Upon turning page after page of beat up, stained, torn notes I kept repetitively reading a phrase I seemed to unconsciously write day after day after day, “Oh my gosh, another day, I am so lucky and thankful to be here…”
We had just finished a three day overnight hiking trip in Wilsons Promontory National Park, located southeast of Melbourne, Australia. In need of a shower and laundry we found ourselves slightly north of the park at a place called Shallow Inlet Campground. I had three loads of laundry on the line, so of course it started raining. A maddening, tiny amount of spitting rain, just barely enough to warrant needing to remove the laundry from the line. The campground was busy with new guest pulling in every twenty minutes or so bringing it to full capacity. Once the late afternoon hit there were families everywhere and kids were running wild around the campground, gaining in numbers with every lap they made.
As I’m walking out of our campsite to the laundry lines, a boy of about five years is deliberately stalking past. With an intentional slowness he methodically steps left, pausing to look around, steps right, searching for a victim, steps left. He checks his toy cowboy gun and huskily states from under the rim of his hat, “Ok, who wants to get shot?” not to anyone in particular, just the world at large as his stealth like searching continues for his next unknown victim.
The clothes lines consisted of four sets of classic T-post laundry lines with four white cords running approximately 20 feet in length per post. Gathered around was a group of about eight kids who were taking turns racing under the cords pretending they were running on a track field. To the right the kids had positioned a row of white plastic chairs creating a sideline and cheering section. They all had toy guns, sticks or plastic forks that they were imagining to be guns, and would shoot them off into the air whooping and hollering like monkeys as the two contestants raced up the lines. Once the two racing reached the end of the clothes line, the row of kids would shift down in the chairs as they took turns alternating between racing and cheering. That was assuming, of course, the majority didn’t deem it necessary for the contestants to have a rematch.
After a few moments a small girl in a purple shirt decides to join the group carrying into the mix a pudgy, well rounded, potbellied chocolate lab puppy. The attention of the entire group immediately shifts to puppy, which wiggles his way out of the arms of the girl and drops to the ground.
The small mob of kids giddily moves in unison trying to pet the puppy. They scurry around after him, attempting to corral him with their chairs, stop him between their legs and pick him up without him squirming away- but this puppy is not having it. This puppy has got to poo. The puppy would run ahead a few steps, squat down, only to be bothered and forced to scamper away, pausing to squat down again, be bothered, run away and continue the cycle. The kids trotted around running in circles trying to catch him. He finally got enough of a lead away from the kids to squat down near me and start pooing.
Catching up to him, this one particular girl with brunette locks flying everywhere, eyes growing excitingly wide with opportunity, saw this as her golden moment to finally hug the puppy. She bends down to wrap her arms around him and by default puts her foot directly under his butt. This was all happening right by me and I quickly pulled her back just in time before impact.
Looking up at me perplexed by my intervention as a stranger, the lights in this girls head slowly start to go off.
“Oh…” she says.
The other kids had paused their advances a few paces back when they saw me pulling the little girl away, as they too realized what was happening they recited in unison, “Oh…” all while forming a small semi-circle watching transfixed as this puppy finished struggling through its difficult poo.
“You almost got pooped on!” squeaks a small brown hair boy pointing to the end of the dogs butt.
“Yeah-“another chimes in.
Finally, after what seems like ages of struggling, the necessary deed is done.
The group recoups and starts chasing the puppy with the same mission as before: to catch, hold and pet the puppy. To aid in their pursuit they have now been joined by a small girl who had been passing by on her bike.
She must have been out practicing her riding skills without training wheels as she wobbled her way towards the group she now wanted to be a part of. With a creased brow and narrowing eyes full of concentration she started to maneuver her way across the grass towards the puppy and the group. Despite her best effort she was steering her wobbly front wheel directly towards the pile of poo. The kids all stopped chasing the puppy and started shouting at the girl,
“Left!” one said as her wheel jerked uncontrollably back and forth.
“Right!” another child yelled.
“The poo! The poo!” a few others cried out in desperation.
The girl, obviously flustered by her inability to control the bike and the newly formed circle of kids now shouting at her, was about to completely loose balance fall off. Her feet needed to hit ground immediately to keep her from crashing. The kids all gasped in unison as they watched her flailing leg come down just millimeters from missing the steaming pile of poo.
The girl had prevented herself from falling, but she wasn’t out of the clear yet. She still had to maneuver the back wheel past the poo. Ever so carefully and slowly she nudged her bike forward all the while keeping her eyes looking back, to ensure her back tire cleared the obstacle. When she did the kids all started breathing again and looked at each other.
“That was close,” one of them says.
“Yeah- real close,” another chimes in.
They were all silent for a moment looking at the pile of poo.
“Ut oh, this is going to have to get cleaned up. Better tell Julie,” a little blonde pig tailed girl speaks out.
“Ok,” says the girl standing next to her. Then without moving, she inhales her deepest breath of air and screams as loudly as possible, “Julie!!! Julie!!! There’s a mess over here to clean up!”
Without another word the posse of kids runs off to once try again to catch the puppy, who by now had wandered off to the other side of the yard happily sniffing away at the bushes.
I continued on my task of taking down the rest of the laundry. About an hour later the sun came out again and I found myself putting all the laundry back up. The posse of kids had all gone, chairs removed and all evidence of events from earlier in the day- except for one pile of poo awaiting its next victim.
This week we simply want to wish all of you the most Merriest of Holidays and a Happy New Year.
Last year we spent the holidays in the mining town of Port Hedland, Australia, and celebrated with our families long distance.
This year we are very much enjoying being home in person for the holidays.
We hope you are all jumping for joy.
Not getting caught up in the small matters.
Eating great food.
Creating a welcoming environment for yourself and those around you.
And feeling the love this Holiday season.
Our sincerest wishes to you all this Holiday Season.
Tiff and Chris
Welcome to the Vagabond Way!
We try to get off the beaten path.
We love sunrises and sunsets.
We believe the choices each of us make matter. We try to conserve in anyway we can.
We seek to view, protect and respect wildlife.
We love to hike to the top of mountains.
We enjoying seeing iconic things.
As well as the small things.
And no matter what…we go together. Family is important.
For the last decade husband and wife duo Tiffany Soukup and Christopher Brader have been trekking around the globe. Their interest in wildlife and lust for adventure has found them at the top of 165 foot trees to trekking in remote jungles. Read More