A few weeks ago we were meeting with old friends, Melissa and Al. You will remember Melissa from the “Are you Jonny?” post I did a while back.
Just to clarify – our friendship is old, they’re not old. 🙂
Melissa reminded me of our little “hike” up in Tobermory back in about 2004 or 2005 so I thought I should tell this story, because it really is a story about achievement, triumph, overcoming obstacles…all that motivational nonsense.
On a long weekend, Melissa invited us to come up to their family cottage on Cameron Lake, just outside of Tobermory.
The cottage consists of a main house and a bunkhouse, which at the time was a little more primitive than I had expected.
We stayed in the bunkhouse, which had a main entry area, a tiny bathroom and a small bedroom.
Because water was pumped in from the lake, it wasn’t advisable to use water from the tap for drinking, so we used bottled water.
The shower wasn’t hooked up to a hot water heater, so we had to heat up water in the main house, mix it with cold water in a bucket and then use a pump to get the shower to work.
And inside the main house, there was still a hand pump reminiscent of “Little House on the Prairie.”
But it was a lot of fun just being up there.
And then there was the Enviro-Toilet
It “looked” like a normal toilet mostly, except that instead of flushing waste down the drain, the burner down below incinerated it.
This toilet was located in the bunkhouse, so it was nice to have a bathroom so close.
Melissa gave us a quick crash course on how the Enviro-Toilet worked and then it was time for bed.
You see – each time you use the Enviro-Toilet, you put a waxy paper liner into the toilet bowl, do your business and then open the flap to let it drop down into the hole below.
Once “it” was down there, you turn the burner on and in no time, the waste turns in ash which would get cleaned out every once in a while.
Except…Joy and I misunderstood the instructions slightly.
For some strange reason, we thought that somewhere in Melissa’s instructions, she mentioned using a liner more than once, or something like that.
What she actually said was that we should drop multiple paper liners into the hole, before we had to turn the burner on.
So…what we did was let the thing fill up with…well…pee…from a few different trips to the bathroom before we dropped the liner down into the hole and turned on the burner.
And guess what happened when we finally turned on the burner?
The whole bunkhouse smelled like urine!
Not just the bunkhouse though, but outside the bunkhouse smelled too.
Thankfully we cleared up any confusion with its use and it turned out fine.
And then came “The Grotto”
Melissa had mentioned that we should go to “the Grotto” which is located within Bruce Peninsula National Park.
The Grotto is a natural water feature made by a cliff, rocks and a cave.
Going to the Grotto meant more than just “going”.
It meant we were hiking to the Grotto, but Melissa assured us that we would park the car and then it was just a short hike.
So, we set off on foot, heading toward the Grotto and about 5-10 minutes into the hike, I was exhausted.
Melissa, seeing that I was struggling was trying to be supportive by saying “I think it’s just right up there, around the corner”
Then we got to that corner, and alas, it wasn’t there.
Then there was another corner…and another…and another…and with each one, she kept saying “I think that’s it…up there…see where that tree is…”
I was starting to lose confidence in her navigational abilities at this point.
But eventually, we did get there…but I didn’t see the Grotto.
Once we got there, there was some weird hole that you had to crawl through and go down. Joy surveyed the situation and we decided it was best that I didn’t go down there, for fear that I might not get back up!
I decided to sit that one out.
Instead, I sat on some rocks and enjoyed the beautiful view…paranoid that I was going to get bitten by a Massasauga Rattlesnake or attacked by a Black Bear.
I have weird, impractical fears of dangerous wild animals. 🙂
After Melissa, Al and Joy got back from the Grotto, we headed back the way we came. It was a LONG day. My legs felt like Jello. I’m astonished that I actually made it.
Now, here’s the funny part of the story. It was a few years later that Melissa and Al were visiting the Grotto again and this time there was some sort of map that showed the trails and gave more information on getting there.
As it turns out, the trail that we took was about 3 kilometres long and was labelled as difficult when described in the hiking literature.
So…I guess I can add that to my list of accomplishments. Yay me!