David slays Goliath
I know that smell. It has followed me everywhere I have traveled, lived and have been in my 51 years of life. It’s poop! Yep, I’ll coat it with whatever you may need so that you can inhale what this story is going to be about. This is about life in an RV and the …. stool, waste, crap, cah-cah, shitola, feces, gas, excrement, and the mighty wafts of essence that go along with it.
It started about two months after we moved from our 19 ft turtle shell into our mansion of a rolling home; a 35′ fifth wheel with three slide outs. At first I just thought, “Wow, she could have at least turned on the fan before she opened the door to the bathroom”. I’m sure there were many silent, “Good grief David! Did we both eat the same meal last night?” as the silent puff of poo began it’s deadly rampage through our neat and tidy home. We danced around the awkwardness of the aroma many times until one day when we both walked in from the outside, got nose blasted and no one had flushed. We didn’t even have a dog to blame.
This smelly dance floor is actually a place where we have had many punches on our dance card before. Some of my favorite tangos with poo were back in Butterfly Hollow (surprise surprise). There are many dung tales to tell here, but I’ll save the best for later ramblings. The first was the Christmas of 2000. It took us four years up to this point of restoring this 1899 farmhouse and finally we were going to have a holiday dinner in our home-place. We weren’t living in her yet, but it was close enough. We had family, friends and friends of friends come and we had all the trimmings. The house was still a good 4-5 months from being finished. No doors…. just curtains. No hardwood flooring, just plywood, but there was a tree next to the fireplace and the spirit of Christmas was dangling on every nail we had pounded.
We had dinner, sang songs in front of the fire, shared gifts, laughed and mingled until someone (still unknown) went behind one of the curtains to the upstairs bathroom and made a deposit. A few moments later the winter drafts in the farmhouse carried the undelicious odor from the leaking seal beneath the commode across the noses of all the carolers in our living room. A few coughs and a lit candle or two later and the celebration continued….. until the next flush. Truly a holiday to remember.
So now that we understood that this RV stench coming from the bowels of hell was not actually coming from a flush, dog or something that sneaked out of one of us, I put my investigation hat on. I pulled out everything from underneath the camper and opened the side walls. I put my nose to every pipe and made Sharon flush. I’d sniff and somehow hold my breath at the same time. Nothing major, but still just a tiny waft of odor. So inconclusive, we brought it to a repair shop and they said that it must be a faulty black tank and we had it replaced. We stroll on happy in the thought that our poo war was over for good but… a few weeks later the bomb dropped again.
“Holy Crap!” I thought to myself as I pulled everything from the basement out again and looked at the tangle of pipes, wires and hoses. “It’s got to be a leak from one of black tank pipes”. So I bought some Great Stuff and that black Flex Seal stuff and started coating everything. It wasn’t pretty and I really should have been a little more sparse in my coating, but I was a crazy man on a mission. “This CHIT has got to stop and I’m going to fix ….. wait my hand is now stuck to the water pipe…. um SHARON CAN YOU BRING DOWN THE PAINT THINNER!!!!!” The walls go back and I’m feeling good. Our next couple months go by with no problems, though we were camping in full hook up campgrounds, but I still felt like, “Yep I’m Mr. Fixit.”
A month or so later and BAM! – nose assault – there it is. I replace the stink vent on top with one of those fancy ones that swivel in the wind. I re-coat the pipes in the basement (I don’t glue myself this time) I pull the underpinning from below the camper and make sure there isn’t a leak where the fresh water flush comes in. I sniff. I sniff. A month or so later and it slaps us in the schnoz again and I declare war. I pull up the toilet and put down a fresh mount and new caulking. Poop is still in the air. I trace all the lines and triple coat every seal with the flex seal goo. I kick the camper tires in frustration as Sharon lights some lovely lavender incense when company arrives trying to mask the grey cloud of crap.
Finally the day comes and I can take it no more. I pull up the toilet…AGAIN! I look at the wall behind it and declare that the only piece of this poop puzzle that I haven’t seen, sniffed or coated in a gooey seal has to be behind this plank. I yank, I tug, and was even ready to grab the chain saw and start cutting when the wall gave way. AND THERE IT WAS!
My guess is that a screw or nail had went into the vent pipe at some point during the building of our Happy (smelly) Place and over time that spot weakened and cracked. By the time we found it, it was a hole in our stink vent the size of a silver dollar. It was the ember of our essence. It was the puff of our poo.
We put the waft out five seconds later and at a cost of $.10… with a wrap of Gorilla tape around the pipe. Now months later and company is about to stop over. Sharon lights an incense of lavender and our eyes meet. She smiles and moves on to hors d’voevre’s knowing that her David has slayed Goliath.