Ok, I know you all haven’t been here for the frustration and yet you still reap the results of it. I have written this post twice already only to have it disappear before my very eyes before I can post it, thus it gets shorter and shorter. Lesson relearned: Never type things directly online! It was originally a long wonderful post. Now it’s just getting to the basics. I wouldn’t even write it at all except that I want to document our experience. OK….here goes…again…
Camping: The two older boys, Brandon and I went camping this past weekend. We went to a little campground in Exeter. We chose that location because it was about half way in between us and Brandon’s parents and they joined us Saturday morning and stayed the rest of the weekend. We had a great trip. The weather was awesome- it couldn’t have been more perfect! There was no rain- a phenomenon I can’t remember happening on many camping trips and the temperatures were quite comfortable with a little breeze blowing most of the time. The mosquitos were out in full force, but we managed that with a little bug repellant. Ok, forget the short…I’m just going to make this long anyway.. I just want to- even if it takes me a week!
Anyway, we left Friday afternoon with a loaded van, said goodbye to Jeff and Rachel- who stayed with Diane for the weekend, and headed to camp. We got there around 5 and set up camp and started our campfire. That night for dinner we made “silver turtles” and baked sweet potatoes- all cooked in the coals of the fire. Brandon made quite an inferno of a fire and we discovered that we should have splurged for the higher quality aluminum foil since our cheap stuff tried to burn off before the food was done. The silver turtles consisted of diced chicken, lemon pepper, butter, and garden veggies- broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and green beans. The beans and squash were from our garden, and the rest from the supermarket, but they were yummy. James ate every bite of his and Jonathon scarfed down his potato, but left the chicken- he’s not a big meat eater anyway and Brandon was happy to finish his leftovers. The boys helped make them and Brandon cooked them and the the boys and I did the dishes. James rinsed and Jonathon dried while I washed. After dishes we had smores and since the boys were recent pros at these, they went quite well. James preferred his marshmellows only have the merest blink of heat on them, while Jonathon did a nice job of toasting his to practical perfection without burning them.
After smores, we cleaned up and went to bed for the night. We had a 5-7 man tent that had plenty of room for the 4 of us and I speculated that we probably could have fit Jeff and Rachel in there easily. Brandon seemed to disagree, stating that he didn’t think they fit on the camping trip at all. Hmph…we might have to compromise on our ideas at some point. I read to the boys a chapter out of “The Farmer Boy” before they went to bed and they seemed to enjoy the stories and time to settle down. James went to bed seconds after the chapter was finished and Jonathon, not long after. Brandon and I tossed and turned a while- there was a group of campers across from us that stayed up rather late. They weren’t super loud our anything, just up talking and since we were so close, it made it difficult to sleep. They settled down around 1am and I finally drifted off to sleep. James seemed to prefer sticking his feet in my sleeping bag to his and once I finally accepted it all was fine.
James was the first on up Saturday morning at around 6:15am. The rest of us still wanted to be in bed, I told him to inspect the stuff in his back pack. I had let him help pack his the day before and we put a bunch of stuff in. So he pulled the items out one at a time and looked them over and did what he could with them. He pulled out his comb, his toothbrush and toothpaste, his 2 bandaids, his flashlight, and his poncho and lined them up in a straight line on his sleeping bag. Then he combed his hair with the comb and put it back. He put toothpaste on his toothbrush and brushed his teeth, then put both away. (He just eats the toothpaste, so there was no spitting involved) Then he played with his bandaids. He found two “bo-bos” on his arm and wisely used the bandaids to heal them right up. He played with his flashlight and tried on his poncho and then packed it all away in his back pack again. He zipped up his sleeping back and straightened it out. By that time 45 min. had past and he was ready to get out of the tent, so I got up with him. Brandon and Jonathon followed shortly after.
That morning we had yogurt and granola for breakfast and just pittered around the campsit waiting for Carol and Andy to arrive, which they did at around 9am. With them came a canoe and we all climbed in and took a trip up the river. The water was calm enough to paddle both directions fairly easily and since Carol was having some arm pain, we all rode in one canoe! That was a bit crowded and we had some trouble getting off shore and into the open water. I ended up climbing out so we could get ourselves off of a bush and sunk up to my knees in muck! UGH! But we did make it and it was a pretty day and we had fun despite the crowded conditions. We canoed for about an hour and then came back to camp for lunch.
Lunch was just some sandwiches and snacks. Carol brought some yummy goodies like brownies and chips and I provided the sandwiches and we had a great little picnic. After lunch we all took a little nap. Ahh…that was wonderful! I think the only person that didn’t sleep at all was Jonathon. James was the last one up around 3pm and when he awoke, we all went for another canoe ride. This time we managed to avoid the bushes and once again spent about an hour out on the river.
After we returned from the second trip it was time to begin dinner preparations. We had another “utensilless” meal consisting of steaks cooked on a rock, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and sauted onions. Well, I did use a skillet for the onions. The steaks turned out well with the exception that I neglected to tell Brandon to wash the rocks before heating them in the fire, so the first round of steaks had a little gritty crunch- but the flavor was good thanks to Daddy’s secret marinade! Mmmmm! For those of you who are curious about the methods of cooking steak on a rock, you wash the rock, then put it in the fire- or right next to it. It should be a medium size and have at least one flat smooth side. After it has heated in the fire for about 15-20 minutes, you roll it out so that the smooth flat side stays up. Then spray the rock with cooking spray, or if it’s too close to the fire still for your comfort, spray the steak instead. Lay the steak (we used thin sliced boneless ribeyes) on the rock and cook until done flipping once. If the rock is still right next to the fire and receiving some heat from it, you can cook a couple of steaks on one rock before loosing the heat. If it’s a larger rock or further away, you have to reheat it. So, there you have it. The baked potatoes we cooked in the fire and the corn as well. It was all pretty yummy! If you wanted to add more to the meal, Daddy mentioned thinly sliced zucchini on a stick and I know you can cook canned biscuits on a stick also. Anyway, that was dinner.
After dinner we had dessert- banana boats. These were easy enough that James made them all for us- except Jonathons- he made his own. Basically, it’s a banana with one piece of peel pulled back and then you make a slice down the middle of the banana and stuff it with M&Ms and fold the peel back over and stick the whole thing in the fire until the chocolate melts. It didn’t take very long, and somehow the peel doesn’t burn before you are ready to eat it. Those were good and I think next time I might try adding some peanut butter.
We cleaned up from dinner and then headed off to a magic show that the campground was putting on. The man doing the show had some good tricks but lacked much stage presence and so it was hard for the boys to pay attention. James actually just left with Brandon part way through and spent the rest of the evening running his mouth and roasting marshmellows. Jonathon stayed and watched, but by the end was pretty bored I think. Nevertheless, I think it was a cute idea and Jonathon did like parts of it.
After the magic show we came back to our campsite and cleaned up and headed to bed. I read another chapter from “Farmer Boy” to the boys and they went to sleep pretty quickly. It was a little cooler Saturday night and so I think they slept better and no one was up before 7:15am!!!! Whooo hooo! Jonathon woke first that morning and inspected his backpack, but it didn’t last nearly as long as James’ inspection the day before. After the usual morning routine- bathroom and such, we started breakfast. Breakfast was eggs, bacon and toast cooked on a “buddy burner”. Buddy- because you pair up and cook two meals on one hot top and burner because it has fire! This was another trick I did with my Dad when I was younger and wanted to share with the boys. Basically you have a #10 can- about a gallon size that is empty and clean with the top completely removed. A hole is cut into the side on the open end large enough to slide a tuna can through and then a hole is cut on the opposite side near the bottow to allow for smoke to escape. Then each burner has a tuna can with some cardboard in it, filled with parafin wax and this becomes the fuel. You place the lit tuna can under the #10 can and wala! A buddy burner. Cook your bacon on top, leave the grease, add your egg and then the toast. We tried framed eggs- some people call them one-eyed sailors- and that worked ok except that our fire was too hot because I put too much cardboard in the tuna cans. Bacon on a stick over a fire works well too, but I wouldn’t try an egg that way. JJust seeing if anyone is still awake down here. Anyway, the tuna cans burned for almost 2 hours, so there was plenty of time to cook all the breakfast we wanted and we had 3 cans for 6 people, so we could really have fed an army! Daddy told me later we should have just turned the #10 can over and put it on top of the tuna can and extinguished the flame, but I wasn’t that smart and besides I wanted to see how long it would take to burn out. After breakfast we pretty much just packed up and broke down our camp. I was really glad that I took the time to pack everything right while we were there because when we got back things were VERY busy here and we were able to just take the stuff in and put it away. So the tent didn’t have to be set back up and the sleeping bags were already shaken out and rolled. It was nice!
We left the campground around 11am and headed for some lunch. None of us were very hungry, but it was good that we ate then, because dinner was a long time coming and we didn’t really have time for lunch after we got home.
This ends the camping section of the adventure over the weekend. We had a GREAT time and I think I would like to try it with the whole family sometime soon. Brandon isn’t so thrilled about the “whole family” deal though, so we might have to come to some compromises or something….we’ll see. I’m sure we’ll be out in the woods again eventually though.
PS. The picture is the only one I took on the whole trip! Arg! It is of our first meal and I noticed the battery on the camera was low and decided I needed to conserve my pictures because I might not have many left. I conserved alright! I never took it out again. Oh well, it’s a pretty picture of food!