Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Slapstick Connections

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

Around the clubhouse at most RV Parks, you'll hear talk of "hookups"... sometimes full, sometimes only partial. This is one of those words that's used by both young and old in this country, but the meaning is quite different for the two groups. Without getting into what the young mean, let me address what we old-timers mean by "hookups": having the luxury of connections to water, sewer, and electricity right there at our campsite when we park our RV. Man, having hookups is high-livin'!

During our travels we encounter what seems like an infinite variation of hookup design. Sometimes the water is waayyy over there and it takes two hoses to reach; sometimes it's on a pipe 4 feet off the ground; sometimes just 4 inches off the ground. Well here at the old RV Park in Vancouver it's actually underground -- in a little plastic vault like those used with in-ground sprinkling systems for lawns. I'm sure the reasons are good -- no old coot is going to hit it when backing in -- and it does make the park look nicer without all those PVC pipes sticking out of the ground.

But by going underground with it means you've got to get on your knees and reach waayyy down into the vault to make the connection. We normally screw a "Y" connector on the water hookup before attaching our freshwater hose. That gives us the ability to attach a second hose for other purposes if necessary... without stopping the flow of freshwater to the camper. This "Y" connector has two little ball valves so water to either hose can be turned on or off as needed.

The other day, after we'd gotten back to Vancouver, I was out making the connections to our hookups. I attached the "Y" connector to the water hookup underground. One of the "Y" connector's outlets was facing downward and the other upward. Because I'm a smart guy, I put the camper's freshwater hose on the lower connection, leaving the easier-to-get-to and upward facing outlet free if we needed it. After securing the camper's hose on the lower connection, I reached down to turn the little valve that controls that outlet... and with Dar standing right there checking my progress, opened the wrong little valve... and doused myself with a spray from the upward facing outlet. Despite feeling like one of the Three Stooges, it wasn't bad. I got it turned off after just a brief shot. Of course, Dar found this wildly funny and got a good laugh out of it.

But a little later the same afternoon, after we determined a pressure regulator was needed on the camper's hose line, I had to take the connection apart, insert the regulator, and put it back together again. This time I was by myself. I can see you laughing already... that's right, I sprayed myself again. But this time I did it right. I lost my finger grip on the little valve to the wrong outlet and by the time I found it and turned it off, a good 5 seconds or so passed along with nearly all my pride and self-confidence. I was soaked to the skin... water dripping from me like I'd just emerged from a swimming pool. There was a wet trail left behind as I found my way into the camper to dry off.

Dar laughed and laughed. I think I may have found a new career -- making people happy!