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When good Mobis go bad, film at 11

July 9th, 2009

We woke up this morning feeling good. Somewhere deep in the Black Forest, the sleepy Danube was silently gliding past us, 20 feet off our bumper. It had rained a bit overnight, which only pushed us deeper asleep.

As we were preparing to leave, Jeanne found she could not lock the side door from inside. And I couldn’t figure it out either, so I examined the lock from the outside. And I saw what happened: The lock had turned into a position that would not accept the key. When we picked up Mobi, the young man warned us that this was bad. Very bad.  It was not Jeanne’s fault that the lock had turned sideways on us, because she was only trying to lock it from inside, and had no idea the lock would twist in a way that was disastrous.  To get the lock to work, I actually had an excuse to use the Leatherman tool I had purchased for the trip. By prying a screwdriver blade into the key hole, I was able to twist in into the position that would accept the key. Whew. In the course of my effort, I broke off the cover of the latching mechanism, but so be it.

On our way out of the campground, I stopped to top off our water tank with more fresh water. But the cap seemed stuck and would not come off the inlet pipe.  A wonderful couple from Belgium, Mia and Adelin, stopped to help (she teaches English for high school juniors, he is a solar-energy engineer – and wherever he travels, he carries large tool boxes.)  Despite Adelin’s best efforts, the cap would not unscrew. As it turned, so did the entire inlet pipe into the water tank. They were frozen as one.  Jeanne suggested smartly that we find the water tank because it might have another inlet opening for a hose. The tank was hidden beneath one of  the couches inside, and in fact there was another large cap that came off easily. We could stick the hose inside the Mobi and into the tank below the couch. But wait! Our hose would not fit the spigot. Adelin came to the rescue again, this time giving us a one-size-fits-all hose adaptor.

Of course, bad things come in three and that might have been three, but not for us. Not the Gormans. This was the day of calamity we had feared.

I wouldn’t be slowed by the semi-broken side door lock, and frozen water cap, and a hose that almost didn’t adapt. We needed to dump our “grey” (kitchen) water, behind the campground manager’s office. It was a tricky turn to get to that driveway, and I cut it too tight. A bronze pipe that was part of the entrance gate jumped into the side of the Mobi just as I was turning, and it left a deep scar and ripped off a piece of plastic trim from Mobi.  The incident attracted quite a crowd of campers who were muttering something about Americans and camping.  I don’t know if I will lose the entire security deposit for this damage, but am braced for the worst. Other campers looked at me, some sad, some laughing. Along came Mia and Adelin, who looked chagrined on our behalf. He helped push the pipe as I slowly pulled away from it. .

With the Mobi now freed from its bronze pipe friend and finally backed in to position over the grey-water drain, I got on my hands and knees, found the water-release valve, and turned it. It turned, and turned, and turned. It was broken. There didn’t seem to be an “open” and “shut” position, and I was stricken with the fear that the holding tank waste water would back up into the Mobi during one of our deep sleeps (“American Family Drowns in its own Grey Water While Asleep in their Mobi, Film at 11”), or the grey water would dump onto the ground the moment we ran water into the sink.  It turned out, as we would discover later, that the latter was the case: when we run sink water, Mobi immediately pees on the ground.

And finally this: for two days running, we haven’t gotten hot water. We couldn’t figure out why not, but didn’t fully explore.  Tonight we asked fellow campers, here in Munich, for help.

Ute and Ernst, from Hanover, came to our rescue, and the three of us poked and prodded and explored and even read the thick instruction manual. It finally occurred to us that the sink water faucet hookup was backwards and when the faucet was put on “red,” only cold came out, and when we put it on “blue,” only — well, only nothing came out, because it was in fact connected to the hot-water boiler, but it was filled with air bubbles.  At least we knew we had the solution. We let the water run on “blue” for a while and finally hot water came out. Success!

But wait: the water stopped altogether. And not even cold water is coming out tonight. We are out of water. We have drained our 100-liter water tank dry.

So, let’s recap: Semi-broken side-door lock, stuck water-inlet cap, an un-adapted hose, a deep gouge on side of Mobi from collision with gate, a broken water-drain valve so we always leak when we run sink water, and finally the hot water works after discovering it was plumbed backwards…and we’ve run out of water. .

The trip is turning a bit ugly. It was only a matter of time.

The good news: the toilet is working perfectly and easy to clean. That’s my job.

(Dear friends: the day was so traumatic, I was too distracted to take photos… Jeanne took one which I will download. But it is depressing.)

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