I have done nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have done the minimum, which is to say that this morning after I hosed the hell out of the ground under the camper, I went to the dump station and emptied the thing. And then I tried to go to an RV mechanic in Fort Smith, but they were closed for a week. So I gave up and drove on into Oklahoma and now I am dumping dish water down the drain knowing full well that it will soon be dripping slowly onto the concrete below the camper. There will be worse added later anyway, because the bathhouse is a WAYS away. So I suck but I’m going to try again to get it fixed tomorrow. And in the meantime, well, sorry. This is gross but, at least I’m vegetarian, right?
A BRIEF INTERLUDE OF HELPFUL RV PLUMBING INFORMATION
OK! RV 101 for those who, like me only a few short months ago, know fuckall about the many mechanisms that make these freaky tiny houses on wheels function almost like a real house. Most RVs have three tanks, or, actually now that I think about it, four. One is the water tank. You add water to this with a hose and then there is an electric pump that pumps it out to the faucets and the toilet. (The john. My parents used to call it the john and I never did but lately, now that I am old, I say it again. Old slang reclamation!) Anyway, connected to that tank is the hot water tank, which is very small and only fills up when you ask for hot water. Now! You might also be connected to “shore water” which is a white hose that goes from the spigot in your campsite to the connector in the side of your camper. If you are connected to shore water, than the water in your main water tank just hangs out; it doesn’t get used, except for hot water. That’s the incoming water. Then there are the two – usually – outgoing drain tanks: the gray water, which is what drains out of the sinks and the black water, which is what drains out of the, uh, john. Amelia, because she’s short on space and actually I don’t really know why, it seems wrong, has only one tank for both black and gray water. This is kind of a drag on several levels that I didn’t really think about when I got her, since I had never lived in an RV with an actual john before. Hermie had a port o’ potty, which has no drain except in its base which you empty, um, somehow. I managed never ever to use this, which now fills me with a certain admiration.
Anyway, the problem with the one tank thing is that it fills up too quickly. Like, I really need to do a dump – hee hee – about every three or four days, mostly because dishes. Doing a dump! Unless you have a site with sewer hookups, which are few and far between and often more expensive, this involves driving to the park Dump Site. There will be a hole in the ground there – not, like a hole somebody just dug with a shovel but a more formal hole, with a pipe in it. This is how you do it. You put on your rubber gloves – I have just bought some at Wal Mart that have long cuffs with polka dots on them; they are quite something – and you attach the long black sewer pipe to your drain thing at one end – it screws on – and then put the other end in the hole. Sometimes it too is threaded! Sometimes there are helpful rocks and hunks o’ concrete around for you to weigh your hose down so it will not start spraying about. You do not want that! Then you pull out the lever thing by the drain and there will be a sudden and horrifying whoosh and LO all the nastiness will go into a hole in the ground. It takes a while; you must, oh must, wait until all the noise has stopped.. And then you have to disconnect carefully and hose off the hose inside and out and hose off the ground and hose everything that might have come too close to the sewer hose. Yes! Camping! You get to get down and dirty with your physical self! Ewww!
RETURN TO NEWS OF THE DAY
I spent Sunday, as has been recounted, recovering from the fear hangover engendered by Saturday night. I also walked around the park taking pictures and did things to the camper – my inner 80s stoner teen has come out in full force to decorate this thing: it’s hung all over with hippie scarves. I like it! I just need some patchouli! I chatted with more people about the storm, etc., and then I left fairly early this morning. I drove – on I-40 – most of the day and now I’m here in Norman, Oklahoma, specifically at Lake Thunderbird. It’s an amazing name for what appears to be a sort of (sorry, Oklahoma) so so park. .I’m not enthralled with this campsite – it is, basically, a parking lot next to what looks like and I suppose is, a city park – but I can see the lake and there was only one other camper here, so I thought, well, OK, I bet I can back into that. And I did! All by myself! It took a long time and we were all somewhat crooked, but I felt tremendously accomplished!
I went down to the park and took some pictures – I have a whole series now: trees by lakes – and chatted with the geese. I think for the rest of my life whenever I hear geese I will think of this journey. The geese and I are drawn to the same destinations. They talk all the time, geese, they have a lot to say to one another. It’s complicated being a goose and you have to explain your feelings to your fellow geese on the regular. Some of these geese were taking naps on the grass and that was sort of oddly charming, like, tired geese! The sleep geese.
The ranger came by to collect the fee (damn) and I chatted with her – during the storms on Saturday night she watched a funnel cloud cruise over the lake throwing up waterspouts. The storm! We will all be talking about the storm for a while, I think. She told me that there would soon be deer walking by the camper and raccoons and mink but alas, none of these things materialized, possibly because a large and somewhat noisy family with children did instead.
THE NEXT DAY
I am in Sayre, Oklahoma! I spent the day driving through Oklahoma. I am truly in the West now – you can tell; there are older men wearing completely unironic cowboy hats – and I have reservations for the next two nights at Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo! I am very excited. I wish I had gotten closer today but fortunately or unfortunately, I opted for back roads and as usual, it was way more fun to drive and way more interesting to look at, but it took bloody forever.
I am very far from the fields I know. I have ventured into interstellar space here: it’s like being at sea only the sea is land and sky. There were infinite cotton fields, which I wasn’t expecting, and lots of horse farms, which I kind of was, but they are always nice to see anyway. There was a lot of super cool 20s and 30s architecture. I love love love these towns built around a big courthouse right smack dab in the middle. And there were cows. So. Many. Cows. All the cows and, occasionally, a donkey and once, I am pretty sure, a llama! I like it. The land is full of colors and the cows are mostly lying down which I know my mother always said meant a change in the weather, but, whatever. It was fresh and windy all day and we rocked along at about 55 mph no matter if the speed limit was 70. You are pretty cool, Oklahoma.
ps it turns out that the pipe wasn’t leaking after all! This morning it was completely fine, so whatever got knocked loose, it was temporary. PHEW.
pps This park where I am is actually part of the city of Sayre and it’s very nice! There is playground equipment and a pool (empty) and a miniature golf course (locked up) but I am quite impressed that this town Sayre even has a park, let alone one with a full on RV park in it. I like these crazy little Western towns.