Why Camping Brings Out the Cousin Eddie in Me

Ahhh camping. Such a glorious adventure!

All the nature, beauty and the promise of fond memories to reminisce about in the years to come. It brings the closest of families even closer, syncs humans with nature and quells the stresses of the everyday rat race we call life. Can you smell the roses? Such a wholesome and inspiring picture, isn’t it?

What a crock of shit. No one would camp if I made those commercials. No one.

Seriously? I wish someone could help me hold on to this delusional thought for just one more second. Please, before reality slaps me back into my real life. I’m begging you! I’d love to hang on to that beautiful portrayal, but if you know anything about me, my reality is nowhere near as picturesque! It is me after all!

My childhood camping memories

I don’t know about any of you, but my childhood memories of camping are certainly reminisced about fondly. I remember the days my folks would throw the three of us little shits into the back of the old, red, Chevy crew cab with the holiday trailer in tow, and toss us a few snacks every few hours (a small bag of chips usually…that was a real treat!) to shut us the fuck up. Weren’t those the days? When it only took food to keep us kids quiet, yeah, I miss those days. Ah, the memories.

We didn’t have any fancy DVD players in our truck or anything like that to keep us entertained, we had Crayons. That said, we were often shitheads on long drives. We had each other to entertain ourselves, usually in the form of wrestling, fighting and name calling. We’d try to pack things to keep busy, but we’d often end up over packing and barely left ourselves enough room to breathe, let alone sit. We never used any of the shit we packed either, what a waste.

My poor parents. That said, we’d barely even utter a word about needing to piss for for fear of the swat. Any bitching, and we got the thong (they’re now called flip flops), the beat up old road map or the 5 year old newspaper swat. Those were the days.

Enter the swat

My father was quite the multitasking disciplinarian back then, as many parents were. He could read the riot act, navigate a map, bitch at my mother about her deplorable map reading skills (she still doesn’t know her left from her right), deliver any necessary swatting and drive the truck and holiday trailer, all at the same time. If you pissed him off enough while he was driving, he’d grab whatever was close enough to deliver a ‘mother claw’ correction in the form of a swat with any one of the said objects above, usually the map.

I’d seen the man get pissy enough once, that he swooped down lightning fast to the floor of the passenger’s side of the truck to get a hold of my mother’s cankle, to secure himself a swatting object. He then ripped the thin foam ‘thong’ from her swollen, bunion filled, cloven, troll’s hoof and began blindly swatting into the backseat of the truck because he thought he’d heard one of us mumble about needing to piss…after we’d stopped only an hour before. That’s the swat that we all feared but humorously reminisce about to this day.

Ah, the memories. I remember when we finally got smart enough to sink ourselves back into the hard bench seat or duck to avoid the swatting! Ha! It just pissed him off even more. No, he didn’t physically hurt us, it was a light swat that he usually used to keep us assholes in line.

I feel bad now because we thought it was fucking hilarious because he looked utterly ridiculous when he was losing his shit and swatting at us crazily with whatever he could get his hands on. I’m surprised we never hit the ditch. I need me a thong…I mean flip flop.

Yes, Clem and I are insane

Like any good parent, I felt the need to expose my children to many of the same things I was privy to as a child. So, Clem and I take our kids camping. What the hell are we thinking? It’s not all that bad, but we’ve had some moments.

Yup, Clem and I have had enough holing up and have decided it’s time to hit the road for a little camping action. Cue the delusional TV commercials of camping bliss that smells like perfectly roasted marshmallows with the delicious undertones of Baileys Salted Caramel. Those RV commercials are very misleading because I have NEVER experienced the camping bliss portrayed in them. What are those people on? Obviously, they’re actors and those are NOT their kids…what did they bribe the child actors with I wonder?

Camping (for us) is usually the most chaotic shit show on 8 wheels you’d ever see. I am not kidding. Remember, it’s me we’re talking about here. I’m sure I’ll have people talked out of camping after I get finished…or maybe I’ll entice them, who knows!

Last summer, we encountered a ‘weather anomaly’, where the temperature just so happened to dip below freezing one night (in the middle of summer). We discovered our furnace no longer worked at midnight when we parked for the night (in a parking lot without any electricity or anything to hook up to), and we had no back up. The only solution I had, was to stay awake all night boiling pots of water to place around the trailer to heat it up, which was stupid and pointless. 2 inch thick trailer walls with ‘extra’ insulation is superior, my ass.

We didn’t have enough warm sleeping bags for all of us to snuggle under, but we made sure the kids did. They’re the priority, not us. Boiling water didn’t help because the humidity made it feel colder faster once it cooled down, usually within minutes of stopping the boiling process. A very cold and long night that I won’t soon forget. We purchased a small emergency heater the very next morning…just in case it happened again. It’s all about being prepared, right?

Karma doesn’t think we should camp

Prepared. That’s my middle name. Unfortunately, packing for preparedness, causes me a lot of grief and an excessive amount of work. Prior to camping season, Clem and I gather in our kitchen (war room style) and have a meeting about all of the possible and impossible events we could encounter and prepare accordingly for absolutely everything. Weeks before we go anywhere in our holiday trailer, Clem and I run around trying to pack everything for every bloody scenario you could think of.

Even after all of that, karma still finds a way to fuck us. Usually it comes in the form of something that no one has ever heard of or something we could never dream of happening, so we end up being unprepared. As Clem says, if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all.

With that, I have to tell you that I am currently writing this on the drive to our destination. Last night, at our stopover, we had one of the most ‘rarest’ (that’s what Clem tells me) events known to man happen around 10 p.m. We heard a loud bang like a gunshot and a bit of a tremor rise up from the front of our trailer.

Apparently, one of our two trailer batteries exploded. Yup, it fucking exploded (as in full on, acid explosion right next to the propane tanks…who the hell designs these fucking things?). I’ve heard of this phenomenon before but I never thought it’d ever happen…and it did…to us. Karma is kicking our ass again. I’m sorry for whatever I did, please forgive me universe!!

Camping with children

We’ve been pretty hunkered down since the lock down commenced, specifically me, and I’m going to be brutally honest in saying that my marble bag has ripped itself a new one. Consequently, I’ve lost quite a few marbles. I really need to round them back up and stuff them back into the bag and soon. If I don’t, well, even I’m afraid of what I may be capable of doing once the bag completely empties. It won’t be pretty, that I can promise you.

With that, Clem decided to drag my miserable, nearly insane ass out camping, hopefully complete with all of my personalities. We’ve blown our Popsicle stand, gotten out of Dodge and are seeking a ‘tranquil’ environment for a change of scenery. I must admit, we’re quite the sight right now.

My ‘juvie’ kid…she’s not quite Shawshank yet…didn’t want to go, and insisted on staying home, while Caelan was more than happy to get out and do something different. Clem, well his work has been busy thankfully, but he’s been feeling like he needs to get away for a while too. So we’re on the road, somebody help me.

We all look a little untamed and may not even be permitted to camp, based solely on the wild look in our eyes. Despite this, my hope is that they’ll allow us admittance. I’ve already packed some rope, duct tape and bungee cords for ‘Juvie’ (Lola) during the midnight hours to keep her from wandering too far. I had difficulty finding room for the sirens, spotlights and hounds in the camper because I kept coming up short on space. I finally decided to rip out the kitchen table because who needs a kitchen table anyway? We’re nearing the Neanderthal stage in our recent regression and eat off the floor, so we won’t miss it.

Gluttons for punishment

Why we’d decide to shove all of our rowdy, cranky and smelly asses into a vehicle for hours on end, just to confine ourselves to an even smaller tin can for over 2 weeks, just to get away, baffles me. I wasn’t sure if we should leave the can of bear spray at home and take the chance with a bear, or take it and possibly face one of us cranky assholes using it because we’ve lost our shit for some stupid reason. To be determined…

I’d probably be the one getting hosed down because I seem to be the mouthiest one as of late…wait…nope! I take that back! Lola is spitting venom worse, she’s most likely to get hosed with something, or that role of duct tape may be utilized…during the drive at the very least. I still brought a jug of water, just in case. And tissues, yeah. I sensed a few mental meltdowns happening along the way and I was indeed correct.

Ugh yes, I’m super excited. I look forward to adding to my extensive mosquito bite collection, on the parts of my ass that I cannot seem to hit with the can of mosquito spray (I really don’t like using that shit but this year has been brutal for mosquitoes). I’m also looking forward to losing the ability to fit any of the larger clothes that I managed to scrounge up at the over picked stores I barely made it to these past few weeks because S’Mores. I love those damn things. Oh, and don’t forget alcoholic beverages. Tis the season. Especially when you have the best stall in the campsite.

You know the ones I speak of, don’t you? The camping stalls along the railway track, the highway and best of all…the shit houses, all simultaneously. Best spot in the whole damn place I tell ya! Skip the ear plugs and hit the bottle, it’s more fun. Remember, we’re making memories here dammit.

Camping is inspiration

As a bonus, I’m looking forward to the accumulation of the new and inventive sayings that I’m about to discover, as camping in a holiday trailer usually affords me. I’ve also had to create new inventions over the years and they always seem to be devised because of a new, unexpected and exciting challenge, cue karma. Yay, camping. Allow me to explain.

We own a ‘turd stick’ (also known as a ‘magic potty stick’, doody/dookie beater’, ‘shit shtick’, ‘poop persuader’ or ‘turd stirring stick’), yes, a ‘turd stick’. It’s far from what just popped into your mind. It’s a stick that’s just long enough to reach the bottom of the long, shallow sewer holding tank in the holiday trailer, via the toilet. Its primary use is for the battle of Turd Mountain. If you’ve never owned/rented/used an RV or holiday trailer, Turd Mountain occurs when the shit/shit paper ratio, overcomes the piss/flush water ratio, due to water absorption from the shit paper, evaporation, or a combination of both. Yum.

Turd Mountain generally forms right below the ‘shit chute’ of your handy dandy RV potty, and sometimes (if you’re lucky), when you go to dump the shitter at a sanitation dump for RVs, Turd Mountain may not ‘dissipate’ appropriately. If you are unable to dump your holding tank, the mountain grows and can impede the ‘shit chute‘ from closing, allowing the gasses from the sewer tank to be dispersed inside your recreational vehicle.

Febreze ain’t got nothing on that smell. I’d love to see that commercial. Lock someone inside a holiday trailer bathroom with a horrid case of Turd Mountain (in the heat, closed windows) and then see what they have to say. I’m not ‘nose blind‘, I smell shit mixed in with a chemically infused fragrance. Or what we love to call Cinnamon Turds or Spring Rain Turds, just put whatever name of the air freshener scent you’ve sprayed and add turd on the end. Bam!

Anyway, when this phenomenon occurs, the battle requires the use of an excessive amount of water and a ‘turd stick’ to knock the mountain of shit down. I think you smell what I’m cooking. Or maybe I should say stepping in, your choice.

Glamping, the best medicine for your marriage

My commentating skills within the Camping Department of Sanitation, are second to none. I love yelling over the flushing and beating of Turd Mountain while Clem holds the sewer hose when we empty the trailer shitter. I call this bonding.

It’s much better than the marriage counselling exercises we undertake when we park the trailer. Many who own holiday trailers, will undoubtedly agree that backing up a trailer is better than any marriage counselling that money could ever buy. If you can park a trailer together, you can do anything.

In our case, Clem usually assumes the role of the trailer backer upper and I assume the role of the trailer backer upper director. These are real jobs requiring real skills, I kid you not. I often employ the use of a combination of specific hand gestures (sometimes the middle finger…it means you’re number one, honest) and certain words to accentuate insults to intelligence. Clem often yells back that he doesn’t understand a fucking thing that I’m doing and threatens to come out and do everything himself because of my inadequacies. Par for the course.

The rebuilding process of the relationship begins once the trailer is parked in its final parking place. You know those cute little holiday trailer pillows and shit that say Sorry for what I said while parking the trailer? Yeah, that’s us.

Stress brings people closer together…sometimes. We’ve gotten so good, that we can park this bad boy using only hand gestures, head shakes and facial expressions. The shake of a head or gesturing with one finger, says it all. A good marriage requires work, and camping season is the prime time for marriage improvement…or separation, depends on the breaking point of the relationship.

Anyway, back to the ultimate reason for having a ‘shit shtick’. Isn’t camping fun! I’m betting you’re considering diving head first into this wonderful hobby, aren’t you?

Turd Mountains & magic potty sticks

I fondly remember the time my parents came with Clem, Lola and I (I was pregnant with Caelan and bigger than a horse…26 weeks pregnant, measuring over 30…fun!!) to visit Clem’s parents, who lived 12 hours away. My folks stayed in my in-laws motor home that was parked in their yard, and we stayed in their house. When my folks developed one of the most severe cases of Turd Mountain I’d ever seen (and I have seen a few cases folks), my very pregnant ass hopped into action to help solve this perplexing anomaly. I’m a super hero of shit apparently.

To make matters worse, my father-in-law (who is very keen on helping), assisted in eliciting a rather stressful reaction from my mother. My mom was absolutely mortified at the thought of my father in-law seeing her stubborn ‘boom boom’ piled up in his RV shitter and desperately attempted to flush it flat, to no avail. She didn’t want him to use his ‘magic potty stick’ on her Turd Mountain.

I knew that the ‘flush’ method wasn’t going to cut it because it’d been hotter than hell and had caused a lot of fluids to evaporate within the sewer holding tank. As I mentioned before, there is a very specific and scientifically calculated ratio of shit/shit paper to piss/flush water. It’s a very delicate balance. A fraction of an inch too far, and you’ve got yourself a battle. It was just Mom and I versus the mountain, with the threat of my father in-law descending upon us with his shit beating stick. Good times.

While my mother panicked and stood running as much water into the shitter that she could, I commenced running and throwing myself at the walls within the small bathroom area, in the hopes of knocking the pile loose. As my father-in-law got closer (we could hear him through the very thin walls), my intensity increased as my mother’s desperate pleas motivated me further. We managed to get the door locked as well, which provided us with more time because he would’ve had to go back into the house to grab his keys…clever, aren’t we?

Call 9-9…forget it, we’re on our own

The motor home didn’t afford me much space to run, and despite the stabilizing jacks being firmly anchored to avoid any and all movement (you couldn’t feel a bulldozer driving inside it), I managed to create a lot of shaking. Over and over I ‘ran’ the 3 whole steps that the tiny space allowed, desperately throwing myself against the cardboard thin walls, hoping I wouldn’t go through like the Kool-Aid Man of the legendary 80’s. My mother kept encouraging me every time Turd Mountain shook.

Each time, I vowed to hit it harder and with more intensity…well as fast as I could run in the state that I was in. I couldn’t get much faster than a speedy waddle, but I tried, really hard. I can only imagine what anyone would’ve thought if they were watching from the outside. Come to think of it, I can only imagine what anyone would’ve thought watching from the inside.

After 15 or so minutes of cussing, pleading, bargaining with my father in-law, threatening my father in-law’s life if he set foot in his RV, running (waddling) and throwing myself at the walls, planting firmly within a doorway to provide adequate ‘vibration’ and sweating like an ice cold bottle of beer in a sauna (the air conditioning wasn’t on and it had been well over 35 degrees Celsius all day and this was around 4 p.m. and it hadn’t cooled down yet), the mountain fell. We threw everything we had at it. Go team!

An epic battle of legendary proportions. Hell, the size of that Turd Mountain was unbelievable and I beat it, all without the assistance of a ‘turd stick’. I am legend. We didn’t even have access to a Sani dump or a garden hose, how’s that for skill!

Potty time privileges

We always carry a ‘turd stick’, and I highly recommend all RV owners carry a ‘turd stick’, just in case. It’s been a long time since my last Turd Mountain battle, probably because I always have my weapon of choice handy. Some of the tanks in these trailers can be thin and shit can pile up quick…that was funny, come on!

These toilets have also provided me the inspiration behind the clever invention of a ‘shit slide’ (using 2 or 3 squares of shit paper, strategically laid into the toilet to prevent ‘skiddies’). Isn’t that something? Camping, it’s not just fun, it’s inspirational!

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my family, but the thought of having my teenaged daughter hogging the bathroom and never leaving the trailer, especially during my ‘potty time’, isn’t exactly thrilling. Yikes, I sound a little like my nickel pinching, thong swatting father, oh boy. In reality though, I may institute his ‘potty time’ ritual.

He used to kick all of our asses out of the holiday trailer entirely, rain or shine, just so he could do his business. He didn’t care, he needed his privacy. Smart man. I think I’ll adopt his worthy policy if Lola ever leaves the bathroom. If that doesn’t work, I may just have to use a community garbage can in a pinch…tough call.

I really shouldn’t complain. Clem and I had a tent for many years before we managed to save up enough cash to purchase one of these beasts. I’ll be honest in saying that an up close and very personal encounter with a very large, well fed, temperamental skunk also sealed the deal. We really aren’t camping, it’s more ‘glamping’. It’s been a lot of work to get it packed up and ready to go and I’m lacking the energy to be enthused.

The Cousin Eddie in me

I know it’ll be good for us to get away and that’s what’s keeping me going. If I forgot to pack what we need, I’m sure we can live without it, or I’ll find a creative way to make do. I’m sure I’ll have many more memorable stories upon our return…that’s a guarantee actually. Finger’s crossed that they’ll be happy and good memories, and not something out of an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

At this point, I’m basically going to don my dingy robe, throw on my Cousin Eddie trooper hat (that’s all I packed) and drink beer while wielding my ‘turd stick’. You’ll find me hanging out by the campground Sani dump during the daylight hours, asking if anyone requires my expertise because their shitter is full. Yeah, I’m pretty much the female version of Cousin Eddie from the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie. You can’t miss me.

I hope that I won’t have too many mornings where my drunk ass is found passed out in someone else’s camping chairs at their camp site because I’ve had a rough night canvassing the bush with the hounds in pursuit of my daughter, ‘Juvie’. Ugh, one can hope. I’ll apologize now for drinking everything in whatever family’s cooler I manage to empty. I’m friendly, honest.

I just need a moment to collect my marbles and try to get back to the land of the sane. Hopefully camping will help. I already feel better being out of the house. Please Karma, you already gave us the exploding battery, could you cut us some slack for the rest of this trip? I hope that asking nicely works, otherwise, I should probably expect some more unbelievable fun. I hope I have enough cash saved to make bail, or my vacation may be extended, wish me luck!

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