The RV lifestyle has so much to offer. Our snug homes on wheels can take us to wonderful places, we never have to worry about finding a decent motel, nor do we have to be concerned with finding ourselves in some local greasy spoon named the Ptomaine Palace when we’re hungry. We travel in style and have everything we need with us wherever we may go.
But if I had to tell you the one major reason why I own and travel in an RV, it’s because I always have my potty with me. Roadside rest area bathrooms range from barely acceptable to pretty darn disgusting, for the most part. You never know what to expect, but you can pretty well accept that your average rest area restroom isn’t very restful. Some, often on the back roads and old highways I love to travel on, don’t even have running water, just a pit toilet. I don’t like pit toilets. I have a history with them.
Back in my misspent youth, after returning from Vietnam in 1972, I was assigned to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where I was a firearms instructor. It was great duty and if I could have stayed there doing that job, I probably would have become a “lifer.”
All noncommissioned officers who were range masters were required to carry a .45 semi-automatic pistol while on duty. The only problem with this was that base regulations said that if you wore a holstered pistol, your pistol belt must also contain a canteen, two loaded pistol magazines in a pouch, a first aid pouch, and probably some other things I have forgotten over the years. That added up to a couple of pounds hanging on your hips all day. (This was long before I had all the pounds hanging on my hips that I do now.)
Being rather lazy and always pushing the envelope, I did some reading and found an out ? nowhere did the regs say you had to carry the pistol in a holster. So I took to just sticking the gun inside my waistband. Then it was not holstered and I did not need all the extra junk. At least that was the way my mind worked, and nobody bothered to tell me otherwise.
I think you can see it coming. One day on the rifle range I made a pit stop in the pit toilet, set my pistol down beside me while I did what I was there for, and in handling the "paperwork," I managed to knock my weapon down into the hole. Ouch!
Now the Army frowns on you losing your weapon or I would have just walked away from it. But what to do? I darn sure didn’t want to go in after it! So I asked my buddy, another sergeant who was senior to me, for his advice. He walked into our range shack, grabbed a coat hanger and the nearest Army private, and sent them both after my pistol. "That’s why God made coat hangers and new recruits," he told me. Once the hapless GI had fetched (and cleaned) my pistol, I traded it into the arms room for a new one, complete with holster, pistol belt, two magazines in their pouch, canteen, first aid pouch …..
That wasn’t my only experience with a pit toilet. Fast forward to the mid-1980s. I was living in Tucson, Arizona and had just bought a sporty Mazda RX-7. My friend Lyle Worman and I met at the Pima County Fairgrounds for a gun show one Sunday morning and afterward we were going back to my home on the northwest side of town so Lyle could fix something for me. (This was in the days before Greg White and Ron Speidel.)
We left the gun show and were driving down Interstate 10 when suddenly the hotdog I had bought for lunch at the gun show caught up with me and I needed a bathroom, really bad. Fortunately, the highway through Tucson always seemed to be under construction and this time was no exception. There were a bunch of construction vehicles parked in the wide median and with them was a porta-john. I whipped off the road, jumped out and beat feet for the potty, while Lyle pulled in behind my car.
When I came out a few minutes later my car was gone and Lyle’s truck was empty. Hmmm, I guess my buddy decided to take my new car for a ride. Okay. Then I hear a noise coming from Lyle’s pickup and went to investigate. He was laying across the seat holding his chest and seemed to be in convulsions. Fearing he was having a heart attack, I jerked the door open and asked if he could breathe and was ready to start giving him first aid when I realized he wasn’t in distress, he was laughing uncontrollably.
“Are you okay?” I asked him, just to be sure. He nodded because he still couldn’t talk, and I still didn’t know what was going on. Once I was sure he wasn’t dying on me, I asked him where my car was. Lyle tried to sit up, burst out laughing and fell back in the seat, but did manage to point and gasp out “there.” I looked and sure enough, there was my little yellow sports car, a few feet past the porta-john.
Finally Lyle was able to compose himself and tell me what had happened. “You went running into the john and then I looked and your car started rolling right toward the potty. I realized you must not have set the brake and I was trying to get out and catch it, but it rolled right on past and came to a stop. Then I had this thought that only Nick could get run over by his own car while taking a dump on a Sunday afternoon and I just lost it. Then I thought that if it had rolled up against the door and trapped you inside, I was just going to lock it up, take the keys, and go home.” Yeah, that’s my friend Lyle. What a guy.
And that’s why I travel in an RV, with my own toilet wherever I go. It’s just better that way.
Thought For The Day – I’m not sick, I’m twisted. Sick makes it sound like there’s a cure.