So let’s set the scene back up.
It’s after midnight; there’s a Texas-sized storm; and we’ve just arrived at a very remote and eerily abandoned Sea Rim State Park to find that we have a leaky window.
The leaky window was a drip at first, which quickly grew into a stream. I immediately knew what the problem was. When they installed the new windows on Das Bus, they didn’t seal the tops of the windows well enough. But I had no clue what to do about it during a driving rainstorm. Stef and I pulled out towels, and determined we’d plug the leak and wait out the storm.
Thirty minutes later, the rain showed no signs of slowing, we were losing the battle against the leaky window and everything was getting soaked. Something had to be done. Eventually, I realized that the leaky window was on the side of the RV underneath the awning. The plan was to extend the awning a couple feet to protect the top of the window. This seemed pretty reasonable, but we have a manual awning, which meant someone had to go outside.
Valiantly, I offered to stay inside and continue mopping up while Stef went out to deploy the awning.
But Stef’s a modern, liberated woman, who was having none of my chivalry, and she abruptly decreed that I should be the one to head outside.
Still searching for ANY reason not to go outside, I pointed out that since we have such a small RV, when I came back in with soaking wet clothes, I would only be compounding our rapidly growing moisture problem.
Stef’s reply will undoubtedly go down in RVing history as some of the worst counsel ever given:
“There’s nobody else here. Just go outside naked.”
Now, I’m normally a pretty rational guy. Normally. But not that evening. I don’t know why, but I agreed, stripped down, grabbed the awning rod, and headed outside in the pitch black monsoon.
As I closed the door behind me, I learned something about mosquitoes.
Did you know that mosquitoes can fly in rain that is thick enough to ground airplanes? I never knew that, but it’s true. So add “covered in mosquitoes” to your mental picture of a naked guy, in the black of night, in a driving rainstorm, trying to deploy a manual awning. Eventually, I got the awning deployed.
What I decided to do next is so stupid, I can only blame it on blood loss from the mosquitoes. I decided it was so unbearably hot and muggy, we really needed the air conditioning. So I was going back outside again to hook up the power.
Thankfully, there was a power pedestal nearby that had circuit breakers. Thinking I was being smart, I made sure the breakers were off so I would not hook up “hot”. (You know, because of the hurricane.)
I got everything ready to go, and was ready to flip the breaker on, when I realized I was standing in a shin-deep puddle in a driving rainstorm. I was smart enough to think I at least didn’t want to be grounded when I gave it the juice, but not smart enough to think much past that.
I decided that I would jump in the air as I flipped the breaker.
Yeah. THAT will keep me safe…
You’ll probably have occasional moments in your life where time passes very slowly. This was one of them. As I jumped, completely naked and covered in mosquitoes, I flipped the breaker. It was at the apex of the jump where I realized “I’m going to land back in the puddle!”
I thought of Stef, trapped in the RV, having to watch my naked, lifeless, and bloodless body twitch with electricity through the night until the authorities came to rescue her. And I thought about what kind of story she might make up to explain the situation. But I also thought “Hey, Bug Zapper! I’ll at least take some of these mosquitoes with me.”
In what seemed like an eternity, I landed back in the puddle. Miraculously, I did not electrocute myself and the AC kicked on. Success! I made my way back to the RV.
Imagine mosquitoes thick enough to change your skin color. Now imagine walking back into your RV like that and closing the door. That’s exactly what I did. This increased the population of our RV from 2 to 250,002. The awning deployment had worked to stop the leak, but the trip outside had let an insane number of mosquitoes in. This quickly became our new #1 issue.
As I tried to dry myself off and get dressed, Stef started to kill mosquitoes. When I was dressed, I joined her. For over an hour, we killed mosquitoes inside our RV. By the thousands. It was pretty intense, and at some point, the intensity got to be too much for Stef. In a moment of panic, she decided she needed to apply some of our aerosol insect repellent… Right now… INSIDE THE RV. Remember, we only have a 22 foot class B. In seconds, Stef’s foray into chemical warfare started to give us both DEET poisoning. We put wet rags over our mouths and went back to killing mosquitoes.
Into the second hour, we were still killing mosquitoes, and we realized we weren’t making any headway, there kept being more and more. They were getting inside somehow… BUT WHERE!?!? We were both woozy from the DEET fog and not thinking clearly anyways from the trauma of it all. At this point, we were bitten up like crazy, and knew there was no way in hell we would be able to sleep in the RV that night without waking up as shriveled, bloodless corpses. It was still raining, and we were pretty much out of options.
We admitted defeat.
We had lost the Great Mosquito Siege of 2014. We just wanted to leave.
We had to break camp, which meant disconnecting the power and retracting the awning. Once again, I was nominated to go outside. The rain had not abated, and the mosquitoes had not either. At least, this time, I had the sense to go outside with some clothes on. Long pants. Jacket. Hat. Gloves. Closed toed shoes. I was fairly well protected, but breaking camp meant opening the door two more times. This let another 500,000 mosquitoes into the RV, but we were finally able to retreat.
And the fates had one more trick to play on us that trip.
As I fired up the RV and rolled away, the fan on the Sprinter chassis picked that exact moment to die. No defroster. No way to clear the windshield. Are you effing KIDDING me.
The remainder of that night is all a panicked blur. I drove on all through the night, unable to see out the foggy windshield while Stef frantically killed mosquitoes non-stop; hours and hours rolled by of her swatting, me trying to see. Both of us traumatized and desperate to get away. Westward! Dry-ward! Find me a Sprinter dealer that can fix the damn fan! There’s one near Austin? NO – We need to retreat farther! Albuquerque? Fine!
We still had about another two weeks of our trip to go, but we were so wrecked over that whole experience we’d had enough. Texas had beaten us. We were going home. Below is a little Google Maps depiction of that 24 hours. 16 hours of it was spent driving 1033 miles.
When we were too exhausted to continue on, we finally came to a stop in Fort Stockton, Texas. With mosquitoes still thick in the van, there was no way in hell we were going to sleep in there. So, still in soggy shoes and underpants, we checked into the Hampton Inn.
And that, my friends, was how I took the best shower I ever had.