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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Harvey hits the road!

Fri, Feb 18, 2022

It’s time for Harvey to strut his stuff and become our very (very) elaborate camping tent. Gini has chosen a primitive camp site on the Olympic Peninsula that offers full hook-ups (okay, before your mind descends into the gutter, we will point out that for RV-types like us, “full hook-up” refers to fresh water, power, and a sewage connection) and is conveniently located a mere hour and a half from home!

Easy peasy, eh?

Our goal is to pull out at 1:00 pm, giving us plenty of time to get there and set up camp in the light and relax and maybe even have a hard cider kept cold in our on-board refrigerator (take that, backpackers!).

3:30 pm

We have finally lugged the last of the food, clothing, and bedding out to Harvey. Whew! Roughing it takes a lot of stuff.

But we are off!

4:00 pm

But not without getting gassed up. We get gasoline at CostCo and then head to a large hardware store to get gassed up there (with the propane-type gas). We’re not naming the store for reasons that will become apparent shortly.

All the RV books that Robert read said, “For pity’s sake, don’t take any part what-so-ever in filling the propane tank. Leave it to the professionals! Don’t even watch them do it!!”

While Gini goes shopping, Robert pulls up to the propane refueling station, where two college-aged persons (note that we didn’t call them “kids”) begin the process of adding propane gas to Harvey’s innards.

After about five minutes, the Propane Fueling Experts come around to Robert, who’s sitting peacefully in the driver’s seat and ask, “Um, where is the propane nozzle?”

Robert tells him, and spends some time adjusting the right-side mirror to try and watch them. Robert also thinks about what would happen if the propane caught fire. How big would the explosion be? The Fuelers seem to be engaging in a lot of discussion. About five minutes later one of them comes over and says, “Um, we didn’t realize you were in the vehicle. You need to be outside the vehicle.”

So, Robert gets to watch the Foolers Fuelers in action, which lets him point out that they are using the wrong nozzle to put propane in. When they switch to the correct nozzle, one of them exclaims, “Woah, this nozzle works way easier!”

It takes two visits by a manager and another 20 minutes of fueling about, but they finally declare that our propane tank is probably full and there’s a good chance it won’t explode the first time we use it.

Robert rolls down all the windows as we drive away.

4:30 pm

But first—we get to take advantage of bringing our toilet with us! And this just isn’t a bucket—it’s a full-fledged marine toilet that flushes! Woo hoo! We roll out of the hardware store full of propane and with empty bladders.

5:00 pm

We arrive at the ferry dock in Edmonds for our quick 30-minute ferry trip. We should just be able to make it to camp while there’s still light…

Two hour wait?!? What?

Now that we’re here, we decide to check and see what’s going on with the ferry system. Hmm, seems that there’s only half as many ferry people as they actually need, so there’s only half as many ferries! Still, it would take a bit longer than two hours to drive around, so we decide to relax in Harvey and enjoy the wait especially as we are stuck in the ferry line.

We are told (by an Official Person) that we’re supposed to turn our propane off when we ride the ferries, so that we don’t sink it? Or something. We comply.

7:30 pm

We have an on-board refrigerator and freezer (ice cubes!) that can run on three types of power. If we’re plugged in (or running the generator), it uses electricity. If the propane is turned on, it does some kind of magical evaporating-condensing magic to turn the propane into cold. If the propane is turned off (such as for a ferry) it uses the on-board batteries.

We didn’t realize that running the refrigerator/freezer for two-and-a-half hours on battery power would drain not only the two batteries dedicated to running the lights, but would also drain the battery used to start Harvey.

Robert tries to start Harvey and gets the non-reassuring sound of “click-click-click.” Uh oh.

There’s just enough battery left to start the generator (sorry people who parked next to us and got a snoot full of exhaust fumes). Will that be enough to charge the battery so we can start Harvey and drive onto the ferry or will be spending the night in the ferry holding area??

On the plus side, Gini was able to make us a lovely dinner of Caesar salad and pretzels with a Butterfinger dessert. Ah, living the life of Riley! Gini turns off the refrigerator and freezer to help reduce the battery drain. Sorry, ice cubes.

8:30 pm

Yay! We had enough battery charge to start Harvey and drive onto the boat and get very nervous about how far our side mirrors stick out.

What we don’t know is if we have enough battery to start Harvey once the ferry docks. We don’t dare run the generator, because the ferry people who are working seem to be congregating in our general vicinity. Of course, if we can’t start Harvey, there will be a lot of ferry folks very invested in charging us up.

9:30 pm

Whew! We were able to start Harvey and drive off the ferry boat and now we’re here, where Siri insists the RV campground is and it’s dark. It turns out that RV campgrounds don’t have large neon signs saying, “Hey newbies! We’re over here!”

This would be a lot easier in the light.

We finally stumble across a Shell station and Robert does the uncharacteristically male activity of stopping to ask for directions. Of course, he sends Gini in to actually do the asking.

And we now have a guy with a pick-up truck who says he’ll lead us right to it.

“Or he’ll lead us to his killing barn in the middle of nowhere,” says Robert, ever confident in the good nature of mankind.

We were almost in the right place and as we pull in, Amy (daughter of the owner and “the cool one,” she says) greets us and leads us to our camping spot. We’re too tired to do anything other than plug into the electricity.

11:00 pm

When you think of RV’s, you probably think of one of those spacious land-yachts where there’s lots of room and the beds are always set up.

That is not Harvey.

To “make the bed” in Harvey involves first putting down the table, and moving the cushions around. Then adding a heated mattress pad (not strictly necessary, but insisted upon by Gini), fitted sheet, and regular sheet, and then converting the couch into the other half of the bed and adding bedding to it. But first removing the camp chairs and table (which are cleverly stowed behind the couch) and putting them outside.

All of which involves much clambering about and bending ourselves in unnatural ways to fit into awkward spaces and a certain amount of snarling at each other.

In the course during all of this, we get to discover fun things about our water system. We have a touch faucet, which isn’t particular about who (or what) touches it and tends to spew water if you look at it too hard.

We’ll just turn off the water pump!

Well, now we can’t flush the toilet.

We’ll turn the water pump back on!

By the time the bed is assembled (and only slight damp) we are ready to collapse into slumber.


Gini & Robert Harvey’s staff

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