By Johnnie W. Lewis
Have you ever considered going back in time to what life was like for your grandparents? Consider living without flush toilets, electricity, electronic anything, maybe even NO telephone, no newspaper being delivered, no asphalt on the street in front of your house or farm. I think I can safely say that we’re doing most of that. Except for the electronics. And electricity and telephone and flush toilets. Okay, so we’re not living without those modern conveniences.
But the newspaper doesn’t get delivered to our house and there is no asphalt on the street in front. Sounds nitpicky, doesn’t it? After a year and eight months of living in an recreational vehicle, lovingly named “TB-1” (actually its name is “Tranquility Base”), I’ve come to the realization that I’m not really “married” to most of the things I mentioned above. I love having electricity and not having to go to a latrine when nature calls, but I don’t have to have a telephone. Except to use as a “hot spot” to connect my computer to the internet when we pull into a campground that doesn’t have WiFi! Hehe! And I don’t have to have asphalt on the road in front of the house. We’re parked at my brother Richard’s house, which is on a dirt road. We don’t drive down his road with this house-on-wheels when it rains, because I can’t relish the idea of having TB-1 pulled out of a ditch. But we do have to have it washed a little more often when we go visit him and his family, because clay and sand do not look good on my “Two Old Farts Traveling” decals plastered on the sides of the motorhome.
Some of the other things that we “live without” are the newspaper, flush toilets, and occasionally, electricity. Newspapers have long since been obtainable online, so I haven’t bought but a few in several years. Granted we haven’t lived where we could have one delivered in 20 months, so maybe that doesn’t count. But the flush toilets does count. We live in an RV. It has two “disposal” tanks, one for grey water (sinks, showers) and one for black water (toilet). Even though we flush the toilets and the…stuff…goes “away,” it doesn’t go completely “away.” We flush, “it” goes into the black water tank, which keeps filling up until the tank is full. Because there are only two of us, it sometimes takes five days before that tank is full.
But, when the tank gets full, it’s like an infant who has guzzled too much milk too fast. When the milk gets up to the “fill to here” line, if any more is poured in, the tummy starts pushing back. Burping the baby only makes that milk flow right back up that pipe and right out that fill spout, all over your shoulder, back, lap, shoes, etc. Don’t pat that milk tank too hard! Same song, third verse with the “black water tank” in an RV. When that puppy gets full, you better empty it through the “other end” or the contents will come back up and out the “fill spout,” nasty, and nastier!
So. Even though we have a “flush toilet” inside our house on wheels, the tank is not connected to the city sewer line. Don’t want to gross you out here, so if you gross out easily, close your eyes and keep reading. We have to provide the line and the sewage dump place. Sometimes that “dumping station” is conveniently located on our campsite, sometimes not. When it is at our site, we attach the sewage hose to the hole in the ground and to the pipe in the side of the RV and open the valves when the tank is full. We can’t just leave the valves open all the time for two reasons" 1) If we leave the valves open, the “sludge” goes into the ground every time we flush, leaving the leftover sludge in the pipe to dry out. Without getting too much more gunky, just remember that you don’t want sludge to dry out. It’s yucky! 2) The other reason that we don’t leave the valves open is a shocker. Critters swim in those “dump stations” and will come up into the hose, into the tank and if they can, sneak into this house on wheels! Imagine a nasty black rat. Now imagine he’s got some of your poop on his back. ‘Nuff said.
Now to electricity. We have “house batteries” so when we disconnect from the campsite electricity, we can still turn on the lights, etc. Almost all campgrounds now provide at least electricity and water with your site price. Unless you have a tent and don’t require lights. So, electricity is a nice-to-have amenity, but isn’t always available nor is it always necessary, if you have on-board rechargeable house batteries.
Telephones: theoretically, the reason for living in an RV is so that you can get away from the rest of society, so why would you want a telephone? Ok, here’s a partial list: heart attacks, the “I forgot to bring the list with me” excuse, children, grandchildren, and in some cases, internet access. We each have a cell phone, but we had to add the iPad and a MiFi Jetpack (portable hotspot). Brings the wireless bill up appreciably, but keeps us connected to the rest of our world.
By this time next week, we will have left the state of Georgia and will be headed to the wide open West. More adventures ahead, unless COVID-19 continues to close places ahead of us. At this time, Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks are closed. Their campgrounds are open, but the parks are closed. MAYBE, if we’re lucky, they will open before we leave California!
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.