Monday, September 03, 2007

Thank God for hot water

After a weekend of camping in a place with no hot water, no bathrooms (think porta johns) and no showers, I was READY to come home.

Not that we didn't have fun. The campground is great, with a little pond stocked with fish, miles of hiking trails, great sites with fire pits and picnic tables and friendly neighbors. And the weather was spectacular as only an early September weekend can be. The sky was brilliant blue and virtually cloudless. The temperature was in the 70s during the day and down to the 50s at night.

We have a very cute camper called a Casita. It is made of molded fiberglass, which means it is pretty lightweight and doesn't leak. (No seams!) It has many of the creature comforts that make camping more fun. A comfortable bed with down pillows we inherited from my grandmother. A little refrigerator and a propane stove. A sink with cold water. It's a cozy place to hang out. (Pictured above, in our driveway.)

My favorite part of camping this time was cooking in the dutch oven. I am learning as I go along with this. This time I made two dishes. The first night was a dump cake. This is a concoction that was invented by the boy scouts. It involves cake mix and canned fruit and is surprisingly easy and delicious, except I left it in the fire too long and it ended up a charred mess.

The next effort was MUCH more successful. I made chili with cornbread. First, I fried up the onions in oil, then added a couple of pounds of ground beef. Once that was cooked, I added the chili spices, a can of tomatoes, some tomato sauce and a can of drained black beans. I put that in the fire and checked it regularly for about 20 minutes. When it was done, I mixed up some cornbread batter and dropped it on top of the chili. Put the giant cast iron lid on and covered it with a few embers from the fire. About 10 minutes later I brushed the embers off and opened the lid. Like magic, the cornbread had baked on top of the chili. It was absolutely delicious.

We saw lots of animals this time. The chipmunks, of course, with their little holes at the base of every tree. Each morning I was awakened by the red squirrels fussing in the trees. We saw a garter snake and dozens of kinds of dragon flies. The kids went frog hunting in a swamp and sank up to their knees in the mire while in hot pursuit. We kicked open a rotten log and found a couple of salamanders. We saw hawks and sand pipers and all manner of creatures, great and small.

I managed not to get too cranky when the campsite was left a mess by all three of the menfolk.
The kids, for the first time, were given free rein in the campground, tooling around on their bikes, or walking down to the beach on their own.

It was a wonderful way to top off a great summer.

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