Tiny Lake House
Readers know my motto: nothing is so bad if it’s worth the story you can tell. My last adventure threatened the rule.
We rented a small camper for an entire month of glamping (glamor camping), boating, and relaxing along beautiful Lake Champlain in Vermont. The minute we arrived, we knew we were doomed.
The tiny Retro camper was cute, but waaaay smaller than we saw online. But it was our bad. We googled the 19-foot model unaware the company also made a 15-footer, not online. Our lodging was 15x6, or 90 square feet.
How small was it? When we tossed the dog inside, he wondered why he was back in crate training. How small was it? It had twin beds on either side with a ’fridge and a toilet between the sleeping shelves. Opposite was a microwave and sink. Even skinny people couldn’t squeeze past each other.
About the potty. If you sat and closed the door you knee-capped yourself. Bending over for toilet paper risked traumatic head injury. Going to pee? Wear a bike helmet. It was not a bathroom; it was an isolation booth. I quickly discovered I had to stand up, step outside, do the Hokey Pokey and turn myself around to go back in to use the foot peddle pump-out.
We had a hand-held shower, but why? If I sat and sprayed myself I’d break an elbow. I’d need roller derby protection. It didn’t matter, though. Turns out the hot water heater was dead.
We moved into the confined space and learned a violent storm was forecast, including a possible tornado. Thunder, lightning, and torrential rain pounded the tin roof for hours. One leak and we’d be in a front-loading washing machine. One tornado gust and we’d be airborne. Mercifully we stayed in our bunks, remained watertight, and survived Night One.
By Day Two I realized there was no mirror in the rig, which was just as well. Luckily the electric worked for my Keurig. It was overcast that morning but we sat outside in our camp chairs, reading and taking in the stunning lake view.
In Day Three’s rain we joined friends at the Von Trapp Family Brewery, where Do, Re, Me had beer and enjoyed the hot water in the spacious Trapp Family Bathrooms. You could hide a whole children’s singing group from the Nazis in there.
Later in the week the sun appeared so we enjoyed a terrific pontoon adventure on the lake. Glorious! Returning for happy hour, I tried a hammock stretched pretty high between two trees. Pretty high myself, I pulled the hammock edge under my butt, twisted slightly, raised one leg and flipped myself tits down into a mud puddle. It took two spotters to get me back into the hammock. The eventual dismount took a village.
By Week Two our Barbie camper turned terrarium. Escaping mildew, we visited several superb restaurants, saw a movie, sat in our crate reading, and visited friends’ places for showers and home-cooked food. Back at the tin can, we did have happy hours, despite scant room to shake a martini.
Aha! Sunrise with actual sun. We walked the kayaks from our site to the steps down to the lake. As we positioned the second kayak atop the steps, the weight of the vessel shifted and momentum sent the thing sliding all the way down the steps and shot it into the lake headed for Canada.
Screaming ensued, as Bonnie jumped in the remaining kayak and went to rescue the runaway rental. Frankly, I was already calculating replacement cost. But she got it back. We went kayaking, bringing to fruition another of our planned activities.
By the beginning of the third week in the sardine can, the dog started to crack. Windsor was tired of having to choose which twin bed to sleep in. This wasn’t glamping or even camping; it was Survivor Vermont. Ah, the aroma of Deep Woods Off! in the morning.
Then, on Facebook, we spied friends betting on how long we’d last. I was humbled by those wagering we’d make the full 31-day stretch, and likewise, distracted by folks calling us home and wondering why I’d agreed to this foolishness in the first place.
When the Weather Channel forecast another whole week of dreary weather, we knew our party of three could not survive more micro house arrest.
We made it to Day 21 before pulling the rip cord. “Congrats” said a pal, “Twenty-one days wins the championship on the reality show Naked and Afraid.”
Heck, I’ll take the trophy. We did abandon all clothes to bathe and shampoo in Lake Champlain. We were naked and the boaters buzzing by were probably afraid.
Heading South, we raced to get back to Rehoboth and our ginormous Taj Ma Manufactured Mansion.
We loved Lake Champlain, loved spending time with friends, but now tiny houses are dead to me. Camping is dead to me. But I did win Naked and Afraid. ▼
Fay Jacobs is the author of five published books and is touring with her one-woman sit-down comedy show, Aging Gracelessly.