After leaving the remnants of the typhoon that left California’s Santa Cruz area soggy and wet, we slogged our way through our muddy site, packed up, and headed east. Still in California come evening, we camped in the Mojave Desert. It was beautiful. The stars were amazing. Since we got in late, Shawn decided we didn’t really need to hook up the “dump hose”. I held the flashlight as he plugged in the electricity and the water hose. Huge spiders were holding court at the hook-up sites and we wanted to leave them be. All along our trip, we’d been discussing flora and fauna and how we didn’t know what was poisonous and what wasn’t. I know Shawn wanted to put a little fear into me as I am often picking and pressing plants for my herbarium when we travel. Not so fond of spiders and snakes though.
Now, in order for this story to unfold with the proper amount of anticipation on your part, you’ll need to know that in our 1972 Shasta, the holding tank for gray water was optional. Gray water, for those of you not versed in camping or plumbing, is the term used for the water that goes down the sink drain. It isn’t pure water from the drain, but it isn’t all that bad either, mostly it was hand-washing water. Oh, and some tooth-brushing water also. You’ll remember that because of the late hour and the spiders holding court at the hook-up, Shawn had decided not to hook up the dump hose and you’re asking yourself where was the gray water going?
Was it just dribbling out onto the ground? No, but it just sits in a pipe until the pipe is full and then....
We knew we didn’t have a holding tank for gray water, it’s just that you get brain sedated sometimes when you’re tired, hungry, sleepy. It could happen to anybody, but it usually happens to Shawn. It appears that when you run water in the sink, too often and too long, the pipe fills up and then backs up into the shower stall which is also where you’ll find the toilet. Before you get too grossed out, let me assure you that it is ONLY gray water. I know this part by heart because I had to keep reassuring Shawn about it being ONLY gray water, in the middle of the night. This, after a mid-night trip to the “bathroom” wearing his sheepskin slippers from L. L. Bean. Same slippers, I might add, that caused his trip and dive into the corner of our kitchen cabinets last winter - splitting his lip, loosening his lower teeth and giving cause to add two more crowns to his already growing collection of precious and semiprecious tooth coverings.
Would it be anti-climatic to say that he stepped directly into the shower/toilet room - both feet, in the dark, so he wouldn’t wake me?
The next scene involves a disgusted man, shrieking like he has acid on his feet, running outside to hook up the hose, disregarding the spiders holding court, and waking up the sleeping wife who has no idea what is going on. I caught up really, really fast and did my wifely thing, disinfecting the shower (ONLY gray water, that emptied in one big whoosh after the pipe was connected), instructing the husband to put his slippers outside, and adding that he could wash his feet before coming back to bed. Also, every once in a while, repeating “It’s ONLY gray water”, to the shivering lump laying beside me.
The morning came early, and warm already, we made quick work of packing up. We put the slippers in a plastic bag and took them with us. More on the soaked in gray water, L.L. Bean sheepskin slippers later.....