We spent about three and a half hours this morning on another project. We cut grass and cleaned up the largest chicken pen on the farm.
After that, we drove the 18 miles to the Ash River Visitors Center at Voyageurs National Park.
As part of our usual National Park visitation routine, we watched the park movie. Dean, the park volunteer manning the Visitors Center, said there were reports of bats in the viewing room and there was definitely the distinctive smell of bat guano.
Dean then gave us some information about the history of the Visitor Center building. He's a volunteer from South Carolina and was fascinated with our lifestyle. He had more questions for us than we had for him. :)
After that, we hiked the Blind Ash Bay Trail, a 2.5-mile trail near the Visitors Center.
It's a one-mile hike out, and then a .7-mile loop partly along the lakeshore, and then a re-trace of the first mile back to the parking area.
The trail can also be accessed via the Kabetogama Lake Overlook Trail which leads to this partial view of the lake.
The first mile through the woods is on a narrow trail where the vegetation is overgrowing the path. Long pants are recommended.
The trail has lots of roots and rocks, so you have to keep your eyes on your feet. That's why Linda almost didn't see this deer walking out in front of her.
Eventually, we reached the intersection where the loop started.
We headed to the left and the trail eventually dropped down to the water.
We walked along Blind Ash Bay ....
for a short time and then the trail climbed up to an overlook with a view of the main part of Kabetogama Lake.
I walked down on the rocks to take a few photos while Linda waited up above on a bench.
There wasn't much to the rest of the trail. We saw a small garter snake on the way back, but no other wildlife. There were a couple of nice views and the deer encounter was cool, but it certainly wasn't a hike comparable to most national park hikes.
Having worked a few hours this morning, that little 2.5-mile trail was more tiring than expected. But I still had one tiny trail I wanted to do while in the area.
We headed away from the Visitors Center and parked at the Beaver Pond Overlook trailhead. The overlook is only .15-mile from the parking area.
The overlook provides a wide look at a huge beaver pond.
Should've brought our binoculars - it's a long distance view.
The park website says: "Although beavers are no longer active at this pond, this trail provides great birding opportunities, and the possibility of spotting large wildlife." I'm not sure what they mean by "large wildlife", but it looks like good moose habitat.
We didn't see any birds or wildlife and, without our binoculars, we didn't see much point in sitting and waiting. However, for those staying in the Ash River area, it looks like a great place for an early morning visit.
Leaving the park, we ventured out to Tina & Steve's house in Ash River. Tina & Steve are the owners of the farm where we are working as well as The Pines of Kabetogama Resort. As the farm doesn't have an official address or mailbox, we have to send packages to their house or, eventually, the resort.
Today, we were looking for our new Flojet 18555000A Waste Water Pump.
The maintenance manager, Hekrem, fixed the drainage into the septic tank, but that didn't solve the problem of our sewer connection running uphill. So, if we dump tanks, the waste water is sitting in the 40 feet of sewer hose as there is not enough gravity pressure to force it into the septic outlet.
So, they have promised to move the sewer connection and recess it so that there is ultimately a downhill flow. But with most of the focus needed at the resort, we just weren't sure when that might be.
Being proactive, I decided it would probably be a good time to order a combination macerator and pump. We've managed without one for 10 years, but there have been times when it would have been handy, and being here for three months it was looking like a necessary solution, at least until they have time to fix the issue for the long term.
Okay, so the FloJet is an RV-specific device designed to attach directly to our sewer outlet (just like a sewer hose connection). When we open the black water tank valve, it is supposed to macerate (grind up) the black water debris and pump it out through a regular garden hose. Therefore, we don't have to rely on gravity and it will pump the wastewater uphill.
Many boondockers use a FloJet (or similar) to pump wastewater into a tank in the back of their truck. Then the wastewater can then be more easily hauled to a dump station for disposal.
So, I unpackaged the pump from the box and its hard plastic carrying case. I didn't take pictures, but I've inserted a video of a guy unpacking a FloJet kit. There is no explanation of the various parts, but at least you can see what it looks like.
Of course, the pump itself is the main part. Then there are instructions, connecting wires with something called butt connectors, and a handheld switch with a built-in 20-amp fuse and more connecting wire.
Proper operation requires a 12-volt power source, a discharge hose (garden hose connected to the discharge outlet on the bottom of the pump), and a rinse hose (garden hose connected to the rinse inlet connection on the top of the pump).
Of course, the electrical connections are what freak me out. I'm not competent enough to easily connect everything to our in-house 12-volt system, but we carry a spare 12-volt battery for our inflatable pontoon boat, and I knew I could use it as my power source without having to hardwire anything.
So, I followed the instructions trying to connect the pump wires to the switch wires using the included butt connectors. Having never used butt connectors before, I didn't do it right. Linda, who is more intuitive about these things than I am, deduced the problem was with the connections made with the butt connectors (or more accurately the "connections NOT made"). Fortunately, we had used wire nuts before, so we substituted wire nuts for the butt connectors.
Now, if I would have gone to this web page before starting, I'm sure the butt connectors would have worked: How To Strip And Connect Wires With A Butt Connector. :)
Okay. Now, the switch wire comes with a 2-pole flat connector that makes it easy to connect to the other connecting/power wire (which also has a 2-pole flat connector). Even I could figure that out.
The final step was to figure out how to connect to a power source. Since my plan was just to connect to a single 12-volt battery, I needed some battery clips. In the garage, I found exactly what I needed. I followed the instructions on the battery clip package, stripped the wire a little and connected the wire to the battery clips.
We then connected the battery, hit the red button (switch) to turn the pump on and we had power. Cool.
I twisted the pump onto our Flush King sewer outlet extension.
The Flush King has a clear section so we could see that the pump was working and know when the tanks had emptied.
I hooked a garden hose to the discharge outlet and ran the hose under the rig and to the septic tank outlet.
We left our sewer hose in place until we had fully tested the macerator/pump.
Now the FloJet is a little heavy, so we thought it would be best to put some support under it to keep from putting too much stress on the ear connectors and pegs.
I placed the battery under the rig near the pump and attached the battery clips to the posts. Then, I opened the black tank valve and pressed the red button to activate the pump.
We had not attempted to dump our black tank since we've been here, so after eight days it was pretty full. Because the waste is going through a small diameter garden hose rather than the usual three-inch sewer hose, it takes a bit more time.
But we could see that everything was working properly and there were no leaks. Yeah, I know it's gross, but it's part of the deal when living in an RV. :)
The documentations says a 30-gallon tank should be pumped out in 3 - 5 minutes. Since we have a 45-gallon black tank, it took just a little bit longer.
Once the black tank was emptied, I opened the gray tank while leaving the black tank valve open. Gray water went into the black tank and the pump drew out extra crud. Before the gray tank (also 45 gallons) emptied, the pump shut off. It's only supposed to run for 10 - 15 minutes at a time, and it apparently has a shut off feature if it gets too hot.
The fuse in the switch wasn't blown, and after waiting just a few minutes I turned the pump back on and it continued to work as it should.
With the gray tank empty, I opened our other gray tank (another 45-gallon tank called the "galley" tank which is just for the kitchen sink). Before that one emptied completely, the pump shut off again. After another few minutes, I turned it back on and finished the job.
The final step is to attach another hose to the rinse connection on the pump and run clean water back up into the tanks and through the pump and discharge hose for a final clean-out.
The FloJet wastewater pump seems to be a great solution for our current situation, and it will come in handy down the road from time to time. However, we'll stick to the convenience and speed of our regular set up whenever gravity is in our favor. :)
And with that, I put our sewer hose and support away. I thought the graduated slope of the sewer hose support would help, but it may have hindered our uphill problem. No matter now.
We took long showers and Linda whipped up some dinner. The last few nights she's treated us to strawberry shortcake for dessert. Nothing like fresh strawberries to enhance the flavor. :)
Tomorrow, we'll get back to work. We'll leave the holiday weekend to the vacationers, and then we'll get out and play a little more next week.
Have a great Fourth of July weekend! :)