Cleanliness is very important to me. I would say it is entirely necessary, especially living in the United States. I think looking clean and put together is necessary for going out in public.
Dressing up, when the occasion calls for it, is something I think most people around the world strive for. But body odor is a different story.
I have never wanted to be smelly, but after experiencing plenty of smelly people while studying abroad, I really do not want to ever be in that position.
But I am afraid that in two weeks I will be in that position.
In two weeks I will be heading to Colorado to go hiking and rock climbing and attend a wedding in Colorado Springs with my boyfriend. But shower access will be slim to none.
Now, I need to tell you a few things about my boyfriend. His job involves him living in the woods for seven nights in a row, and there are no showers in the woods. And then, during the warm months of the year, he lives out his car, still sleeping in the woods or desert, depending on the location. There aren’t any showers in the desert, either.
The next thing you need to know is that free land for camping is pretty much an inalienable right to him. And the next thing you need to know about me is that I quit Girl Scouts because I did not like camping. Aside from not enjoying sleeping on the ground, there’s that whole thing with being dirty and smelling.
Fortunately for Jon, I have decently adapted to camping, though I still would like to shower more often when we do camp because I am so self-conscious walking around with greasy hair and everything else that happens when you’ve been doing all sorts of physical activity and then have nowhere to clean up. The classier the campground, the more likely there will be showers, but Jon would prefer the least classy option, and often showerless camp sites are the only option. (Yes, of course, we could stay in a hotel, which would have a shower, but when Jon thinks a $15 camp site is expensive, hotels are exorbitantly priced.)
So this trip to Colorado will likely involve backcountry camping for three nights with no opportunities to shower before the wedding day arrives on Saturday. And I refuse to attend someone’s wedding without showering beforehand.
Maybe you would suggest that we stay in a hotel Friday evening, where there would be a shower. Yes, we could shower Saturday morning before the wedding, but the rest of Saturday morning and the early afternoon will most likely be spent rock climbing, which would eradicate the positive effects of that morning’s shower, so no, a hotel stay Friday night does not solve the problem.
Maybe your next suggestion would be finding a hotel for Saturday night, checking in as early as we can, so that we can shower after rock climbing and before the wedding. This option, which would probably be about $50 at the cheapest would be a really expensive shower because we have no use for a hotel in Colorado Springs Saturday night. After the wedding, we will be driving to the Leadville area to camp somewhere near the approach to Mount Elbert, which we will be climbing bright and early on Sunday.
My next thought was to search for campgrounds in the area. The closest one, the Garden of the Gods campground, is a private establishment, so once we check out in the morning, it would be like the Friday evening hotel option. It’s less expensive, but it still does not give me a place to shower after rock climbing. (I am planning on calling them, though, to see if they will permit walk-in shower access for a fee, something that hostels often permit.)
The closest state park appears to be Mueller State Park in Divide, a 45 minute drive from Colorado Springs, where we would have to pay $7 to enter the park and then we could use the coin-operated showers in the campground. But with the distance of this option, it still is not very favorable.
While trying to think of options actually in Colorado Springs, I thought of public swimming pools. There are three of these in town (two are recreation centers), and entrance is $8 per person for day use. All of these pools have showers because their pool rules specifically state that swimmers must shower before entering the pool. This would cost us $16, but I would be clean.
Then, on a long highway drive over the weekend, I passed a sign for a gas station catering to truck drivers that had shower facilities. I thought maybe I could find an Internet directory of such facilities, and I found many such listings of truck stops throughout the country. I found a handful of shower facilities located at gas stations in Colorado, but none in the close vicinity of Colorado Springs (though there are two stations in Denver that I will keep in mind for possible use on another day during the trip).
And, throughout all of these searches and my concern, Jon has not been at all worried. His laid-back nature leads him to not worry about much of anything, and so, wondering where he will get a shower is not a high priority, whereas it is for me, since I would rather not attend someone’s wedding covered in the dirt and grime from three days in the outdoors.
So the swimming pool is the best I have been able to come up with. Do you have any better ideas?