25 January 2014

SH*T Happened

We’re travelling northeast across Central Florida now. We have one additional 6 night stay at Ft. Clinch on Amelia Island. After this last one we’ll be heading north, leap-frogging our way back to Canada ... whenever we get attractive weather windows we'll make as many kilometres as we can in a day. 

We have this planned stop tonight to reconnect with a ‘cousin of a cousin’ of Helen’s - Nancy Shepheard and her husband Jim - it should be fun.

When we left Ft. De Soto this morning we chose not to dump our black or gray water tanks because we knew we’d have a full hookup in Winter Garden and dumping would be more convenient.

Setting up a Truck Camper to camp is ‘A Dance’.

We park as level as possible - next, the dinette slide goes out. I unload the bikes from where they have travelled on the collapsable dinette bed and we then move them outside under the slide. This now gives Helen full access to the inside where she works away unfastening cupboard locks, safety bars, and putting away anything that has tumbled out of anything. If there are groceries or supplies to put away, she also takes care of that. I work outside and connect us to the campgrounds electrical which then allows Helen to drop the camper jacks and stabalize LOAF. We prefer to use the A/C when available rather than rely on the solar batteries. I then turn on propane and connect us to the municipal water supply. Not all campgrounds have a sewer hookup, so that is always the last item to take care of outside. We also don’t ‘dump’ until the black and gray tanks are at least 2/3 full. Because we didn’t dump at Ft. De Soto, we were now carrying enough waste water in these two tanks for a proper offload - basically, we had LOTS to dump.

Next, I open the campgrounds sewer inlet, look down the pipe and check that everything looks clear for as far down as I can see ... I need to stress that ... ‘For As Far Down As I Can See!’ Then, I remove, the travel safety cap from the campers black water tank, hook 20 feet of sewer drain hose to the camper at one end and to the sewer inlet at the other. Now for the final step ... open the black water knife valve on the camper and dump 2/3 ‘s of a 25 gallon tank of poo & pee. 

HOLD ON! ... it’s not draining, the hose is full and nasty stuff is percolating out of the top of the inlet connection. 

OH MY GAWD! ... the sewer is plugged!


We now have 20 feet of 4” sewer hose full and nowhere to drain it ... you need to take a moment to picture that?

Jim (on the left), our host for tonight, has collected Mike - the campground’s maintenance guy. 

Mike shows up with all manner of gear to handle the problem - a pair of cloth gloves, a two gallon bucket (remember we have a 25 gal black water tank?), an appropriately dirty plumbers t-shirt, a baseball cap and a big grin. He also has an air bladder for purging the plug in the sewer line - this last item came in very handy.

This next step is really the most critical. Mike and I quickly bonded, afterall we were heading into unknown territory here ... I had never done this and had just now found out that neither had Mike. 

We discussed The Plan. The sewer inlet needed to be disconnected quickly, very quickly ... I'm suggesting a 'lightening fast move here', then it needed to be lifted high enough that it was above the outlet of the campers black water valve, which meant I had to hold it over my head.  I know, I know ... a formulae for disaster, I can hear you laffing!

Remember, that Mike only had cloth gloves. He now notices that I have vinyl gloves which are waterproof, (well actually 'most liquids' proof).  I am now tasked with - hope I remember the correct order ... uncoupling the sewer connection QUICKLY, flattening my hand against the ‘now’ OPEN end of the sewer hose QUICKLY and then lifting the hose above my head QUICKLY! All this so that I can STOP a 20’ x 4” dia of the septic hose contents from spewing EVERYWHERE. I have an important job ...  I really hope I don’t forget a step. 

Yup, that liquid spewing out is just what you think it is!

Mike inserts a hose connected to a bladder down the sewer line, runs water for a couple of minutes, stuff gurgles up and then settles down. Mike repeats the procedure and SUDDENLY a noticeable, sucking sound indicates that the clog has slid it’s way along the sewer pipe to poo Heaven. Mike encourages me to hold the sewer pipe above my head, even though I feel holding it just above the level of the black water tank would be sufficient. Regardless, I do as Mike suggests and I hold the sewer hose above my head for several additional minutes ... just to be sure. Mike thinks I worry too much, then informs me, with a bit of grin, that this is his 'quitin time' and he'll be headin home now.

Now that the hose is empty it’s an easy matter to reconnect to the sewer.

SHIT Happened, But Mike & I prevailed!

And LOAF, bowels emptied and no longer constipated looks much happier!

Crusty ... reporting.
Photography  ... Wry.


  1. Did you consider selling tickets to this? I would have paid a couple of bucks to watch!

    1. You and Cyd should really consider travelling to Costa Rica to your eventual retirement/vacation home in a truck camper. All kinds of adventures are possible ... we would follow, document your travels, publish a a coffee table book and retire comfortably ... re U in? I expect to park in your driveway in Costa Rica some day : )

  2. If you promise to empty your tanks before you arrive, we might even find a bedroom for you. We're looking to buy a lightweight travel trailer this spring for our trip to the southwest states next fall. We are looking for a trailer without a bathroom - this just confirms that choice!

    1. I'm just stupid David. I think you're probably smarter than me ... I'm sure you wouldn't have had the same problem. ;) But yes, we would definitely dump our tanks before parking in anyone's drive.

  3. No David - at 2 a.m. you will be so glad that you have a bathroom! Besides what else would Dann blog about if these things didn't happen. Helen


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TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty