Life’s Outtakes » The Wrong Kind Of Gas


Only two miles from where I grew up was a dude ranch called “The Fun Farm.” There, overlooking the river, were nice campsites with fire pits and limited amenities. Each day there were activities offered to the campers. For an extra fee a person could go on a horse ride or go river rafting. For no cost a person was allowed to go into the barn and watch cows being milked, help feed calves, or gather eggs.

It just happened that the campground was also by the bridge where we teenagers gathered each evening. After a hard day of hauling hay, changing pipe, milking cows, and countless other types of work, we would meet there for a refreshing swim.

Although the campground was right beside the bridge, we seldom had any contact with the campers. They kept to themselves, and so did we. But one summer, a man named Jim, who was camping at the campground, came over and asked if he could join us. We didn’t have a problem with that, and soon he was coming every night.

Most campers don’t stay for more than a week, so after he had come swimming with us for most of a month, we asked him about it.

“Oh,” Jim said, “I have a government job working in this area for the summer. It’s just as cheap for me to stay here in a camper as it is to get an apartment, and I can enjoy the river and the country more.”
“But I would think after a while it would get tiring living in a motorhome,” I said.

“Well,” he replied, “there is one thing that has really been annoying. I do wish they had septic connects at the camp sites. The septic tank on my motor home is really small. Every few days I have to put up my awning and all of that and drive to town to the dump station. In addition, my motorhome is getting horrible gas mileage. I seem to only be getting a few miles to the gallon because I have to fill up almost every time I drive it. ”

“There is something you could do,” Lenny said. “Most of those motorhomes have two gas tanks. One guy I know changed one of his gas tanks to a septic tank. He said he didn’t travel enough to need that much gas.”

Jim became excited about this. He asked if we knew someone who could do the conversion. We told him that there was a man who did camper and motorhome work who lived only a couple of miles away.

We didn’t see Jim for a few days, because he had to stay in a hotel while his motorhome was retrofitted. But it wasn’t too long before he came back to join us for a swim.

After a couple more days, Lenny asked, “So how’s the camping now?”

“It seems to be working well,” Jim replied. “I have been watching my tank meter, and if it is indicating the level correctly, I should have enough capacity now to last more than a week at a time.” He then smiled broadly. “In addition, I think the retrofit has solved my low gas mileage problem.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“Well, late last night I heard some noise outside my motorhome, and I went to investigate. There was a gas siphon hose sticking out of my new septic tank. Apparently, the would-be thief had sucked on it to siphon out gas and got a little more than he bargained for. He had thrown up all over the ground.”

Lenny laughed. “It sounds like he got the wrong kind of gas in his tank.”

© Copyright 2014 – Daris Howard. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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