Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Busted At The Campground!

My wife Marie, who is an excellent story-teller, told one of our Airstream stories at dinner last night at The Lucky Lab, and it just cracked me up. Thought I would have a go at it. First, a bit of Airstream background.

In 1964, (our Airstream is a "64") and earlier, even later, Airstreams and other older travel trailers had only one dirty water holding tank, a "black water" tank, and, well, you know what that is. Kitchen water, however, was allowed to just spill onto the ground. It was only later that camping and campground regulations were upgraded such that kitchen water or "gray water" (from showering and hand washing too) was required to be held in the trailer for proper disposal. Now ya tell me.

So we buy our beater Airstream, spend a summer and a small fortune fixin' it up, and one weekend at the end of last summer, we go to a local campground, Blaine, Marie, the pups and I, to try it out, at Champoeg Campground, about 25 miles from home.

So I hook it all up the best I know how, incoming water, electricity, get the hot water heater fired up on the propane line, etc. But since the trailer is not equipped to hold the gray water, and I am an unaware novice, well, it's gonna just go on the ground, I guess, duh.

So we begin our stay, watched a dvd on my laptop, Marie's mom drops by, we take a hike, the dogs are in sniff heaven, we're all havin' a blast. Marie makes spaghetti and meatballs, a nice salad, in our galley, sporting her pink and lime green outfit she bought to go with the trailer.

Later that night, I go outside to adjust the Airstream shaped Christmas style lights I have strung on our awning. I walk behind the trailer for a sec, and see all these carrot and celery chunks lying on the ground behind our trailer in this nice clean park, and I think, uh, maybe I need to do a bit more research on this, this doesn't seem right. At that very moment, I see a park official, who looks like a Mountie, or that park ranger in Yogi Bear cartoons, walking toward me with his clipboard. "Sir", he says, "we have had a complaint that you are dumping gray water onto the ground at this location." I go, "gulp, er, well, yes, I guess we have", sheepishly, steeped in naivete, standing there by the carrot chunks. He replies,"well, it's against the park rules and there is a big fine for this", eyeballing the chunks. I apologize, and make my learning curve plea. He chastises,"Well, I will let you off with a warning this time, but we are talking a big no-no here, sir, we won't see any more of this from this trailer at this location, sir, is that correct, sir?" Of course I agree, and he gets back in his pick- up and takes off. So I enter the trailer and tell Marie. We are mortified and laughing at the same time.

I have figured out how to handle the disposal of gray water correctly since then, given that our Vintage Airstream is not equipped to handle gray water by today's standards. One must purchase and take along a portable "blue tote" tank for proper gray water collection.

We like to inflate the story, make it sound like we were busted bad by Campground security. I think I'll change the ranger's pick-up to a Hummer next time I tell it.

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Pacific Beach, Washington, United States