Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Road trip, part 4 (hold onto your hats, folks)

In the past we have taken Iris to the Kennel at her veteranarian's office.  There's a nice lady tending the dogs there, and unless it's a busy holiday weekend, she plays with the dogs individually and spends time with them.  Iris loves her and is always glad to see her.  
However, the oldest grandson and his girl friend insisted they would be glad to watch our dog, and wanted no money for doing so.  So we took Iris to their house on Thursday night.  Friday morning after Cliff got up, he said, "It's the weirdest thing:  I can feel that the dog isn't here, and I'm not even a dog person."  
"It's that feeling," I told him, "that makes me go looking for another dog as soon as one dies."  
We had done nothing toward getting ready for our trip, so I got the suitcases and the cooler inside and started getting everything ready to go.  It was probably ten o'clock or later when we left.  But then, it was only a little over two hundred miles to our destination.  
We had our picnic lunch in Clarinda, Iowa, before we went on to Guss.  As we passed through Villisca, we saw a sign advertising the house where a family was brutally slain in 1912.  Although my parents were once the telephone operators in that town, I never heard of the axe murders until recently while doing a Google search for Villisca.  Seems to me like after a hundred years, they could let it go.  
By the time we ate our lunch and then spent time in Guss, it was after 3 P.M., and I suggested we find a place to camp and go to Avoka on Saturday.   Thanks to the GPS, we learned that there were three Iowa state parks within thirty miles of Avoka; one was near the town of Lewis, and only a twenty-minute drive from the tractor museum.  

We had never set up our new tent before, but with me reading instructions and Cliff doing most of the work, it wasn't difficult.  

By the way, we love the tent.  After the first time, we were able to put it up or take it down in about ten minutes.  We can easily stand upright in the middle part of it.  Oh, and here's something:  A thunderstorm came through, leaving about three-quarters of an inch of rain, and NO RAIN GOT IN THE TENT!  The next day we learned that Avoka received four inches of rain from the same storm, and we counted our blessings.  I'm pretty sure the tent wouldn't have been able to stay dry under that kind of deluge.  

Click on the picture to make it readable.  Lewis, Iowa, according to this sign, is where Kool-Aid originated.  I certainly consumed my share of Kool-aid when I was a kid.  It used to come in a double packet:  the outside, which had the picture of a pitcher of Koolaid and the writing; and the inside, which was just a plain brown envelope.  Back then, bread didn't come in plastic, either.  It was wrapped in some kind of cellophane paper.  But I digress.  

We started to realize we were lacking a lot of necessary items, some we had at home and some that would have to be purchased.  Cliff started making a list of those things.  By the time our trip was over, there were two pages of items listed.  

I casually fastened one of the biodegradable bags onto our potty and we were ready for a good nights sleep.  I get up frequently during the night for bathroom trips, and Cliff always gets up at least once.  The whole purpose of this potty chair was to keep us from having to make nocturnal trips to the public toilets.  
This was going to be the maiden voyage for our travel toilet; I was confident it would work just fine.  
We slept like babies on the air mattress; I got up and went to the travel toilet numerous times, and always went straight back to sleep.  
We were awakened by the sound of cows mooing.  Evidently one mama cow had gotten through a fence and was wandering through the campground; her baby was still in the pasture and wanted his mommy.  So the bellowing and bawling was intense.  Oh well, at least the storms of the night were past and we were dry.  Cliff used the travel toilet for the first time, then went back to bed while the coffee was making.  
I was so happy with our travel toilet.  
But of course you know, don't you, that there's more to this story?  
I decided to avoid an early-morning trip to the bathroom and used the potty one more time, and the bag came unfastened.  My "casual" fastening of the bag onto the seat had been a little too quick and casual, and the bag was not well secured on one side.  My final offering of urine was just enough to make it give way, and PLOP, down went the bag and out came the contents.  
Oh, it gets worse.  
The tent wasn't in a perfectly level spot, and the air mattress was downhill from the flow of urine.  Cliff grabbed his discarded T-shirt and tossed it on the impending flood, yelling, "Get a towel!"  
That wasn't an easy task; the car was locked, and then I had to dig around to find the bag containing the towels.    
Folks, take it from me:  mopping up adult urine is not how you want to start your day.  Especially when you haven't even had a drink of coffee yet.  
The only form of soap I had brought along was dish soap.  After getting all the urine soaked up with a towel, I put plenty of Dawn in some water and started mopping the entire floor of the tent.  I wiped off the bottom of the still-inflated air mattress (plastic, thank goodness) and then shoved it out the door for further cleansing.  
We tossed the T-shirt and the towel in the garbage, because who wants to haul something around that's been soaked in urine?  
I really wasn't satisfied that we were rid of the urine smell completely, so when we found a Walmart we bought some Mr. Clean.  That night when we set the tent up once more, I used that on the floor and the bottom of the air mattress, and finally there was a good, clean smell in our home-away-from-home.  
Oh, and the next night?  Not only did we make sure the bag was fastened onto the seat firmly, but I took a container and squeezed it in under the bag, just in case.  And put it in the tent on the downhill side of the bed.    

Next morning things went well, with only one little glitch:  Evidently the "biodegradable" bags start degrading really fast, because a few drops of urine had actually dripped into the container I had put beneath it.  There didn't seem to be a hole, although as you can imagine, I didn't inspect it very closely.  
Our little travel toilet is the right height, it's sturdy, it folds flat and gets tucked away in a bag.  But we will NEVER count on those bags holding up overnight.  
And now you know the rest of the story.


JustRex said...

Even so, it has to be better than walking a hundred yards to an iffy public toilet in the dark.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I see you've been traveling at the same time I was traveling. Thankfully I had a much less eventful time of it as we stayed at hotels. Some good and some not so good. I'll have to catch up now on what's been going on.

Margaret said...

I would have said many bad words!! Not fun to clean up at all--even when it's your own urine.

Hollie said...

That sounds like something that would happen to me!

Helen said...

I hope you will be able to get better bags. Maybe use two the next time. Helen


What a story. Been there done that, though not in a tent. When our plumbing was out in our bathrooms, here at home, we used a travel toliet for about a week. It was an adventure. Glad you were able to clean up the spill with a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

now I know for sure and certain why I enjoy "Holiday Express" for "Camping" LOLOL....awesome is all I can say...hugs all day...

patsy said...

Gone are the days when a man can pee out the tent flap?

Midlife Mom said...

Even with all the mishaps I would rather use the travel potty then some of the restrooms in the parks! Or the bushes!! :o)