American Holly

American Holly
American Holly

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Got the Gold Ring - Assignment to Clean Toilets

I's been a long time since I've had to do much cleaning of public toilets on National Wildlife Refuges, in fact not since I occasionally got got the chance to go clean one porta potty located on the Sacramento NWR auto tour.  I felt that I needed to make sure other volunteers understood the  procedures involved to have a really clean bathroom for our patrons - while, of course, making sure the job was fun to do.  For that story, click here.

This past Friday, I was given the day off because I'd volunteered to work Tuesday, first to judge the Folkston Middle School Science Fair, then to work on getting an inventory database set up to put the inventory back in with category numbers.  Bill had invited me to to help him clean up campsites and my boss, Gracie had said I could even count this as work.

We met at 7:30 A. M. and started to slowly get ready.  Bill was not looking forward to the wind chill added to the forty degrees we already had. I hoped that two hats, long underwear,  a fleece top and nylon windbreaker, along with my nylon pants and my boots would be enough.

We loaded up brooms, shovels, bathroom cleaning equipment, a chain saw and lots of toilet paper. Then we set off to go to two shelters, Coffee Bay and Canal Run.  We planned to clean them up and cut anything causing obstructions in the boat trails. Bill also planned to cut some of the fallen trees to give the next campers firewood.

Leaving from the boathouse

This trail, known as the Orange Trail, is open to boats with motors, so it is deeper and wider than are the strictly canoe trails. We motored slowly to keep from totally freezing.  I  can't take pictures with my gloves on and soon couldn't feel my hands.  I enjoyed watching the birds spring up from their reflections and then rise high above them as they flew off down the canal. But the day was cloudy, and most of my pictures of  moving birds were blurry.

View down the canal

We broke up an Anhinga party

Our first stop was at Coffee Bay.The bathroom is the first  to appear,  but it is separated by a strip of land from the actual shelter.  Bill had lots of trees to cut into firewood at this site, which suffered a lot of fire damage in the huge wildfire two years ago, so he didn't get in my way of cleaning the bathroom.  It wasn't until I got finished that I thought it might be interesting to write a blog on how to clean a bathroom,wilderness style.  So I made sure to get a few pictures of the process.

Map showing canoe trails

Over fifty sandhill cranes flew away from just behind the trees when we stopped

By the time I'd finished working on the bathroom, Bill had cut and stacked firewood and cleaned out the fire ring. We probably spent only fifteen or twenty minutes there. Then we headed up the trail to Canal Run.  This is the prettiest location I've seen.  And the shelter is in a good place to be able to do some more paddling from it.

A pretty shelter location with enough land for a fire ring. 
This time, Bill didn't have much wood in the camp to cut up so soon he was butting  in on MY job.

And that job consisted of:
  • Sweeping out the porta potty, from top to bottom to get rid of spider webs, leaves and other loose dirt. 
  • Spraying the entire inside and outside of the porta potty with Simple Green and letting it sit a few minutes. 
  • Scrubbing any supper dirty places with the broom.
  • Dipping up buckets of water and throwing it all over the potty. Repeat as needed to rinse dirt down and out
  • Wiping out the walls and bench with paper towels
  • Sweeping out the water/dirt from the floors.
  • Scrubbing and then rinsing the outside to get rid of the green algae growing on it. 
  • Pouring a little simple green over the boards leading to it, waiting, then scrubbing off a thick coat of potentially slippery algae. Rinsing. 
  • Putting three rolls of toilet paper into a little plastic garbage bag to protect it from the damp, then setting the bag on the bench. 
That's it!

In the sweeping stage


Me whipping down the inside- note my two hats - and note the green boards where I'm standing

Almost finished with the inside cleaning

Bill, stealing my job, and scrubbing down the outside
Bill took what was to be a really excellent picture of me giving the job a thumbs up on the way to add the toilet paper.  However neither of us removed the lens cap before snapping the picture. Hopefully, if you are using this as a guide, you'll be able to manage this final step without the picture.

I made Bill let me help shovel out the fireplace and stack the firewood

And I still had plenty of time to photograph these shelf fungi

With all this hard work, we were ready for our lunch break. 


Compare this picture of the toilet to the picture of Bill scrubbing it -
 he does good work - and note the boards are mostly clear of algae

Heading back - I added the last jacket I'd had as a reserve so I could stand the chill factor

We got back about 1:30 P. M.  I took a nap while Bill did some other chores. He works 40-50 hours a week.

I'll definitely choose cleaning bathrooms over closing out the cash drawer, any day. Can I please clean more of them?

And more good news.  Today I THINK I finished the new inventory database.  And we only have to put new PLUs on the miscellaneous items before we are physically finished.