Complicated Problems, Simple Solutions 0

In a small and simple RV life we strive to look for things that make our life less stressful and more flexible. Much of that has to do with trying to anticipate future needs, to plan more for where we want to be and less reacting to the current situation. Also, we try to find simple solutions to complicated problems. Karen and I have been living in an RV less than a year but it seems that the planning, like many nomads, has been going on for years. Lead time is important but sometimes experience is gained on short notice. 


We had been house dwellers before. Neither one of us was enamored with the time and expense of maintaining a house. Then we became apartment dwellers. That was better, but tiny houses and a minimalist lifestyle we calling. We moved in the direction of RV living because we wanted to wander and that appeared to be the best way to get there. 

I want to point out that none of these moves was a snap decision. All of them were the result of long discussions and research. No one should sell everything and hit the road on a whim. We were very good at negotiating and, looking back, things appear far more logical and deliberate then they appeared at the time. Most of the decisions went well. 


After we got HaRVey, we became immersed in outfitting and modifying him for the life ahead. Shelves, bars, drawers, composting toilet, these were the biggest concerns at the time in addition to deciding what stays and what goes. It’s truly amazing that when you only have this tiny amount of storage, lots of things change their status to nonessential and we play lots of episodes of “Can we sell it?” I. Think from all the furniture and belongings that I inherited when my Dad passed 11 years ago.

After a couple of small outings to learn how the RV feels in use, we struck out on the road for six weeks and crossed the country twice, experimenting staying in a variety of parks and situations. Then it was back to Flagstaff because of work commitments and we settled for the time being into a local RV park, anticipating the next phase of our life as nomads. We reviewed what we had learned and decided things had gone well and we planned to go full nomad sooner then later. 


So, we come to the beginning of fall, the weather starts to cool down and we’re planning when to cut the cord and launch into full time boondocking. Karen and I have both lived in cold climates like New York and Michigan. We have lived in the Flagstaff area going on three years and we know it gets cold here in the winter. Frankly, so do RVs. Halloween was our go date. I had some questions on how you keep everything running during the upcoming winter so I asked around some of the RV shops what to do. 

BRRR, It’s Cold

They seemed to be of the consensus that I had to get winterized with special antifreeze and such. Oh? Your going to live in it? Well then, you need a skirt to put around the bottom of the RV to keep the cold wind out. Also maybe some lights underneath to keep it warm enough so everything doesn’t freeze. And a heated water hose so your water supply doesn’t freeze. 

This seemed to be getting more complicated as it went on. And the people seemed to be ignoring the fact that I had said boondocking, meaning power for the heated hose and the lights under the RV was a non starter. We have solar, not a generator and the fuel for that would be expensive, not to mention the cost the generator. Generally they said this wasn’t going to work without an RV park and hookups. 

A Closer Look At The Problem

In a small and simple life we look for solutions that move away from complexity. All this lights and skirts and heated hoses and blah blah blah was becoming messy and convoluted. We went back to restating the problem. How do. We keep the water in the. Lines and tanks from freezing during the coming winter? Drag a skirt for HaRVey everywhere we go while we frequently move? And all the other stuff. Tortuous, complicated, cumbersome. Not minimal or simple. 

Circle back to the problem. Water in the pipes. Humm… do we need water in the pipes? A pump or a pipe freezing is expensive and problematic while a gallon container, not so much. Why does it seem that everyone assumes there must be water in the pipes and tanks?

There Is No Box Here

So I opened the valves and emptied the fresh water system and made sure that the grey tank was responsibly dumped. Nothing has been in the system since October 31 and it all seems to be working out. No freezing problems because there’s nothing there to freeze. We have become used to buying water by the gallon container and cleaning up with spray bottles. Ok, so we use correspondingly more paper towels. 

So the solution to the problem turned out to be something no one offered. When we bought the RV I wondered wether a 30 gallon tank was big enough. Now we go two and a half to three weeks on that. I used to believe that indoor plumbing was the greatest invention mankind ever created.  Now I’m not so sure. Going back to a relatively primitive solution has worked out for us. Or, why invent the wheel again? Just because its old school doesn’t make it a bad idea. 

Ok, I. Know someone is going to say “What about showers?” Join an athletic club. It’s cheap. And a small and simple solution to a complex situation. 

Previous Article