FlashBack Friday – Outward Bound

Since both Earth Day and Arbor Day are next week I thought that my flashback this week is about a nature adventure I had when I was in high school.  This is story is also a way to demonstrate that although I am rather preoccupied with Living Green and helping others to do the same, I am no tree hugger… not that there’s anything wrong with tree hugging.  I’m just not a nature girl.  My idea of a great camping trip MUST include a shower… and a toilet.  Yeah, I don’t like to pee outdoors.  No way no how.

Freshman year of high school: My school participated in a program called Outward Bound which meant that each freshman had to got to spend 5 days in the Everglades (There is a bit of debate on this issue.  Other class years only had to go for 3 days, lucky bastards.  I have maintained for the past 15 years+ that we had to go for a week, but that statement has met with some resistance.  I’m saying 5 days as a compromise.) The purpose of the trip was to get us to learn how to cooperate and problem solve while completely out of our element.  It was also to help us learn leadership skills.

At least, that was the party line.  To me it was an experience in hell.  It was five days in a swamp, pissing and shitting in a hole in the ground (or worse yet, off the side of a canoe); five days of being chewed alive by mosquitoes; five days of baking in the sun covered in bug repellent, sun block, dried salt water and dirt; five days of not being able to wear contact lenses; five days of not being able to clean my glasses and therefore five days of headaches; five days of paddling around in a canoe under a canopy of mangroves from which spiders continuously dive bombed me.  Have I mentioned I’m arachnophobic?

But I will skip over the gory details of that variety of hell and talk about one particular day/night.

One morning we were informed that we were to spend a day and a night alone on our own private island to reflect and write in our journals.  We would not see another human being until the following morning.  Ok, kinda cool. I hate people and love writing. I figured I could get into that.

I had my water supply.  I had my sleeping bag.  I had my mosquito netting.  I had a pen and paper, what more could I want?

All went well until nightfall.  When I could  no longer see by the fading light and I got sick of swatting at mosquitoes (have I ever mentioned that I am a mosquito magnet?  I can be in a room with 20 people and 1 mosquito for 5 minutes and I won’t get out of there with less than a dozen bites), I crawled into my sleeping bag under the mosquito netting and settled in for the night listening to the sounds of relative quiet: crickets chirping, waves slapping up on shore, mosquitoes dive bombing my ears and some animal screaming in the trees behind me.

What?  Oh shit, I thought.  What the fuck was that?

A minute or two later a cute little raccoon appeared out of the darkness and stood a few feet away from me rubbing his little hands together.  I smiled to myself and thought, Hey, this isn’t so bad, as the little guy ran away into the brush behind me.

A few minutes later, lying in the darkness with my hands above my face to keep the mosquitoes from biting me through the netting, I turned my head back to where I had seen the little guy earlier and was surprised to see two of them standing there on their hind legs rubbing their cute little hands together.

Hey dudes, I said.  Bet this ain’t something you see everyday.  I snickered to myself as they turned to each other and started chattering in what I thought was a rather conversational way before they scampered off into the brush behind me.

No more than 10 minutes later (of course, I’m completely guessing since I had no watch.  It could have been 3 hours for all I know) they were back… with friends.  A lot of friends.  I turned my head to find at least a half a dozen raccoons watching me no more than a few feet away and for the first time they weren’t so cute.  I started to remember stories about how raccoons were common carriers of rabies.  Then I wondered how long it would take me to unzip my mosquito netting and get away from a pack of rabid raccoons.  Then I listened to the roar of buzzing swarming in the blackness around me and thought I’d prefer to get rabies than be eaten to death by bugs.

Before I could come to a final conclusion the raccoon pack (herd? gaggle? swarm?) reached its own conclusions and trotted off.  I waited, poised to unzip and run if necessary (yes, I was being a pussy.  I freely admit that) but they didn’t return.

Instead, moments later the orgy began.  At least, I can only assume it was a raccoon orgy.  I mean, they had come to survey the likelihood of the outsider trapped in the large bag breaking up the party, realized I was no threat and started to get down.

I honestly have never heard so much noise in my life.  Seriously, not even from a house full of people doing the same.  And these little buggers went on forEVER!  Seriously, the sun was coming up and I could still hear them screaming and squawking away.  Needless to say, although I laughed a lot, I slept not at all that night.

I do not, however, exaggerate that the raccoon orgy was the only part of the trip I didn’t despise.  I still hold a grudge against my brother for not taking me home immediately after the bus pulled back onto campus grounds.  He was more interested in ogling the girl he liked at the time, that bastard. 😉

Want to play along? FlashBack Friday posts can be any medium you choose, photographic, video, music, or just a story. Share your flashback on Fridays and link back to me. Visit other participants and get some dirt on your fellow bloggers.


~ by CableGirl on Friday, April 18, 2008.

22 Responses to “FlashBack Friday – Outward Bound”

  1. Okay: TOTAL. NIGHTMARE. I cannot even imagine surviving such a horrific experience. But I’m still snickering at the thought of an all-night racoon free-for-all.

    Off-topic: You made an excellent point in your comment on my most recent post. I’ll write about it next week. Thanks!

  2. *snicker* Yup – sounds like hell to me too. Racoons are filthy little perverts – they used to go at it under my window at one of the places I lived in Vancouver.

  3. I definitely don’t think I could have done that. I give you credit for even going through with it. I’m the same way, I try to live more green everyday but I’m not a tree hugger nor would I consider myself outdoorsy. I have yet to go real camping because the lack of a toilet freaks me out lol.

  4. OMG, this is so funny! I love to camp, though I do like to shower on occasion when I am…at Yellowstone, there are places where you can pay to take a shower-the best spent $4 of the whole trip. Really. You think the raccoons are bad, try PIGS. Because not only do they do it all night as well, but they also have homosexual tendencies. Which in people doesn’t really bother me, but pigs? Eeeew….

  5. ROFL!! Raccoon orgies sooo beat my Flashback of the day…although on the trip I talk about we did have howler monkeys flinging poo at the roofs at sunrise every morning.

  6. Raccoons are not my favorite creatures…but I love the raccoon orgy image 🙂

  7. Hehe, guess you got a healthy dose of sex education then.

  8. Ohmigosh, I am laughing so hard at this story! What a GREAT post from start to finish. Seriously, I am not sure when I am going to stop giggling…
    ~jenn in holland

  9. Yes, outward bound in the everglades was HELL. I can’t think of anybody with whom we went to high school who enjoyed it, not one. single. person. And all of us who went that year agree it was a week…I’ll concede maybe 5 days, but there is NO WAY it was 3. There is actually a picture of me in the yearbook that year from Outward Bound, and the look on my face is so miserable, it’s almost comical.

  10. I did an Outward Bound sailing course in Maine after college. The boat was a 30 foot open Welsh fishing boat. Open, meaning: no cabin, no toilets, nada. When we had to go, you’d go to the bow, pull down your pants and slide your butt over. Peeing was quick and easy. The other thing was downright dangerous. Think waves, rocking and sudden shifts of direction!

    Thanks for visiting. I have your link on my blog but couldn’t figure out the button click-through thingy.

  11. Nocturnal raccoon noises can be frightening!

    Oh, my ex and I had an experience like that in Jacksonville. We were parking at some park in E Jacksonville, don’t remember the name. Our friends went to a concert that we didn’t have tickets to see. We stayed behind and, shall we say, may have been seeing colors in the night.

    There were crazy humping raccoons, we assume, but they sounded like crying pseudochildren or something – I don’t know how to describe it, but it was freaky and it was no fun having to constantly go find wood, in the dark, with that noise and the two of us chemically impaired.

  12. wow, i think i tried to block that experience out of my mind, completely forgot about it until i read your post. the ONLY good part of it was paddling through phosphorescence at night. other than that, yes, it was a week. and it was hell.

  13. The garage door opened, they drove in, and loud noises which I’m sure included profanity echoed from the laundry room. CG walked slowly to the kitchen door. She looked like an apparition from hell coated with many layers of insect repellent, sunscreen, salt, sweat, and mud. I was shocked by her wild, sunbleach hair and facial expression which exceeded that of many of my current schizophrenic clients. “Are you OK?” I asked, truly concerned.

    As CG was less than affectionate at that age, I realized the depth of her trauma when she desolved into tears and allowed me to hold her for a few minutes. She cried that it was the worst experience of her life and immediately headed for her room.

    Sorry CG and Becky but it may have been a challenge that toughened you up for many future situations. BTW, my idea of a vacation is a VERY comfortable hotel and better food than Duck Duck and I can cook. No camping!

  14. Trying to FINALLY catch up on all these blogs!
    Wow a raccoon orgy? That is something I definitely have no desire to see. But what an experience for you! I am so with you on the outdoors thing and the spider thing. Me and nature, not so much.

  15. I guess it runs in the family. I went camping once and was asked “never to come back again”

  16. I’m a skeeter magnet too!! It’s awful!!

  17. I hated high school and I try to forget every moment of it. But sometimes a memory or two return. *shutters*

  18. In college we used to go up to Acadia for “canoe trip”. AKA 48 Hours of Intoxication. We canoed the Peace River, camped overnight, then finished our trip the following day. On the drive back to Miami, we stopped for BBQ. My experience with the great Florida outdoors was obviously oh so much more enjoyable than yours

  19. See? Becky agrees it was a week, too! LOL

  20. That’s quite a story! I knew a lot of kids who did outward bound. No raccoon orgy stories though!

  21. I’ve always loved raccoons. Now I think they are even cooler!

  22. We had Outward Bound in our school also. I loved it! That was my introduction to rock climbing. I was damn good. Too bad I don’t get the chance to go anymore. =(

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