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How I Take a Shower In the Desert

From the time I started this journey until now, I simply found showers wherever I go — friends’ houses, truck stops, the laundromat in Quartzsite… It would certainly be more convenient if I had my own shower. It would definitely be less expensive. It costs $10 to shower at the laundromat and $14 at Love’s. It took some finagling and figuring, but after some trial and much error, I finally figured out how to grab a shower right here in the privacy of my own home, sort of.

Before this journey even began, I bought a solar shower. It holds 5 gallons of water. Leave it out in the sun for a few hours to warm up, hang it up, and enjoy a hot shower (even when it’s hot outside I hate cold showers). I hadn’t had the opportunity to use it yet, mainly because people around me probably don’t want to see me naked while I bathe.

Camp shower

That’s where my secret weapon comes in — a shower tent that Misty gave me. Now we’re getting somewhere. I also bought some good-quality tent stakes to hold it down against the infamous Quartzsite wind.

I can stand up inside the tent, but there’s nowhere for the shower bag to go. In fact, I need it to be higher than the tent so that water will flow out of it down to my level. After a bit of experimentation, I figured out a way to hang it from one of the upgraded pins on my flagpole. While the flagpole was never intended to hold this kind of weight, it’s right next to the pole, and pins farther down support the weight rather than the fiberglass itself. It worked well enough.

While picking up the upgraded stakes at K&B Tools, I also found this thick mat that, while not its original purpose, works great as a shower mat. It’s thick and cushions my feet well against the rocky ground, yet it also allows water to flow straight through it to the ground below.

I run the tube from the solar shower (which I had to lengthen from what it came with — thanks, Melinda!) in through a small window near the top of the tent. I have to open the valve outside, then quickly run into the tent before I waste too much water. I plan to look for a clamp I can use to pinch the hose so that water only flows when I actually need it, but this worked well enough for now.

It’s worth noting that since the water and everything you rinse off yourself runs straight onto the ground, you should only use biodegradable soaps and shampoos that are safe for the environment.

Like I said, this setup took some trial and error. The hook that came on the included hanger broke, letting the bag fall and smack me in the face during my first attempt. I borrowed the carabiner I normally use for Lister’s tether and used it to hang the solar shower bag from my flagpole. This is an upgraded, hardened pin that Yellow Wolf got me when I’d misplaced the pins it came with. It felt the weight, for sure, but it held up just fine. When I raised the flagpole to full height it was a good bit taller than the shower tent, which was exactly what I needed. I’ll have to get another carabiner or two so that I don’t have to steal Lister’s all the time.

Hose clamp camp shower repair

The tube that came with the solar shower was too short to reach inside the tent at the height I needed. Fortunately, Melinda had a spare piece of tubing that was the perfect size and length for my application. On my first attempt, a light tug on the tube accidentally pulled it off the nozzle, causing about half my water to fall on the ground outside the tent before I could cover up and turn it off. I had to go refill the bag and wait for it to heat up. Melinda came to the rescue again with a hose clamp that was the perfect size to secure the tube to the nozzle so that wouldn’t happen again.

All in all, I’d say this was a success. Since I have unlimited access to water at the LTVA, it’s far less hassle to go fill up the solar shower in the morning, let it warm up a few hours while I work, then take a shower in the afternoon, than to make a special trip all the way into town for it. I’ll still enjoy a “real” shower at the laundromat when I do my laundry, but now I can stretch that out to every two weeks or so with camp showers in between. I am pleased. And clean.

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