Dscn0084_3 My husband wants to map out our entire 127-acre parcel of land, so here he is measuring the road with his handy 100-foot tape measure.  It’s attached to the car, and my job as Associate Cartographer is to drive the car until he says stop, and then note how many 100-ft’s we have traveled.  Needless to say this is my kind of job since I am in the air conditioning, sitting down, and will accumulate hardly any ticks. 

My husband, on the other hand, likes nothing better than to plunge through the undergrowth all day, and when he comes "home" to our room at the Comfort Inn, I pick a whole lot of ticks off him. 

We’ve come to a comfortable arrangement for how we visit The Land (which is how my husband refers to it, in reverent initial caps).  He loves to be On It all day, and I find it sometimes scary and sometimes beautiful but not riveting.  Scary is when I have to plunge through the undergrowth.  There is no other way to travel the persistent, impassable Southern thicket of brambles and weeds and buzzing insects that I call the "undergrowth" other than "plunging," in my view.  It’s scary because there are snakes, and while the locals will say "aww, you ain’ gon’ see no snaike less’n you stip on a rotted lawg," we have nothing BUT rotted lawgs.  People, this is a former tree farm decimated by the Southern Pine Beetle.  Which in my imagination is a cartoon little bug saying "Hi y’all" and then boring through a tree like a little Tasmanian Devil.  So, plunging is too scary for me.  My husband has done many tours through the undergrowth and while he has both Orion and the Big Dipper on his back in mosquito bites, and his arms are stippled with bramble scratches, he ain’t seen no snaikes yet atall.

I pitch in when I can to be a part of The Land in its wild state, so another part of my Associate Cartographer job is naming the roads.  The roads need to be named because my husband and I have half hour conversations that go like this:

Him:  I found another stream today.

Me:  Really?  Where?

Him:  Well, you know where the road bends around after you come down the hill?

Me:  Which hill?

Him:  The one closest to the junction.

Me:  Which junction?  The one where you piled up the wood, or the one where I saw the deer tracks?

Him:  You saw deer tracks?  Where?

Me:  At the junction.

Him:  Which junction?

Me:  The one at the bottom of the hill, where the weeds start.

Him:  Which hill?

As you can tell, this isn’t even interesting to US after a few minutes, so I’m naming the roads in typical country fashion.  We now have "Front Road," "Middle Road," "Creek Road," "Right Hand Road," and "Platform Road," which leads to the platform we built last summer and camped on.  And also leads to (wait for it) "Back Road." 

We will not be camping again in the foreseeable future, and my husband doesn’t quite know this yet.  This is partly because last summer I was incredibly depressed from the birth control pill… this particular hormonal excursion had been prescribed by my doctor as a "fabulous" pill.  Only a North Shore RE who wears Prada while aspirating ovaries would describe a birth control pill as "fabulous."  I still love her, my first-name-using supermodel RE.  But that pill made me very un-fabulous.  Camping while depressed is, as one of my favorite South African bloggers Tertia would say, "v. v. bad."

Camping on The Land is made interesting by the fact that my husband doesn’t want to poop on The Land.  He doesn’t want anybody to poop on the land.  I pointed out, what about the millenia of deer, squirrel, rabbit, snake poop on the land?  What about the little black voles?  Do you think they hold it until they can scurry over to Dock Moore’s land, next door?  Huh?  He says human poop is the worst, and I’m sure it is.  So this is a logistical challenge.  I’m sure this makes my husband sound like a nut, by the way; he’s just a very lovable nut and gets a little bit over-environmental at times.  He’s the kind of guy who used to "pack out" his own poop when backpacking Out West – it’s admirable but I’m so NOT DOING THAT.

So for our first camping trip last summer, he talked me into using a "portable toilet" which is a big ole bucket with a toilet seat into which you put a few gallons of water and some mysterious "enzyme" tablets that are supposed to "neutralize" the, uh, contents.  Which they do not do.  The bucket still stinks, it just stinks weird; you can tell it contains poop but it smells like alien poop or something.  When I asked my husband where we would dump this bucket, if not on The Land, he said breezily that we would "find a gas station."

I reminded him that the days of going around the side of the gas station building to the bathroom on the outside are long over, and that "gas stations" these days are gleaming over-cooled convenience stores with indoor bathrooms that get cleaned more than once a month.  This is a good thing, unless you happen to have a bucket of biohazard that you need to surreptitiously dump someplace.

So it became a hilarious adventure, featuring clinically depressed and heatstroky me, riding shotgun with the bucket o’ joy clenched between my knees as we rode the Tennessee hills looking for a place to dump it.  I finally got my husband’s attention at the end of the trip when I got him to realize we probably broke the law when we dumped our sewage into 1) the lone porta-potty by the construction site 2) the campground bathroom and 3) the bathroom at the unattended laundromat.  Hubby did the honors when the time of dumping came, I guess I was driving the getaway car at that point; and while he swears he "cleaned up" after, well, I’m the person who cleans our bathrooms at home and "cleaned up" seems to be a relative term.  It’s only by the grace of God that the bucket didn’t spill in the car.  If it had, I’da probably driven said vehicle straight into Watts Bar Lake, probably with me in it.

So that’s why we don’t camp.  Also, I just don’t like it.

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