I haven’t showered in four weeks. No, seriously…I’m not joking. I know that sounds disgusting. It’s the longest stretch in my life that I’ve not showered. The truth is I thought I would be showering a lot more. I’m not sure why I thought that…I just did. Maybe gas-stations where truckers shower when their number gets called or campgrounds if we could bribe the host into letting us…I guess I didn’t really give it that much thought because here I am twenty-eight days later sans shower.
It’s not like I haven’t bathed, geesh. We jump in alpine lakes and skinny dip in freezing cold creeks. But I didn’t give much thought to how difficult it would be to consistently shave or keep my hair clean and to not have a spout of hot water to pour over me at the end of the day. For someone who washed her hair EVERY SINGLE DAY (washed-past tense)… lets just say it’s been an adjustment. I’ve become a pro at rubbing Dr. Bronner’s quickly over my exposed limbs as I squat in freezing cold water and shave over my goosebumps in less than two minutes flat. Is it enjoyable? Not exactly. But it does the trick and there is something about shaving that makes me feel clean…like it’s just enough of an impression of being clean to convince me “ah you’re good enough…let’s go another week”.
We have a 1 gallon weed sprayer from Home Depot that cost $10 named Sebastian. This is our shower. We pump him until he’s pressurized and quickly spray ourselves or each other with the cold water, yelping and laughing. I’m not complaining. It does what is necessary when there are no alpine lakes or freezing cold creeks nearby, he’s a life-saver and I’ve come to love lil’ Sebastian. Once, after dipping in a questionable hot spring Andrew sprayed me down, only to have a huge burst of wind carry a wall of dirt smack dab against my just bathed body. Coated in dust, I looked like something out of Mad Max. Laughing, he sprayed me down with a lot of strange looks from the other visitors in the parking lot. I’m sure watching someone get doused with a weed sprayer is quite the sight. Not having a shower in our van or hot water was an intentional choice. Like I said, we knew we would be jumping in bodies of water and along with Sebastian we would manage. Which leads me to the present… I’ve skinny dipped two days in a row in a freezing creek shying away from crawdads so they don’t pinch my lady parts and trying to catch my breath as the ice-cold water takes my breath away. What I’m trying to say is…this is van life unglorified.
I feel the need after sharing and posting the last few weeks about how amazing my newfound nomadic lifestyle is to also dispel any myths that it is perfect, like most things in life it comes with its own set of challenges. The three-weeks-lack-of-shower being one of them. The toilet being quite another.
We have a portable cassette toilet nicknamed Prince Eric. If you don’t know what a cassette toilet is, it’s a toilet that splits into two. The top bowl flushes into the bottom compartment which holds the waste. The bottom compartment is detachable and when it is full you have to manually empty it into a toilet, flushing a little bit at a time. We put in a chemical to help break down the waste…but still, it’s shitty. Dumping Prince Eric is not our favorite Vanlife responsibility. We take turns. But there is something about dumping yours & your partners waste that brings a whole new level to the relationship. Even more so when it’s Aunt Flo’s time to visit. You get the point. What I’m trying to say is…this is van life unglorified.
There are other small things that make this lifestyle far from ideal for some. Sharing a small space, lack of privacy, having to swap out water jugs every other day, hitting your head on the upper cabinets, the list can go on but, honestly…all these things that make Vanlife un-glorified are also what makes it such an adventure.
Truthfully, I wouldn’t trade this adventure for the world. I feel so incredibly blessed, grateful and privileged to live this way. This lifestyle is simple and liberating and pretty unconventional. Vanlife un-glorified is really just a small trade-off for the amazing journey I am on. And I love it. I love every single second of it. Even if I don’t shower for three weeks. Even if I freeze to death skinny dipping in a creek. Even if I have to dump shit. Even if crawdads pinch my lady parts. So while I can laugh about all the small things, my heart is just really full with all the big things: a life I am absolutely in love with and where I wouldn’t change one damn, unglorified thing.
Just for proof here’s a picture of me pooping in the woods and skinny dipping in the freezing cold creek.