Let me tell you about this year’s hunting season, one I hope to never repeat.

It started the first minute of hunting camp with a step into the giant RV.

Every year there’s that sense of anticipation when we arrive in the mountains — the hunt is ahead and everything is possible. The forest smells like heaven and the weather is verging on a welcome crispness. We feel far from farm and household toil.

I haul in a truckload of groceries, clean linens and the homey touches I insist on while “in the wilderness.”

Camo Man checks propane tanks, fires up the generator and stashes gear.

We’re away from work and reliable cell service. Visitors are few and we’re wrapped in serene silence all night; honeymoons have been built on less.

This year when I entered our cabin on wheels, I heard the problem before I saw it.


I’d stepped into a shallow swamp covering the main living area. And because I use an unreasonable number of rugs and mats to protect flooring from mud boots, those had absorbed water and grown in weight to that of several St. Bernards. Soon enough my eyes swiveled to the carpet area to see water lapping at the front of the couch and heading under the table.

I screamed.

It turned out when Camo accidentally froze out the water filter system the week before, he hadn’t checked every valve on the inside for related frost fissures.

The same plunging temperature had split a hose valve in the bathroom — which then allowed a continuous water drip that would have made a metronome jealous.

This situation put a new rhythm into hunting camp: go out with the sunrise, return to sop or suck up water, point the fan in a new direction, go back to hunting, return for dinner and to sleep inside the RV-sized humidifier.

When success was finally at hand — the elk that took me two days too long — I was relieved to be going home to normalcy.

But no.

Our first hour home we were confronted with the kitchen drain. Again.

It had been a problem for months. It clogged, I performed homemade hocus-pocus involving dish soap and kettles of boiling water. Things would appear fine, until they didn’t.

Over the last many weeks this cycle repeated on hyper speed. It was draining on us but alas, not the actual drain.

Now that we’d lived with too much water in the RV for a week, we refused to live any longer with standing water in the sink. We marched to our hardware store and bought the toxic drain cleaner in the plastic bag.


Camo went to pour in the liquid as directed, and managed to somehow drop the bottle cap into the drain at the exact same instant.

This was clearly some Mother Earth curse we deserved.

The cleaner, which I believe is nuclear waste, splashed out of the cap-blocked drain, landing everywhere — including on Camo.

In seconds it ate through his favorite shirt, began stripping the counter of its coating, cratered black holes in the white dishwasher and dotted the clear maple cabinets with brown tears of abject sorrow.

Again I screamed, and not because my husband was also screaming as his flesh fried.

The drain remained clogged. We finally called plumbers, who used sweat and their twisty metal snakes for two hours to dislodge three clogs going all-l-l-l the way to the sewer.

I’m waiting for the bill to add to the running list of expenses.

All is not lost, though — I’ll be having a dead piece of countertop mounted to hang in my office as a trophy of this year’s hunting season.

The next season is Christmas. We’re getting new countertops, apparently.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.