Grey Tanks Black Tanks

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It was now the last week of July 2018. The time had come to leave everything we called home for the last 6 ½ years. We planned to leave Vancouver Island and not look back. The first leg of our BC tour would start with a ferry ride to Vancouver. We wanted to catch the 9 am sailing. There was just one problem. Our black tank was blocked.

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RV life is not just about living in a smaller space; it’s about managing waste systems. We now had grey tanks and a black tank to empty. We had to watch what went into the tanks. I couldn’t do my deep thinking in the shower anymore. I had to train myself to turn off the water while I shampooed to conserve the hot water for everything else.

Grey tanks hold the water from the shower and the kitchen and bathroom sinks. The black tank holds solids and such. To realize that this tank, reading full, was blocked and not draining tested our problem-solving skills.

We had no reason to doubt the readings on the gauge. More like we had no experience to tell us that the readings on this gauge are never accurate. This was the first time we had used the grey and black tanks for two weeks consecutively. We panicked. If the black tank isn’t draining, and we’re going to a campground where there aren’t any services, a provincial park where we have to use a sani-dump, a site where there is no water to flush out the tank, how are we going to unblock it? We Googled solutions, but we had a ferry to catch and family to meet up with in E.C. Manning Provincial Park. We hoped road bumps and travel would loosen up the blockage.

After driving past Hope, BC, on the Crowsnest Highway #3, we entered a no cell service area. We weren’t sure which campground in Manning Park we were going to meet up with family. No reservations were made. The plan had been whoever got there first would secure two sites. But how would we communicate without cell phone coverage? There was more than one campground in the Manning Park area. This was our next test. If there had been a stress gauge on us, we would have been lit up like Christmas.

We spent the last week of July touring along the bottom of the province, from camping at Coldspring within E.C. Manning Provincial Park, kayaking at neighbouring Lightning Lake, and traveling east towards Gladstone Provincial Park where we stayed at Christina Lake. We filled our fresh water tank with potable water from the day use area at Lightning Lake - Coldspring had a boil advisory - and we happily discovered our black tank wasn’t blocked. There must have been something on the sensor giving us a false reading. Yes, nothing had drained from the tank that morning we left the island, but it had been drained the day before. The gauge made us believe there was more in there than there was.

  • Don’t give up when facing adversity. Jamie and I are a team, and I rely on him as much as he relies on me. Between the two of us, we’ve navigated our way out of every problem we’ve had. That’s our strategy: teamwork.

  • Don’t freak out! Stress is temporary. Stay focused and think creatively. We decided to wait and see, and there was a collective sigh of relief once we saw the black tank flowing again.

  • You’re not the problem, the problem is the problem. Big picture thinking helps you remove yourself from the situation and look objectively at solutions. We kept driving until we received a text from our family telling us they had set up in Coldspring Campground. We were able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon unplugged and worry free.

Janet KittoComment