Leaving Colorado was tough. Real tough. Our last two nights we parked the Beast in the street outside Aimee’s cousin house and took full advantage of their awesomeness…their cozy spare bedroom, spacious bathroom, unlimited wifi, and Harry’s crazy-good cooking. I had mixed emotions about climbing back into the belly of the Beast after those accommodations. But we had reservations in Custer, SD that we had to make. Another lesson learned… don’t make too many reservations in advance, unless absolutely necessary. It forces you to leave places you might not want to leave. Ever.
Before we left Denver on Sunday we hit up IKEA, because it was there I guess, and because we needed more storage containers, an outdoor rug, and various other organizational “necessities”. It’s unbelievable how many things we now “need” for the RV, after having downsized and eliminated so many things we didn’t need as we became full timers. It’s a bit of a trade-off I guess, and we’re still figuring out what should go in what cabinet and how to make it stay in place while we drive.
So off we went, but only for about 2 hours before boon docking at a visitors’ center just outside Cheyenne, which we just happened upon. The plan was to stay at another Walmart (ugh) but we found out none of them along our route allow boon docking. Fine by me. A little piece of me dies every time I stay at one.
It was late when we arrived, but the place was really nice. Looked like a brand new modern facility, wide open with spacious parking. And a dump station! I swear, half my time is spent planning how, when and where I can eliminate waste. No joke. If you were constantly toting around a toilet, wouldn’t that always be floating around in your headspace? Well it does. And when I found out in the morning that it was free, I swear it was like Christmas.
Monday morning. Labor Day. Everyone and their grandma is returning home from the long weekend and passing through the visitors center because FREE DUMPING, duh. There were two lanes leading to two dump stations and they always had no less than (5) RVs or travel trailers per lane at any given time. We were in no hurry, so we just hung out at the visitors center collecting maps, brochures, stickers and whatever else was free. When we finally decided it was time to get moving, we loaded up and got in line with the rest of the dumpers.
Fourth in line. Looks like about 5 or so minutes per vehicle. I was ready. I had my routine down by now. I was gonna knock this out NASCAR pit crew style.
Third in line. I prepped Aimee with last minute instructions on how this is all going down, and where I need her when I pull up.
Next in line. While waiting for the RV in front of me, I hop out early and grab a set of disposable gloves from the compartment, just to shave a few seconds off my time. Man, anyone watching this display is going to be crazy impressed.
And we’re up. Let’s do this! Aimee takes her place next to the Beast and I inch forward until she tells me to stop, lining up the dump station to our RV. Out I scramble, putting on the latex gloves as I go. Pop open the side door and retrieve the sewer hose. Attaching it to the Beast is a huge pain in the ass. It’s at a weird angle and never goes on easy. After a couple under-the-breath curse words and some brute force, it locks in place. I extend the hose over to the sewer opening, which has a round, heavy metal cover with hinge and lever for opening. I squat down to put the sewer hose in place, and push down the lever with my hand to raise open the lid. Now, in hindsight this lever design appears perfect for a foot, because it requires some force. But instead of my foot, I use my hand because I’m already squatting down, and with my other hand I’m pulling the sewer hose into place. Before I get the hose into place the weight of the lid causes my hand to slip off the lever and the lid crashes, or rather splashes, back into place. It’s not exactly a DRY sewer drain you see, with the constant parade of dumpers that day. So all the surrounding residual liquid pools up around the drain lid. When that lid came crashing back down, my face, yet again, takes a direct hit. No. No. No. No. No. There’s no way this is happening. No way. I’m less than a week removed from getting sh*tfaced in Colorado, and here I am catching a black water mist in Wyoming. The moment is surreal, like it’s happening to someone else. It’s one thing for this to happen in the privacy of your own RV, surrounded by loved ones, but this is happening in public, in broad daylight. This was supposed to be my moment of triumph… a display of dumping excellence to be admired by seasoned veterens in line behind me. No, this is not really happening, and I’m certainly not acknowledging that it did, especially when there’s an RV waiting directly behind me to dump, watching my every move. So I don’t even flinch. Stone faced, lips pursed so as not to allow anything into my mouth, I push down the lever again, shove the sewer hose in place, and quickly move back to my RV to pull the black water tank lever. With my back turned I run my face back and forth against the sleeve of my shirt. Inside I’m crying.
With the black water tank empty, and still moving at pit-crew pace, I remove the connection from the RV side but keep the sewer connection in place so I can run fresh water through the hose to rinse. Rather than connect a hose, because that would undoubtedly add precious seconds to my record setting pace, I decide to hold the opening of the sewer hose up to the hydrant/farm faucet. I pull the lever up and the force of the water just about rips the hose from of my hand. The water hits the hose and the ground so hard that the splash soaks my shoes and covers the front of my shorts. No hiding that. Double whammy. Game over.
Seriously, you could power wash a driveway with this thing. There is no reason on earth the pressure should be that high. My only real comfort from this whole event was discovering Aimee got soaked from the spigot too as she tried filling a couple water containers for boon docking. But it was no lasting comfort. My upper lip had only recently receded from the previous incident in Colorado. This time I didn’t have the luxury of deep cleaning, I had to get the RV moving out of the visitors center. On my way out I scrub my face, insufficiently, with a wet wipe. Yet again.
Later that day we pull into Terry Bison Ranch for a 1 night stay. It’s a rustic, wide open prairie setting and they have their own private herd of buffalo. Pretty cool spot for being right off the highway.
Plus they had these things…
Just before noon on Tuesday we check out and start to leave. Before we’re able to get to the front entrance, Aimee notices the carpet in the bedroom is soaked.
Hahahaha!! Yes!! There’s my Beast, reminding me who’s in control of the schedule. At least we noticed before getting onto the highway.
So what on Earth could cause the carpet to be soaked from underneath? Had to be a leak, but from where? The bathroom sink and faucet directly next to the bedroom had no noticeable leaks in the cabinet, and neither did the shower or toilet. So outside I go. I check around the water hookup, the fresh water tank, and even poke my head underneath the Beast to see if it’s sprung some kind of leak. Nothing.
Back in the RV I’m on my knees with towels, soaking up water next to the bed. I’m totally stumped. The Beast has worn me down. Again. I stop soaking up the mess and just let my head collapse onto the bed in front of me in a confused mixture of prayer, rage and surrender and…wait, the bed. There’s storage underneath the bed, but what else? I lift the bed, remove a panel and there they are, a couple water lines running who knows where that only a contortionist could get to. One of the connections is cracked so I shut the water off to the coach and remove the 3-ft. line. Hallelujah. This I can fix. With the water off, we head North to Custer, South Dakota. I’ll deal with it when I get there.
Yet again, we figure out a way to stretch a 4-1/2 hour trip into 7+ and pull in after dark. Totally my fault this time. Along the way the boys spot a rock shop in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, so I decide to stop and turn onto the gravel road next to the store. I’ve always been fascinated with rocks, and as a kid would spend hours hunting geodes in the creek at my grandparents farm. Aiden is just like me. My little rock hound picks up rocks at every stop we make. Literally every stop. By the time this trip is over he’ll have the RV filled. And he names them. All of them. There’s Charlotte, Steven, Earl, Christina, to name a few. People names. We’re only a couple states in and we’ve had to ask him to edit his collection, or family, or at least be more selective going forward. After all, space is kinda limited here.
So I let them both pick out a few stones for their collection, because after this stop Christian is now hooked too. After a good 30 minutes or so we climb back aboard with our treasure and hit the road, but not right away, because I pulled off on a gravel road with no real plan for turning around. So I gamble. Without GPS, because Sprint. I drive a little further down the gravel road, unsure where it leads. Another gravel road leads right, so not wanting to drive further away from the highway I figure, let’s do a U-turn in this gravel road intersection of sorts, with a 40-ft. motorhome, towing a Honda CRV. I’ll just partially turn right, and then swing around, and then nope. Not at all. I’ll just get stuck right here on this road, wedged up against a stop sign. Can’t back up because I’ll ruin the tow bar, and damage the transmission in the CRV. So I climb out to hurriedly assess the situation. As I do an older gentleman in a truck pulls up and informs me I could have just kept going about a mile further…that the road turns left and loops back to the highway. Something my GPS would have told me as well, you know, if I had any other service on the planet besides Sprint.
He offers help. I politely decline, figuring it should only take a minute to unhook the tow car and get out of this mess. Problem is, the tow car is on an incline, so the tow bars are fully extended and have a lot of tension on them, which means the pins won’t come out. By now I’m sweating, and still blocking the gravel road that leads right, when another truck pulls up, this time wanting to turn. But he can’t, see, because there’s a motor home crossing the entire road…the only road that leads to his house. I break out the tools and start hammering away at the pin. Not budging. Just about frantic at this point, I apologize to the guy again and head back to the front of the coach where I’m wedged up against the stop sign. I break out the sockets and decide to take down the stop sign to see if that gives me enough space to squeeze by. It doesn’t of course, because a 40-ft. motorhome doesn’t SQUEEZE by anything. By this time my new friend had waited long enough and decided to go off-roading in the ditch around the front of my RV, and the stop sign in the weeds, because he CAN squeeze by. Just barely. With him gone I’m not as anxious, and head back to the tow car and go to work on the pin again. Finally one side gives after I physically rock the car back and forth and do some more hammering on the pin. Aimee backs the tow car away, and I climb back inside the Beast a sweaty, dusty, dirty mess, with a nasty strain in my lower back.
A couple miles down the dirt road, where it once again meets the highway, I climb out and hook the tow car back up to the Beast. When I get back in Aiden is sitting all quiet, but Christian can hardly contain himself and is ready to roll on his brother.
“Do you know what Aiden did?”
“Um, no. Do I want to know?”
And then I meet “Boston”, the softball-sized boulder Aiden somehow managed to sneak on board while I was wrestling with the tow car.
These are no longer little rocks and pebbles. These are full-on landscaping stones. How did I not see this take place?
Too hot, tired and sore to even react, I just smile at Boston and climb back in the driver’s seat.
On to South Dakota!