The EXACT cost of Stupidity…

Our Alaska Voyage is now well underway. We made it to Vancouver as “planned” so we could group (can’t “re”group unless you have grouped first!) with our travelling companions, the Enfingers. Actually, we met up with them in Olympia, WA. So perhaps Regroup is appropriate, unless that was a “pregroup!”

Our stay in Olympia was at a fairly disappointing RV Park, which happens pretty rarely.  It was chosen by the Enfingers because of the proximity to their Daughter — they stayed a couple weeks,  and we joined them only for a couple days.  This park was unlevel, dusty gravel, had no laundry facilities and really bad wifi. Other than that, it was great, except there was THE MUSHROOM FARM across the street. To say the smell was RIPE would be a gross mischaracterization. I am SURE it was organic and all that, but also REALLY BAD. This would have been the coup de grace, had the wind been blowing from the Southwest, which mercifully it never did, so we were at least mainly spared that “feature” of the park.

Rules? If we wanted rules, we’d have not retired!


And the park LOT’s of rules. Or at least, one staffer intent on demonstrating her imPOtence in the world by pointing out violations of same. It seems Steve had locked their bicycles to the picnic table next to their bus while he ran an errand. He got a call mid-errand – “You cannot lock your blah blah blah.” Steve apologized politely, said he’d be back in an hour or so. “Not good enough!!” Steve apologized again (he is Southern – almost as polite as Canadian), but said he simply could not get back before his car was done (the errand involved a car repair).

The park WAS relatively inexpensive, offered H2O and Electrons and the location was fine, so ultimately no problem BUT, about a week into our sojourn North (so 2 weeks gone from Olympia), Steve got a call saying that his rent for the month was overdue. He was SURE it was the same woman. He “suggested,” with perhaps a bit of Yankee Snarkiness that I can neither confirm nor deny he might have learned from me, that while she was out checking picnic tables for locked bikes, she might note that THEY WERE NOT THERE ANYMORE, and had checked out in fact, 2 weeks before. Therefore, rent NOT overdue.

I am SURE Steve was way more polite than I would have been!


I snapped back into IT CONSULTANT mode…Then, I could not stop myself…I and also advised…


One morning, while staying in Olympia, Kathy walked sheepishly towards RV WHERE YET from their coach. “What’s wrong?” I asked, because the usual smile and cheerful demeanor were notably absent. She said she keeps a journal, and had tried to delete a photo, but had somehow deleted the WHOLE journal!

I snapped back into IT CONSULTANT mode, and found the “undelete” option to recover the journal. Then, I could not stop myself…I also advised perhaps keeping the journal in multiple entries, autobackup to iCloud AND perhaps even starting a blog. DANGEROUSLY close to unretiring, I thot I had better take a nap until this consulting-urge passed.

The time in Olympia was spent by Los Harris in various minor bus maintenance activities – we were, after all, leaving for 3 months in places where Auto/RV-parts and hardware stores might be difficult to find. Nothing MAJOR, but a lot of little things. And, along the way, an INCREDIBLY VALUABLE LIFE LESSON!

I learned the ACTUAL total cost of Stupidity, Complacency and Carelessness.

We were not quite at the point of keeping a tally sheet in the bathroom


One of my maintenance tasks was to install a new Tank Level monitor that is able to read the level of water in our 3 tanks (Fresh, Grey and Unmentionable) through the wall of the plastic tanks with a special sensor. The previous monitor used electrodes in the tank, and as you can imagine, these get grungy and give false readings. I simply got tired of GUESSING how full the tanks were, taking into account the number of beers I had drunk (which fill tanks), showers taken (which empty tanks AND fill tanks), etc.

Tally Sheet we did NOT create

We were not quite at the point of keeping a tally sheet in the bathroom – columns for #1, #2, toothbrushing, and Shower – but almost! Practically speaking, KNOWING our levels will be important in Alaska, where we may be days between campgrounds.

Anyway, the sensors are actually very flexible circuit boards with an adhesive backing. One is supposed to clean the tank wall, and then apply the sensor. This is a ONE-TIME, unforgiving process. If you stick the sensor on wrong, it cannot be removed without its total destruction.

I think you maybe can see where this story is going?

Assuming the Position: This time for Tank Sensor Installation

I first put the sensors on the Holding tanks. These are under the floor, and fairly difficult to access, so I spent a good deal of time under the bus, cleaning and sanding the tank walls (which I could barely see and reach) to ensure proper adhesion and, finally, running wires. When it got to the moment of truth, I CAREFULLY peeled the backing and EVEN MORE CAREFULLY applied the sensors.

SUCCESS!!! 2 down and one to go – the easy one!

Let’s just say I got a bit complacent. Or, perhaps it was not my fault — the sensor may possibly have leapt out of my hand and stuck itself to the tank in a weird and inappropriate way. Regardless, when I tried to remove it, it was DESTROYED!

So, now I needed a new sensor to complete my task. I called the vendor…sensor $49. Not horrible, but the problem was, in order to receive this before departing for Canada, I had to have overnight shipping added — $50. I even tried calling the manufacturer – which is a Canadian Company – to see if they could ship a replacement to Vancouver (crossing no borders). They could, but at twice the price. 

Now THAT is a bit weird.  Ship to the US?  $49+$50 0vernight.  Ship to Canada?  $79+I never even asked what shipping would be…  Even the exchange rate does not account for this.   Anyway, I bit the bullet and got a new sensor.

And learned the Total Cost of Stupidity, Carelessness and Complacency, which is  $104.99 including tax.

In between bus maintenance and life lessons, we were also treated to the delightful company of Steve and Kathy’s Daughter and family, including a couple meals at the RV Park and a BBQ at their home. Travis is in the Air Force, stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Olympia – a HUGE military base for Army and Air Force Units. He flys the C17 Transport, and told us a few fascinating stories about the logistics involved in suporting military presence and dignitaries around the world.

Our time in Olympia came to a close, and we snuck out before Steve violated any more park rules. Next stop, Canada.

4 thoughts on “The EXACT cost of Stupidity…

  • Hey you two adventurers, well don’t feel bad about being stupid. Many of us have been there soooo many times and spent sooooo much money also. It was a good read and I hope that your travels across B.C. will be a pleasure. I know the price of gas is offensive to us also who live in Canada. Roll on big bus and continue with your great adventure stories. Friends from London, Ontario, Sharon and Klaus and of course the big girl Liebe.

  • Liz and Dan,
    Keep these terrific blogs coming. We enjoy sharing your adventures from our couch.
    Bev has a new colleague who raves about scuba diving in Alaska! We can’t wait to hear about
    that adventure.
    Bev and Todd

  • Just had to let you know I was born at the army basis back when it was just Fort Lewis, now it has a fancy name.

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