(Bonus points to you if you sang that title to the tune of Tim McGraw's Diamond Rings & Old Barstools)
“It smells like old dog farts in here.”
I am quite familiar with what an old dog fart smells like, being that I live with a breed known for their flatulence, and this was an unfortunate and accurate statement.
I’m not really sure what happens in everyone else’s camper vans, but in mine, it always smells a little…..off. I anticipated a lot of things prior to departure, but not this, seeing as I have a dry flush toilet (which we’ve already discussed has its own fancy odor when warmed properly, but funnily enough, the old dog fart scent is not that), and only a grey water tank, not black. I mean, my house itself smells fucking amazing - why would I think my van wouldn't? While I may lack in daily hair washing hutzpah, I am a generally very clean person. Anal retentive may have been an adjective used to describe me at more than one point in my life. Mostly from my mid-teens to early 30’s. I am still quite particular (another descriptive term used for me on more than one occasion), but I have relaxed a bit. Things don’t have to be quite so rigidly squared away and presented with a ruler’s precision, but I still do like things to be clean, neat, and orderly. Just nowadays I can go to sleep with a few things unfolded and without spit-shining my shoes. I honestly think that the work I did to help with my eating disorder probably had something to do with that (easing up on the anal retentiveness, not making things clean and neat) – these control things tend to walk hand in hand.
But I digress.
There’s a funk to Hecate that doesn’t seem to go away, no matter how much I clean her, and it largely seems to stem from the sink. The sink lid comes off, the old dog fart smell emanates. I’m not sure what the hell went down the sink to die (or rather, goes down the sink and dies daily, since you’re think it’d be flushed out by now), because like a not-total-moron, I don’t put food scraps, coffee grounds, etc. down the sink. And also, while I seem to pee everywhere else available, I don’t do that in the sink either. I put Mrs. Meyer’s peony dish soap down the sink and that’s about it. You’d think it would smell like a spring bouquet. I air the joint out daily. I empty my grey tank. So this week I’ve commenced experimenting, since the Google was largely unhelpful in giving advice on this topic. I’ve started with good old fashioned baking soda and white vinegar, but I also have on standby some foaming lemon garbage disposal tabs. Who knows. If any fellow camper van-ers are reading this and have any suggestions, please message me with help. My own funk is about all I can put up with.
I think today is Day 43, and I think we’re nearing the halfway mark of the trip, if we're not there already. In some ways it seems like I’ve been doing this forever, and in some ways, it seems like I just left yesterday. No, that’s not true. If I’d just left yesterday, I’d still be suffering vertigo and panic attacks.
It’s been nice being out in the wilderness, but it seems I’m never actually going to get the solitude I so long for on this trip. There’s a caretaker here on the property, and while he is very nice, and largely unobtrusive, it’s not just me and the dog and the forest. Le sigh. I suppose there’s still 6 weeks to remedy this situation, and if not, there will be more trips (and realistically, the further west we eventually go, the greater the opportunity for me to find those wide open, vacuous spaces I crave). Maybe this trip was the Universe stripping me of everything I thought I wanted and giving me what I needed instead. Maybe I needed to become more open to people. Either way, it’s been a fucking gas, so far, regardless of how people-y it’s been.
The days at the river so far have been lovely and relaxing. Gatsby and I go down and do a workout followed by our daily river bath. We usually make it a couple of hours before the ravenous horseflies have their way with us. Jiminy Cricket, do they mean business. The only thing that loves me more than Gatsby does, apparently, are those fuckers. The mosquitoes, for the record, are a bunch of gluttonous assholes, too. They just happen to be slightly less painful than the horseflies. I’ve had a lot of down time finally to read….. my most recent finish (and a very quick read) was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Loved it. 4.8/5 stars. It was very Butterfly Effect meets Fringe, and that’s a winner in my book (see what I did there? Okay, enough dad jokes; they must be used very sparingly). I’ve had time to throw up the tent (guylines and all), and hike, and sit quietly and reflect, and do crossword puzzles, and yoga. It’s pretty dreamy.
Speaking of reflecting, here's a little side story for you:
Some things I will never outgrow. Specifically, I will never outgrow the 80s, nor will I outgrow the desire to be beautiful (I do at least finally recognize that there’s a wide variety of what it is to be ‘beautiful’). I grew up sneaking She-Ra, Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, Lady Lovely Locks, and Strawberry Shortcake (I can do a mean impression of the Purple Pie Man) on TV as much as I could before I fell in love with sneaking football games, and although I’m not sure they’d stand the test of time if I were to throw them on the boob tube today, I still have a fondness and affinity for these things. I've always been a very girly tomboy. I was very happy to put on a dress before climbing a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶u̶b̶s̶e̶q̶u̶e̶n̶t̶l̶y̶ ̶f̶a̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ a tree. There was no gift in my child’s eyes better than some glittery press-on nails or a pair of ‘high’ heels, but there was really no stopping me with a makeup kit. I attribute this to a combination of my Grandma being a beautician (clearly, it runs in the family, and I still love purple shampoo to this day because of Grandma) and my mother being a Jafra consultant. In case you’re not in the know about Jafra, it was the Avon/MaryKay of the 80s. I would sit on the counter every morning and watch my mom go through her makeup routine. This was back before people learned how to put mascara on without their gobs gaping open, so I thought it very important to perfect your fly-catching stance while simultaneously enhancing your lashes.
When I was roughly 4, I got a turquoise Popple backpack for Christmas. Very very 80s. For those not familiar with the Popple, it was a teddy bear that morphed into a brightly colored ball. The backpack version functioned as either a stuffed animal or a legit backpack. Quite handy for a 4-year-old. Especially one who would every day pack her mom's makeup samples, and black patent leather Mary Janes into said backpack and traipse off to Montessori. When I'd get there, I'd change into my fancy shoes, apply my makeup, and trot off to kindergarten, feeling like the Queen of Sheba.
I can’t say for sure how long this went on, but at some point, my teachers let my parents know that I was coming to school looking like a baby French courtesan (this was pre-Toddlers & Tiaras), and at that point, they stymied my foray into makeup and fashion.
To this day, I could largely give a crap about what I’m wearing, so long as it’s comfortable and my muffin-top is contained, but my love of makeup has not weaned. I’m finally at the point in life where I’m pretty comfortable with myself, so maybe I wear a little something, maybe not, but in the not-so-distant past, I wouldn’t have gone to work (at a gym, for fuck’s sake) without at the very least, blush. My blush fascination was so well-known that if I went into work without it, my favorite co-worker, Kathy, would ask if everything was okay.
There’s not really a point to this story, other than a teensy glimpse into my life, and maybe the comforting thought that while some things, like looks, change, some things, like the 80s, will always be there for you.
Stay tuned for updates on dog farts and our Pictured Rocks excursion that's on the docket for tomorrow!