Sunday, May 31, 2009

Into the Wilderness, with Toilets

What is there to say about camping? Well, there is the issue of toilets. A few days ago I went on a one-night camping trip that was an excursion into the "wilderness." And it was indeed wild. Except for the running faucet and sink at the cooking location, elaborate roof structures with picnic tables, and expertly cleared areas with trails. But at one point I did take a walk alone down a path in the morning, and could have sworn I heard some kind of growling coming from the bushes. Without making too much haste, I calmly turned around and walked back toward camp.

There is something about civilization, and I think one of those things is toilets. Or all manner of bathroom facilities. We liked being out there in the woods, with the cold and the pine needles, the dirt, and the fire that blew smoke in our hair and made us feel warm. But as much as we liked to be "roughing it," we liked our bathrooms, too. We liked the fact that the campsite came outfitted with full-on toilets in bathrooms with sinks - not even the bring-you-own-toilet-paper portapotties I've been used to, and was expecting. This was a whole new level of camping experience; somewhere between a real get-in-the-dirt excursion and a summer camp style set-up.

But, of course, the bathroom facilities were located far away from the tent set-up areas, on the other side of the parking lot, all the way up the hill. So, what to do when you wake up in the middle of the night, it's freezing cold, except for maybe one little corner of your sleeping bag, and your bladder is screaming to you?

You contemplate the long walk up the hill with your flashlight, whose batteries are dying. You think about the energy it will take to dress, and undress again, and how will you get back to sleep after that? Probably you should walk up the hill. And yet, it's pitch black. Who will see you? There is plenty of dirt and brush right here. Why don't you just...hmm.

Then you wake up in the morning and realize you weren't the only one. Because it turns out the dirt around here is pretty dry, but not too absorbent. And as you walk around the campsite, you notice little wet spots here and there among the trees.

Ah, nature...

I guess sometimes, in the wilderness, toilets are just too much trouble. But as much as I love it out in the woods, there's nothing like coming home to a good, hot shower.

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