Road Stories: Poop Soup And Tree Snakes

We had barely had our campsite set inside Glacier National Park when the kids heard the noise for the first time. We might have just had our tents up, and that’s it. There were still totes open on our trailer, pillows to toss on sleeping bags, and a little kitchen to arrange on our picnic table.

“What was that?”

The kids were getting to know the space around them, figuring out how close we were to the bathrooms, finding the bear boxes that held the trash and recycling, and learning that the lake was only about a staircase and a brief jog away from our site, which backed up to dense pines.

soup 1

“It’s a tree snake”

He’s good. Ron didn’t even hesitate – he just made up an animal that might make a noise that could sound like the rattling sounds they had heard a few minutes earlier. I played along, nodding, as if he had reminded me of an obscure animal I had overlooked in my diligent research of the area.

Right. The tree snake. The elusive tree snake.  The one that rattles every time a squirrel climbs way up the tree and does this frantic, rotating dance while hanging onto the side of the trunk.

“That’s not a tree snake. That’s the squirrel. I can tell the difference now.”

That was one of the kids a few days later, as we ate breakfast at our new campsite inside Yellowstone National Park – where we’d still have to worry about bears, but now also bison, nosing around our campsite.

“Does Yellowstone have tree snakes?”

We just nodded. Yep. It does. Because, we could hear it, obviously – also, again as the squirrel climbed the tree to do his maniacal dance. It’s a good thing the kids knew how to tell the difference though, between the tree snake and the chattering done by the squirrel. Or, we’d all probably die of a tree snake bite.

soup 2

Poop soup is different. That stuff is good for you. Obviously. It’s why Ron was drinking it.


“Poop soup?”

The looks we got. I wasn’t even sure their upper lips could curl that way.

“See the chunks in there?”

The only kid who tried it, before we told him what it was called, insisted it was good. And, to his credit, Nolan didn’t even hesitate once we revealed the name of the soup he has just sipped.

We told them it was made from the tortoise poo, which was basically just passed lettuce, if we’re being real. So it was good. Like a veggie smoothie. Only brown.

Except it wasn’t. It was a fancy bone broth, infused with bits of mushrooms which served perfectly as the floaties we needed to really sell the poop soup to them.

I hesitated in sharing the stories – wondering if I should keep them for us or if they might inspire memories from other parents who do something similar: Joke with your kids to see how far they’ll take it.

The tree snake, I’m sure, could have been a childhood classic. It sounds like something one of the Goonies would be afraid of. And they probably envisioned something like this…except in a tree.

soup 3

I’m sure my parents bluffed me on things in my childhood but I’m too old now to remember.

We mess with them about the demogorgon and my spooky car radio and give them looks when the wind pushes the front door open with no one around. They might remember those.

But I think poop soup and the tree snake may have a longer shelf life.