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Not Only Bears Pee or … in the Woods

It had been a long day of travelling and I was relieved to see the campground sign. We’d never camped on Manitoulin Island before and I was excited at the prospect. We had set out early that morning, all four kids in tow, from Sarnia, Ontario and driven four hours to Tobermory.

From there we waited in line with many cars and trailers to board the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry.

It was a beautiful two-hour ride across Lake Huron to South Waymouth, Manitoulin. After disembarking we travelled across part of the island to our campground.

Once our large eight-man tent was erected, my husband set about grilling hamburgers for supper. Everyone was famished except for me. I thought perhaps that I was overly hungry and would feel better after I ate.

Not so. I’d only taken a few bites when the Manitoulin shuffle began. I raced down the trail to the washrooms with the worst case of … that I could remember. With the facilities being located at least a five-minute sprint away, I feared that one of these times I would be too late. You can sympathize with my predicament, right?

What was wrong with me? Had I eaten something bad? No one else was sick. As nightfall approached and my frantic episodes increased, I sat in the camp-chair holding my stomach. How would I make it through the night? In my mind, I had one of two options: sleep on the washroom floor or …

Why wouldn’t my husband let me use the pail? What was more important? Storing ropes and bungee cords or giving your wife a little relief? Finally he agreed, although he wasn’t too happy about it.

Painfully, the Manitoulin Shuffle continued throughout the night. Every time the spasms hit, I’d whip from my sleeping bag, unzip the tent, grab my makeshift toilet, plunk it on the floor between the minivan bucket seats and ...

Before you get all grossed out, I had to resort to the vehicle for two reasons. There were so many mosquitoes that the air was filled with a high-pitched hum. Worse yet, a bear had been reported in the campground.

At first I was terrified about running into the black furry creature. But after several hours of perching precariously on the bucket, dumping the contents in the bush, and rinsing the pail at an outdoor water tap, I grew despondent. Hoping for the bear to eat me showed the depths of my dysentery distress.

I learned a lesson that day. Not only bears pee or … in the woods.

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