It is both mandatory and prudent to prepare for any trip of duration from the primary Domicile. Vacationing now pivots around excursions in my aircraft-like 1966 vintage Airstream, 26 feet of comfort and efficiency. Spending a few days camping is a dream, but, like all things, there comes a price for all luxury.




Trailers, unlike hotel rooms, don't seem to clean themselves and need an eye kept on water, propane and sewage levels, lest a restful outing becomes a cold, dry trip to a full outhouse. We had a few days away in mind, so I took our Airstream named Lucy to a gas station where I could get some gas, drain the sewage and fill the propane tanks, knowing already that the water tank was full and the batteries charged. We also had five squeaky toys for our dog, Spooky, so all bases seemed covered.




After filling up with gas, I moved Lucy over to the septic dump and, after only five tries, got it close enough to reach the septic intake. This done, I pulled on some latex gloves and began to lay out the drainage line which was coiled like a python within the rear bumper assembly. It was just long enough so, after connecting to Lucy's tank, all I had to do was to open a valve.




It was then that I noticed a bus conversion and two RV's waiting in line for me to finish the operation. Each owner was decked out in mechanic's overalls, rubber boots, rubber gloves, eye protectors and a watch, which was checked about every 15 seconds. The three of them stood together, as veterans of the dump, steeped in every tiny detail that makes for a fast and efficient effort. I, on the other hand, had not performed this ritual for about a year and did not react to their huffs, puffs, howls and chuckles as I struggled to remember the correct order of things.




I bet you thought that my septic hose was a single long piece of collapsible tubing. It should have been, but due to a previous accident when I attempted to pull away while connected to the septic, my hose split into two pieces and I hurriedly made a repair that, apparently, needed more attention. I would have bet that the hose would have stayed together, so you can imagine my surprise when it came apart just after the valve had been opened and the hose full to the brim. If you have every seen an open hose under pressure wiggle and shoot, you can appreciate the depth of my situation. The three senior septic commanders were bent over howling and held on to each other, lest one might fall spitting in laughter.




Eventually I accomplished the dump and after removing my latex gloves, I pulled forward for propane. In most RV's the propane attendant simply hooks up to the attached tank and pumps it full in a few seconds, then shuts down the pump, puts the cap back on the tank and as many in Oregon say: "You're good to go."




My propane tanks are located on the tow bar and must be physically removed and must be delivered to the attendant. You probably remember that propane threads are reversed. I forgot. I looked back and the other three RV's also needed propane so they inched forward until you couldn't slip a winning lottery ticket between bumpers. As I carried a propane tank around Ricky, the tow vehicle, I swaggered like Popeye after a can of spinach, not wanting to appear tentative, as the muscular propane boy watched with disinterest. I soon longed to get home to an ice pack as a result of that exhibition of strength made mandatory, as my attendant took a cell call from his girlfriend.




When I eventually returned home my wife, Annette, asked how things went. I pondered the events and then stated: "I feel a little in the dumps, but on the buoyant side, I'm full of gas."




Lance was last seen trying to sweep the leaves off of Lucy in a driving rain. If you feel flush you may warm his day by sending digital duct tape to lance@journalist.com.