Sunday, June 27, 2010

Camping Update

This weekend was the latest iteration of the yearly Hoosier Hoedown.  Basically, about 50 families from the Indiana branch of Irish Woman's family all meet at a state park in Indiana for three days of food, beer, and catching up / reminiscing.

Irish Woman and I took Friday off and got all of our stuff up to the park early.  We've done too many repititions of the "put the tent up by flashlight" exercise, and have had great success of getting our campsite up without the kids.  After dropping off most of our stuff with Irish Woman and helping her get started, I jumped in her car and headed back to Louisville to get the kids.

Girlie Bear was away at 4H Camp all week, and I picked her up first.  That went pretty smoothly, even though there were about 500 people trying to find their kid, find their kid's stuff, and get their car out of the zoo parking lot at the same time.  We then ran home and got Girlie Bear's stuff for the weekend and picked up BooBoo.  Then it was time to pick up Girlie Bear's friend, who was going to spend the weekend with us.

It was almost 7:30 by the time we got back to the lake, and Irish Woman had been busy getting set up.  Our deal had been for me to leave her there with the beer so she could relax and enjoy the afternoon without kids and husband, but she thought it would be better if she worked herself to death in the heat of the afternoon.  Sigh.  Sometimes, a husband just can't win.  She had also grilled hot dogs and Italian sausage for dinner, which saved time and let us have some fun in the cool of the evening.

Friday evening was spent saying hi to all of the family and seeing all of the new babies.  The Hoosiers are a fertile bunch.  There's always a fresh crop of babies and pregnant women each year.  Two of the cousins are extremely pregnant, so I know they were miserable all weekend in the heat and humidity.

Saturday morning was begun with a hearty breakfast of fried potatoes, store bought muffins, and omelets in a bag:

Omelet in a Bag Instructions:

Crack two fresh eggs into a quart sized zip-lock bag.  Add your favorite omelet fixings, such as bacon, ham, cheese, onions, or whatever.  Close the bag and shake vigorously until the eggs are sufficiently scrambled and the yummy bits are mixed in.  Open the bag and squeeze out ALL of the air.  Once all of the omelets are constructed, place the bags in a large pot of boiling water for 13 minutes.  The bags will not melt, and the eggs will cook very well with all of the  yummy bits melding together into a nice, firm omelet.

The rest of Saturday was spent trying to not burst into flame or collapse from dehydration.  It was sweat-your-nuts-off hot and very muggy.  It was Africa hot.  Tarzan wouldn't have put up with it.   We set up a small wading pool for BooBoo, and admonished Girlie Bear and her friend to drink plenty of water while running around like fools in a hurry.  It was even too hot to drink beer.  I survived on bottled water and sucking on ice cubes from the cooler.  The kids pretty much ran wild all day, with water fights seeming to be the favorite activity.  We eventually took down the pool when the bigger kids figured out it would be a strategic asset to have a reservoir of that much ammunition to refill their water squirters.

I was informed sometime on Saturday that one of the cousins had a new pop-up camper and it was VERY nice, and he got a great price for it, and wouldn't it be nice to have a place to keep all of our camping stuff and an air conditioner?  I took the hint after the 4th time it was casually mentioned to me.  I told Irish Woman that if she could figure out a way to get a nice pop-up camper without putting us into debt and without selling one of my internal organs or children, then it would be seriously considered.  Even if we don't get one by next year, she's already found a place in the area that rents out RV's.

Saturday evening saw a local priest come up to give Mass.  It's nice to see about 150 people from all arms of the family gather for church.  One of the cousins is a nun working with the immigrant population in Boston, and she gave the readings.

After church, there was a large pot-luck supper.  There were 6 picnic tables absolutely stuffed with food, and every morsel was consumed.  Think of all of the great summer food that your grandma used to make for you, and then have your grandma and all of her sisters cook for the family.  Each family in the campout contributed a dish.  Irish Woman made some very yummy semi-homemade macaroni and cheese.

Irish Woman's Semi-Homemade Mac and Cheese

Boil a large kettle of water with salt.  When it comes to a rolling boil, stir in 5 pounds of dry elbow macaroni and a chopped Vidalia onion.  After the pasta is done, strain in a collander and put into a large electric turkey roaster.  Mix in two bricks of Velveeta cheese-like substance, and a 2 pound bag of shredded cheddar/monterey jack mix.  Once the cheese begins to melt, mix in about half a cup of butter and add pepper and other favorite spices to taste.  Place the roaster in its cradle and cover.  Set the thermostat to 300 degrees and allow to cook for 4 to 5 hours.  Will feed an army and their kids.

For dessert, I made a cherry cobbler in one of our dutch ovens.  I love cooking with a dutch oven.  I did it a lot in the Scouts, and it's an easy way to make a hot meal when we're camping.

Irish Woman took BooBoo home for the evening because of the heat, so it was just me and the girls for Saturday evening.  Just as we were cleaning up from dinner, several pop-up thunderstorms hit us.  Apparently we had forgotten to stake down our screen tent, because it got blown across the site when the first storm hit.  I was a block away getting our now-empty and well-scraped roaster pan from the buffet line when it happened.  Thankfully, my brothers in law caught it, set it back up, and staked it down before I got back.

Just as it was getting dark, a large thunderhead came rolling in.  The kids were preparing to go running around playing flashlight games, but I told Girlie Bear and her friend that the weather looked mean, and to just get cleaned up and get to their tent for the night.  Just as they zipped up their door, a pretty wicked thunderstorm broke.  It rained for quite a while, with lots of lightning and thunder.  I must say that falling asleep in a dry tent during a rainstorm is quite nice.

Sunday morning, I got up to survey the damage, and all we got were some wet things.  Breakfast was left over muffins and cobbler with milk and bananas because I'd already packed the kitchen.  Irish Woman came back up with BooBoo, and helped me finish getting packed up.

It began storming just as the last of our stuff was packed and we were saying our goodbyes.  It wasn't a large storm, but it was quite wet.  Everything in the back of the truck that wasn't enclased in plastic got soaked.  Once we got home, it all got unpacked and laid out in the yard to dry.

We spent this afternoon cleaning and re-organizing the kitchen boxes and re-packing the tents, sleeping bags, and camp chairs.  There's still a few odds and ends to put away, but we're too pooped to pop at the moment.  It can keep until tomorrow.

We're thinking about waiting for the summer heat to be over before our next campout, but BooBoo is big enough that we can tent camp more often.  I'm looking forward to getting to the point where camping is more about sitting and relaxing and less about working hard all weekend.

1 comment:

ZerCool said...

MrsZ and I went camping early in our relationship. A two-man Eureka pup tent, Coleman stove/lantern, and steady drizzle for a day and a half... I cooked in the rain, she laid in the tent and watched. :-)

We've since upgraded to a large tent, air mattress, big sleeping bags, etc. She still sits in the tent and watches me cook in the rain.

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