Crazy Shades of Winter

I eat breakfast for energy!(photo by K. Riley)
I eat breakfast for energy!
(photo by K. Riley)

Winter means different things in different cities.

Boston:

Do you have any idea what the street value of this street is? (photo by BostonHerald.com)
Do you have any idea what the street value of this street is?
(photo by BostonHerald.com)

San Francisco:

It's gonna be cold, cold, cold, cold, cold. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
It’s gonna be cold, cold, cold, cold, cold.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Winter means different things in different states.

Massachusetts:

100 feet above sea level. (photo by Dave Speredelozzi)
100 feet above sea level.
(photo by Dave Speredelozzi)

California:

6,000 feet above sea level. (photo by Deek Speredelozzi)
6,000 feet above sea level.
(photo by Deek Speredelozzi)

Winter means different things to different people.

Noah:


 

 Deek:


 

 

 

Deek vs. The Bear

You haven’t lived til you’ve wrestled a large carnivore to the ground , gutted and skinned it, and roasted it on a spit over a driftwood fire.

It's cut-throat out there, though.  Kill or be killed. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
It’s cut-throat out there- kill or be killed.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Labor intensive, perhaps- but mmm mmm!

I feel bad- he was very friendly. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
I feel bad- he was very friendly.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

I’m just kidding… I’ve never killed anything that didn’t fit under the sole of my shoe; and even that I’ve only done when it was either him or me.

Although that’s probably less about bugs’ rights than it is about me being kind of a pussy.

 

The Worst Toilet in Arizona- Part 2 of 2

Seen from a distance, a man attempts to use an outhouse at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (image property of allthingspoliticaltoday.com)
Seen from a distance, a man attempts to use an outhouse at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (image property of allthingspoliticaltoday.com)

Dark Matter: The Anti-Flashlight

As soon as I flipped up the seat cover, the bowels of the business end of this giant latrine ejected a spring-loaded geyser of shit-licking flies, a million strong or more, shooting skyward in an ever-widening penumbra of black, buzzing filth, with a taste for the profoundly unsavory.  It was like the beam of an anti-flashlight, casting a ray of darkness through the atmosphere of a blindingly-bright mid-day Arizona sun.  I was instinctively thrown back on my ass on the floor/roof of the structure, watching in amaze as a black cone of insects shot skyward, expanding outward as it gained height.

 

Please keep the lid closed. (image by www.texasingenuity.com)
Please keep the lid closed.
(image by www.texasingenuity.com)

Black Gold, Arizona Tea

And the flies just kept coming.  This sickening display went on for what felt to me like a solid minute, although it was probably less than that.  Good god I hope it was.  Eventually, however, the rising tide of living, breathing, winged and flying disease began to ebb, and the cloud of insects overhead, so thick and expansive that it now partially obscured my view of the blue sky, began to disperse.

 

Dude- you shouldn't have gone swimming in that latrine- bad call. (photo by www.presbyterianrelapse.com)
Dude- you shouldn’t have gone swimming in that latrine.  Bad call.
(photo by www.presbyterianrelapse.com)

Crawl Back Up

As for what I had come up there to do- well let’s just say my “appetite” for the activity was sufficiently ruined; and consequently my body granted me an indefinite reprieve on its countdown to expulsion.  I wasn’t even willing to approach the toilet again to flip the seat cover back down, for fear of a second wave of shit-flies blasting up in my grill.  And anyway, those that had already escaped would probably all need to come back home for dinner later anyway; and I wouldn’t want them to return to a closed door.  I have a heart.  It’s a weakness.

 

A field of cholla cacti.  Watch where you squat. (image property of www.erendesign.com)
A field of cholla cacti. Watch where you squat.
(image property of www.erendesign.com)

The Black Hole

I walked down the stairs, and immediately felt the countdown firing up again; and so I promptly ran off behind a nearby cholla cactus and dug a hole in the soft desert sand with my thick boot-heel.  Then I danced around like a jackass with ants in his pants in an ill-advised attempt to get my shorts off without removing my boots.  By the time I completed this task I had all but shit myself.  Quickly and desperately snapping into position, I squatted over my newly-dug hole, taking care not to tip over into the menacing spines of the cholla.  Watching nervously for snakes, scorpions, and any other spiny prickly plant life that might have been riding that stiff breeze blowing up-canyon from the Colorado, a mile and a half away, I somehow managed to maintain my balance, on outstretched fingertips which performed a function not unlike that of the training wheels on a bicycle.  After a brief moment of panic in which I thought I had left my roll of toilet paper back there on top of the outhouse, I found the roll and finished the ordeal.  I pulled up my pants, made myself presentable, and returned to camp, swearing off backpacker meals for the foreseeable future.  I wouldn’t eat another one for almost five years.

(image by www.ign.com)
(image by www.ign.com)

 

Previous chapter (The Worst Toilet in Arizona- Part 1 of 2)

Next: (Trekking the Grand Canyon – Chapter 8)

 

The Worst Toilet in Arizona- Part 1 of 2

 

Bogey. (image property of www.dishmaps.com)
Bogey.
(image property of www.dishmaps.com)

Setting the Table

One of my most vivid memories of my June 1999 trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon involves a profoundly hostile dining experience, an urgent search for a suitable throne, and a mighty penumbra of living blackness that for a few moments seemed poised to just continue expanding until it collapsed back upon on itself and consumed all matter in its enveloping folds.

So then, you know those freeze-dried, dehydrated, easy-prep, just-add-water-and-wait backpacker meals that come in those metallic silver pouches that seem to be impermeable to every one of nature’s forces of decomposition?  No?  Well trust me, they exist.

And let me just start with the following disclaimer: they have come a long way in the past 16 years.  That said, back in 1999 these backpacker meals were still very much in what I will charitably call an “experimental phase”.  Their “hearty” contents, ever of dubious nutritional value and marginal taste, would move through your system with such merciless rapidity that in order to assure your safety against an “accident” it was practically necessary to eat them while seated on the can, pants at your ankles, muscles relaxed, body ready for action.

 

Too much is never enough. (image property of en.rocketnews24.com)
Too much is never enough.
(image property of en.rocketnews24.com)

Fast Food Ration

My lunch was some kind of ugly attempt at spaghetti or beef stroganoff or whatever; and since it was my first time going this route, none of what I now know about the proper procedure for eating these meals was available to me at the time.  In light of this, I ate my meal sitting peacefully in my campsite along the banks of Hermit Creek, not on the recommended, gastroenterologist-approved chair with the hole in the middle, as I might should have.

However, no sooner had I put down my spoon, and laid aside the silver pouch with the half-life of 10 million years, than I felt the rumble from within.  A robotic, quasi-female voice, like the one you might hear warning you that your space capsule is quickly losing breathable air and is about to become unable to sustain a human respiratory system, rose in my head, calmly-yet-ominously saying something along the lines of “Sixty seconds until total structural collapse and evacuation”.  Well, then, I should probably head over to that “outhouse” over there, spake I to self.  “Forty-five seconds until total structural collapse and evacuation”.

 

The scene of the crime. (photographer unknown, or perhaps just unwilling to come forward)
The scene of the crime.
(photographer unknown, or perhaps just unwilling to come forward)

Big Box Toilet

The outhouse was this huge wooden monstrosity- roughly a 9 x 9 x 9 cube, the inner volume of which was more or less 100% taken up by a gigantic composting compartment, though this was fully concealed by the wooden frame built all around it.  They weren’t fooling this old dog, though.  The apparatus had stairs going up one side of it, and a fully-exposed flip-top toilet on top (read: no stall walls or other partitions to hide your bare legs and ass from view from other nearby campers).  Luckily for me, though, nobody else was around, except Sarah, who was busy with some project or another- or at least pretending to be.  I stepped up onto the roof of this big box toilet, walked over to the chair, and lifted the seat cover.

(to be continued)

 

Previous: (Trekking the Grand Canyon – Chapter 7)

Next chapter (The Worst Toilet in Arizona- Part 2 of 2)