Thursday, September 23, 2010
The long drop affair
I was reading a post on another blog today and it reminded me of a certain emergency that happened during our honeymoon camping trip.
At the time of this event, we had been traveling for several days in our old car with a tent in the boot and an assortment of old camping gear mostly from the dim dark age of the fifties. There was a set of old tin plates and mugs, a thermette made by my grandfather, a pup tent from a really cheap box store along with a home made fly constructed out of a cheap tarpaulin and two broom handles and an inflatable bed which had a slow leak.
On our first night we had found a wonderful (free) camping spot with the usual fixtures - a tap on a stand, a long drop dunny (toilet) and a few concrete block barbecues. It was also raining rather hard and had been doing so all day so there was an inch or so of water in the bottom of the barbies and no dry fuel. My husband attempted to light some of this wood with some dryish twigs to no avail but did manage to heat up the thermette with twigs so we dined on cold spagetti and warmish cocoa. The fly turned out to be very useful as it was substantially larger than the tent and gave us a short veranda so not too much mud came inside. Having nothing better to do and not much light we simply went to bed.
The second night went much better as we had collected some dry wood at one of our scenic stops and we were able to have a proper fire. This was good as although the rain has mostly stopped, it was now extremely cold. It was here that the superiority of the long drop had to be overcome. It was a nice concrete block building with a handbasin and a working tap. The toilet was the usual hole with a seat but was enclosed in a concrete surround and was several feet deep.
It was whilst using this amenity, in the middle of the night, that disaster struck and the wallet fell out of my husbands pocket and down this inaccessible hole. We looked at the hole for a while as we could see the wallet at the bottom in the torchlight. It had fallen to the side of the main pile of excrement but was out of reach. I was a woman on a mission at this point as all our necessary stuff was in this wallet so I hatched a plan of rescue.
We first hunted through the woodpile for the longest branch possible that was rigid enough to not bend under pressure and to one end attached a pair of pliers. These happened to be very stiff so they stayed open unless pulled. To the unattached handle I tied a long piece of string and then took a loop around a handy twiglet. We lowered the entire thing down the hole and got the jaws around the edge of the wallet and carefully pulled the string to close the pliers. Once closed they were probably stiff enough to stay shut but I tied the string anyhow just in case. The wallet remained with the pliers and we regained our bits. I might add that juggling a torch, a piece of string and a branch in a toilet with your husband in the middle of the night is something that is hard to forget!
I washed the whole thing in hot water and antiseptic but it really hadn't suffered much. And that is why I will always put a ball of string in any emergency kit I make up.
The trip was wonderful too but I will always remember it for the time we lost the wallet down the long drop :)
viv in nz
The photo is one taken from the top of Mt Cargill last year.