We made it to Wisconsin on Labor Day ready for our tiny home travel trailer r-pod adventure to begin. We exchanged a quick hello with my parents and immediately began our r-pod lessons with my dad. We had two days to learn all we needed on its operations before our 2,500 mile trip back to Oregon. We knew we had a long journey ahead of us.
While at my parents we slept in the r-pod to help learn as much as possible and to become comfortable navigating the small space with two humans and a small dog. It was a humid week which guided our first lesson, how to run the AC. We plugged into the garage electrical to power the AC. Next we learned about filling the water tanks and how to care for the toilet. An important note about the toilet, always remember to use the fancy pills and special TP in your travel trailer.
The second night we switched the r-pod to run on propane. The refrigerator is able to run on electric or propane. We made the switch to the propane tank no sweat. We were nervous about the battery holding charge since the r-pod had been sitting for four years, but no problems thus far.
Mike took the 4Runner to the dealer for an oil change and assistance hooking up the electrical cabling for the trailer’s lights and brakes. It was a much harder task than we expected, which required removing paneling to expose the hidden the wires.
One of my favorite memories was jamming four of us into the trailer, including Wiley, for our nightly happy hours. The second day through the night we were greeted with pouring rain and very active thunder showers. We were able to really test the r-pod’s window seals. The morning after the storms checked the rain gauge and it had recorded 7.5” of rain!
It took two hours to prepare for departure and for us to learn the final steps of how to hook the trailer to the 4Runner and setup of the sway bar. Easy peezy. Mike tested our successful connection by circling through the driveway to quickly find the trailer brake sensitivity was to high and were locking hard anytime he braked. Thank god for my parents experiences navigating trailer issues and their support. We had to turn down the setting so the trailer brakes wasn’t so sensitive. We were on the road by noon with a full charge, full water tank and packed optimally for no spills.
The r-pod definitely brings a different dynamic to our adventuring lifestyle. For long road trips it was beautiful pulling into a rest stop to sleep for free in a real bed. Our lunch stops were delicious and typically consisted of a variety of cheeses, salami and hummus with carrots. It was also convenient and pleasant being able to stop anywhere for bathroom relief in a clean toilet.
The not so attractive aspects was the slower highway speeds and decreased mpg, which was expected. Gas stops became much much more frequent, which Wiley didn’t complain. Our feel economy went from 18 to 12 mpg. Any mountain pass were painfully slow but allowed for scenic daydreaming for longer periods than usual.
After a few days we arrived in Utah for a longer stay. We found a great spot off of the Columbia River were backing up the r-pod wasn’t to stressful. I would have never guessed temps would be in the high 90s in the middle of September. Luckily at night it cooled down to a comfortable temperature for comfortable open window sleeps. We used the day hours for exploring back roads of the surrounding area and soaked up the 4Runner AC.
The sunrise and sunsets across the red rock left me speechless. It was like watching a painting transform before your eyes. The fine red dust was left everywhere in the 4runner and even stained our feet red. One of my fondest memories was taking a shower in the open air lite by the full moon. The water was cool but the air was refreshingly warm. Any water temp would have felt amazing after four days with no shower.
Our last full day in Utah we traveled the Shafer Canyon Road, which had two hours of incredible views that no camera could capture it’s true beauty. The next morning we packed up and hit the road. We were chasing storms for miles and watched the dark rainy skies closing in on either side of us. As we hit western Utah the angry skies greeted us with a hail storm that pelted our left side. The sound was so loud it felt as if the r-pod windows would break at any moment. We pulled over to wait it out. The site of hail was much more beautiful at a stand still.
We made it to Great Basin National Park that same day. Where the desert meets the mountains. We started the morning with 90’s and pulled into our campsite with temps in the low 30’s. I looked out of place, running around in flip flops and a sundress as we passed campers wearing winter coats, mittens and hats. Wiley preferred the comfort of the r-pod to outdoors. We made a hot meal on the gas stove and snuggled up for the cold evening.
We pushed hard the following day to find a great stay at Crystal Creek Hot Springs in southeast Oregon. We rolled in barely making it in time before they closed. We were able to hook up electrical for a comfortable evening with heat. At 10pm we took an evening soak in the 101 degree pond. The skies were clear, the stars bright and the swim felt so good. With a center of 7 feet deep swimming laps gave a good workout. We also took a morning dip, followed that up with a hot shower.
We finished our road trip at one of our favorite campground, Trillium Lake. This is where the journey went quickly from easy to stressful. Before bed I used the toilet and noticed the water had difficulty draining. I mentioned this to Mike and he thought nothing of it other than maybe try to use more water. The following morning the water wouldn’t go down at all. Rather it seemed to fill the bowl the more water we used. And we learned quickly concluded, the shitter must be clogged. Our brilliant next idea was to find a long stick and push the backed up toilet paper down the hole. Well that severely backfired, literally with a bowl full of brown poop water. This is where the panic set in and our minds raced. To stop our near freak out, we took a walk around Trillium Lake to think. Two miles later our solution emerged, cling wrap the pot and seal with painters tape.
One of Mike’s many hidden talents is his ability to have an instant gag reflex when smelling vomit or poop. So, that left it up to me… rolled up my sleeves, held my breath and wrapped the pot as quickly as possible. Of course the bathroom fan had to stop working at this very minute even though it worked the whole trip up until this point.
Fun fact, the majority of RV repair shops will not work on toilets. The one place that did in the area had a 6 days wait. We quickly switched gears and focused on our necessary DMV trip to Sandy to register the trailer. Another fun fact, no storage facility will accept your trailer unless it is registered in Oregon.
As I waited the hour and a half for my turn at the DMV, Mike gave the toilet another attempt in the Safeway parking lot two blocks away. He sacrificed a set of tongs, a few sticks and a waste bucket for our new trailer. I questioned nothing. My number was finally called and was thankful to be greeted by a bubbly smiling lady. We completed the necessary paperwork and then the nice lady requests to see the trailer for VIN validation to complete my registration. I give an awkward smile since this should be an easy ask but little does she know of my poopy toilet problem.
I call Mike, “Babe you need to drive over to the DMV now.” Mike replies, “Umm yeah the toilet is full of brown poop water and uncover.” At this moment I am walking outside with the DMV lady listening to her rave about how she can’t wait to get her own travel trailer someday. I giggle and quietly reply, “Prepare for some adventures with the toilet.” Mike rolls up with a very uneasy face and makes small talk with the nice DMV lady as she gushes about our cute trailer. A few minutes later we’re verified and Oregon registered. I meet Mike in the Safeway parking lot and go full action with rubber gloves and cleaning supplies on the toilet. I lysol every inch of that trailer as quickly as possible and cling wrap the pot secured with painters tape for no spillage, maybe?
We needed to find a dump station and the closest was 30 minutes the opposite direction toward Mt Hood. It was a fancy camping resort that charged $12.50 for a dump. At this point all that mattered was figuring out how to unclog the loo. We pulled up and found this magical 3ft long rebar sitting next to the dump. With rubber gloves, shirt covering his face, Mike bravely went into the bathroom and forcefully shoved the rebar down the shoot. It takes a few attempts and finally I hear that sweet chucky sound of bile flowing through the poop shoot. We both cheered loudly at our accomplishment. We flushed a few gallons of water through the tank and thoroughly wiped down every inch of that bathroom.
Next we dropped the trailer at our storage and cleaned out all used items like dishes and bedsheets. That last 30 minutes home never felt so good. We both were exhausted and smelled like shit.
We have a bitter sweet feeling toward the r-pod. My first thought was thank god this happened our last night of vacation instead of in the middle or in Utah with those hot temps. We would have both been throwing up from the smell. We’re looking forward to getting our r-pod again sometime soon. Cheers to whatever our next adventure throws at us. It can’t be worse than a clogged toilet I hope. Shit happens but it’s all apart of the adventure.