Every lifestyle has its quirks and camp life certainly has no shortage of quirkiness. We are coming up on our 12th month of camp life, and while we are masters of nothing, we have managed to glean a bit of experiential wisdom along the way. In that spirit, we started putting together installments for what we have affectionately coined our “camp life truisms”. Our first edition pertained to consumption, and this week’s piece focuses on the joys of laundry ….
Truism # 2: Laundry
I used to find laundry to be a mindless and somewhat cathartic chore, and one that I dare say, I even enjoyed. This was when I had easy access to laundry machines at my personal disposal. I did not know how good I had it. Road life has changed my perception completely. I have come to resent this chore and dread laundry day.
First, space. We simply do not have space for a stinking collection of soiled clothes, nor the stomach for it. Second, inconvenience. While many campgrounds have laundry facilities, many don’t, which sometimes leaves us scrambling to find a commercial laundry mat and trying to decipher their system of assorted sized machines, currency (“laundry cards”), and maneuvering the camper around awkward strip malls. For those campgrounds that do have a laundry room, it typically becomes a process of schlepping everything across a campground on foot and remembering to always have a small ransom of quarters on hand. I will not miss the life-sustaining need to possess rolls of quarters. Not at all.
Long gone are my days of sorting laundry. I consider a round of camp laundry as fabric Darwinism. If it didn’t survive a load of mixed colors at unpredictable temperatures, it did not belong in our attire. Same goes for the dryer. If it is too delicate for the dryer, my capacity to care is directly proportional to how much sun and space there is outside for drying. We live in a tiny truck camper. We have just enough space for two fully grown humans. Trying to jerry-rig a drying station inside our camper is. not. pleasant.
In terms of etiquette, there are a couple serious faux paux I have come to learn and appreciate: 1) Always use a timer and collect your items promptly so others can use the machine. If you don’t, you will likely find your clothes dumped on a folding table. I have, and I don’t fault whoever did it. I learned to be more mindful. 2) If you have several loads of laundry worth to do, I feel for you, that really sucks. We have been there. But, if there is a small number of machines, which is normally the case in a campground, then it is not cool to minimize your time spent in laundry hell by occupying the majority of the machines during prime waking hours. This is not a first-come, first-serve scenario, this is a community space that we are all sharing, which requires a community mindset.
Another truism as it directly relates to laundry, and in some ways consumption, is we have come to realize that wearing a whole new outfit every single day is wildly wasteful and unsustainable. Sure, if you have a traditional 8-6 job and need to keep up “appearances” at the office, this may be necessary. When you live on the road and only see one other human being with any sort of regularity, wearing 7 different outfits in a week is impractical, unnecessary, and makes laundry day a nightmare. After living on the road and on the go, you come to realize that a couple outfits a week is just fine and swapping configurations, or not, does the trick!