Utah Mighty 5 RV trip, Day 6 – Thursday, 12/24 – Frozen Tanks

The Plan

Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park then back to Escalante Petrified Forrest State Park for our second night in the campground.

The Reality

Spent the day thawing the gray and black water tanks which had frozen overnight and then drove to Bryce to spend the night (for some of us) at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon.

The Bad

Woke up in the morning to two problems – DJ was sick with terrible stomach and head aches and our gray (shower and sink drains) and black (toilet) water tanks had frozen which we knew because the drains in the shower and sinks started to back up.  This was the most frustrating aspect of the trip since I had realized this was a risk and had asked at El Monte how to deal with the problem.  His advice, and the instructions in the manual, simply said to never let the tanks get more than two-thirds full (the gauges for all the tanks are in thirds).  I realize now that the point of that was that if they did freeze, since water expands when it freezes, the tanks and pipes wouldn’t burst.  I kick myself for not doing more research on the subject since we quickly found out that that there is inexpensive RV anti-freeze which can be poured into the tanks to prevent this issue.

Regardless, knowing we were going to remain in sub-freezing weather for the foreseeable future, we realized we had to thaw them out before we could do anything else.  First, we went to a local hardware store, Do It Best Escalante Home Center, on Christmas Eve Day and bought a drain snake, but that couldn’t break through the ice in the pipes.  Second, we tried dumping hot water down the drains and over the pipes under the Behemoth – fail.  For each attempt we had to drive back and forth to the campground because we had to be positioned at the dump site before we tried anything in case it worked and the tanks cut loose.  Third, after consulting El Monte and some online research, we decided to buy a space heater and position it under the Behemoth and see if it would thaw the tanks.  I was concerned because it was still below freezing as well as windy with the occasional snow flurry, so I had no idea if it would work.

The Good

Fortunately, back at the hardware store, minutes before they closed for the holiday, we met Reed Munson, a gentleman in every sense of the word.  He loaned us a couple of concrete blankets, which are like large fiberglass comforters, used to facilitate drying concrete, which we wrapped around the bottom of the Behemoth while the heater was running.  After about an hour-and-a-half, we tried again and the tanks drained.  The black tank was never the same after that, always reading at least one-third full, but we simply dumped every chance we had and it worked out.

DJ was a total trooper, helping out occasionally even though he didn’t feel well.

Since we had lost most of the day, we decided to get a room at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon where the kids, both of whom were not feeling well, would sleep while Teri and I stayed in the Behemoth.  It was another treacherous drive through snow and ice to Bryce, but we got there without incident.  We all took advantage of the shower in the room and planned to get an early start on the next day since we would be covering both Bryce and Zion.

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