Thursday, September 3, 2020

In Which I Try Not to Complain about Pit Toilets

When we reserved a site for our family camping trip, we couldn't be picky. Thanks to COVID, everyone is camping right now (it's the only way we can get out of our houses) and we'd waited until the last minute. 

The weather forecast wasn't looking good as the weekend drew near. The entire weekend had a 50% chance of rain, but we decided to forge ahead. We have a massive rain shelter and we've already lived through this and this, so I guess we figured it would be okay in the end.

Luckily, it was more than okay. The place was GORGEOUS. 

Our neighbors, who technically had the waterfront campsite, chickened out because of the weather forecast and didn't show up. So we had the view all to ourselves and spent a lot of time over there.

My daughter enjoying the view from our (neighbors') campsite.

As Chandler Bing would say, "Could this BE any more beautiful?"

Oh, Nature. You're such a drama queen sometimes.

The kids fished, even though it was the wrong time of day and none of us know how to fish. (The tackle came from Phillip's other life, when he had things like leisure time and hobbies.)

Phillip spent some time relaxing by the water. Later that afternoon, he retired to this spot to read Old Man and the Sea and neither of us said so but I think we both appreciated the irony.

About that weather forecast, though.

After we'd checked out the scenery and gotten our tent and shelter set up, it started raining, and after 45 minutes, I was no longer sure we'd made a wise choice. 

Just how long can 8 people huddle under a 10x20 foot tarp before they start to turn on each other?

Still in good spirits.

Since roasting hot dogs over the fire wasn't happening because of the rain, we made do with the camp stove.

Looks like a neighborhood barbecue but no, that's just dinner on a Tuesday for us.

It stopped raining an hour later and we explored more of the campground. The older kids and I walked down the road to the "remote sites," where we were met with another beautiful landscape.

Seriously. This is getting ridiculous.

Around this time, though, I made an unpleasant discovery.

The only bathroom facilities for miles around were pit toilets. The super-smelly kind with flies and a TMI visual overview of your fellow campers' digestive activity.

This information had not been shared with me beforehand. 

Whether it slipped Phillip's mind or it was deliberately withheld from me, I'm not sure. And it's probably better that I didn't know, because if I did I wouldn't have gone.

After S'mores and roasted Starburst that night (for the life of me I don't get the appeal of roasted Starburst, they taste the exact same to me but the kids swear they are amazing) we retired to our gigantic tent.

Nighttime was dicey, both because the 6-year-old was scared of the loons calling on the lake and also because of the Pull-ups. The two younger boys still wear them to bed at night and we'd forgotten to bring enough, so I lined them with paper towels and a prayer and hoped they'd last for both nights.

Someday, I'm going to miss coming up with ridiculous diaper improvisations in emergency situations. I've gotten so good at it over the last 16 years.

Hanging out in a rain jacket after the sun came out.

The next day, it rained again for about an hour while we played games under the picnic shelter, then we went for a hike.

Much ado was made about the rock balanced on another slab of rock at the end of the hike. Perhaps the trail guide talked it up too much and our expectations were too high. At any rate, the kids were thoroughly unimpressed and instead preferred the salamanders on the trail.

These guys were bright orange.

After the hike I went to nap in the tent (and by 'nap' I mean 'listen to the kids running around the campsite yelling with my eyes closed for 20 minutes,') and then we rented out a small fleet of kayaks and paddleboards. 

I was doubling in a kayak with the 4-year-old, who, let's be honest, was not the powerhouse rower between the two of us but he sure was cute.

The kids had fun navigating around interesting outcroppings of rocks in the water and jumping off their paddleboards. We could've stayed for longer, but renting out the equivalent of half the Spanish armada for an extra hour ain't cheap, so we headed back to shore.

Clear skies for the rest of the day. BBQ chicken and S'mores for dinner. The 6-year-old was even getting used to the sound of the loons at night. This trip was shaping up to be pretty good.

In the morning, we ate breakfast at our absent neighbor's campsite because it was prettier and we could, and instead of a tablecloth we had Baby Yoda drawn in the dew on the picnic table:

Packing up was the only part that didn't go so smoothly. It took forever. I watched our neighbors on the other side wake up, make a fire, cook breakfast, pack up, leave, and then the park ranger came to clean up their site for the next person... all while we were still packing up.

After we finally got everything in the van, we went on one last hike before leaving. This campground didn't have a beach for swimming but we'd discovered a secret one hidden off the side of a trail last night, just the perfect size for our family:

Having hiked 15 minutes to the beach, my 6-year-old felt that now it was the perfect time to inform me he needed to use the bathroom.

"Pee or poop?" I asked (because I learned a long time ago that saying "just go in the water" without clarifying whether it's #1 or #2 first can be a total disaster.)


Of course.

So I walked 15 minutes with him all the way back to the pit toilet at the trailhead, where he decided he didn't have to go, after all.

Back at the beach, my 16-year-old made a rainbow out of the rocks she found:

My 4-year-old played with a piece of driftwood he found shaped like a club, and my 6-year-old practiced his backfloat: 

Swimming lessons this summer were cancelled due to COVID but thanks to my supbar tutelage, he's been been making nearly perceptible improvements!

As we changed back into our clothes behind towels held by a family member and stopped for a snack break, my daughter picked up the box and said, "Wait, what are these people doing with their granola bars?"

Predicting the future and recording a Britney Spears cover? Applying pressure to a head would and radioing for help? These granola bars are so versatile!

Our best guess is that this is a stock image and for some reason, they decided to use their Photoshop skillz to replace the sunglasses and cell phone with Nature Valley bars. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

On the drive home it started pouring rain. We were hoping that our bedding, which was tied to the roof, would stay moderately dry until we got home (we couldn't find our car topper and improvised with a plastic mattress bag and duct tape) and miraculously, it did.

Even with the weather and the pit toilets, it was a great time and we all agreed we could have stayed an extra day. 

Although I will say that I've never enjoyed flushing a toilet so much as when we finally came home.

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Ann-Marie Ulczynski said...

You are giving me hope! I've got four camping trips booked for the fall for the girls and I. I *think* we have real toilets, though!

Unknown said...

After your description of the upcoming camping trip (its all that was available and not too sure what us there) this is amazing! Way to exceed expectations!