Road Trip(s)!

Well! We have been busy! After camping with Darling Daughter and partner, we were home for a week or so, and then back on the road again for Labor Day weekend (the first weekend in September).

I worked Friday, but we’d been warned we had to make it to Illinois to help a friend of ours celebrate his retirement from United Airlines. He’s been a captain flying mostly overseas for many years, but hitting 65 meant leaving that job behind.

He and his wife chose to celebrate with a fly-in pig roast at their grass strip — the same place our group congregates before heading to Oshkosh each year.

Unfortunately, it became clear on Friday morning that the weather in Illinois was not going to be conducive to visual flight rules flying on Saturday. And since The Engineer is not instrument flight rules current, this meant a road trip.

We left bright and early Saturday morning after throwing our camping gear in the van on Friday night. I’m embarassed to admit that since we knew this trip was coming, we’ve left it in our foyer since the last camp trip (with Darling Daughter and Partner).

It was a long drive (about seven or so hours), but we had all day and made stops as needed for meals and to stretch our legs, arriving in plenty of time for the evening’s festivities.

And although I loved seeing many of our friends from around the country at the party, I have to admit I enjoyed the day after more. It seems the older I get, the less I enjoy being part of a crowd for more than an hour or two.

So a Sunday hanging around the hangar chatting to whoever was around was just fine with me.

It really was wonderful to be able to visit with friends we only see once in a while.

I also enjoyed being able to sleep in before going for a late breakfast on Monday, and then packing up for our trip home.

We took the backroads instead of the freeway, stopping to spend a night in Marion, Indiana where we used up some of The Enginner’s many Holiday Inn points for a room, and went out for a Mexican meal.

Illinois and Indiana is farm country — mostly corn and beans — and the country roads are mostly narrow and straight.

The roads are so straight, in fact, I felt compelled to take a picture when we made a turn!

After arriving home Tuesday evening, we got up to a day of preparing for our camping trip on Thursday.

First, I visited my mom, who is once again in lockdown at her nursing home. They have had four staff cases of COVID (most, if not all, of unvaccinated people) and one resident who tested positive after she exhibited symptoms.

Fortunately, none of the other residents have tested positive (so far), but this means Mom is spending most of her time in her room again, with no group activities.

How long will this go on, and why has protecting ourselves and others from illness become a political football?

And that’s all I’m saying on that subject.

In addition to seeing Mom, it was time to put in our second strip of Formic Pro in our three hives, so we did that too.

Also, we had to go flying.

I know …. such a shame, but someone has to do it.:-)

We decided to fly for dinner to a rural strip with a restaurant. We often visit there for breakfast, and their evening meals proved to be as filling (and cheap) as their breakfasts.

Plus, it was so nice to see trees again after all the corn and bean fields!

The sunset was magnificent!

Thursday, it was off to the campground, which proved to be a welcome haven from our busy month.

We set up our big tent in a beautiful spot in the shade of several large pines at the end of one of the roads. I say “big tent” to differentiate it from the smaller one we take to Oshkosh. They are identical except for size, with the little one being a four-person, much more suitable for loading in the plane, when weight is a concern.

The “big tent” is an eight-person, and it’s huge! The Engineer can stand in it, and he’s 6’3″. I got it for a ridiculously low price on Craig’s List, and we’ve been referring to it as the “Taj Mahal.” But in Illinois, a friend of ours called it the “Garage Mahal,” a name I think will stick.

Here it is in all its glory.

I also recently invested in a double pie-maker. We had a small single one, but I came across a book with all sorts of delicious sounding recipes to make in a pie maker, so I decided to splash out on a bigger one too.

Here are the samosas we made on Thursday night in our new cookware. I’m very proud I managed to not burn them.

We used one of those cans of croissant dough for the first ones (and then I made a chocolate croissant with the small bit of leftover dough). The Engineer also used the little round pie iron to make another samosa using the filling in plain, old white bread. (Well, it wasn’t actually plain, old white bread. It was the rather expensive white bread I buy because it actually has flavor, nutrition, and texture, but that’s sort of beside the point.)

Anyway, The Engineer said the second samosa was as good, possibly better, than the first.

The next morning, I once again used our Kelly Kettle to make tea. I know, I know — I go on about this piece of equipment, but it’s so fast compared to making tea on our old camp stove.

So I’ve dressed up the picture with a shot of the pine cones we used for kindling, honey from our bees, the tea pot and cosy I pack with our gear, and the freebie fan I got from Seltzerland and used to create a draft for the little fire.

Friday, we rented a canoe, and discovered Grumman — the maker of F-4 Wildcats and F-6 Hellcats (World War II combat planes) also made canoes.

Of course it was The Engineer who made the connection between the name on the boat and the aircraft-style rivets.

View of Findley Lake from a Grumman canoe

When we stopped for lunch, The Engineer discovered this.

He’s very observant, that boy.

I, on the other hand, am in charge of research, and all I could find (with a very quick search online) was that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Water does some kind of sediment survey using these markers.

Enlightening, that bit of information is, isn’t it?

The canoeing made us thirsty, and we retired to a local(ish) brewery. The place seems to be in the middle of nowhere, or at least a lot of farmland, but it was filling up when we left, so people seem to be finding it.

I found Muffleheads Brewery online (how else?), and we both found it delightful.

Here’s a view from the patio (before the groups of people began to show up). The owners have clearly spent a lot of money to make their brewery dream come true because the place was full of comfy seats and fire pits by which to enjoy your beverage.

The beer was good too.

If you’ve never heard the term “mufflehead,” it refers to an mosquito-like insect that invades western Ohio in early summer. They don’t bite, but appear in such great numbers as to be more than a little annoying.

Now they have a brewery named after them. Go figure.

Dinner that evening was our household specialty, which consists of chopping up some kind of sausage and throwing it in a pan or wrapping it in foil with potatoes, carrots, onions, and any other vegetables we happen to have on hand, along with a few dabs of butter. We put it in the fire and let it cook until done.

This time, the potatoes came out a little charred, but thankfully, my husband claims to prefer them that way.

On Saturday, we met our friend MJ at the local fairgrounds for the LCBA End of Summer Classic. Along with the educational sessions on bees, this beekeeper group had organized a Corvette Cruise-In, a Classic Car and Bike Cruise-In, Amish buggy rides, fair food booths, door prizes, vendors, and a variety of other activities.

We concentrated mostly on the bee presentations, though I did manage to find time to spend probably more than I should have on raffle tickets. I can’t feel too guilty though; the money goes to the organization, and they present several of these events a year.

Also, I won a basket, though I’ve not yet had time to see exactly what’s in it.

After the Summer Classic, we all drove back to the park for the “Friends of Findley State Park Tasting in the Woods,” which I’d seen on the park website a few days before.

I’ll admit Ohio hasn’t had a history of producing great wines, but when an opportunity arises to drink wine and eat pizza in a beautiful setting while supporting a worthy endeavor, you take it. Travel magic, right?

The people were friendly, and the three of us (The Engineer, MJ, and I) each found several wines we liked.

Plus, pizza.

I should have taken a picture of the two delicious pies we consumed, but we scarfed them down so fast there wasn’t time.

Eventually MJ had to make her way home, and The Engineer and I meandered our way back to the campsite for one last campfire.

Since it was probably our last camping trip of the season, and thus, our last camping trip fire, I made a cherry pie to celebrate.

The next morning, after one last Kelly Kettle cuppa, we went for a short dam hike. (Sorry. I couldn’t stop myself from phrasing it that way.)

A few photos of wildflowers because they looked pretty, and soon after that, we were packed up and on our way home.

No News = No News

It’s been a busy few weeks. We were away two weekends in a row and have had a lot of social engagements when we’ve become accustomed to having few (and for a long time, none).

Plus, immediately after Oshkosh, my co-worker was on vacation, which meant I picked up an additional day at work. You wouldn’t think one day would make a big difference, but it did, coming just when peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini were coming in full force.

That meant one day spent making and canning hot pepper jelly, and another making and canning zucchini salsa.

Of course, both days were over 90F, making those endeavors that much more enjoyable.

Still, the work had to be completed, and we are once again fully stocked with salsa and jelly.

I also hoped to make zucchini relish, but found I didn’t have time (nor inclination). I got around the lack by the simple expedient of ordering some Slawsa. The grocery store where I work used to stock this condiment, but cut it just before I discovered how good it is. I found another store that carried it, but they seem to have dropped it too, so I was forced online.

Ah, well, needs must, and ordering online was better than another sweltering day in the kitchen.

We spent one weekend away in Columbus, fitting in a events we couldn’t have done a year ago (and may or may not be able to do in the near future).

First, The Engineer was able to finally redeem his certificate for an hour in a 737 simulator at Take Flight Ohio. Darling Daughter and I bought this form him for Christmas in 2019, but COVID interevened, postponing his “flight” until now.

I think it was probably the best gift we ever gave him.

We were also able to fit in dinner with Darling Daughter and her partner, before traipsing back to our hotel for the evening.

The next day, we went to Seltzerland — kind of like a beer festival, but with alcoholic seltzers. I’ll just say it was a beautiful day and a fun event, but I’m not sure I’d want to do it on a regular basis, though we did get a lot of cool swag.

If we hadn’t been fully stocked with coozies before (we were), we are now.

Saturday was completed with a passable Indian meal.

Then, on Sunday, we stopped to ride a few miles on a rail-trail we’ve been exploring. It’s in Holmes County, which is said to have the largest population of Amish and Mennonite in the world. Or maybe it was in the U.S.

I just looked it up, and the two websites I consulted say Holmes county actually has the second largest population in the country.

Doesn’t matter. What’s interesting is the rail-trail there was designed to accomodate both bikes and buggies.

For some reason, I feel like I mentioned this before in a post, so if this is a repeat, I’m sorry.

Here’s a picture from when we first rode the trail last year.

We’ve made plans to go back a few times to complete the trail because it’s a nice one.

The following week was full of work and canning and visiting Mom, and then it was Friday again, and we were off once more, this time for a camping trip with DD and her partner.

We went to Salt Fork, an Ohio state park that’s very popular, especially with boaters, because it’s around a huge (HUGE!) reservoir. Wikipedia says the lake is 2,952 acres.

Truly, there are many things you can do very well at this park — archery, swimming, boating, kayaking, horse camping, RVing — but tent camping isn’t one of them.

First of all, there’s very little shade. Secondly, there are possibly six sites suitable for tents unless you are the hardy type who prefers primitive camping.

Call me a wuss, but these days if I’m spending more than a few hours somewhere, I like to have running water.

I know there were only about six decent tent sites in the “developed” part of the campground because we looked.

Our site looked good on the reservation website, but turned out to contain one long tarmac pad almost parallel to the road, and two small grassy areas on either side of it, which left very little space to pitch tents.

The pegs from ours ended up about an inch from the road.

Still, we enjoyed ourselves, cooking over the fire and making tea using our Kelly Kettle.

Man, I love that thing. And I think we finally have the knack of starting the fire and keeping it going.

Did I mention the weather was hot? So hot, in fact, we had to leave our unshaded campsite to visit a microbrewery Saturday afternoon. ūüôā

Fortunately, the Wooly Pig Farm Brewery was a mere half-hour away.

Specializing in German-style brews, staffed with friendly, courteous people, and with plenty of shaded, outdoor seating, the brewpub was a great find.

Plus … pigs. The wooly sort. Although — full disclosure — the only pig we saw was wallowing in the mud with its eyes closed beneath a tree.

Not that I blamed it — that mud did look cool and inviting.

Wooly Pig (the brewery, not the farm animal) also had a food truck, and food trucks are one of my favorite things about visiting small breweries. Something about the symbiotic partnership of two small businesses just makes me smile.

Also, they had loads of colorful zinnias that were full of pollinators!

It was our kind of place. Even The Engineer, who tends to prefer British-style beer, admitted to liking it.

We liked it so much, in fact, we stopped the next day for lunch on our way home.

By now, you may be wondering what’s up with the bees, so I’ll give you a quick report. That’s all I can give you because bees don’t like it when you bother them with a full hive check in hot weather.

I think I may have mentioned it’s been hot.

And yet, we know all three hives are full of bees because they look like this.

That’s the original OH, Girls on the left and second OH, Girls split on the right.

The pictures below are of the first OH, Girls split, taken from different angles so you can see just how many bees there were on the hive.

It’s cooled down slightly, so the beard is a bit thinner now. Think goatee or soul patch instead of the full ZZ Top/Lumberjack version above.

This morning we had a quick look at just the honey supers, stealing five more frames from the original OH, Girls hive, and taking them down to two supers by removing five other lightly filled frames.

Goldenrod is just starting to bloom, and we can smell the honey being made from about four feet away. It smells of butterscotch (some people say old socks, though I’m not sure where they get that from!).

We’ll have a better idea about the hives’ statuses when it cools enough to do a complete check. With any luck, they’ll have a good fall harvest and make plenty of honey for themselves. Although I do love Goldenrod and Aster honey, I’d rather they have enough for the winter.

Meanwhile, come Monday, we will be treating them again, this time with Formic Pro strips. The weather is predicted to be below 85 for the next few weeks, making it possible to switch up our treatment method to this one.

Because we’ve had issues with bees dying, including several queens, when using formic acid strips, we do the longer 20 day treatment of one strip for ten days followed by a second strip for another ten days. It’s slightly less effective, but we’ve found it results in a much lower mortality rate.

Also next week, we plan to extract the frames we’ve pulled.

Sometime after that will come the second batch of mead.

And I still need to research wax rendering. I’m not completely satisfied with the methods I’ve tried, and I’d like to use the candle forms I won to make some candles.

So, as you see, there’s been no actual news. We’ve just been very busy, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

Slugabed

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of slugabed

a person who stays in bed after the usual or proper time to get upbroadlySLUGGARD

Or, in my case:

Slug I found in my bed (sleeping bag) this morning

Okay, if you’re being literal, it wasn’t in my bed, it was on my bed, but that’s just semantics when you get up to use the facilities and on the walk there, you find yourself wondering what the slimy, sticky streak is on your hand.

Ugh.

I must have still been half-asleep this morning because by the time I realized the mucusy substance was mucus which came from my bedfellow, I just opened the tent zipper and flung it outside.

Normally, I’m pretty sure there would have been some shrieking, possibly swearing, and maybe even a gag reflex.

Yes, we’ve been camping again. And yes, the second and third night and most of the third day were damp.

Still, we had a good trip.

We canoed on Tuesday, and this reprobate, whom you know as “The Engineer,” was in charge of steering. I took this photo over my shoulder without focusing and am quite pleased with the result (even though some of my wild camp hair made it into the frame). He looks like a badass, doesn’t he?

As you can see, it was a great day to be on the river, warm but not too hot, and not many people about because it was a Tuesday.

I did notice there are many more trailers parked on the banks than I remember from the last time I canoed there. But, heck, it’s only been about thirty years, why would things have changed?

We also went for a drink and meal at a local bistro. What a treat after so many months being unable to do so! It was such a treat, in fact, that I somehow managed to capture the experience without even realizing it. How clever of my subconscious to catch the name of the bistro in the corner of the photo as well as the sparkling clarity of the drink.

Also, we had some great campfires, and cooked solely over those fires and our Kelly Kettle. This was mostly because that’s how we like to do things, but partly because the one time we tried to use our little burner, it wouldn’t work properly.

So, our breakfast fajitas were made using the kettle too. If you wonder how that works, here’s a link to a picture. And once the kettle boiled for tea, we actually used the little metal apparatus directly over the fire base to hold the pan while I finished scrambling the eggs.

To make the fajitas, I just sauteed chopped onions, sweet peppers, and a jalape√Īo. Then I beat a couple of eggs with some water and made a scramble with the vegetables. Serve over a tortilla with grated cheese, some cilantro, and salsa (ours was my home-canned zucchini salsa).

Serve with freshly made hot tea, and eat sitting in your favorite folding chair. Delicious!

It can be a little challenging to get the fire started in a volcano kettle, but we’ve actually found ours easier to use, more versatile, and faster to cook with than our stove.

I love the way the fire illuminates the ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) letters.

We also made jambalaya, cooking it between rain showers.

Yes, that’s our Lodge Dutch Oven being put to use again!

This was based on a recipe from Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap.

Again, you begin with sauteed vegetables — peppers, a jalape√Īo (Leanne called for a chile, but I had jalape√Īos), celery, and onions. Once they’re softened, you toss in a small can of diced tomatoes (or fresh) and a spice mix of thyme, cayenne, bay leaves, garlic powder, paprika, and oregano. I added a little extra garlic powder because I didn’t saut√© any fresh with the other veggies. For convenience, I mixed the spices at home. Once the tomatoes cook down a little you add stock, Worcestershire sauce, and rice, and cook until the rice is soft. If you like, you can add other ingredients — Leanne suggests fried sausage, shrimp, leftover meat or beans — fifteen minutes after the stock. Since we were camping, I mixed stock base and Worcestershire before leaving home, storing it in our cooler, and mixing with water to make stock.

We had chorizo in the freezer, so I pre-fried that, as well, and used it for an add-in.

It was a little on the spicy side, but as The Engineer pointed out, it’s good to have something hot when you’re eating in a tent on a wet night.

Nonetheless, if I make it with chorizo again, I’ll cut back on the cayenne or maybe leave out the jalape√Īo. I’ll definitely make the basic recipe again, at home and at camp. Along with being Good and Cheap, it’s also easy and was simple to adjust to campside cooking.

And seriously, check out that cookbook. It’s a good one.

The mist over the river from the rain last night was like having a cloud come right down to the water’s surface, very atmospheric and moody. I took photos as the night drew in.

It was pouring this morning (hence, the slugabed), but The Engineer still managed to follow through on his promise to fire up the kettle and have a turn at making a welcome cup of morning tea.

Eventually the rain cleared momentarily, and we packed up our damp gear and took the scenic route home.

We really do live in a beautiful state.

Supposedly some folks on the East and West coasts consider Ohio a part of “flyover country.”

Because of this prejudice, our plentiful bike paths, incredible state and local parks (along with our national one), and the sheer loveliness of the countryside remain mostly uncrowded by outsiders.

And that’s just fine by me.

Raccoons and Skunks and Cats, Oh My!

It’s undoubtedly fortunute one rarely has the opportunity to get close to a skunk. My past encounters have mostly been of the olfactory type, catching that distinct scent while driving past a flattened black and white grease smear on the road.

Then there was the time I opened the sliding door to our deck and stepped out to discover one under our bird feeders. One quick whiff and a view, and I was back inside before I knew what to think. 

So imagine my surprise when I looked up from my seat at the campfire to see what looked like moonlight moving in front of our tent and discovered it was, in fact, not moonlight, but a small skunk. 

I’m not sure which of us was more surprised. Aside from my gasp, our reactions were the same, a watchful stare as we slowly backed away from one another.¬†

It was quite a luxurious creature, with a wide white stripe from nose to tail, and as I said, it emitted no scent, though it did lift its tail at me when I later surprised it on my trek to the bathroom. 

I wondered if this lack of scent meant the animal hadn’t had recent cause to spray anything, but mainly I was just glad I hadn’t become a target.¬†

We had other visitors. An equally small raccoon whose inquisitiveness far outweighed its common sense dropped by each night.

Photo by anne sch on Pexels.com

Despite shouts and claps to see it off, the animal wandered around our site as though it lived there or something.

Oh, yeah. It probably does. ūüôā And so, apparently, did a feral cat who stalked through a few times. ¬†(Note: The picture above is not actually the raccoon we saw, but you get the idea.)

We were camping at Mohican State Park (Ohio), and our site was right on the river, as you can see from these photos. 

It’s a beautiful area, with lots to do: hiking, biking, canoeing/rafting/kayaking, and more. We planned on canoeing, but the river was too high for the first two days (see pictures above). It dropped by the day we left, but the weather had cooled, so we decided to save that adventure for another time.¬†

Instead, we went cycling on the Richland B&O rail-trail. It’s a nice bike path, level and mostly flat as rail-trails tend to be. There’s also abundant shade with trees growing on both sides of the trail for most of the way. The route is about 18 miles long and bisects three small towns at almost exactly six mile intervals, which provides ample opportunity for food and drink stops. We’re not what one would call “serious cyclists,” so this suited us fine.¬†

We rode about eight miles, then turned back to the middle town and stopped for a snack and a cold drink at a local bar and grill, which had outside tables. 

Unfortunately, after exiting the patio, we soon discovered the tube in my rear tire had gone kaplooey, and there was lime-colored gunk all over it. This, we learned, was called a “slime” tube, and is meant to self-patch most holes.¬†

Obviously, it hadn’t worked, and The Engineer had to ride the remaining four miles back to our vehicle on his own while I went next door and had ice cream on their patio.

There’s a silver lining to every cloud, if you look hard enough, I’ve found.¬†

 

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

An equally silver lining was the fact that the next day we got the last tube of the correct size at a bike shop (Ashland Bike Company) in a neighboring town. I use “neighboring” in an extremely loose sense since the shop was a good 35 minutes from our camp. It was also another slime tube, alas. ¬†

Still, I’d been trying to find a spare since I got this bike (about a month ago), but COVID has caused bike parts to be in short supply, and it was a pleasant surprise to find any kind of tube that would fit.¬†

Better yet, there was a brewpub with outdoor seating (Uniontown Brewing) across the street from the bike shop, and they had a “Two sliders with a side” for $10 lunch special. We got perch and fries — a slider each, with the fries to share — a perfect size lunch and perfectly delicious.¬†

Then, it was bike repair (thank you, dear Engineer), and back on the trail. 

I love homemade signs, don’t you? They add such character to a place.¬†

I also love Mail Pouch Tobacco barn paintings because they always make me think of my grandpa who chewed the stuff. It was gross, but I loved Grandpa, and seeing these barns reminds me of him. The guy who used to paint them (without a template), Harley Warrick is long dead, so sightings of his work have become fewer and fewer. 

The one I photographed looks like it’s in the country, but it’s actually right behind the trail parking lot, smack-dab in the middle of the small town of Butler, Ohio.

We didn’t eat all our meals out as I am still trying to expand my camp cooking repertoire. This meant the first night’s dinner was quesadillas made in the pie iron.¬†They were delicious, filled with chorizo, onions, beans, peppers, tomatoes and cheese.

Breakfasts were an egg and home fries scramble or breakfast fajitas (basically egg and home fries scramble in a tortilla). 

We were also going to have a Chicken Tikka Masala type dinner made in the Dutch oven. This ended up as a rather charred Tandoori Chicken with the sauce burnt black on the oven because the fire was too hot. 

And yet, I shall persevere. Sorry, but I erased the picture of my failure after posting on Instagram, so you don’t get to see it here.¬†

I’ll share other photos. They’re prettier anyway.

Ohio Barn
Log Cabin at Campground
Panorama of Gorge near Mohican State Campground

Lastly, I feel compelled to mention an RV we saw because if you don’t live in the US, you may not believe the size of some of these trailers. This particular one had two side doors and a rear patio!¬†

It looked something like this. The model is called a “Road Warrior,” and it’s considered a “toy hauler,” because evidently the patio part is where you haul your “toys.” You can order a side patio too, on trailers ranging in size from 41′ 6″ to 44′ 4″. If you’re interested in buying one, go here, but have your checkbook handy. They cost from tens of thousands of dollars up to over a hundred thousand, and¬†don’t forget you’ll need a vehicle capable of hauling the behemoth!

Ah, well, they probably think we’re crazy for camping in a tent.¬†

 

Camping Without Air Conditioning and Appliances

This post has its roots in a review of a campground.

You see, I’m the cautious type and like to know something about where we are considering putting down (tent) stakes for a few nights, so I looked at reviews online before making reservations for our most recent expedition.

Most were positive, extolling the privacy of the sites, the beautiful setting, and the plentiful recreational opportunities in the area.

However, the most recent review, posted that very day, was negative to the extreme, which I found a bit worrying … until I read it.

One of the reviewer’s main complaints were the fact there were no full hookups for RVs. I’ve just checked on the reservation form, and yes, it does give “full hookup” as an option, but when you look at the specific site (which comes up when you pick a date and spot), the spots for “Sewer hookup” and “Water hookup” are blank, which I would take to mean these services are not on offer.

Even worse (in the reviewer’s opinion), the electric power was such that campers are unable to use any appliances while running the air conditioning.

There were also no dumpsters or trash bins near the campsites, something I would take as a positive rather than negative due to smells and yellow jackets.

And apparently there were (gasp!) bugs in the shower, both dead and alive.

I’ll admit sharing the shower with six-legged creatures is not my favorite part of camping, but it’s something I’ve come to accept as part of the back-to-nature experience.

The last complaint concerned the water — apparently smelly and disgusting.

When I was young, my family camped quite a bit, and I’ve experienced enough bad water to take this seriously enough to haul some from home in case the reviewer wasn’t exaggerating.

Readers, I am not above enjoying modern comforts, nor do I begrudge others doing the same. It was hot enough the first few days of our trip that I’d have gladly availed myself of A/C if we had it. Also, I can understand someone wanting to use a crockpot or other convenience to make cooking chores easier.

But, if that’s the type of camping you require, perhaps it would be wise to ascertain that it’s available before setting out.

Please don’t think I’m criticizing anyone for their choices. It’s okay if you want air conditioning and to use your appliances. Just don’t criticize campgrounds for not providing the power you need when they’ve clearly stated they don’t.

Or maybe just check into a hotel. That’s the choice I make (and The Engineer wisely follows) when I’m not up for insects in my shower and having to walk a quarter mile to use the toilet.

I think there are two things people call “camping.” One involves a tent or small camper; the other uses massive trailer that requires a truck to tow the behemoth and/or another vehicle being towed.

When I talk about “camping,” I mean the former, but here in the US, when most people discuss camping, they generally mean the latter, something I call RVing.

Both activities involve traveling and setting up “camp,” but diverge widely from there, so much so that I find myself asking,¬†“At what point does it become less like camping, and more like taking your home with you?”

That’s what some people — mostly retirees — do. They sell their home, buy a gargantuan trailer, and travel the country.

To this, I say, “More power to you!” If you’ve reached the age of retirement, you certainly deserve a few comforts.

The people I’ve known who made this choice don’t call it “camping” either; they call it RVing.

Okay. I’m climbing down from my soapbox now because I want you to know we had a great time.

Yes, there were a few bugs in the shower — a couple of small Daddy Long Legs and a cricket.

No, the water didn’t stink.

Yes, we had electricity, but we didn’t use it.

And, yes, the garbage bins were in a central place, away from most the sites.

You know what? It was a beautiful campground, with large private spaces and clean restrooms.

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This is our new (to us) tent. It’s an 8-person Cabela’s Alaskan Guide and was a bit of an extravagance since we’d only replaced our old 4-person version with a new one a few years ago. I saw it on CraigsList, and the temptation of being able to stand inside our tent was just too great.

Plus, it was a deal and almost new.

We’re big fans of dome-style tents because we’ve had several, and they’ve held up in storms that took down most other nearby tents.

I was also eager to use our new (to us) Kelly Kettle ¬†which I’d recently bought on eBay. Naturally, we’d experimented with it in the backyard, but now, we’d be using it for the purpose for which it had been purchased. After years of pumping our little single burner camp stove for what seemed like hours, we would finally have hot water for tea in five minutes.

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Kelly Kettles (and their competitors, Ghillie Kettles) are sometimes called “Volcano Kettles” because the devices “consist of a water jacket surrounding a fire chamber which creates an upward chimney draft¬†ensuring efficient and rapid boiling even in windy or wet weather.”¬†¬†(Description care of Wikipedia. Click through if you want more info.)

They’re more common in England, and I’m explaining them here because they are brilliant — a simple design that works. And you can fuel them with almost anything, although we cheated a little and brought sticks and leaves from home.

I also took a hint from a YouTube video and lit the sticks with cotton balls rubbed with Vaseline.

Yes, The Engineer and I actually spent an evening watching Kelly Kettle videos on YouTube.

I know. We’re weird.

The other important thing is to point the bottom hole into the wind. In fact, it seems like the windier it was, the better the flame.

IMG_3878I was so excited, I brought one of my teapots so we could have proper tea each morning.

As an added bonus, I soon realized the kettle is also great for heating water for dishes.

One of my best buys ever. Seriously.

And while I’m sounding like a camping nut and bit of a spendthrift, let me tell you about my recently acquired¬†Lodge Camp Dutch Oven.

It’s the smallest one, just big enough for the two of us, and I’ve been experimenting with cooking a variety of dishes on the fire. (Go here for details on previous meals, though I managed to erase the pictures on that post. :-%)IMG_3877

On Tuesday, we had burgers and local corn. We were going to have green beans with garlic and onions (all from our CSA share), but left the pot on the fire for too long. The beans were charred twigs with small other small black bits that had been onion and garlic. I’m not exaggerating, and I’m sorry for not taking a picture so you could see.

Wednesday, I licked my wounds and returned to an old favorite we’ve made for years called “Sausages and Other Stuff.” The recipe is sausage (usually bratwurst, but could be Italian or any other kind), and the “other stuff” usually includes potatoes, onions, carrots, a bit of butter, and whatever other vegetables we have on hand. In this case, it was zucchini and garlic. We used to make these by wrapping it all up in multiple layers of heavy-duty foil, but this time we used the Dutch oven. It was delicious.

On Thursday, I attempted pizza. IMG_3859
I redeemed myself because it was perfect! I made the dough at home using author Barbara Kingsolver’s excellent “Friday Night Pizza” dough recipe from¬†Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, topped with canned sauce, fresh basil, onions, green peppers, olives, pepperoni, and Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Maybe I only remember to take pictures of my triumphs?

As I mentioned, it was hot and humid the first few days (upper 80s and felt like 100% humidity), so naturally that was when we decided to cycle. We never found the actual rail-trail we were looking for, riding instead on a connector trail but never connecting. Instead, we did a few miles and had a nice picnic instead.

Since we were using the bikes to get to and from the shower and took another short ride on our way home, we did manage to get in about 20 miles total.

The day we chose to kayak was cloudier and a little windy. IMG_3843IMG_3844
The park was a marsh with abundant plant life, which meant some shallow paddling in places, but it was beautiful and peaceful, with Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, some diving water birds, and many dragon flies. IMG_3851
The evening was lovely, cooler and breezy, a perfect night to sit outside, which is what we did, eating our pizza and chatting.

Some new “campers” had pulled in next door while we were gone, leaving their air conditioning running while they went somewhere because there were no people and no vehicle in sight.¬†On their return, they apparently disappeared into the camper.

We never did see them, though they eventually turned off the A/C.

Sigh.

Yesterday, we packed up, returned to the marsh for our second little bike ride, stopped at another nature preserve for a picnic lunch, and met some more dragonflies. IMG_3865IMG_3864
On the way home, we stopped so I could get locally made ice cream.

It was delicious, a fitting way to end to a wonderful trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Camping Inventory

person holding white ceramic mug

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

On Departure
Camp Supplies
Tent, stakes, poles, lines
Sleeping bags
Pillows
Mattresses
Chairs
Flashlight/camp lights (solar)
Fan
Little broom
Bug spray
Bug zappers
Sunscreen
First aid/meds
Clothesline
Clothes pins
Tent mallet/hammer/hatchet
Bikes, helmet, handlebar bag, lock, inhaler, lymph sleeve, gloves
Daypack
Trash/recycle bag
Baby wipes
Bungie cords
Sanitizer
Sanitizing wipes
TP
Duct tape
Tie wraps
Binoculars
Leatherman

Cooking Supplies
Camp stove and fuel
Pans w plates, cups
Cast iron skillets (deep, shallow)
Dutch oven and lid
Utensils ‚ÄĒ cooking and eating, tongs, flipper,
Roasting fork
Sharp knives, lg and small
Foil (heavy duty)
Paper towels
Pie maker
Bucket, Coleman water cooler
Dish soap
Scrubbie, steel wool pad
Dish hangers made from onion bags
Coolers
Ice
Water bottles
Can opener
Matches
Ziplocs
Pot holders
Charcoal and chimney if using
Oven gloves
Plastic containers

Misc
Phone
Phone charger
Cables
Power block
Nook or book

Food, clothing, personal items

On Return
All the above
More mosquito bites than I can count
Sunburn on both wrists and one ankle that I evidently missed with the sunscreen before rafting on a sunny 94F day. (Turns out sunscreen really works, at least on the parts you manage to cover.)
Several inexplicable bruises
Possible poison oak blister (or maybe just a bad insect bite)
Newly gained knowledge on dutch oven campfire cooking
Several additional items for future camping inventory:
Pruners
Volcano (Kelly) kettle
Spatula
Cutting board
Chums (for glasses)

Verdict: Yes, we can manage eat well in camp using only a single burner and campfire. (On past trips, we ate half our meals in restaurants — not something we feel comfortable doing at the moment.)

burning wood on fire pit

Photo by vlad shu on Pexels.com

If you’re interested, here’s what we ate:
First night
Quesadillas done in dutch oven (black beans, chorizo, salsa, cheese, tortillas — slightly burnt, but good)
Second day
Breakfast: Oatmeal with dried cranberries (The Engineer refused to eat his. Thirty-two years in, I didn’t know he didn’t like oatmeal. Go figure.)
Lunch on the river: Pre-made curried salmon salad in a pita, pre-cut veggies, apple, snack mix
Dinner: Foil wraps done in the fire (potatoes, bratwurst, carrots, onions and a little butter — an old favorite)
Snacks: Cheese and cracker sandwiches (Store bought in a package of eight — these filled in the gaps quite nicely), ice cream from local parlor
Third Day
Very Late Breakfast: Hashbrown, onion, pepper, cheese, egg scramble wrapped in tortilla (I ate mine with my homemade zucchini salsa. Delicious!)
Snack/lunch: Cheese and cracker sandwiches (packaged)
Dinner: Chile with cornbread topping done in dutch oven (leftover black beans and chorizo, onions, peppers, seasoning topped with cornbread made from a mix with some cheese added in — I loved it, especially the cornbread. The Engineer liked the chile, but not the cornbread. No surprise there.)
Fourth Day
Breakfast: Same as third day
Snack: Packaged cheese cracker sandwiches, ice cream from local parlor on way home
Late lunch/dinner: Picnic of leftover salmon salad, pre-cut veggies

On a completely different note, none of these pictures are mine. I just discovered WordPress’s free image library!

 

 

Trip to Oshkosh — Photos

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We call our friends’ grass air strip “The Field of Dreams.”

 

En route to Oshkosh.

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Flooded fields on our way to Oshkosh from Illinois.

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View through the back window of our Cessna.

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Part of the Airventure 2017 NOTAM (NOtice to AirMen) for Flying into the “World’s Busiest Airport”

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When I put this photo on Instagram, it was cropped to a square, which made it look like the “7” was a cropped off “T.” As one friend remarked, “You read it your way. I’ll read it mine.”

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Sunset at camp on a cloudy evening in Oshkosh.

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Panorama view of our camp with two rows of planes.

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Back seat and cargo area on return trip