Logistics: Hygiene

When it comes to keeping up personal hygiene on Pretirement, the bar must be lowered.  It is easy to find running water at rest areas, visitor centers, and fast food restaurants, but it is harder to find hot running water and showers can be few and far between.  On Pretirement we have taken advantage of rest areas/visitor centers at night, which we find to be typically empty, to brush our teeth and wash our face (same goes for early morning).  When we are unable to make it to a place with running water, we fall back on using oxy-wipes and body wipes to “freshen up.”  While I have not used these so far, you can also use dry shampoo and waterless shampoos.  But no matter if you have running water or wipes, the odds of you going to bed still feeling a little sticky, smelly, or dusty remain high – a small, but seemingly sometimes large, price to pay for being on the road.

Some state parks and campgrounds have showers, but typically you will pay more to camp in these campgrounds and these showers can be  closed seasonally (typically closed Labor to Memorial Day).  For Pretirement we purchased a 10-gallon solar shower, which is basically a black collapsible water bag with a hose and a “shower” nozzle that you can turn on and off the water.  The idea is that you fill it up, put it in the sun, and then you have warm water.  So far on Pretirement, we have yet to get all of those steps completed, resulting typically in colder, albeit, wonderfully refreshing hose downs.  We have noticed that both of us can shower with washing our hair with around 5 gallons total of water.  So far, the places where we have showered have been so remote as to not need to worry about onlookers.  For busier places we have a shower curtain which can be strung between two hiking/ski poles that stick horizontally off of the top of the van.  The solar shower sits on top of the van when in use.  Pros of the solar shower: it gets plenty of flow for washing, it can heat up quickly, 10-gallon size allows for plenty of water, but you can also fill it with way less if need be; Cons: Very difficult to move around, can leak, the hose that comes with it is only about 2.5 feet long.  We have also relied on taking showers whenever we see friends and family.  When all those fail, a hotel is never far away.

Trip 1 in Review

Trip 1 in Review
41 days on the road
27 nights camping
259 miles on foot
7,350 miles on the road

$2,380 total budget
$636 gasoline
$208 groceries (we brought along most dry goods)
$166 restaurants
$16 campgrounds
$138 hotels
$795 package trip for 3 nights in Yellowstone
$294 car maintenance (new battery, oil change, brake rotors)
$127 miscellaneous (state parks, festivals, hot springs)
$0 NPS entry fees  (saved $324 with America the Beautiful pass)

9 states out of 50
26 NPS sites:
Yellowstone NP
Grand Teton NP
Hagerman Fossil Beds NM
John Day Fossil Beds NM
Crater Lake NP
Lava Beds NM
Whiskeytown NRA
John Muir NHS
World War II Home Front NHP
Pinnacles NP
Sequoia NP
Cesar E Chavez NM
Death Valley NP
Lake Mead NRA
Bryce Canyon NP
Zion NP
Glen Canyon NRA
Grand Canyon NP
Tuzigoot NM
Organ Pipe NM
Tumacacori NHP
Coronado NM
Hubbell Trading Post NHS
Canyon de Chelly NM
Natural Bridges NM
Canyonlands NP

Canyonlands National Park

Needles District—Canyonlands National Park
Location: west of Monticello, Utah
Length of visit: full day
Major draws: Scenic views, red rock formations, arches, 4×4 roads, backpacking
Strenuosity: 2 to 8 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $25 per vehicle or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Little shade, route finding required, high elevation, flash floods
Description: Numerous trails lead through a geologic wonderland of sandstone formations: arches, spires, grabens, and joints.  360-degree views are unparalleled.

Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument
Location: west of Blanding, Utah
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: 3 huge natural bridges, scenic views, ruins
Strenuosity: 1 to 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $10 per vehicle or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Little shade, high elevation, trail is rocky canyon bottom
Description: 9-mile loop hike connects all 3 natural bridges, which are also accessible by shorter trails from the rim drive.  Handicap accessible overlooks available.

Muley Point

Muley Point—Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Location: north of Mexican Hat, Utah
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Scenic views, river goosenecks
Strenuosity: 0 to 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Little shade, steep cliffs, road impassable when wet
Description: Just north of the Moki Dugway switchbacks, a dirt road heads 7 miles back to an overlook of the twisty San Juan River.  Drive-up overlooks possible if you aren’t into rock scrambling.

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods
Location: Mexican Hat, Utah
Length of visit: 2 hours or overnight
Major draws: Scenic views, red rock formations, free primitive dispersed camping
Strenuosity: 0 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: No shade, high elevation, road crosses river washes
Description: BLM manages this 17-mile dirt road drive with fantastically-named rock formations like Lady-in-a-Bathtub and Seven Sailors.  Known locally as the “mini-Monument Valley.”

Monument Valley

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Location: border of Arizona and Utah
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Scenic views, red rock formations
Strenuosity: 0 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 for up to 4 people per vehicle
Additional considerations: No shade, high elevation
Description: Large valley with iconic buttes accessible to all vehicles on a graded dirt road loop.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Location: Chinle, Arizona
Length of visit: full day
Major draws: Scenic views, red rocks, ruins
Strenuosity: 1 to 4 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Little shade, high elevation, Navajo guide required to enter canyon
Description: Numerous ruins dating back over 1000 years, plus interesting rock formations make this a great place for photography.  In the middle of the Navajo Nation, these canyons are still inhabited.  2.5-mile roundtrip hike to White House Ruins only place visitors can enter canyon on foot without a guide.

Hubbell Trading Post

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
Location: Ganado, Arizona
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Historic trading post, farm animals, museum
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Little shade
Description: A fun museum with interactive exhibits for children introduces visitors to this homestead in the middle of the Navajo Nation, started in 1878 and still continuing to function as a trading post.

Coronado National Memorial

Coronado National Memorial
Location: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Length of visit: 3 hours
Major draws: Cave exploration, scenic views, unique plant and animal species
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Little shade, deadly reptiles, illegal border crossings
Description: Steep trails lead to mountaintop views and a limestone cave open for exploration.  A small visitor center provides information on trails, history of Coronado expedition, wildlife, and the hike for health program.