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Outdoors commentary: Living the trailer life

Outdoors commentary: Living the trailer life

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OK. I admit it. I bought a trailer.

After decades of mocking trailer owners, now I am one.

It’s not big enough to be a travel trailer and it’s too nice to be a camping trailer. I don’t know what the heck it is, really, just that it has wheels. And a stove, air conditioner and furnace. Most importantly, as it turns out, it has a bathroom, but more about that later.

People say change is hard, but I can’t figure out why it’s so difficult for me to transition from the discomfort of backpacking and tent camping to the easy living, take-your-house-with-you lifestyle of the trailer folk. I suspect it’s because I came relatively late to an outdoor way of life and embraced it fully. Except for a few sojourns to lakeside campgrounds, we have not camped at a prepared campsite for 35 years. We camped in meadows or level spots in the woods. We laid out our sleeping bags in the shade of rocks in the desert. We carried our own water or filtered it from nearby streams, we used solar-heated water for showers and we dug pits for toilets. We went where we wanted, when we wanted.

While we were living that carefree lifestyle, the established campground experience changed completely. Now, virtually every campsite — tent or trailer — in every state, federal or county campground is full for months in advance. Evidently the spread of the covid virus has made the situation even worse, as people try to enjoy the outdoors with a minimum of risk.

Luckily, for our shakedown cruise we were able to get a three-day reservation at a private RV resort on the North Umpqua. It was a nice place, well-maintained and attractive, in a pretty packed-together sort of way.

“Embrace the change,” my friends told me. “It’s a great new experience, you just have to allow yourself to enjoy it.”

So we did. We had the full hookup, with water, electricity and sewer. We ran the air conditioning on a hot afternoon. We even ran the furnace one chilly morning. Most importantly, we eschewed the community bathroom and used our own conveniently-located-on-the-south-end-of-the-trailer bathroom. This option, as it turned out, was a defining issue in our (I use the attributive adjective loosely) decision to purchase the trailer. Because, after all, who wants to get up in the middle of the night and stumble in the dark to a hole in the ground? No one important, it seemed.

Author’s note: We’ve long since graduated from a simple hole in the ground. For years now I have provided a hospital-grade, adjustable-height, comfort-molded toilet seat for family use. I’m not a barbarian, after all.

However, as convenient as the ensuite bathroom is, it requires a bit of bedroom gymnastics for late night use. The one of us who sleeps on the side of the bed farthest from the bathroom — three guesses which of us that is — is forced to vault the other on his way to and from his trek toward midnight relief.

No matter how many times I have explained the physiological impacts of enlarged prostates, I still find myself on the far-away-from-the-bathroom side of the bed. Well, OK. But I might not always be capable of a quiet or gentle vault on my way across. So there.

At any rate, I am doing my best to embrace the trailer lifestyle. People I trust have enjoyed their trailer for years now. It must be possible.

In the meanwhile, I’m looking forward to hunting elk with a bow. In a tent. With a solar shower, propane stove and water filter. And a hole-in-the-ground toilet. Just as God intended.

Pat Wray writes about the outdoors and can be reached at patwray@comcast.net.

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