|Our camp site.|
None of the sites had a sewer connection, but there was a dump station near the entrance and we had both water and electric connections, which was not true for all of the spaces. So, for a couple of days, we considered ourselves reasonably well-off.
|Hensley Lake (or what's left of it)|
The evening after we arrived we decided to take the back roads up to Coarsegold and Oakhurst. County Road 400 covered the 17 mile distance in only 35 miles of twists and turns. It was typical California with scrub oaks every 40 or 50 feet and tinder-dry grass filling in the in-between spaces. We intended to visit a microbrewery to try some local brew but every seat in the place was taken when we walked in and nobody appeared to be leaving so we turned around and marched out again. For dinner we went to a BBQ joint at the south end of Oakhurst.
|An ersatz train hides a 30 foot BBQ|
This morning we packed up and headed out to continue our journey. Since we had no sewer connection in Tehachapi either, we were now carrying four days worth of waste water and definitely needed to stop at the dump on the way out. We have always done this the traditional way using a 3 inch diameter flexible plastic sewer line and gravity drainage. But this rig has something special, an electric macerator and pump. This is a device that is supposed to grind up your solid wastes into a liquid slurry so you can pump it out through a long, flexible, 1 inch hose which is supposed to be much easier and allow you to dump uphill if needed. We had never tried this so we decided it was about time.
We pulled into the dump station and up to the first drain, then got out and opened up the utility bay door. We unwound the small drain hose and dragged it over to the drain opening, only to discover that it was locked. No problem. There was another drain 20 feet further along and the hose would stretch about 30 or 35 feet so we just stretched it out and put it in the drain opening for the other dump station. We hooked up the macerator pump to the sewer connection in the RV bay, turned on the switch and opened up the drain valve. The macerator motor hummed away gaily and sewage started draining through the hose from our black water tank. For about 20 seconds. Then it stopped.
Apparently our slurry was not slushy enough and the hose had become hopelessly plugged. So now there we were with the hose from the macerator filled with raw sewage and no way to empty it out. This hose is a small enough diameter that you cannot get the fluid to drain even from the segment below the blockage. It is like a straw with your finger held over the end of it.
So far, everything was still contained but we had no way to escape without a major sewage disaster. I finally closed the black tank valve and disconnected the macerator which immediately dumped a couple of pints of raw sewage, one of them onto the ground and the other into our utility bay. By and large, this really didn't solve our problems. We still had a hose full of nastiness we had no good way to deal with. I finally took out my Swiss Army knife and cut the hose where it connected to the useless machine. Now I could hold it up and seperate it from the rig but the material inside the hose still wasn't going anywhere. Unless I lowered the cut end of the hose too much in which case it would squirt little jets of liquid feces. On Vicki's jacket sleeve as it turned out. I was getting more popular by the minute. Finally, I took the flush hose from the dump site, pressed up against the end of the macerator hose and had Vicki turn on the water. This finally produced enough pressure to dislodge the blockage and we were able to drain the hose out.
I immediately dumped the offending hose in the nearest trashcan. The macerator motor is still bolted to the bottom of the utility bay but it won't be as soon as I can get some tools out to work on it since we are certainly never going to use it again and it is just taking up space. We hosed out the Bay with large volumes of water and hosed down all of the places where the sewage had spilled on the ground. This created a small sewage lake around the locked drain opening but we discovered that by standing on the handle we could get the cover to open just enough to allow a trickle of drainage and over the course of about 20 min. were able to drain away the sewage and get the area reasonably clean again. We then pulled forward to the other dump station, hooked up our old three-inch sewer hose and finished draining our tanks the old-fashioned way, using the miracle of gravity. So much for new technology.