This weekend, we were surrounded by several large groups of people who had encamped for the maximum time allowed–families with children, pets, friends, and visiting relatives, which meant we had to witness more than our fair share of dysfunction. Their shouted expletives, screeching voices, and excruciating karaoke punctuated an otherwise peaceful experience.
We arrived in plenty of time to replace our nylon water heater drain plug, which had started to leak. Because nylon plugs are soft and easily damaged, they need to be replaced with fresh ones every time they are removed. We had been reusing our plug for about seven years, so it was well past its prime.
Unbeknownst to us, the plug had become fragile over time, so the head broke off when we tried to remove it, leaving us the considerable hassle of extracting the remains of the plug without damaging the aluminum threads of the drain hole. Cliff suggested calling our mobile RV repair technician, but Jon didn’t want to pay the $85 service fee. So he used an ice pick and a box cutter for more than an hour to carve out an area of the old plug to finally remove it from the drain hole.
The other challenge to replacing a drain plug was that it’s hard to get to. The genius who engineered the water heater had obviously never had to replace the drain plug, otherwise a few simple adjustments would have been made to avoid the need for a special tool to access the plug. We tried using an adjustable wrench, but it didn’t reach the plug very well and Jon ended up scraping his hands on the sharp edges of the vent above. We had the proper socket and ratchet wrench, but we lacked the necessary extension, so it wasn’t a viable option.
After two hours, we finally agreed to call it a day and instead focus on Date Night supper. We could certainly “rough it” for the evening, using bottled water to wash dishes and flush the toilet. Besides, nothing brings you back from the brink of despair like a perfectly grilled steak and a generous glass of zinfandel.
Next morning, we unhitched and made our way to the Camping World in Alvarado, about 35 miles from our campsite. An hour later, we had replaced the plug and all was once again right within our own little camping world.
We spent the remainder of the weekend engaged in our typical activities: reading The New York Times, brunching, napping, cocktailing, supping. Saturday’s high temperature of 88 degrees didn’t deter us from enjoying an evening at the campfire, but Sunday’s high temperature of 62 kept us snuggling inside Cloud 9.
This weekend also brought us kicking and screaming into Daylight Saving Time, which extends through November 5. The idea of optimizing daylight had an early proponent in Benjamin Franklin. In 1784, while serving as the American envoy to France, he wrote a letter to the editor of The Journal of Paris, in which he suggested that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of the natural morning light instead. As it turns out, Franklin was only joking. His satirical letter also proposed taxing window shutters and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing canon. Daylight Saving Time (DST) as we now know it was formally proposed by New Zealand entomologist George Hudson more than a century later, in 1895. Regardless of DST’s origins, people of every age have tried to optimize daylight hours for work and leisure activities.
Soon, we’ll have more sunshine lighting our early evenings and giving us just a little more time to enjoy the great outdoors.