Some Like It Hot

A few months ago, our friend Sean O’Shaughnessey sent us a list of topics he thought would be interesting to blog about.  Sean is a writer himself and has memories of RVing as a child. Here is one of the topics Sean suggested:

Not to get too personal but do you use the miniscule shower in the RV or default to the public showers when possible?

The answer to this question has evolved and changed.  In Part 1 (aka, pre-crash) of our trip, we almost always used the campground’s public shower. Every night, we’d take a change of clothes, toiletries bag, towels, wear our flip flops, and walk over to the campground shower for a nice, long shower.  Sometimes, a campground might not have water that was hot enough for me, as I like it HOT.  In those cases, I’d then shower in the RV for the rest of that campground stay.

In Part 2 (aka, post-crash), we have exclusively used the RV shower.  Why the change, you might wonder?

The main reason is in Part 2 of our trip, we aren’t in campgrounds as often because we are roadside camping about two-thirds of the time.  We come “down from the hills” back to civilization when we need to replenish our resources (fresh water, dump our tanks), get groceries, do the laundry, use the internet and take care of chores like bills, insurance, finances, etc.  Because we’re off the grid pretty regularly, we have gotten so much into the habit of using the RV shower that even when we’re in a campground with a shower, we sort of forget we could use it.

The new RV has a larger shower than the old one.

In the RV, we take two types of showers: the drip shower and the semi-decent flow shower.  The drip shower is necessary when we’re roadside camping because the grey water tank (into which the shower drains) holds only 28 gallons.  We use as little water as possible while still technically being able to call it a shower. 

The shower head is connected to a hose.

The drip showering steps go like this:

1. Turn on the water and while waiting for the water to turn hot, catch the cold water in a bucket, which we use later to flush the toilet.

2. Adjust the water so it’s barely dripping and so it’s as hot as possible without scalding yourself.

3. Get wet everywhere.  Turn off the water using the on/off switch on the shower head itself.  Using this switch keeps you from having to reset the temperature as you would have to do if you turned off the water using the regular hot and cold knobs.

4. Wash your hair.  Shave, etc.

5. Turn on the water and rinse off.  The shower head is on a hose so you can efficiently direct the dripping water to exactly what you want to rinse off.

6. Apply conditioner to your hair and wash your body.

7. Turn on the water and rinse off. Turn off the shower with the knobs.

We estimate that we use only 2 gallons of water with this method.  This estimate is based on the fact that we have a 28 gallon grey water tank.  We fill this up to 2/3 full in about 4 days, allowing us to take 8 showers plus do dishes, wash our hands, brush our teeth, etc.

The second shower method in the RV is the semi-decent water flow method.  This is the type of shower we take when we’re in a campground where we have “facilities,” including the ability to dump our tanks.  Semi-decent water flow in an RV is about 1/5th of a normal shower.  It’s never full blast like in a real shower.  The average normal 10 minute shower uses between 25 and 50 gallons of water, which even in a campground isn’t really possible because the grey water holding tank is only 28 gallons.  Plus, we have to keep in mind that we have only a 6 gallon hot water heater.  However, it’s set at an unchangeable 140 degrees, which is very hot.  As a result, we’ve never run out of hot water in the shower.

We replaced the factory shower head and added a swivel arm that lets the water shower straight down like rain.

There are a few things that make showering in this new RV nicer than in the old RV.  We replaced the shower head with a new one that has a bigger head and a better angle to drop the water down vs. needing higher pressure to spray it outward.  Funny how a $15 shower head can make a huge difference in comfort and warmth, thereby reducing water usage even further.  The second thing is that the new shower and bathroom are bigger than in the old RV.  Just a few more inches when living in a 25 foot RV makes a big difference as well.

Despite the drawbacks of showering in the RV, there’s definitely the convenience of showering in our own “home” vs. in a public campground shower facility.  There is nothing wrong with the public showers, as we’ve found them to be very clean and almost always deserted with just us using them.  But we’ve gotten used to showering in our RV, and now it’s a way of life.

Funny how we just get used to things, how we adapt without even realizing it.  We are blessed with so many amazingly good aspects of this adventure and yet along with it, comes some less convenient aspects of living on the road, like drip showers.  But we are trading luxurious showers for a year of adventure and beautiful hikes. For us, this is more than a fair exchange!

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