By Johnnie W. Lewis
Here’s an average Travel Day for us, or at least Act One, all performed before breakfast.
Unlock tow-dolly, move it, and attach it to the trailer hitch on Tranquility Base, or TB, the name we gave to our mobile home. Unbolt the ramps and place them on the tow dolly. Position the Prius for loading by driving it up the ramps. (There’s a hilarious story that helped us determine who performs which job — directing the driver and driving the Prius — in this operation. But I’ll save that for another time. Don’t want to embarrass one of us too much!)
Drive the Prius onto the tow dolly. No. That time didn’t work, so back it down back down the ramps and pay attention to the hand signals better this time, so that the Prius comes in straighter and more precisely. A little more to the right. No. No, that much. Little to the left. No, your other left. (Can’t you just hear this conversation playing out?)
Now, here’s your set of straps to clamp down on that tire. I’ll do this other tire. No, you’ve got my tire! OK, clip the giant carabiners to the slots in the tow dolly, thread the front end of the tire strap through the slot and up again, tighten the bolt, cinching the strap tightly until the tire looks almost flat, then “tie off” the strap on each tire.
Attach the chains to something under the car – to what I don’t know what ‘cause I’ve never looked under there. Attach the chains on the tow dolly to the hitch thingy on TB, with the little wire that’s supposed to stop the whole tow dolly if something comes loose. How that little thin wire is gonna stop 3,500 pounds (depending on how much toilet paper we have stored in the back seat of the Prius) from coming off the trailer hitch is NOT something that I could explain. But the guy who sold us the tow dolly said to always attach it to avoid problems. Uh-huh. Dismantle the ramps from the tow dolly and strategically store them back onto the tow-dolly. And that’s just the car!
Now to dump the tanks. Jimmy opens both valves to the black water tank, while I stand with my foot on the top of the sewer hose connection elbow (just in case the elbow wants to jump out of its place in the sewer hole and spew “stuff” everywhere. Attach a separate water hose to the “flush” nozzle on the side of TB and “back flush” the black water tank. Close both black water tank valves and open the grey water tank valve. When the flow from the grey water tank quits, dismantle the hose from the house, unscrew the hose from the “flush” nozzle and use that to rinse out the sewer hose. Leave one end in the sewer hole, holding the hose up above my head to run water into the sewer hose until there’s no more circulation in my arms. Then you know that the hose is “cleaned out.” Curl up the sewer hose and put it and the “donuts” (rubber adapters for each end of the hose) back in the storage bin and put the storage bin in the “basement” of TB.
Turn off the water at the faucet, disconnect the water hose, and curl it up to place in the basement. Have you ever tried to put a kid or a dog that didn’t want to get a bath into the bathtub? Arms and legs both stick out in four different directions and it takes all you can do to “fold up” that kid and get him into the tub. Right? That’s what it’s like to curl up a water hose that has been baking in the sun for the whole time you were parked, then frozen each night. It doesn’t want to curl up!
Take off the windshield cover, fold it completely (so it will fit in the basement) and put it away.
Go back in TB and heat up the coffee and eat breakfast. Turn on the water pump for the indoor water tanks, and sponge off the already sweaty bodies. Forget a bath at this point. The grey water tank has already been emptied, so we can’t take a bath in the house and the car is already mounted so we can’t drive to the bath house (and I AIN’T walking!). Just wipe down.
Duct tape one of the sliding windows shut so it won’t open by itself and rattle all the way down the road. Push a dish towel down into the toaster so it won’t rattle. Bungee-cord Heckle and Jeckle (our two office chairs on rollers) to the table leg so they won’t come see us in the cockpit during travel. Put ALL of the kitchen counter items in the sink (salt/pepper shakers, hot-pot, Insta-pot, etc.), and the counter items in the toilet room and bedside stands on the floor, and put all snack boxes/bags/containers and extra sofa pillows on the bed.
Now go outside and turn off and unplug the electrical umbilical cord, roll it up, and place it in storage. Crank up TB and drive it off the wooden blocks that were used to make the house more level and put the blocks in the basement. Raise the stabilizers and put away the plastic pads they were resting on.
Adjust the outside mirrors, check for extraneous items around the “rig” and make sure you haven’t left/lost anything at the campsite. Clean up all trash outside and place in a bag to be deposited in dumpster on the way out of the campground.
Now that I’ve rattled so long, I’ll have to wait until next week to talk about set-up!
Johnnie Wright Lewis, author of many books, and her husband, Jimmy, travel the USA in their RV, stopping to see whatever they can. They met and married in Athens and with cousins and friends in the Athens area, including their beloved Bulldogs, they take every opportunity to come back to where they “started.” Follow them on Facebook at “Two Old Farts Traveling” and watch the many videos of their travels on YouTube under the same name. Look for Johnnie’s books on Amazon.com under the name of Johnnie W. Lewis.