Saturday, August 24, 2013


In writing this story, I assumed you were all comfortable with bathroom humor. If so, you may proceed. If not, turn back now.

My mother hated camping. Hated it. With a passion that only equalled any sort of exercise and finding a spider in the bathtub. And because I wanted to be like her, I had no choice but to hate all of those things, too.

This really became an issue when we made the yearly pilgrimage to the Stewart family cabin at Bear Lake. Of course, just saying “cabin at Bear Lake” is a lie. “Vermin house of ill repute” would be more honest—an old A-frame with no running water, no electricity and one bed in the middle of the room with a mattress that drooped so low in the middle, a couple of grandchildren were lost in the folds, never to be seen again.

Now as a kid, I was too stupid to realize how horrible this was, and instead thought it was THE MOST AMAZING PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE! There were sunflowers! And aspen trees! And a hundred acres to explore! Sometimes we’d sneak a can of Pepsi and a cinnamon sucker, and be gone for hours. HOURS, PEOPLE. And not one adult came to find us! Of course, now we know this as “child endangerment”. But back then, we just called it “lucky.”
Most years, we only spent one night at the campsite, even though the children begged and sobbed for more. I have no idea where my parents or siblings slept—could have been in the car. Maybe they drove home for the night? Hard to say. Because I was too happy to be aware of their misery, since I was on top of the world, lookin’ down on creation, sleeping in the loft with the other cousins.

The next day it was time for Bear Lake. We’d pile into the campers and trucks, wearing nothing but a worn out swimsuit and tube socks. Not one of us sought out a seatbelt, but rather found a spot around the outer edge of the truck bed and just held on for dear life.

The hours at the beach were spent in search of little baby shells and squeezing sand through our fists to make piles of fake pooh. I don’t ever recall putting on sunscreen, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t...even though I’m pretty sure we didn’t. Sometimes a scream of pain cut through the sound of the waves, as a child stepped on a pull tab from a pop can, but the sand soaked up the blood pretty good and we kept on making our pooh piles, because yes, it was that intriguing.

Well, the years passed by and our camping excursions came fewer and farther in between. Then I got married and had children of my own, which is when I finally realized what a helluvathing it was for my parents to take us kids camping, even for just one weekend. 

I’ll never forget the year that, as a young family, we nailed our tent to the trailer bed to keep it from getting wet in a torrential downpour...forgetting that nail holes in a tent make for sopping wet EVERYTHING. We angrily mopped it up the best we could and retired for the night. 

Around 3:00 that morning, my two year old son woke me up, needing to go to the bathroom. There was no way I was going out into the muck and mud to take him to the outhouse, so I flung off his underwear, held onto his waist and arched his aimer out the tent door, whispering for Sterling to get me some light.

The seconds ticked past and still no flashlight could be found. This meant I had to try to retrieve his underwear in the pitch black, which proved to be nearly impossible. While groping around and hissing for Ster to hurry up and find some light, I came upon a big ol’ wet, melted candy bar on my lap. What the?!

I didn’t know how it had gotten there without me knowing, but I was getting SO annoyed. I whisper-screamed one last time for Sterling to turn on some light, cursing all the while as I used a dirty sock to grab and pick up the candy bar. And right then, the lantern light flickered on...just in time to ENORMOUS HORSE SIZED PIECE OF YOU-KNOW-WHAT CRADLED IN THE PALM OF MY HAND!

Yes, that’s right. Not a candy bar. It seems when he said he needed to go to the bathroom, he was a little bit vague about which kind. And how something that big came out of a bum that small, is beyond me. 

Well anyway, I won’t bore you with the details of the horrendous clean up. Let’s just return to the notion that it really is a big sacrifice to take your kids camping. In fact, let’s break it down:

Camping gear—$1,000
Swimsuits and tube socks—$30
Pepsi, cinnamon suckers, lanterns and nails—$Gobs of money
Every single word I’ve just written in this article that make me laugh until I cry while I relive and retell, and the people who made them possible, bless their hearts—Absolutely priceless


Jennifer Griffith said...

This summer we took the kids to the cabin. Yes, that cabin. We did NOT go inside. Might've gotten rabies. (You forgot to mention that the bottom of the front door had been chewed through by some rabid skunk or raccoon, and probably after it got inside it took a look around and got the heck out.) It is STILL GORGEOUS. And there are still sunflowers and there are still quaking aspens and ... the outhouse. And--no, we did not spend the night. I'm so ashamed! But we just couldn't do it. But we will. SOmeDaY. For SURE. Because your parents and my parents did. And I too want to be like them. SOmeDaY. xoxox (PS I remember fighting over the hammock with you. I think you usually won and I got to swing you.)

Kara Elmore said...

I tell my kids all the time about the magical cabin! I, however, haven't been there since Uncle Rich got upset (yelled) that I drew on his car. With my finger. ALLLL THE WAY AROUND THE CAR. Over and over and OVER again. I'm not sure why he was mad .. it's not like it was CLEAN driving up there!:) Anyway ... I want to go up there and sit with the sunflowers and the quaking aspens and have Grandpa tell us Old Ephraim stories! But first - I'd like someone to come into some money and BUILD a beautiful cabin so I can sleep somewhere. :)

CB said...

This made me laugh till I cried!! I could just picture you hanging that kid out the tent and OMGosh!!! Ha Ha

I am a camping lover! We do have a trailer which makes things a heck of a lot easier.

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

You give a whole new meaning to crappy vacation.

You describe it well.
I'm already trying to figure out a way to avoid the whole camping thing next summer, not because of the camping but because of the relatives.

Sarah said...

I am reading this just coming off the cusp of a one day camping trip (that is all I can handle), so my feelings are a bit raw and pained at the moment. If that poop story would have happened to me I would have most likely started throwing up on the spot and vowed to never camp again. I am currently dealing with visions of the contents of a particular port a potty which I am positive will be permanently etched upon my mind.

Mimi Sue said...

Priceless is right!! You are hilarious! We've had our share of horror, I mean camping trips too. My favorite was when our 3 small children woke up in the middle of the night and started barfing all over their sleeping bags, pillows, tent walls, me...We just got in the car, left everything, and found the closest motel. Ahh good times. Mimi said...

Boy have I missed you my sweet funny friend. But I am back and running so please come visit me.

You Feed Me!

Big Hugs,

imbeingheldhostage said...

DYING!! OMheck this was funny-ok, not for you, I realize this, but I loved it. I have to say, it has made all of our camping trips from Hades pale in comparison to hold a wet, slippery chocolate bar :D

Stef said...

Bwahahaha! That is simply hilarious. Did you wonder why it was so warm? Heehee

Krista said...

My chocolate craving just left me. Now I know why I don't go camping - I thought it was just the food and bathroom thing.