We’ve been home from our winter sojourn for three weeks. Posts are not as frequent despite the access to the internet. There are too many other things to do, like prepare for our 5 month trip to Europe that is coming in 8 weeks. However, I have been reflecting on our 8,000 miles in Picasso and what I learned. Here’s a reflection about my attitude toward campground amenities.
We have always been what is termed primitive campers. That means we camped where there were toilets, but no water or other utilities at your campsite. Most often there are no showers in primitive campgrounds. The payoff is that these campgrounds are usually in beautiful locations that allow you to lay back in your campsite and enjoy the view. With our solar panels, on board water storage and shower, and propane heater we intended to take Picasso to primitive sites.
Solar power doesn’t work if the sun doesn’t shine. The alternatives are to find another source of electricity or live in the dark much of the time. The propane furnace also doesn’t run without electricity for the fan, so temperature becomes a consideration. Our desire (not really a need) for the convenience of electricity forces us to compromise on other values.
Water at primitive campgrounds is usually at a central location. That means either pulling Picasso to the spigot to refill the tanks or carrying water in a bucket to fill the tanks. Our tanks can last 3-4 days on conservative use. So that would mean moving or carrying twice a week. Water at the campsite means simply connecting the hose to the Picasso’s inlet and having pressured water at the tap!
Picasso’s shower is smaller than a phone booth. Well, that may be a dated comparison because one rarely sees phone booths anymore. Let’s say it’s about the size of a refrigerator that is only 5 feet 8 inches tall. Yep, I can’t stand in the shower. Of course the toilet is in the same compartment, so I can sit down to shower. 😉 Need I say that a shower in a campground is a welcome luxury. Furthermore, it means that our on board water lasts longer.
Picasso’s toilet is quite usable. Campground toilets are used by everyone and some users are not as conscious of cleanliness as I would prefer. This winter I saw toilets with feces on the seat, those backed up and overflowing on the floor, empty paper rolls, and broken fluch mechanisms. Given all of that why not use Picasso’s toilet? The answer lies in disposal. Picasso has a self-contained toilet. That means that the little five gallon tank must be emptied regularly. This involved removing it from the trailer, carrying it to a dump station, pouring the contents down the drain, rinsing it out, and reinserting it into Picasso’s nether regions. It’s a dirty job and often the dump sites are not close to the campsite. How does one carry 5 gallons of sewage 1/4 mile safely?
This raises the other disposal problem. Dirty water (known as grey water in camping circles) must be disposed of in a sewer as well. We have a 20 gallon “portable” tank for that. It has wheels and can be pulled to a dump station. 20 gallons of water weighs about 160 pounds. Think of this as pulling an adult in a child’s wagon and you will get an idea of what is involved. However, if there is a sewer connection at the campsite we can send a hose from Picasso directly to the drain with our grey water. (There is no such connection for the toilet.)
All of these considerations made us reevaluate RV parks versus primitive campgrounds. In return for giving up a beautiful campsite we get water, sewer, electricity, and often internet connections at our campsite. We don’t have to empty water and sewer tanks, move solar panels (if the sun is even shining), or drive to McDonald’s to log on. That gives us more time to go to wild places to enjoy the scenery.
Yep, we have become RV park users. Next time I will post a reflection on what we found in the RV park society.