Monday, August 8, 2011

And By Vacation, I Mean…

... Just Another Trip to Hell and Back.

Tam and I packed our bags, loaded up the car, and headed to Southern Oregon to visit my parents. We were looking forward to a nice, restful time working on the tent trailer, soaking up some sunshine, and catching up with the doings and goings on of my folks.

That was the plan, anyway, but as usual, that wasn’t too close to what actually happened. We were hoping to get work done on an old tent trailer that my ex and I had purchased many years ago. It’s a nice shelter that is well outfitted with all the accommodations one would need for roughing it: bathroom (with tiny shower), kitchen (with fridge, propane stove AND oven in case you want to bake pies while camping), a dining nook with table that collapses down to make a twin bed, and two king beds (one on each end). It expands out to 23 feet in length (and seven feet in width), so we were quite comfortable.

Except for the bathroom, but I’ll go into that a little more later.

The Ex and I had stored it on my parents’ property with the intention of either selling it, or maybe someday using it again. But we split up, the kids grew up, and we cannot tow such a load with the rigs we owned, so there it sat. Finally, after having it sit for several years, I decided to check out the inside.

I fully expected to find tons of gross things, like bugs, mold, spider webs, rodents, etc, but the place was almost spotless! There were a few signs that mud-dauber wasps had gotten inside and built small nests, but that was all. It became a perfect place for me to stay that didn’t involve me living in my parents’ basement, no matter how temporary because there is no bathroom. Not only is there no bathroom in the basement, when my grandfather built the house, he neglected to install an interior stairway, so to get to the bathroom, one must vacate the building, walk UPHILL, IN THE DARK, ALONE, before entering the house to piss.

It…is not a joyous thing when one has an old bladder that likes to wait until the very last minute to wake me up.

At least in the trailer, there was a toilet. It is not the kind you hook up to existing sewer, rather you fill a “cartridge” with water and the chemical solution that helps break stuff down and mask the smell, and when it’s full, you pull the cartridge (carefully), and dump it in the nearest toilet. Simple.

Unless you are my parents. They are odd people with odd ideas and there is no changing their minds no matter what evidence you can show them that prove they are wrong. If it weren’t learn’t in school, it be wrong. Ok, they’re not quite THAT backward, but close. Modern things frighten them and they have a deep distrust of anything that goes against the way they learned it. Progress, according to my parents, is a lie. They are on septic and you don’t put strange chemicals into the septic tank. Even chemicals designed to assist in the breakdown of, um, you know… toilety things.

Life would have been lovely if we’d been able to use the facilities in the trailer, but since it had been stored in one place for so long, the ground had shifted, and my mother had planted things around it. Things that grow tall. Then she decided she didn’t want to weed the tall things, so the things that grow tall invited friends that grow burrs to join them and they took over the side of the trailer where the access panel opened for the potty cartridge. Getting through that mess would have required a machete, pith helmet, three guides and some guy in a loin cloth shrieking as he swung from tree to tree.

My father refused to play the part of Tarzan. I was not disappointed in his decision.

I was, however, disappointed in the fact that we’d still have to travel a short distance on foot in order to pee. Unfortunately, peeing in the field is not an option when your balance is as bad as mine. Besides the place is rife with wild critters and stickery plants all over the place; there are parts of my body that do not need burrs any more than they need to be inspected by deer, feral cats, or the millions of ants that live near by.

Tam is a good sport and did her best to fix our meals on a card table that sat at a rather steep angle, which made chopping onions and other round foods quite a challenge. After the first night of juggling knives and potatoes, she decided one of the first orders of business would be to figure out how to make a few things more level.

Did I mention that the trailer was also no longer on level ground? No? Well, it was just off enough so we couldn’t quite secure the door, which meant any and all flying insects (and there were a LOT of them) could, and did, come in every evening. This included the beast that became known as Bug-zilla.

We had intended to get things leveled and situated in the first few days we were there, but the heat took its toll and rendered the web-footed Seattleites helpless. My mother was less than helpful as she over-did her attempts at being helpful. She began hovering when all we needed was a little breathing room. Her forgetfulness was troubling, and when I got impatient with her, things got ugly. It would have been nice if we’d been able to stay in their air-conditioned house, but… well, that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, we had no real plans for our time down there, except to settle on a more suitable location for the trailer (one with easy access to all external panels), and figure out how to move it. The rest of our time would be spent attempting to get it as level as possible in its current location and keep cool without spending a ton of money.

Then Spawn and Middle Minion showed up and things got totally out of hand. Middle Minion hadn’t been down there in several years and there were places I wanted to show him that I thought he would enjoy. My mother also had plans for her young, strong grandson, plans that included mowing the long grass out by the road, setting some fence posts, and other similarly fun activities. My mother sure knows how to throw a good time… right out the window.

Middle Minion left before we could take our share of his muscles to make our little home-on-wheels a nicer place to live, so that meant we three girls; Tam, Spawn, and I, were left to do the work on our own. Oh, my mother offered to help, but I refused her offer because I knew EXACTLY what would happen.

As it was, no one died, and we managed to wedge enough stuff under the wheel to shim it up just enough to call it good. Then I stuffed some bricks under the table legs and made Tam’s life as camp cook a lot easier (but much less entertaining for the rest of us). When my mother saw our handy work, I could tell she was struggling to not criticize our work or cast dire predictions of imminent failure.

I, on the other hand, wore my smugness openly and with much pride.

Next: Driving With Crazy.


  1. Is it wrong that I thoroughly enjoy reading about other peoples "vacations" with their families....and comparing them to my own "vacations" with mine?

    I can't wait to read Driving With Crazy.

  2. What an experience. We all have our 'family vacation' stories, I think. When I spend too much time with my parents I do wonder how I survived the growing-up years without losing my mind. I love your comment about how your mother knows how to throw a good time - right out the window. Hilarious!

  3. Hmmmm... This makes me decidedly more thankful that the first & only time Britt & I have visited my family (in Iowa...) that we got to stay in the house of my mom's hair dresser (who was herself on vacation). I am relatively certain that's one of the few reasons I didn't kill any of my family that trip... lolz...


I love to hear from you. :)