american history (or, copious amounts of disgusting)

Been an awesome few days since my last post.

Our stops at Gettysburg, Washington D.C., and colonial Williamsburg were all successful – even if in varying degrees. In order, I’d say we enjoyed Williamsburg foremost, with D.C. second and Gettysburg bringing up the rear.

Our time at Gettysburg wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind, but was still enjoyable. We spent the visit entirely in the visitor center / museum, and didn’t have enough time to do any of the self-guided driving tour of the actual battlefield sites. I was a little bummed, but then again when sandwiched between driving the RV and driving the RV, driving the RV isn’t exactly how I want to spend my “off” days. I sort of wish I’d done more research on the battlefield, I’d have known that it’s not really “centralized” at all and you have to drive around to see the various monuments and such. I could’ve then maybe chosen another site, Antietam perhaps, where we could have spent more time outside the car and still been able to see things close-up. That’s not to say that the museum at Gettysburg wasn’t cool; it really was – but adult-cool, not so kid-cool. Keaton, however, was able to earn her third National Park Service “junior ranger” certificate & badge there – so she walked away more than happy.

We had an entire day in D.C., which, as a good friend told me, isn’t a drop in the bucket to how much time you could spend touring that amazing city. What’s more, the heat on our chosen day was pretty much unberable by noon. We started out with a walking-tour map I’d printed from the web and got about half an hour into things before it became readily apparent that the kids (and the adults, I suppose) would surely die if we tried to complete the whole self-guided route that day. So we hopped on a “jump-on, jump-off” tour bus and rode around that way. Even still, the heat made it hard to stay long enough in any one place and therefore hard to gain the right appreciation for each spot we stopped at. Keaton and Cohen were both troopers, but in the end we only lasted about five hours before catching the train back to my aunt and uncle’s place.

Depsite the heat wave, we did get to see most of what I’d wanted to – even if it was more a series of photo-ops instead of the sort of “soak-it-in” kind of thing I had in mind. And we got to spend some time with my aunt, uncle, and cousin – all of whom I’d not seen in years and were met for the first time by our kids. I think Keaton enjoyed her time at their place, tucked away in a gorgeous wooded area of Virginia, more than she did our hot-coal-walk in the nation’s capital. And that’s OK with me; I want her to have a good time on the trip and it’s not for me to determine how that happens. I’d be lying anyway if I said that I didn’t think of their nice cool house once or twice atop the Lincoln Memorial myself.

Williamsburg, you might not know, wasn’t even a planned stop on our route. But after rolling into the sweltering southern east coast June weather we decided it might be a good idea to forgo the intended driving tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway (where the days would be spent winding along at 30MPH getting in-and-out of the vehicle and the nights would be hookup-less and therefore deprived of air conditioning unless we ran the generator) and instead head to Williamsburg (where we’d have full electric hookup and could run the AC to our hearts’ content). The re-route was a big success. We were able to stay cool and spend an entire day bumming around the 17th century streets. I think I enjoyed it as much as Keaton did, as it spoke to my inner caveman/pioneer.

I also had my first major “uh-oh” of the RV lifestyle as we readied to leave the Williamsburg campground. As usual I had planned to dump the black and grey tanks before departing. This is surely the worst job of RVing. It’s smelly, nasty, and no fun at all. There is almost zero chance you will not get liquid waste on your hands as you do it. No, there is… there’s zero chance. After this task you are befouled. Anyway, as much as I don’t like it I’ve become proficient at it. So you might imagine my horror when I’d attached the hose to the site’s sewer line and to the RV, pulled the black water tank release valve, watched the hose get thick with “stuff,” and then realized nothing else was happening.

I shut off the valves immediately; the entire length of the hose was filled, heavy and bulging, but not draining at all into the sewer. I couldn’t pull it without its contents spilling all over the campsite, and I couldn’t seem to will the drainpipe to start working either. In the end it took two campground employees about an hour to clear a pile of mud and rocks (very, very nasty mud and rocks) from the sewer’s trap elbow before I could drain the hose (and tanks). How did we three get the hose out to work on the clogged drain? Yeah we just yanked it out and minimized the spillage as much as possible. The whole ordeal involved a breaker bar, a fishtape, a ShopVac, a hose with an angioplasty-style balloon and high-pressure nozzle, and copious amounts of disgusting. Yuck.

You can check out some highlights of all the aforementioned (well, aside from the sewer incident, which, in retrospect, would’ve made good film) in Keaton’s latest video, which will be posted here as soon as I wing enough bits and bytes through the air from this moving RV to YouTube central.

Until later!

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