Stinky Feet
Anthony Squishing Around in Good Old Fashioned Wholesome Mud -- Furano, Hokkaido, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/640 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Anthony Squishing Around in Good Old Fashioned Wholesome Mud

I ended my previous post with the sad tale of having most unfortunately thrust my foot into a large, gooey pile of finely aged cow poop.

The story doesn't end there. In fact, that wasn't even the low point of the tale — it turned out to be one of those “one of those days” days.

So, to continue the story, I washed it off as best I could in a puddle of what I fervently hoped was water. I was able to get it to appear fairly clean, but then again, the shoe was brown to begin with, so who knows.

It really stunk up the car.

A few windows-rolled-down miles later, we came across some large patches of snow, and I used them to wash the shoe off more vigorously, and as our sense of smell would later validate, more successfully. There's still plenty of snow in the higher elevations, but this was down in a valley where snow was now scarce, so it was fortuitous to find some.

An hour later, I still worried that there was a lingering lilt of eau d'bovine in the air, so took the opportunity when stopping at a highway rest stop to make a more thorough cleaning. While Anthony played on a big pile of snow made when a plow had last cleared the rest-stop parking lot, I fetched a soon-to-be-considered-old toothbrush and headed to the rest-stop bathroom.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Playing on a Plowed Pile of Rest-Stop Snow

As you can imagine, a rest-stop bathroom is not the most pristine of locations to take one's shoe off, so I maintained an awkward balance while going at the shoe with water and toothbrush. It became sparkling... good as new, almost good enough to lick! (Almost)

I returned to the parking lot happy as punch, took over from Fumie on Anthony duty, and wandered over to the big pile of snow to play with him a bit. Unfortunately, it turns out that he'd been splashing in some mud at the edge of the pile, and it was all over his shoes, hands, and even some on his shirt. I didn't want him to wipe his muddy hands on his clothes, so I returned to the bathroom with him in tow to wash his hands.

We then returned to the somewhat dirty pile of snow to climb around together for awhile.

The pile was somewhat dirty because as it melted, the assorted dirt that had been embedded in the plowed snow collected in a layer on top of the pile. Unfortunately, this marked the second time in as many hours that I'd mistaken something else for dirt. This “dirt” was oily tar, and I was imbecilicly late in figuring this out. (That the “mud” on his hands had been so difficult to wash off should have tipped me off, for example.)

We returned to the car, and with Fumie's help we got him out of the boots and his clothes without spreading the damage too widely, pulling new shoes and clothes from the luggage. I brought his boots and myself to the bathroom, retrieved the toothbrush from the trash, and tried to clean his boots. They were so thoroughly covered in tar that I really had no hope, so I put them into a plastic bag for the trip home.

But for myself, I had only the one pair of shoes — a pair that had only minutes before had one minty-clean member, and now had two that were covered in black, sticky tar. I didn't really want to ruin the inside of our car, so I had no choice but to try to clean them.

Factoid: a toothbrush is much more effective in cleaning cow poop than tar.

The toothbrush, my shining star at the previous cleaning, was worthless here, as it quickly turned into a big stick of tar that then did nothing but spread tar around like oily frosting.

Luckily, the soap dispensers were well stocked, so I used liberal amounts of hand soap, water, scrubbing, time, (and a lot of awkward balancing), and eventually the shoes seemed to clean up.

I spent considerable additional time trying to clean my hands and the bowl of the sink, all of which had turned into a slimy black mess.

Then we continued our drive to the ferry for the trip home.


The muddy boots at the top of this post are from April 30th, our first full day in Furano. We were driving around among large farm fields in the middle of nowhere to the east of the city, just looking around. Anthony wanted to play in some snow, so we stopped and let him at it.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 150mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Snow is Fun but Mud Is Funner

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 78mm — 1/800 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 86mm — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 — full exif & mapnearby photos

In looking at the satellite view of this location, you can see we're beside a large circular structure. (Its parking lot was convenient; the road was plied by a lot of dump trucks, and there was no other place to safely pull off the road.) I'm not sure what it was, but the downwind smell made me think it was some kind of holding tank for liquefied, er, “natural fertilizer.”

Perhaps I should have taken this as an omen for things to come....

(Anthony's tar-covered boots are still in the plastic bag, sitting outside the front door.)


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