How to Poop on a River Rafting Trip

You might remember that in August this year, I took my first river rafting trip with my boyfriend, Mike, and his family and friends.

[If you happened to miss the full Salmon River adventure, click here for the post!]

There was so much to learn about river life, and the burning question was, of course:
How the heck do you poop on a week-long, 80-mile rafting trip!

Well, I wouldn't recommend holding it. ;)

If you're an inexperienced rafter as I was, you might be envisioning a nice hole in the ground or a spot among some bushes. But the bathroom is not actually in the forest, in the ground, or God-forbid, on the river.

You've probably heard of the Leave No Trace hiking model. On the river, it's Pack In and Pack Out, and this applies not just to your garbage and supplies, but to your waste as well, which means you have to be creative about your bathroom breaks.

So how do you do it?

On our trip, we brought along a portable potty. Not the standing ones you see at concert venues and fairs, but a small plastic potty with a lid--think of a toddler training potty, but for adults. 

Every day you have to find a spot in the camp for the potty, private but accessible, and preferably with a nice view ;) The location is actually pretty important for women on the river. Here's why: Liquid waste, aka urine, needs to be kept separate from solid waste, so that the solid waste can be properly disposed of at the conclusion of the trip or at designated dumps stations along your journey. An ethical, environmentally responsible pee spot is in damp soil somewhere along the riverbed, not on dry ground. So it's convenient to set up the potty close to the river.

Our river group called our potty The Groover, and thankfully, there was a men's groover and women's groover. ;) The potty, before nifty plastic containers, used to be an ammo can! So when you sat on it, you'd walk away with lovely grooves in your bum! Hence, the name: The Groover.

Believe it or not, someone has to bear the responsibility of hauling The Groover on their raft day to day, campsite to campsite, and on our trip, that was all 80 miles! And toward the end of your trip, that potty gets pretty full! Mike and a river friend were our group's groover haulers. These guys, whoever they are in your rafting group are a hero of sorts--thank them, make them dinner or breakfast, and then crack some jokes. 

Eating River Dinner, telling stories and laughing.
The cool thing about living on a river is that poop becomes a group responsibility and effort, and takes on a larger meaning when you have to be conscious of how you go--you can't just dump, flush, and forget about it!

We had so much fun having conversations about poop--the best food to eat to help you poop, memories of the best on-the-river pooping spots--telling pooping-on-the-river stories, and yelling out in the morning as we packed up camp to head out on the river again: 

These are the things you don't think about when you set out on a wilderness adventure. They're not the moments or memories you have in your photo album (thank goodness) but they're also the ones that make the trip, keep you laughing, and teach you new things about the way we live in our world.

If you're thinking about making river rafting your next adventure, check out the other essentials I brought with me, here!

Keep Sunday Strong

Sundays are the beginning of a new week, and should be a day of celebration (right?!), but most people see Sundays as the end of something: their weekend, and so, the day is terribly depressing. Sundays are shafted. They're delegated to readiness for the work week: grocery shopping, making meals because you don't have time to cook Monday-Thursday, doing laundry--I mean, you know the deal. 

BUT. I'm feeling a tad bit (have to admit, unusually) optimistic on this fine Sunday, and wish to make a proposition for Strong Sundays. That is: readiness of the mind and the body, and not of the work week. 

So today, I biked about 6.5 miles to one of my favorite coffee haunts, Black Hole Coffee House, and while I did work (the entire time I was there), I got out of the house and off of my couch to get there. I took a break and walked around the neighborhood, and stumbled across Mandell Park, an organic community garden and an oasis of green in Houston. 

I biked a different route back to explore alleyways and streets of the city I hadn't seen before, and when I returned home, I had a beer, and sat down, and took a minute. On Friday night, I had friends over for Family Dinner, and we made pizza, and it was a beautiful smorgishboard of tastes and toppings and swapping slices. 

I think I'll make Strong Sundays a tradition. I would love to hear about how you keep Sunday strong, so use the hashtag #keepsundaystrong to give this day of the week a little love! 

Mandell Park, Pizza Night, Black Hole Coffee House

Gulf Coast Beaches | The Wander Chronicles

Houston can be pretty overwhelming--heck, any city can be overwhelming-- and my wander itch was getting stronger, so my friend Josie suggested that we take a mini road trip to find Gulf Coast beaches. It couldn't have been a better idea, especially since we actually couldn't find it for a better half of the afternoon, but, of course, like all wander chronicles, getting lost led us to other beautiful places! 

This is the second installment of The WANDER CHRONICLES, so if you missed the first, hunting for Mt. Bierstadt's trailhead in the snow, you can find it here!
Frozen Point Texas

Frozen Point, Gulf Coast, Texas

Our destination began as Frozen Point, a part of the Gulf coastline that, in 1895, was subjected to 20 inches of snow! Our October day was still in the 90s, so it was difficult to picture a blizzard in this subtropical climate, and maybe our reason for choosing this legendary coastal protrusion--a little heat relief, please? 

Turns out, Frozen Point is mainly private land, one of the original cattle-ranching operations in Chambers County, owned by patriarch James Jackson whose 6,000 cattle head were covered in the bizarre snowstorm of 1895. So, while you can drive down the mainly gravel road to Frozen Point, through acres of beautiful prairie and marshes, you can't actually access the Point itself.

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

So, Josie, Corey and I found ourselves at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, 34,000 acres of protected ancient marshland. After a picnic of sandwiches and beer, we took to exploring some of the trails. 
Karbach Brewing and Beer Houston Texas
Josie was smart and brought along some Houston craft beer: Karbach Sympathy for the Lager
These are short, meandering little excursions but bursting with incredible flora and fauna. If you're a birder, this is the place to be--the refuge is known for its population of rails, a species of marsh bird that's described as chicken-like. Marsh dinosaurs! 

Butterfly garden Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Texas

I'd like to return during the winter season because I might catch the snow-geese phenomenon where flocks of up to 80,000 swoop down from the migratory paths to feed in the marshes.

The Willows at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

Okay, so after toodling around this refuge, we left in search of the ocean. Where's the beach? Where's the sand? Where's the water? we kept asking, and found ourselves driving a tad northeast to High Island. 

High Island | Gulf Coast Beaches 

High Island Texas

You won't believe this but High Island gets its name because it's literally the highest point, at just 32ft above sea level, on the entire Gulf Coast, all the way to the Yucatan! This is definitely a different kind of landmark than the Fourteeners I've experienced in Colorado. 

Gulf Coast Beaches

The island is home to only 450 residents--that's only 100 more people than my graduating high school class!--and is rumored to have been a partying spot for pirates in the early 1800s. Now, it's a less-traveled, serene spot for sea kayakers, fishermen, and beach loungers.

Seashell Collecting on High Island

People drove their vehicles right onto the beach, no parking lot necessary. We hunted for shells and got our feet wet, and hit refresh on our souls. 

Corey showing off her seashell collection, Josie, and I at the edge of Texas.

Art Festivals | Houston, Texas

The arts festivals in Houston, Texas are like the city's raspa stands and ice houses--there's one on every corner, but each one offers specific flavors and atmosphere.

I wanted to be at all of the exciting events (The Texas Contemporary Arts Festival, the Bayou Park Grand opening, LibroFest, Banned Books at Brazo's Bookstore, and The Greek Festival--just to name a few!). I spent most of Saturday afternoon biking around this urban landscape, exploring, and attending a couple of these festivities.

Houston LibroFest 

Houston LibroFest highlights Hispanic writers. Literary arts organizations, magazines, activists, and vendors spent the beautiful afternoon in the Houston Public Library square celebrating the vibrant Latino community and its literacy love. 

I signed up to help Gulf Coast Journal man their booth. Speaking with other members of the literary arts community was so inspiring! I kept sneaking away to visit all the vendors--there were so many things to do!

Literary Arts of Houston, Texas

My favorite must have been the Workhorse Print Makers booth where I hand-pressed my own poster! I've been in love with letterpress for a few years now (Intended Hobby #656) and it's clear the Workhorse guys are too: 

"Nothing says love like heavy metal. We don’t mean purple satin, long hair and guitars heavy metal. We mean one ton of cast iron slowly squeezing paper in its tender embrace. We mean men lavishing attention on long forgotten machines that once were the epoch of human ingenuity. Hammers hitting steel, the squeak of belts, and the sizzle of oil on well lubed bushings. We love letterpress."

letterpress machine

This full-service letterpress print shop uses soy-based inks and citrus-solvents, and their stock is often made from American recycled or tree-free cotton! I mean really, I couldn't admire these guys more! 

Check out my poster! It's a quote from Sandra Cisneros (You might know her best from her novel, The House on Mango Street). You can bet it will be hanging in the most visible spot of my house. 

Little Red Leaves Textile Series

Little Red Leaves Journal & Press showcased their Textile Series of hand-sewn books of poetry. Each one had its own personality--pieces of art from the inside, out! I wanted to buy all of them, especially the blank notebooks.

Voices Breaking Boundaries Artists

Monica Villareal and Jorge Galvan Flores (above) are two of the city's talented graphic artists. Monica is wearing a Voices Breaking Boundaries t-shirt, a Houston grassroots arts organization inciting social justice through art. They work to create open conversations and new experiences of the city's cultural history and present. These guys do it all: performance art, dance, graphic design, photography--you name it. Go like the organization's Facebook page--they deserve support! 

GC Magazine Arts Vendor
Some young word-lovers played banana-grams at the Gulf Coast Magazine booth.

Gulf Coast Magazine Editor

This is the lovely Adrienne Perry, editor of Gulf Coast Journal. Adrienne has only been living in Houston for two years, but has nestled herself into the city's literary arts community with her warm, generous spirit. 

Inprint Poetry Buskers

Inprint, Houston's premier literary arts organization, deployed its team of Poetry Buskers to the Bayou Park Grand Opening. Armed with typewriters and reservoirs of words, these poets wrote poems for park visitors on the spot--how freaking cool is that? "Give us a theme, and we'll write you a poem." A custom-made poem is a special gift, but so is watching these talented writers create them! 

Urban Mural Art Houston Texas

Biking around Houston, the arts are everywhere. I came across this incredible mural on my way to get coffee (Needed to refuel from the overwhelming arts stimulation!). It's gorilla art: get it?! 

Catalina Coffee

Catalina Coffee Houston, Texas

I ended my day of Houston exploration at Catalina Coffee. By far, the BEST coffee I've had in Houston so far. Why? Because they roast it themselves, of course! I was thrilled to find a local roaster. While chatting with the barista, I discovered that the editor of Sugar & Rice Magazine, who I spoke with at LibroFest that afternoon, had also been in for java that day. 

I learned so much about my literary arts community and am so excited to explore more ways to get involved. Below is a list of the organizations featured in this blog post. Please visit their websites, like their Facebook pages, and if you're feeling inclined, share their work!

Check out more urban art from my travels to Chicago, here

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