Adapting to a Teardrop Without a Toilet

A bathroom was on our list of “must haves” for a camper. We ultimately purchased the NuCamp T@G for many good reasons, but the lack of a toilet required a major adaptation on my part.

I am a newly-retired, former accounting professional, newbie camper who has never been particularly outdoorsy.   We wanted to give camping a try, but did not initially consider campers without toilets.  I felt that giving up an indoor toilet was just too much.  However, we settled on our T@G because it fits in our basement and is easily pulled by our tow vehicle.

For some readers, this post may be TMI, but I would have liked to have read something like this when we first considered our camper and in the early days of our camping.

The biggest challenge for me would be to adapt to very uncertain and varied bathroom options.  I was not worried about showering at campsites, but I was worried about how I would handle getting up in the middle of the night, which happens often.

We have been on nine camping trips to ten different campsites and I can honestly say that I am far more comfortable with camping in our T@G, but it has been a process.

Worst Nightime Experience 

This occurred on our first camping trip.  On the first night, I had a flashlight handy and had checked out the bathhouse location in the daylight, so felt I was as ready as I could be for my nocturnal trip.  The bathhouse was down a trail with a couple of turns. It was well-lit, so I had no trouble finding it.  Coming back, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a different area.  I could have wandered around for quite awhile, but recognized one of our friend’s campers, which helped me navigate to ours.

The next night I used a five-gallon bucket filled with kitty litter and topped with a toilet lid.  (This was our very low-tech solution.)  It was in a tent on our campsite and was far better than hiking in the woods.  Despite the convenience,  I did not like the cleanup.

New Strategy—Camp Near a Restroom

This strategy actually worked very well!  Compared to hiking through the woods, walking a short distance to a bathhouse you could see from your campsite was easy.   I stayed with this strategy through several camping trips and will use it again whenever it is a good option.

It was not a good option on a trip with a group of our friends.  We booked our sites early and they had prime spots.  I chose not to stay in their area because it was not near a restroom.  Our area was not as shady as theirs, had far more bugs, and we were not able to be where the action was with them.  This got me to thinking another option was needed.

Next Strategy—A Porta Potty

A friend had been suggesting that I get a porta potty since we began camping, but I had been resisting.  I was afraid that dealing with cleanup would be gross.  I was ready to give it a try though and I bought one on line.  I also bought a privacy tent because we had discovered that we did not always have the option to set up a tent.

I was also a little bit intimidated about how they worked.  I will go into some detail here for those who may be unfamiliar with them.  The one we purchased seems pretty standard.  There is a top section where water is stored for flushing and a bottom section for waste.  We also use holding tank deodorant and it works very well; there is no unpleasant smell.

Disassembled Porta Potty

The photo above shows the potty disassembled.   Upon arrival at campsite you just fill the section on the right with water and the attach it to the section on the left.  Then toss in one of the deodorant packs into the bottom section.  When utilizing it, you pull out the lever on the bottom and when finished, you press the waffle valve on the top to flush.  You then close the lever on the bottom.

Cleanup was not bad at all.  My husband volunteered to handle it, but as I am the primary user, I felt I should do it. It was far easier to use and clean than I feared.  The assembled product is below.

Assembled Porta Potty

This gave me such flexibility!  I no longer worried about being near the restrooms.  We always brought the new equipment when we were uncertain about the closeness of campsite facilities, though sometimes we did not take it out of the box.  We could camp at the best sites with our friends.  Our little privacy tent goes up and down very easily and we were set.

Privacy tent/toilet

You would think that with our new equipment and my adaptation to using them that no indoor toilet would be a non-issue.  However, we have encountered one other situation that is not resolved.

The No Tents Dilemma 

We recently camped with friends at a beautiful RV Resort.  Upon arrival, we learned that no tents were allowed, not even a privacy tent. I raised it a couple of times with management and they were not budging.  We were not near a restroom, but we were only there a couple of nights.  We were with friends and I decided to just make the best of it.  It was a pretty far hike for the middle of the night, but it was well-lit and easy to navigate.  Fortunately, my previous trips trekking to restrooms has made me flexible about nightime walks.

Summary

The fact that our camper does not have an indoor toilet is no longer a big deal. I could not have said this at the beginning of this journey.   We love our T@G and the economy it brings to our camping trips.  For those who are first considering camping without an indoor toilet, I offer the following recommendations:

  • Be open to new experiences.  If you want to adapt, I believe you can.  Also, this is camping, not luxury travel.  It has its own kind of special beauty, but it is not primarily about the comfort.
  • Remember that you are getting a lot on the plus side with a teardrop.  Light, easy towing and the ability to conveniently store in your garage.  That was worth a lot to us.
  • Always look for the close restroom option when it works for you.  No bathroom to clean at all; how cool is that?
  • Don’t wait to get a porta potty.  They are easy to set up, use, and break down.
  • When booking campsites, always get a clear understanding of any restrictions related to tents.  I suspect this would be primarily related to RV resorts.  You may want to go anyway, but it is a good idea to know what to expect.
  • Enjoy your camper and embrace new adventures!

Happy Camping!

 

October 2017

 

 

 

Retirement: In Sickness and in Health

We often hear that you should retire when you are relatively young so you will have good years to travel and enjoy retirement. However, there are no guarantees.

Everyone knows as you get older, you are more likely to have health issues.  I retired this year with goals of traveling and adopting a very heathy lifestyle as primary motivations for leaving the workforce.  I loved working, but there were so many things I wanted to do.  “Life is short, even in the longest days” to quote John Mellencamp.  (Great song, by the way)

Our year started great, with both of us feeling good with trips to the gym each weekday.  Our days were slow and leisurely.   We had more time with family and to do those things around the house that we were always postponing.  We planned trips in our tiny trailer and worked on ways to make it more functional.

Just three weeks into the year,  I developed a respiratory infection that kept reoccurring and then I got the flu.   I was sick for three months with three separate episodes of fever over 101.  There were times when I was getting better-before the times I was getting worse.  During those better times, we were able to take a couple of preplanned trips, but had to cancel one.  But I was not really well during any of this time and it was very frustrating.  I felt like I would never be back to where I was before getting sick.  Finally, a diagnosis of mild intermittent ashma and it came as a relief.  Hopefully, next time I am sick I will be able to get medications to make me well.

We really love to travel.  We bought our camper because it allowed us to travel as often as we liked because it is so inexpensive.  While we did a good bit of traveling this year, we did not plan any big or long trips.   My husband has a knee that has been very painful for several years. Many have told him how much knee replacement changed their quality of life.  We planned for this to be the year to take care of that knee, so we spent a lot of time pursuing a knee replacement for him.

His orthopedic surgeon identified issues with the veins in his leg, which is why his leg has always been so swollen.  The veins increase his risk of a blood clot with knee replacement, but the risk would be less if the vein issue was addressed.

A vascular surgeon assessed him and an ultrasound identified a vein in his leg with a defective valve, technically called Venus Insufficiency.  It allowed blood to flow down into his leg, but not back up.  The pooling of blood in his leg is what was caused it to swell. We scheduled an ablation procedure to stop blood from flowing into that vein.  A long, painful recovery time was not expected and we would schedule the knee replacement after vein surgery recovery.

My husband had the surgery and went home with no issues.  He was also doing very well in his follow up visit.

Right before vein surgery

However, he had extreme pain in his chest a few days later and was spitting up blood.   The E/R visit confirmed blood clots in his lungs (pulmonary embolism) and in his leg.  This was a very serious complication and very painful.  He had to stay in the hospital for three days while they administered heparin, a blood thinner, intravenously.  They also had to manage his pain, which was very intense.

During the time in the E/R and the first day or so at the hospital, we were both very scared.  We could not be certain a clot had not gone to his heart, which can be deadly.   He hurt so bad, I think he must have felt he was dying.  It was so hard to watch and not be able to stop it.  They gave him very strong painkillers, but they only mildly relieved the pain.

Prayers of many were answered and he was remarkably better by the time we left the hospital and continues to get better every day.  There was some damage to his lungs, but it is expected to have a minimal impact when his lungs heal.

I too have had some recent issues:  a high heart rate during exercising and dizziness after working out.  For awhile, I feared that something was wrong with my heart, but recent tests have not identified any issues.  I still do not know the specific cause of my symptoms, but thankfully it is not related to my heart.

My husband and I have been sicker this year than we have ever been.  It  makes me acutely aware of the frailty of life.  I am so grateful that we are now looking at full recovery from his recent issues, though it is uncertain if he will be able to have the knee replacement surgery.  I would love for him to get his knee fixed, but his life is more important than his mobility.

We have been married for thirty-one years and have been fortunate that they have been very healthy years.   This is our first year with so much illness but at this stage of our life, there is no doubt we will have others.  I do not look forward to the sickness part of our marriage vow, but will definitely want to be there for that part as well.

Recent health issues have shown me not want to take anything for granted.  I cherish each day that I can spend with my husband and our family.  We may have many more good years or it could all come to a grinding halt in a heartbeat.  The future is not known, but each day should be lived knowing that it will not go on forever.  I will try to do that.