Cold Season

As is his habit Christian startles awake with the sun, sits bolt upright in the van, bumping his head on the way up. Upon recovering Christian gently shakes Julie’s shoulders and she groans, ‘just another ten minutes.’ He bounds energetically from the van to fill the pot for morning coffee. Oops the water container we left outside overnight has frozen. Oh well, there is still a small one in the van! Christian then sets up the whisperlite stove to boil the water for the French Press, and begins to grind the coffee by hand in our Hario ceramic grinder hoping the scent will stir his sleeping wife. Anxious for her to rise so that he can put the bed away he starts removing the down duvet and folding it up for the day. It works, Julie has no choice but to join the breakfast preparations. It is too cold to eat outside so a makeshift table is setup inside the van using our green food storage bin as a coffee table. Once this relaxing, shivering breakfast has wound up it’s time for the clean up. We gather up our small rubber made dish pan, fill it with icy water and soap and wash the morning dishes. Meanwhile the whisperlite stove is back in action boiling up water for the rinse cycle. By the time we finish our morning chores it is still only about zero celcius and eight o’clock. This campground has only pit toilets and no running water by the way. Still, a pit toilet is better than no toilet to these genteel road warriors. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Yesterday we woke up in Benson, Arizona. We were camped in a KOA parking-lot-style-campground nestled in the mountains. The overnight temperature was about minus three Celcius. Because we had electricity we were able to keep warm with our little heater running all night long. We left our large water container outside on the picnic table and the contents were frozen solid by morning. This has been the scenario for about a week and a half now. The cold temperatures make it difficult to cook, eat, shower, get up to go to the toilet in the night and even get up in the morning. We’ve cooked and eaten very few meals outdoors lately. The frequency of showering has diminished as well. We have stayed in quite a few campgrounds without service (water and electric) during this cold spell which means we cannot use our heater and most of these campsites do not have flush toilets or showers. The thing is that we prefer these campgrounds to the RV parking lots.

Here is something we didn’t think about before embarking on an extended camping adventure: we normally camp in Ontario in the summer and as such the days are much longer. These days the sun sets at about six o’clock. We have changed time zones three times and daylight savings time happened. The darkness combined with the cold and often the lack of electricity and sometimes the addition of rain and more often wind make for challenging/ inhospitable meal preparation. Other campers point out that as we are from Canada we should be used to the cold. We respond by saying that we usually only camp in the summer in Canada.

Meanwhile in Benson, Arizona Julie began to search for apartments or small houses in Tucson. Most in our price range were booked but there was one possible house with an open six day window. She contacted the owner by email and within a couple of hours it was a done deal. We are staying in a modernist glass cottage in the Sonoran Desert on the outskirts of Tucson for six nights. Anticipating having a kitchen with running water, a sink, a stove with an oven, a bathroom with a shower and toilet that we don’t have to walk to in the cold of the night or morning was almost overwhelming. Once checked in we made our way to a couple of organic grocery stores and stocked up on a week’s worth of wholesome food. We both laughed that we were preparing and eating our dinner after dark. Wash-up was a delight. This glass cottage is the perfect transition to a domestic space because with all the glass we still feel like we are outdoors. How will we ever be able to live indoors again?!

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