Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Final Trip of the Season - Part 1

Before the Roadtrek and when we stayed in hotel rooms for a number of years we were going to Colonial Williamsburg in the beginning of December for their special holiday event, Grand Illumination. With the Roadtrek we could start doing this again - but with the uncertainty of the weather even in the beginning of December, we would have to do this with the Roadtrek winterized. We have been to Virginia on this weekend in years when the temperatures have been in the 70's (one year over 80) and other years the temperatures dropped into the low 20's. It is just to unpredictable to take a chance. We had the Roadtrek winterized a few weeks before.

We would be traveling without water and no water hookup when we got to the campground. This meant a different way to start thinking about traveling and we started planning for this trip back in September with what we would do - to go waterless. There are three basic needs for water. Drinking - easily taken care of with bottled water. Washing - also possible with bottled water and a basin to wash in. Toilet needs - that was the question. The campground has a bathhouse with toilets, sinks, and showers, but in the cold you don't really want to get up in the middle of the night to get dressed, walk out to the restroom, and then come back to go back to bed. Some will say that you can just use the toilet in the winter substituting anti-freeze for water to flush, but this still means dumping the tank and if the temps fall to freezing this is not an easy task with a cold macerator hose that is coiled up into a small compartment that will not move as freely as it does when it is warm. This was not a difficult puzzle to solve, because there are things made just for this purpose. The easiest is to purchase a supply of "wag bags". These are sold under various names in camping stores. Walmart sells two brands of these - one brand in the stores and a different brand online. These are intended to be used with a frame that has a toilet seat on top and you hang these bags below the seat. As it turns out these bags fit perfectly in the Roadtrek toilet.

Let me explain what these bags are, because even I did not believe there was such a thing when I first learned about them. This is a large silver color zip lock bag that has inside an even larger black plastic bag attached at the bottom. Inside that inner bag is a chemical or "bio-gell" that gells all liquid and solid waste and deodorizes it. What you do, is open the ziplock bag and carefully pull the inner bag out. You place that outer bag down into the Roadtrek toilet and then follow that with the fully open large inner bag. You gather the edges of the black bag around the edge of the toilet and put the seat down on top trapping the edges into place. You then reach in (its clean at this point! but I did use gloves as I did not know if the chemical inside would be a problem to come into contact with) and open the bag as much as possible pushing the sides against the toilet bowl. The bag is now ready for use. You can do whatever you need to do in the bag. When you are finished, you simply lift the toilet seat, gather the clean edges of the bag up and fold them over to close the inner black bag, and then let that bag go back into the attached outer bag. Zip the ziplock and dispose. The companies that make these claim that it is legal and safe to dispose of them in any garbage receptacle. There is no odor and they do not leak.

I had read that others do this with no problem and we decided that this is what we would try for this trip. As I said, Walmart does sell them in their camping department. They are not cheap - almost $11.00 for six bags. During the day we would use public restrooms or the restroom at the campground but at night after bed, if nature called, we would use the bag - pre-placed in the toilet. I began to find out as I looked in Walmarts for these bags that they are popular items and often sell out. I started buying boxes of bags in September. This trip would be for nine days and I was not certain how many we would need. Ultimately, I bought six boxes at various Walmarts - that was 36 bags all together. We could always return full boxes that were not opened and it was better to have them with us than find out that the local Williamsburg Walmart did not have them. I will talk about using these later on.

For drinking and washing we could use bottled water, but Meryl had the idea to get a Brita Water Dispenser. This is a small rectangular dispenser with a valve spout that filters water for drinking. With this we could use water just as we would from the sink faucet and we could fill the dispenser every night at the restroom of the campground (or the hose connection at our hookup). With the grey water tank winterized, we did not want to allow any water go down the sink drain, so we began looking for a plastic box with a lid that would fit perfectly in the sink. Meryl saw one that would be perfect in Lowes early on, but did not buy it for some reason. Of course, Lowes no longer carried this once we went back to purchase it. We looked all over including several stores when we where traveling in September and October for this box. On a trip to a Kmart we found the box - it is the Snapware Smart Store box that says on the label that it fits a 14" shelf. It fits inside the Roadtrek sink perfectly. The handled lid snaps tightly on. Meryl decided that by cutting a hole in one of the corners of the lid, once out of the sink the lid could be snapped on and it would be easy to carry the box without spilling so that we could empty it through the hole that we added in the lid into a sink at the bathhouse. This worked perfectly. We set up the Brita Dispenser on the side of the sink, spout pointing into the sink, with the Snapware box (no lid of course) in the sink to catch all of the water. Not only was this easy to put water into a cup (paper, of course) but it was easy to turn on the spout and wash your hands under the running water, all caught by the box without a drop over the side. Each morning, I simply lifted the box of water out of the sink, snapped the lid on and carried it out to dump. When we would leave for the morning we would place this box under the sink in the cabinet, and put the Brita Dispenser into the sink on a large towel to keep it from moving around (and catch any stray drips). Again, this all worked perfectly!

We were all set. We were heading for Williamsburg, Virginia for the first full weekend of December. I made my campground reservations early in October to be sure we had a space and I also requested a space near the restroom building. We would go for 7 nights in Virginia and one night on the way back in Lancaster just to break up the almost nine hour (longer with stops and traffic) trip. On the way down to Virginia we would do the trip on one run. My only concern was the weather. Last year had we had the Roadtrek and making this trip there was a large snow storm at home at this same time. I am not ready yet to deal with the Roadtrek in snow, so if that was the case again this year, I would cancel the reservations, forfeit the $10 to the campground in Williamsburg for canceling, and hope for better weather in 2012. And if you have been reading along on this site you know that we do not have the best of luck with weather - a ten foot blizzard would not have surprised me.

We were leaving on a Thursday. The festivities in Williamsburg take place on Sunday and we decided to extend our little winter vacation to return on the next Thursday. Happily, as we were leaving the weather was fine - and predictions were for good weather all along - and good temperatures as well. We were off to the American Heritage Campground in Williamsburg, Virginia.


Come back next week for PART 2.

1 comment:

  1. Just want to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog so much. Lot of details and info that benefit some one like me that is new to rv world. I am planning to get one myself in a near future.
    Thank you so much for your time and effort.
    Merry Xmas and Happy new year!!!