Tag Archives: rinse water

Ya don’ hafta chill the beer

This morning, at 35 F degrees, is our seventh chilly morning yet the warmest. Our nine day stay in Ketchum has been remarkable for several things and outstanding among these is the weather. Sun Valley and Ketchum are beautiful, yes, but pretty darned chilly too. Our standard operating temperature has decreased to the same winter standard we maintained in our sticks and bricks home. A couple of nights ago we were playing cards in our aluminum home and thinking, “68 F feels pretty warm”.

It has rained on us only once, and later the same night we listened to the soft luffing sound of snow landing on our roof. The days have all warmed nicely, the sun has shone brightly, and we’ve enjoyed the nice weather. We’ve stopped our mutinous rumblings about pulling stakes early, hitching the wagon, and heading for Phoenix. Definitely we are looking forward to warm weather but we’ve adapted to this cool autumn setting.

You might be asking, “What about the Jazz Festival? Aren’t they in Ketchum and Sun Valley to attend a jazz festival? Wow! The music is soooooo good, the bands are great, the performances have all been outstanding. We’ve attended one other music fest, the Galax Fiddlers Convention. The Fiddlers Convention sucked us in quickly, giving us a feel of connection with the musicians and their music. Same thing in Sun Valley, maybe more so.

What’s so good about the music at the Sun Valley Jazz Festival? First, the great majority of the music is pre-1950s. The bands are playing compositions from Fats Waller, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, and many many others. Second, many of the best jazz musicians performed here this week.

We’ve listened to, and watched, jazz bands from The Netherlands, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, California, and Idaho. Today, the last day of the event, we must rank the bands on our eval forms. This is tough but fortunately they allow us to have more than one favorite band.

It might be even tougher if they required us to force-rank the musicians. There are so many outstanding ones on each instrument. We think we heard the best couple of drummers (John Gillick, Danny Coots), several incredible clarinetists (Bob Draga, Louis Ford, Joe Midiri), amazing trumpeters (Brian Casserly, Flip Oakes, Bria Skonberg, and too many others to name), and many other fine musicians and singers.

The only thing to do is to go again. We’ll be in Arizona next month and so will the Jazz Festival in Chandler — is that near us? We’ll be finding out soon. We are also making tentative plans for Mammoth Lakes and Sun Valley for 2010. Who knows, maybe they will be as great as this was?

Our dry-camping experience has increased nicely with the past ten days. We stayed in Camping World’s lot the night before we arrived here. That night and tonight total eleven nights and our batteries and tanks are in great shape for more days yet.

We started with 40 gallons fresh water, and we still have over ten gallons remaining. Our rinse water tank registers empty, because we only have washed and rinsed some pans and utensils, and have used paper plates. We have showered daily at the ski lodges’ excellent facilities instead of using our hot water and rinse water tank. Our black water tank registers half-full after ten days.

Finally, our batteries have restored daily from solar power. We have run the generator once, for two hours, in the past five days and only for a couple of hours the nights before that. Our solar panels have been working great in maintaining our batteries. We haven’t had much extra power for things like charging the laptops or iPod. Instead we have plugged in the rechargeables while the generator is running and gotten everything charged at once.

We’re encouraged by this dry-camping experience because we enjoyed these good results in very cool temperatures. Remember, our byline is Chasing 75 Degrees. We could have, and considered it, left when we found out how cool it was to be. Instead we decided this would be a great adventure. It has been. And we have learned we can do much better much longer than we thought. We’ll stretch further another time, to find our limits on dry camping.

Tomorrow we head for Mesa, Az. We have only fourteen days to get there — we’ll just have to stop along the way and see what we can see. And we’ll need to put the beer in the cooler when we’re there. But until then the beer is cool enough sitting in the carton on the floor. Ya don’ hafta chill it in Sun Valley in October.

See ya down the road!

Jim and Debbie
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©2009 Dreamstreamr

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How many utensils did you dump into the toilet?

Someone I met tonight told us the story of his missing fork, and said I could share it if I didn’t name him. With a little background and explanation by me, here’s what happened:

When RVers attend rallies they might spend several weeks in limited hook-up settings. Drinking and washing water runs in white “potable water” hoses, splitting off in a wye at each trailer down a line as long as fifteen or twenty trailers. The trailers might have full-service electricity, enough to run the lighting, radios, and even microwaves and air conditioners if they have these too.

What is most often missing in large rallies is a sewer hook-up to allow frequent emptying of the trailers’ rinse water and black (sewage) water tanks. The rally organizers typically provide a contract service to pump out the waste tanks (rinse and black) at some interval, like every four days.

Some RVers might optimize their waste tanks capacity by disposing of the used dish water into their toilet, because the black tank seems to last longer than the rinse tank. It seems some people prefer using a lot of water for their showers, and this can fill the rinse tank in only a few days.

Used dish water is likely to become cloudy from soap and from washing plates and pans and utensils. We’re all a bunch of experienced RVers, we’re seasoned travelers and we share many good habits learned from repetitive motions of RVing. Right.

Dishes are washed and rinsed. A certain RVer takes the dish pan from the sink and walks to his trailer’s washroom. He steps on the toilet pedal to open the flush valve and empties the dish pan contents into the toilet bowl. And watches a fork slide cleanly into the waste tank.

What’s the chance of this happening? Every previous time, he poured the contents of the dish pan into the toilet bowl before depressing the toilet flush pedal. And if someone wanted a utensil to pour through the small flush opening (3″ diameter?) you know the utensil would, most times, turn crosswise and refuse to go down the drain.

Not this time. The fork went right down the drain and into the black water tank. Yep, the sewage tank. And no, there’s no easy way to reach in and fish something out. We’ve read horror stories (at least we thought so of them) of children’s toothbrushes, soothers, or toy soldiers going off to do battle in the wasteland under the toilet. And the RVer borrows bore inspection cameras and rigs retrieval wires and recites incantations over the toilet, hoping the extraneous items will all leave the tank without clogging the dump valve.

You see, if you clog the dump valve then you have messed up the whole works. It is roughly analagous to losing the drain valve on your car’s radiator — all the radiator coolant just drains onto the pavement. And the coolant is a dangerous pollutant, not something we should allow to drain uncontrolled from our vehicles.

So, how will it work out if we get a plastic toy figurine or, say, a fork, stuck in the black water waste tank’s dump valve? I’ll just start this and let your imagination color it in for you. Every time anyone uses and flushes the RV’s toilet, the contents will rush downward into the waste tank and then. . .

Okay, back to the story. He ingeniously located a magnet in his toolbox, attached something to it so he could go fishing with it. He lowered this through the toilet’s flush valve and into the waste tank. And he pulled a fork up from the depths of his waste tank! Boy, is he glad it wasn’t a plastic fork?

I asked him if he is sure there was only one fork?

No water or electricity? How primitive is it?

Saturday’s post about dry camping was unintentionally misleading. And we promptly received feedback from some of you faithful readers about this. It seems I may have provided an overly stark description of the conditions when dry camping. But, in fact, there isn’t much primitive to it. After all, we are living in a fully self-contained and very capable recreational vehicle. We aren’t roughing it, even these past seven days. As Debbie reminded me at supper this evening, even dry camping in our Airstream is still pretty luxurious.

In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I’m going to detail better what I meant when I talked Saturday about our week of dry camping. Here’s an excerpt from Saturday’s post:
“This has been easy camping, although not far different from what we usually would do. We can’t use the microwave. We use a small portable inverter to convert 12vdc to 110vac for someone’s curling iron and to recharge the laptop. And we can watch television if we want, again using the same 150 watt inverter. Everything else is battery-powered. After completing five and starting the sixth day we have remaining 10 gallons fresh water (we have used 29 gallons). We have 1/2 tank each in black water and rinse water. Our batteries are fully charged. It seems we could go at least another two days at the current rate of water usage.”

Okay, so what did I leave out? Actually, I left a lot to the imagination. I ignored a pretty basic rule of writing, where the writer remembers who is reading the story. A couple of you told us we sound as though we might not have water enough to provide bathing and cooking, for example. And some of you wondered what does the battery power provide, different from when we are connected to electricity? We can see how yesterday’s post left out some really important details. The problem is this: we forget we aren’t writing to ourselves. Said another way, I understand exactly what I meant but I am not writing well if I don’t help all of you understand what I want you to hear.

I’m going to take another pass at describing the end of our week of dry camping starting first about our water consumption. At the end of the week we had used an average of five gallons daily of fresh water for drinking, cooking, cleaning up, and flushing our toilet. We would have used more but sometimes would use the campground’s very nice washroom and showers. Our water consumption would probably have increased by at least two gallons daily if we had not used the campground’s washroom and showers. We would have used all 39 gallons of our fresh water tank in this week. We would then have pulled the trailer to a nearby drinking water faucet, connected our hose to the threaded faucet and refilled our 39 gallon fresh water tank.

The amount of the trailer’s stored fresh water we consume pretty directly impacts the rate at which we fill the toilet’s waste tank, called the black tank, and the shower’s and sinks’ waste tank, called the rinse water tank. The black tank will hold 18 gallons and the rinse tank will hold 39 gallons. Since we start with both waste tanks empty and only have 39 gallons of fresh water, we won’t fill both waste tanks at once. In fact, at the end of over 5 days we had poured some part of almost 30 gallons of fresh water between the black and rinse water tanks. Since their combined capacity is 57 gallons, we had filled the two waste tanks only by one-half.

Our electronic tank monitoring system displays for us the water level in the three water tanks, the fresh water and the two waste tanks. It warned us we had only one-fourth of the fresh water available (almost 10 gallons) and we had filled the two waste tanks approximately 1/2 full each. If the fresh water tank reading is accurate (we think it is, since I calibrated these not long ago) then the readings for the other two tanks make sense. The numbers work out. Sometimes things are like they seem, and it is good.

It appears we would have run out of fresh water before the waste tanks filled up. We could, in short order, hitch up the trailer to our truck and tow the trailer the several hundred feet to the water hydrant to refill the tank. Some people carry 7 gallon fresh water jugs and others carry a larger water bag (sort of like an inflatable bed or water bed) to bring a resupply of fresh water to their trailer. We haven’t had much experience dry camping and, so far, haven’t minded moving the trailer to the water source.

But if our waste tanks filled first we would tow our trailer to the dump station, empty our tanks, and return to the campsite for another five days. Some of the people in the state park carried with them a portable blue rolling tank to help manage their waste tanks. They can empty the trailer’s black or rinse water tank into these portable “honey pots” and tow the honey pot to the campground’s dump station. They can empty the honey pot, rinse the connections, and their camper will go another three or four or five days before they repeat this aromatic chore.

Okay, now a brief description of the electric side of things. We have friends who are very experienced solar charged battery managers. They contend they can use their trailer’s batteries to power anything they want pretty much all they want to. And their batteries will hold up to all this use. We haven’t enjoyed this much battery power. Our system is apparently more modest, with two heavy duty 6 volt batteries wired in series to provide the 12 volts our trailer needs. What needs this power?

Our Airstream uses battery power in several different ways. Perhaps two of the most important are the trailer’s gas detector and the refrigerator automatic control. The water heater uses battery power for its ignition and automatic controls. Our tank monitoring system needs battery power if we are going to be able to determine how much fresh water we have or how much space we have in our waste tanks. The trailer’s water pump is battery-powered, and delivers a wonderful brisk water pressure to our faucets and shower head. My ham radio uses battery power so I can listen and transmit on the amateur radio bands. Our laptops, phone, and camera batteries use the trailer’s battery power to recharge them. Did I mention I am listening to our FM stereo radio while I’m typing this? Yes, it uses the trailer’s battery power too.

Would you have guessed the trailer’s batteries can do all this? Oh! What about the trailer’s interior lighting? We have four reading lights we can aim for best reading illumination. Two are at the sofa and two are above the head of our bed. We have a dozen bright ceiling lights we use whenever we lose something under the table or on the floor somewhere, or when we are cleaning the inside of or Airstream. We have two downlights shining down onto the sofa area to help with reading or working on the laptop like I’m doing now. We have eleven lights inside our four overhead storage bins to help find stuff there and to help provide indirect lighting into our Airstream’s interior.

Our washroom has two light bulbs in its fixture, and the vanity has three bright light bulbs so someone can do the detailed work she doesn’t really need but likes to keep up. Our clothes closets each have a light fixture. And our two cargo compartments (our basements, sort of) each have a light fixture. We have downlights for the kitchen’s work surface, shining down onto our dinette, and in the range hood to illuminate the stove’s cooking surface. Our refrigerator has an interior light. And we have a light fixture outside, above our door.

A lot of lights, isn’t it? And these are all powered from the trailer’s two batteries. If we are dry camping, how long will the batteries last, with all these things drawing power from them? Not all these appliances and lights are on at the same time. Some evenings we will use only one or two lights at a time. The batteries will last anywhere from a few hours to a day or so, unless we can recharge the batteries periodically. If we cannot plug into electricity to power our trailer’s battery charger, then we have two other ways to recharge our batteries. One is the really nifty portable 1000 watt Yamaha generator we have and have needed once in four years.

The other way we can keep our batteries charged is with our two big solar panels mounted on top of our Airstream’s roof. These have kept our batteries recharged perfectly for the past week, and the solar panels do this without charging us a thing no matter how much electricity we use. The sun can shine brightly or it can shine through clouds, and the solar panels still provide a charge on our batteries. So we are never really without electricity, as long as we have either an electrical outlet, or solar power, or our generator.

But if all these battery-powered systems happened to not work, then what? We have candles, a portable battery powered lantern, and flashlights. We can draw water directly from the fresh water tank, using a small bucket we carry. And we can buy a cooler to help our food stay cold if the fridge stops working. We’ll have to eat the ice cream before it melts. And there’s the beer and wine we can drink, too.

You might see, after this explanation, we have back-ups for our back-ups, and if all those fail, we have a back-up plan. If we don’t have electrical power, we can charge the batteries with solar power. If the solar panels don’t work because of rain or too much shade from trees, we can use the generator to charge the batteries. And if the generator also won’t work and we can’t move the trailer to a sunny spot or somewhere with electricity, then we’ll just have to eat the ice cream before it melts. And if we run out of water, we’ll have to drink orange juice, and milk, and beer, or go find some water somewhere.

How did we ever get by when we were tent camping? We plan ahead. We’re versatile and flexible and creative. And things haven’t been very primitive. Like Debbie said, even dry camping in our Airstream is still luxurious.