City of Sheep Skin Bike Seats Mar23


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City of Sheep Skin Bike Seats

After our day of hiking in Nature Church Sedona, we woke up refreshed. We have a morning ritual with coffee. Ali wears her mom’s robe, I don my softest grey sweat jacket and shorts and we open our front door to see and feel and smell how the world is. It had been too cold to venture outside or even keep the door open, but on this morning, it was glorious. We were having one of those moments where we can’t stop smiling because we feel so grateful and giddy about our life.

However, on travel days we don’t get to revel in our morning for too long. We were bound for Mesa, Arizona that day. A few days earlier, as we arrived in Sedona and found out about the snowy weather, we decided to extend our stay by a day in order to have at least one day of sun. Unfortunately, Usary Regional State Park in Mesa couldn’t accommodate our change of plans, so we hit the Internet and found another option. It was called Monte Vista Village, and I’ll just leave it at that for now.

One of the more hated parts of this lifestyle for Allison and I is the unkind intimacy we must have with our poop. It’s not everyday thankfully, but often enough we are faced with the always odiferous and sometimes juicy task of emptying and cleaning our black and grey water tanks. We were taught how to navigate this process a couple of years ago by our dear friend Karl on our very first outing with our rig. I have a crystal clear memory of that day. It was at Costanoa, the wind was blowing gently, it was a warm morning, and I hung on every word and tip he provided because I knew it was absolutely VITAL information.

If you saw this movie, you know what scene this is.

If you saw this movie, you know what scene this is.

We’ve only had one major poop incident since owning the RV (and for those of you who’ve already heard this story, my apologies, but it’s necessary for the set up). It was a couple of years ago, at the only dumping station located outside the BLM land at Lake Ladoga after 4th of July weekend. The line of RV’s queued up to use the facility was huge, so we had already been waiting 20 minutes before I sent Allison inside to pay the fee thinking she would be back to help me before it was our turn. It was apparently really busy inside the office as well and I was “up” before Ali came back out.

It’s not a really problem to hook everything up by yourself. It’s a little hard to hold open the poop cabinet door with your shoulder while you unscrew the tank pipe cap and screw on the poop tube, but it’s totally manageable. My crucial disadvantage was the distance between my tank valve handles and the hole that the poop tube goes in. Normally I would wait for Allison to help, but the pressure was on, the line of waiting RV’s was watching impatiently.

Karl’s Cardinal Rule of Poop #1: make sure your poop tube is securely inside the poop receiving hole at all times; use a rock or several, hold it down with your hand or stand on it. Check! With one flip-flopped foot I could stand on the tube to keep it in the hole, but I would have to stretch to reach the valve handles to the tanks. It was going to be a challenge, but I thought I could do it.

Yank! The valve handle on the black water tank slid out fast and poop started it’s mad trek down the tube only to start spilling out over the sides of the receiving hole, bubbling up onto my bare foot which caused me to flinch and lose my position on the tube and then all hell broke loose. I screamed and quickly shoved the valve handle closed, but not before a pool of poop spilled out all over the cement pad and my foot.

Karl’s Cardinal Rule of Poop #2: open the valve slowly so as to control the speed of the poop flowing in the tube. FAILED!

Just about that time Allison came out of the office to find me scrambling around with the hose trying to wash up my mistake. As we teamed up to finish the job correctly, I explained what had happened and returned a few smiles to the amused onlookers in the waiting RV’s. We used an entire bottle of hand sanitizer on my poo foot and promised each other that from now on that emptying the tanks would be a two-person job.

Now back to our morning in Sedona and yes, you guessed it, it was time to empty the tanks. We’ve developed a fairly polished process by this time having been on the road a couple of weeks, and Allison and I are very good at sharing the work load. We switch jobs often so that no one has to do more of the nasty work than the other, but on this morning there was a new tool that Allison hadn’t experienced yet.

I think it’s official name is the toilet wand. It’s a long plastic tube that screws onto a hose at one end and at the other it has 4 small holes that allow the water to shoot out under pressure in 4 different directions. You stick the wand down into your toilet and use the spray to clean all the sides of your black water tank. Typically you would do this after completely emptying your tank, but we were having a little bit of a back up, and Allison offered to tackle it with the wand.

Toilet Wand

Toilet Wand

I stayed outside so that I could keep the valves open and the tube secure. (Note: we’ve since invested $10 in a new 4 in 1 connector for the poop tube so that it can be firmly screwed into the receiving hole. YAY!) I heard the water spraying and it sounded like everything was going well, but then I heard Allison say, “REALLY?! That did NOT just happen.” And then a pause. Water off now. Then louder, “I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS!”

Having used the wand myself a couple days ago, I knew what had probably happened. While the wand is down deep inside the tank, the high water pressure spray is great, but if you pull the wand up too high into the narrow neck of the toilet it’s too strong and sprays water everywhere.

Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to conceal my laughter and that an already pissed off Allison does not appreciate laughter, I made the choice to stay outside and just express casual concern from there, “Everything OK?” No answer. A few minutes later, Allison came out of the rig with the hose and the wand, looked at me and said. “I’ll see your poo foot and raise you a poo face!” followed by several expletives.

Apparently the wand had done just as I thought, sprayed out of the top of the toilet mercilessly, but with poopy water – speckles of beige all over the bathroom and all over Allison. She disinfected her face, wiped down the bathroom and changed her clothes and we were ready to roll on to Mesa. I’ll tell you what – 9 times out of 10 – poop will kick your Zen in the ass.

The drive to Mesa was uneventful. There was some climbing, big hills, which we’re total pros at now, and mostly major freeways with big trucks and lots of merging, but we’re cool with that too. Mesa is a suburb of Phoenix, so it’s a pretty big sprawling city and Monte Vista Village, at 800+ mobile home and RV sites, was a mini-city inside the big city. They bill themselves as an all-ages park, a place where you can “have all the fun of a cruise ship”, but we really didn’t quite know what to expect as we pulled in.

Just as we saw the entrance sign to the park, we noticed a smaller billboard posted next to it that advertised Barry Manalow & Bette Midler tickets on sale for the next night at 7:30pm. Holy cow, we thought, they weren’t kidding about the cruise ship thing. Barry, not so much, but Bette Midler is exciting. We pulled into the park and drove passed 1st ave, 2nd ave, 3rd ave, wall to wall mobile homes. Hmm, not to the office yet. 4th ave, 5th ave, an adorable older man wearing suspenders waved at us from his bike. No office. We kept going passed the lawn bowling, the putting green, the croquet courts, the tennis courts. Still not to the office yet. This place was enormous.

We finally found the office, checked in and got directions to our spot. As we continued to drive through the park, we figured there was probably one RV to every 50 mobile homes. Most of the village was permanent residents. The facilities included 2 pools, 2 hot tubs, showers, a sauna, a gym, a laundry facility, a jewelry-making studio, a hat-making studio, a pottery studio, a café, an auditorium, plus all those other outdoor sports areas we drove past before, and a softball field we had missed. (Ali later found out they had 9 softball teams.)

Oh yea - I forgot the Shuffleboard Courts!

Oh yea – I forgot the Shuffleboard Courts!

Our spot was nice and wide with a full paved area between two mobile homes. We had our own trash and recycling cans on site, plus the water, power and sewer as expected. We un-hitched the car and backed our Lucy in, took the bikes down off the rack and raced through all the set up as fast as we could. We had MAJOR plans we needed to get to: first buy tickets for Bette Middler, then lounge at the pool, followed by a long sauna and hot showers.

800+ sites! We lived on 4th Avenue.

800+ sites! We lived on 3rd Avenue.

As we pulled our bikes up to the pool area entrance, we easily spied the bike racks. It was a sea of two-wheelers and every other seat had a plush sheep skin cover. We wandered passed the pool at first because we needed to hit the recreation office to get our show tickets, but we did take note of the relative ages of the swimmers on our way. (Mostly grey hair, but a few 30 or 40 yr olds with kids.) Luckily, the attendant was on the phone when we got there, so we had time to wait and wander around the office a bit which is how I noticed a poster for the Barry and Bette show. You know that phrase “in the stylings of”. Yup. It was not the real Bette and Barry, just impersonators. Oh well, that was $42 saved.

On to the pool. We scoped out a couple of chairs, took a short, but super refreshing dip in the water and then settled in to relax in the sun. A few minutes later, music started and someone began to sing “Celebration”, that classic 80’s tune, in a not-so-awful way. We stood up and looked around to see where it was coming from and low and behold, a little show was happening in the café, drinks were being served by tray and couples were dancing. Cruise ship was right.

The bigger of the 2 pools.

The bigger of the 2 pools.

Well, of course this sparked the next hour and a half of conversation for Ali and I. We decided that Monte Vista Village was great for older retirees since they had everything they needed within a bike ride’s distance. Everyone wore name badges and seemed to know each other well. They belonged to a community, they had activities galore, they had each other, they weren’t alone. Could we live in a place like this at some point? Maybe we could work in a place like this, teach water aerobics in the morning, ride our bikes everywhere, join a softball team?



We certainly took advantage of the amenities while we were there. We did two loads of laundry, used the pool, sauna and showers every day and went for bike rides each night around the neighborhood. Several fruit tree owners had put bags of their extra bounty out on the street for the taking, so we scored lemons, oranges and pink grapefruit. We really enjoyed what Monte Vista Village had to offer a couple of RV vagabonds, at least for a couple of days. It was a home away from home, a soft place to land for a little while, sorta like a sheep skin bike seat cover.