Go Fever is a an old NASA term that meant you were so focused on meeting a launch deadline that you would overlook or dismiss warning signs of a problem. “What, the left wing of the Space Shuttle is falling off? Not a problem! The shuttle still has its right wing to fly on. Go for Launch!”
It appears that I suffered from “Go Fever” for the rest of the day. As noted before, when I was refueling in NM, I noticed the winds had picked up quite a bit but I pressed on. My schedule was to be in Black Canyon City in AZ today and dammit, no little “breeze” was going to stop me from meeting my schedule!
I had never been to a desert before let alone drive in one. That “breeze” became stronger and stronger, in time becoming gusts of 40-60 mph. We were driving directly into the winds and it was pushing Discovery all over the place. By the end of the day my arms hurt from fighting the wind trying to stay on the road. It was such a strong headwind that I burned up over $116 worth of gasoline in less than 100 miles!
Tumbleweeds were flying across the road so often like a bad video game. Some were the size of small cars unbelievably. There were dust storms just off the road that completely blocked the view of the horizon with large brown clouds. Occasionally a dust devil would cross our path swirling brown and moving fast. Whenever we would pass through one, the RV would lurch from side to side and you would hear the gritty sand blast the windshield.
We were hearing on the CB radio about a large accident just south of Phoenix involving 35 cars with multiple injuries and deaths due to the dust storms cutting visibility to zero. We started hearing reports of this about 4 hours before reaching the area. Once we reached the area, the lane on our side of the highway was clear, but we could see the burned out tractor trailers and cars on the other side. There were numerous vehicles still on the interstate and we heard on the radio at least 6 deaths. What a shame with it being only 3 days before X-mas.
By the time we reached the Black Canyon City KOA campsite I had already violated my first rule by driving at night. What was supposed to be a 4-6 hour trip that day had turned into a 10 hour day. I was tired, grouchy, and anxious to get parked and down for the night.
The sign at arrival pointed us down some dark path to “check in.” There was no moon and it was hard to tell where the road was and the desert. I asked Gypsy to take the flashlight and walk ahead to scout out the direction where we were supposed to go. She got as far as headlight range and came back informing me she wasn’t going to walk any further “out there.” Cussing, I grabbed the flashlight and started to walk the road trying find out where it was going to take us. Hmmm…she was right. It sure was dark and spooky out here. The night just seemed to swallow up the flashlight allowing only about 5 feet of visibility. I walked apprehensively for about 50 yards until I came to the check in area for the campsite. I found my way back to Discovery and drove her there always watching to ensure we didn’t leave the dirt road. Once I picked up the check in papers (the office was closed) I had to walk to find the campsite. After a bit of searching around in the dark I found the site, returned to Discovery, and took her to her new tempory home.
We had made it safely despite my stubbornness and stupidity. But, fate has a way of rewarding fools such as myself with one final episode. This is where I violated Rule #2: Dont’ set up camp in the dark.
There is a scene in the movie RV with Robin Williams (a parting gift from my co-workers) where Robin is going to make his first tank dump and gets advice from a bunch of morons and has a large audience sitting in lawn chairs to witness the event. Though I had no advice from morons (my own actions were moronic enough), and a audience of only one (Gypsy), I still achieved Robin Williams greatness.
We have of course used the toilet and sink during our travel today and I always made a tank dump when we first hooked up at our campsite. When I first got Discovery I had discovered the previous owner had always left a Phillips screwdriver on board within easy reach. When you travel, the vehicle bounces and vibrates so much that screws are always coming undone and you are always screwing them back in. And of course, I forgot to check the screws holding the dump tank hose.
I hooked one end of the hose into the receptacle (the other end is always hooked up to the tank), and pulled the handle to release the first tank. You always dump the black water or sewage first, then flush the remainder down with the grey water (sink and shower water) next. I pulled the sewage handle and that is when fate handed me my reward for having “Go Fever.”
The hose popped off and I was immediately bathed in raw sewage. I saw things that I haven’t seen since I flushed them down the toilet and was not happy at the reunion. I stood there in stunned amazement while my lower legs and feet indulged in their aromatic shower. A few seconds later I overcame my surprise and shut the valve. Gypsy by that time was in a sitting position upwind from me laughing hysterically. I swear I could hear Commander Merlin laughing from inside the RV.
I reattached the hose, dumped what was left in the tanks, and closed the hatch. I finished hooking up the power and water to Discovery and then proceeded to strip outside the door before entering and taking a long hot shower. Gypsy got over her hysterical laughter long enough to bag my clothes, and left them outside so I could wash them the next day.
I think I would have rather have flown on a one winged shuttle.