Saturday, July 4, 2009

Camping Details

As you can imagine, camping outdoors for five days can bring with it much relaxation, but a touch of boredom, too if you don't plan enough activities. We tried to plan ahead. We took some games, some books and planned to fish and swim to stay busy.

Keeping the camp fire going was quite a bit of work, but Hubby loves that sort of stuff and stayed "on duty" during the a.m. and late p.m. hours when we needed to cook. Not only that, but we had to immediately wash our dishes and remove all traces of food after each meal to try and keep the bugs at bay, so I was the Chief Bottle Washer, which felt great having my hands in the cool running water at our campsite.

Flies were everywhere. The flies were actually worse than the mosquitos. "Then the ants came...." Or, I guess the ants were always there, but busy with their normal duties. After day two of our vacation the ants seemed to recognize that we had invaded their space, so they wanted to pay us back and invade what we had claimed as ours. We didn't remember until after a couple of days of swatting flies that we needed to hang some clear bags of water to deter the flies. Don't ask me how that works, but in Texas a lot of horse/barn owners hang clear ziploc bags of water from ceilings and rafters and it keeps the flies from attacking the horses. We realized this quite by accident when we had one of our clear plastic Nalgene water bladders sitting on our picnic table and wondered why the flies weren't swarming our food and our heads. We set another one out after that and it did really help. We could've hung more but by midday each afternoon we were pretty tuckered out from the heat and just wanted to go swim. The flies go to bed when the sun goes down anyway, so we could sit around the camp fire in peace for a bit before turning in.

There were a few afternoons where The Little Guy and Hubby asked me to read to them from my Stephen King book of short stories. The Little Guy thinks he's always up for a scary story, but the ones I read weren't too bad. I had to edit a few parts as I read along since some of the text definitely wasn't kid-friendly, but for the most part reading a story out loud killed an hour's time and we all got to take our minds off the heat and relax for a bit.

At night, when the sun went down, we went inside the tent and played a game by the light of the lantern (battery powered with an LED light... worked great!). We played UNO one night, Trouble another night, and The Game of Life the other two nights.

During the day, around 3 to 5 o'clock, we would drive about two miles to the beach area of the lake and swim. The water felt so good.... I can't even tell you what a difference it made! Thursday afternoon the guys didn't want to go swim for some reason. It drove me over the edge. Seriously, I had a mental breakdown after about an hour of trying to cool myself off in the water spickett during the heat of the day. Hubby quickly realized (as he calmed me down with his gentle and rational voice) a dunk in the lake was certainly needed, and later the guys admitted they were pretty glad to have gone swimming after all. Next time maybe they'll just do what I want to do and not try to out-vote me...

What did we eat? We actually ate pretty well for camping primitive-style. We brought along one ice chest and bought a new bag of ice each morning from the store by the lake. Monday night we had hot dogs with all the fixins and baked beans, all cooked over the camp fire. We made S'mores for dessert. Tuesday night we had sliced New Potatoes with sweet onions, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, cooked right on the coals in a foil bag, and some we grilled corn on top of the camp fire grate we brought along. For dessert we made Camp Fire Cakes from a recipe recommended by Bettymountaingirl. This recipe works and is very delicious!!! I must admit I have some tips to add... mix your batter before you get to camp since eggs and oil are involved, and take it in a sealed container kept cool in your ice chest, and bring a sharp spoon to carve out the insides of the oranges... our little camping plastic ware spoon was not a wise tool. They bake up fast (in about 10 minutes) and are so good that you'll want to make more than just one for each person (which is what we did).

Wednesday night we drive into town and ate at the Mesquite Pit, a BBQ joint that was so delicious! Not sure if it would be as tasty on any other given time of the year (when we weren't camping and having to work so hard to cook), but that was the best food we had tasted in as far back as we could recall!!!

Thursday night we had more potatoes and onions, more grilled corn, but this time we wrapped the corn in foil, sprayed it with a bit of non-stick oil, and seasoned it before we cooked it. Both ways of prepping it were delicious, but the second way was just more convenient. For dessert we tried a little pan of jiffy pop over the camp fire but it didn't pop up as well as we would've liked. It was a small treat, so we followed up with more S'mores!

If you want more details on how we prepared things just email me. I wasn't sure how many of you might be interested so I tried to just summarize.

We had a great time on our family bake out, er... I mean camp out, but let me just reiterate to you how glad I am to be back in civilization, with full-time air conditioning, a full-service kitchen, and a running refrigerator that I can easily walk to at any time of day or night without having to worry about bugs or what might be lurking in the dark!