View From An Outhouse

The place where we stayed on Lake Temagami had an outhouse.  That’s right — a real, old-fashioned, wooden framed outhouse that had everything you could want in an outhouse except a crescent moon carved in the door.

What does a city boy do when he goes to a place with an outhouse?  Well . . . try it, of course!  The temptation was irresistible.  If you’ve never used an outhouse, how can you pass up the chance to add it to your list of enriching life experiences?  It might not be on your bucket list, but it’s an obvious character builder.

I admit I approached the prospect with some trepidation.  My grandmother had scared UJ and me with tales of the outhouse at the family homestead when she was growing up, including one incident where she looked up while using the facilities, saw a huge, hissing black snake above the door frame, and bolted out of there before her business had been completed.  So, naturally, my first step was to check the surroundings for any signs of poisonous or carnivorous creatures.  The fact that it was about 20 degrees gave me some confidence in that regard.  The icy temperatures also meant I didn’t have to worry about swatting a swarm of flies while answering nature’s call.

Of course, the cold was a double-edged sword; it also made me reluctant to fully commit to the process.  I was afraid of losing some skin to a frozen plastic seat.  Fortunately, the throne was made of some spongy material that didn’t pose a risk of frozen cheeks.  So, with a deep breath, I forged ahead.  The frigid temperatures were a terrific incentive to stay focused on the task ahead and finish the job as quickly as possible and not linger, admiring the view, pretty as it was.

As I left, I felt both lighter and more seasoned.

Dreaming Of Castles

I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did I think one of the items would be spending the night in a castle — a real, honest-to-God, moat and drawbridge, turrets and keeps castle.

It turns out that it’s not that tough to do.  There are a number of castles in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and other European countries where you can spend a night, for a price.  And some of them apparently come complete with ghosts dressed in period costumes, at no extra charge.  Consider Parador de Cardona, pictured with this post, where construction began in 1020 — 1020! — and Room 712 is reportedly haunted by a leotard-wearing spirit.

How cool would it be to be sitting before a roaring fire in a castle’s great room, sipping a fine ale or perhaps a good, hearty mead as you admire the tapestry covering the stone walls and the vaulted wooden ceilings far overhead, and then seeing some knightly apparition drifting past?