With the possibility of overnight frost in the forecast, I decided to winterize our camping trailer last weekend. I thought it might be a good idea to avoid having to buy a third RV toilet in as many years, so this time around, I made a sincere effort to winterize our new camper correctly.

Travis Naughton

Last year, I thought I got all the water out of our tired, old motor home. However, I may or may not have forgotten to remove the drain plug from the water heater. I also allegedly forgot to blow out the water lines with air. Allegedly.

The antifreeze solution I added to the plumbing did nothing to prevent the moisture trapped in the system from freezing solid and ruining both the toilet and the water heater tank. Lesson learned. Allegedly.

This year, after removing the water heater plug and the drain plugs located beneath our new trailer’s sinks, I used my air compressor to blow all the water out of the system before adding the antifreeze. With any luck, we will not have any unpleasant plumbing-related surprises next spring.

Speaking of unpleasant plumbing-related surprises, I also remembered to drain the wastewater and sewage holding tanks. Despite my strict “no number twos in the camper” policy, exceptions were evidently made for the convenience of certain members of our family who could not trouble themselves to use the campground’s perfectly acceptable restroom facilities when nature called in the middle of the night.

We have not used our camper since Labor Day weekend, which means that by my calculations, the unspeakable horrors contained within our holding tanks have been festering there for six long weeks.

I emptied both tanks at the campground before returning home, but I’m here to tell you that there is no such thing as a truly empty sewage tank. Trust me on this. But it is nice to know that if we accidently run both of our propane tanks completely empty, we could probably use the pent-up methane gas in our sewer to cook with.

Despite the myriad issues we’ve had with burst plumbing, faulty generators, dead batteries, broken air conditioners, bent awnings, shattered skylights, leaking roofs, overheated engines, burned hands, and noxious gasses, we really do enjoy camping. Now that our camper is winterized, and the 2018 camping season is officially over, I’m feeling a little sad.

Alex will graduate from high school in May, so next summer may be our last camping season with all five of us together. I hope Alex will still join us for an occasional weekend of camping as he becomes an independent adult, but I know he will be busy doing his own thing—whatever that thing may be.

Eventually, all three of our babies will fly away from the nest, leaving Bethany and I to camp without kids—just as we did over two decades ago when we were newlyweds. Well not JUST as we did back then. Our days of tent camping are long behind us. I’m too old (and too sober) to sleep on the ground ever again.

We plan to travel and camp all across the country after Bethany retires. We will probably invite the kids to join us once in a while, but for the most part, it will be just the two of us. Bethany’s sister Charla and her husband Doug (who will also be empty nesters by then) might want to tag along. The four of us made some great memories camping together before we had kids, and I’m sure we’ll make more after the kids have all gone. But the best memories will always be those we have made with our children.

Yes, we’ve had our fair share of misadventures in the years that we’ve been camping as a family, but I honestly wouldn’t change a single thing. The memories we’ve made together will be passed down to our grandchildren someday, and perhaps even to their grandchildren.

I always get a little depressed during the cold-weather months. I’m already starting to feel it coming on. But the prospect of camping and making new memories with my family next spring will keep me cozy this winter.