Monday, January 27, 2014

Systems: what I don't have

For anyone that was paying attention, and stuck with me all this time as I was prattling on, you’re right, no shower, no enclosed bathroom, no hot water tank, no furnace, no generator. Over the years I’ve had rigs with all these amenities and have come to the conclusion that I don’t need or want them in such a small space.

Of course, as I said before, what works for me isn’t going to work for everyone but let me just make a few points.

I have spent my fair share of time trying to wash up in tiny little spaces some designer (A designer who I suspect never camped in his/her creations all that much.) has crammed into a corner of a rig and called a shower, only to get all sweaty again cleaning up the mess I created in doing so.  I find that real showers are readily available in private and even many public campgrounds, and in a pinch, truck stops. In between a small pan of water heated in one of my kettles, a bar of soap used sparingly, and a washcloth works just fine. And for quick touchups between the in-betweens, a couple of those adult sized wet wipes works pretty well.

Doing away with an onboard shower has the added advantage of eliminating much of the need for a hot water tank, and the propane system it requires. I generally wash dishes once a day with water heated in either my electric or stove-top tea kettle. If I don’t have access to a shower and have gotten grubbier than a handful of wet-wipes can handle I just heat up a little extra water.

At about 77 sq. ft. my van is smaller than many American bathrooms, trying to cram a dedicated toilet room into that space just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, especially since I will use it for a grand total of a few minutes a day. Besides, since I’m the only one in my van what would I need an enclosed toilet for? Just slide my little portable out of its cupboard, use it, and slide it back in. Just before going to bed I do tend to slide it into a back corner of the van so that I don’t have to fumble around during one of those middle-of-the-night interruptions to a really great sleep that seem to come more frequently with age.

As for heating, I carry a little electric heater as well as a propane fired (Again the little bottles.) catalytic heater. If I have shore power available the electric heater does a damn fine job all the way down to temperatures I don’t really want to be camping in in the first place. (I did my share of ‘polar bear’ camping as a Scout living in Michigan!) If I don’t have shore power, judicious use of the catalytic heater in the evening really heats up my small space. At the end of the evening I just turn it off and pull out the extra blanket and my Sherpa style knit cap and sleep quite comfortably. If I ever manage to get into an extreme situation I also have that sleeping bag tucked under the gaucho.

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