Having said the above, I felt like switching up the tempo on this week's blog and tell you all about a funny story that recently happened to me and the life lesson's I learned as a result.
A few weeks ago I decided to spend the day at America's newest National Park, Pinnacles National Park. It is about a 3 hour drive from Santa Barbara to Pinnacles. Since I was only going to go for the day, I packed very light (camera's, extra pair of undies, socks, gloves and jacket for cold mornings). My plan, which I came up with in about 5 minutes, was to drive up to the town just outside of the park, spend the night there, and then head into the park for sunrise and a day of hiking.
Sunrise in the park did not happen because the park did not open its gates until after 7am… no worries, I wanted to eat anyways. My pre hiking breakfast of choice was Steak and Eggs. It was delicious and left me feeling satisfied and prepared for the day.
Before embarking on my hike, I made a crucial decision - which pair of undies do I wear. I had with me an old beat up pair of boxer shorts that was full of holes (for ventilation), but quite comfortable, and I had my favorite pair, favorite only because a 100 washes ago it used to read "Carpe Diem."
I usually wear my "Carpe Diem," undies for special occasions and significant events (You all are getting to know me in a whole new way now - hahaha) I decided while my Pinnacles experience was special, it was not quite special enough for the Carpe Diem undies. So I opted for the "hole-ie ones."
My adventure begins…
I get to the park 5 minutes after the gate opens and drive over to where the hiking trail is. I get there and it is me and the park ranger, no one else. I literally have a National Park all to myself. I am not going to lie, upon this realization I had a "Giddy with excitement moment." After all, it is not every day you get to enjoy the treat of being in a National Park, let alone have the whole park to yourself.
It was chilly out so bundling up was required. In addition I took a protein bar and water for supplies, and of course my cameras.
I set off on the trail. The air was fresh and crisp. The trail was beautiful. The mountains were majestic. The light from the sun illuminated off the rocks and trees displaying brilliant greens and purples.
My camera was working over time, my legs glided along effortlessly on the trail… I was like a little kid in a candy store, engrossed by the Heaven I was experiencing.
Like a little kid in a candy store… when little kids go to candy stores and eat to much candy, what happens? They get tummy aches…
I had hiked for about an hour when I felt the first grumble from my tummy. It wasn't just a grumble of discomfort, it was a grumble that was letting me know nature was calling.
Keep in mind I am in the middle of a National Park, one hour into a trail, I have zero supplies save for the clothes on my body, my cameras, a protein bar, and a little water. I am panicked, I decide the only thing to do is to sit down in hopes that pacifies the rumble within. I was having flashbacks of being on top of Mt. Whitney and having to take a 14,500 foot poop (see video below not of the poop, but of the Mt. Whitney experience).
Disclaimer #2 - Excessive bathroom talk will follow in the next couple paragraphs. Read on at your own risk. :)
I sit and breathe. Sitting, when nature calls, has been a strategy I have used, very successfully over the years, to calm down when the tummy rumbles. If I feel something trying to "escape" at an inappropriate time, usually a little reverse pressure in the form of sitting, keeps the would be "escapee" detained. Basic physics, right? :)
Note: I am sharing this all with you because this is the train of thought I was having while all of this was going on. I want to be real and authentic. :)
Yes! Sitting and breathing seems to have worked. Time to continue on my journey.
The sun has risen over the mountains, the colors are amazing, the air is so clean and fresh, my camera is working overtime, I… I… I think I really have to go to the bathroom, nature is no longer calling, nature is now screaming and yelling and kicking on the feakin door.
I try to sit and breathe - to late! No amount of breathing and sitting is going to save me now. I am over an hour away from the nearest bathroom, I have no supplies, you might say I am SOL (Shit out of Luck).
I realize I have two choices: Choice #1 regress to my diaper days and, well, poop myself, or Choice #2 find some bushes.
I should mention that the only reason I considered choice one is because I was terrified that I would be breaking some law by pooping and leaving my poop in a National Park. Also, I can't stand littering, especially when it is in a National Park. While "do-do" is biodegradable, I still was concerned.
Anyways, option 2 won out as the most logical, and hygienic choice.
Before I can find a place to go I need to make sure I am alone. Don't want to be caught with my pants down, literally, in the middle of a hiking trail. Even though I felt like there was no one around, I was still a little nervous as I hadn't 'really paid attention for last 20 minutes since I entered poo poo crisis mode. I am at the top of a mountain and I can't see the trail very well, luckily I came up with a solution. I pulled out my camera, set the zoom to max, and scoped out the trail - very spy like. Thankfully no one was around.
Next was finding a spot to go. I have a couple logistical issues I have to take into consideration. #1, I am on the top of a mountain which means it is mostly rock, so I have to find some bushes to give me the appropriate "cover." #2 I am not very flexible, so to do "#2" discreetly I need to find a place that is angled so I can fully squat ass to ankles. #3 I need to do all of this quickly as nature is still kicking and screaming. Lastly, #4 what am I going to do once I go?
I find a spot on the side of a cliff. I say a quick prayer that I won't lose my balance and be found at the bottom of a ravine with my pants around my ankles. As I assume the position I quickly review notes from previous reading sessions of the "What's Your Poo Telling You," book (see below picture.) I am hopping against hope that luck will be on my side and I will produce a "Clean Sweep" poo (See explanation below). Unfortunately the plop plop I hear tells me that I must have pooped out a "Soft Serve." (explanation also below).
Ugh, now what?
Thankfully the relief I experience allows me to think a little more clearly. Do I try to find some leaves to wipe with? Do I use my undies then bury them and leave them? What would you do?
Using my undies and leaving them was out - I refuse to litter. Leaves was a no go as well - California is in the middle of a drought this means everything is dry, dry leaves hurt! This was my mess, I got myself into it and by golly I was going to get myself out of it. I decided on a three part strategy.
Part 1 was to bury the evidence with dirt, leaves, and rocks. That was the easy part.
Part 2 and 3 was a little tricker. I decided if I pulled my undies up (loose fitting boxer shorts) in a certain way, and then quickly pulled my pants up after, I would be able to trap my boxers in place, and create enough of a "barrier" that would keep everything in until I got back to civilization and could properly clean up.
It took a couple tries, but I was eventually able to execute parts 2 and 3. Time to head back. I start on the trail, I walk on the trail, I check the map, I walk for another 10 minutes, double check the map and realize I was going the wrong way. Damnit! Thankfully It only cost me about 25 minutes which was much better than the 3+ hours it would have cost me going the wrong way. (Note to self: always pay attention to where you are walking, especially when time is of the essence).
I hiked back to the bathroom with ease. I actually quite enjoyed the hike because I was laughing so hard about the events that had transpired. About 10 minutes before I made it back to the bathroom I ran into a couple on the trail. They were asking me about the trail ahead. I told them it was beautiful, to enjoy themselves, and I encouraged them that no matter what, "Stay on the trail." After all there are "dangers" when you go off trail. Hehehe
Arriving at the bathroom felt like winning the lottery - it is funny how much you can learn to appreciate the little things when the unexpected happens.
I cleaned, I changed, I tossed the hole-ie par of undies and put on the Carpe Diem ones as I felt like surviving this experience was cause to celebrate.
I had some decisions to make. Hiking the trail I wanted to hike was out, I wanted to check out a couple other spots in the local area, and I needed to get back to Santa Barbara that night. I decided I had better hit the road.
I was a little bummed, but decided to make the best of it. I stopped in a cool little town for lunch and enjoyed a delicious salad.
Being nourished I jumped back on the road only to be greeted with traffic - ugh!
Reminding myself I had resolved to make the best of this situation, I got off the road and headed towards the coast. I could drive out towards the ocean and wait out the traffic while enjoying the sunset.
Easily one of the best decisions I have ever made, as I was treated to the experience captured in the pictures below. And yes, those are dolphins jumping at sunset. :)
As I was standing there watching the sun set into the Pacific I replayed the "shitty" experience I had just had and thought that there were a few powerful life lessons in there worth sharing.
#1 Shit is going to happen in life, period. You may or may not be ready for it when it does, but you can be certain, it will happen. What you can be ready for is choosing an empowering attitude that will help you get through it and continue to move forward. (see video below for more on this).
#2 If things do not go as planned, don't waste your time moping about the botched plan, improvise and create a new plan.
#3 Traffic sucks, if the opportunity is there and time allows, pull off the road and enjoy the sunset, some fresh air, or just a change in perspective.
#4 This is the most important lesson of all: Always, ALWAYS bring an extra pair of underwear. :)
Thank you for reading,
Enjoy the pics and videos,