Sunday, October 16, 2005

Camping weekend

We went camping this weekend with Sharon and Desi (and their kids) and Pam and Phil (and their kids). It was a really wonderful time. Camping in the fall is so nice. The nights are very cool and the days are hot enough not to need jackets.

I would have augmented this posting with pictures, but my darned Canon digital camera has a "Memory Card Error" which is driving me nuts. If I lose those pictures, I'll be getting a new camera!

Anyhow, back to camping. We just got a great new tent from my parents, a Eureka Tetragon 1610 from Cabela's. It was really nice, very large inside, yet compact and easy to erect.

By the evening of the first day, the kids were roaming the damp woods and came up with numerous salamanders. I have never seen salamanders in the wild before, and thought they were pretty amazing. The largest one, which Gabi caught, was such a dark purple that it looked black except for the translucent parts of its feet. It was covered with white spots. I couldn't find it in my books yet, but it was huge--about 5 inches from head to tail. The rest they caught were brown with a lateral orange stripe, and quite small (perhaps 2.5 inches). Becky and I are still debating whether they are salamanders or skinks.

So the kids pretty much entertained themselves the entire weekend catching salamanders and setting up "habitats" for them in plastic cups. They would gather moss, twigs, rocks, etc. and pack them all tightly into the cups and then spit into the cups to keep them moist. Jeez, the poor salamanders were probably being digested alive. This, however, was the kinder fate, as the lovable Maura, who loves her pets to death, accidentally squeezed (hugged?) one of her salamaders so hard that it puked its own GI tract out. Poor thing.

The humans fared much better. The first night, Pam and Phil made bratwursts and weisswursts with kartofelsalat and three-bean salad. Very tasty. Then, for breakfast, Becky and I made eggs and bacon, and Becky served her choco-banana-nut bread and zuchini-nut bread. Very delicious.

For lunch, we all just made PB&J's, except of course, Luke, who will only eat cheese sticks.

For dinner, Sharon and Desi made Beef Bourgignon and noodles. Again, very tasty, especially with red wine. Between the six of us adults, we went through six bottles of wine, which is really not much over the course of two nights. That's like two drinks per person per night. (Yeah, I probably subsidized Becky's share... I know.)

Anyhow, not sure how this story turned into a cooking show, but for breakfast this morning we all had pancakes and bacon. Becky kept tsk-tsking at my pancake cooking ability. If they were too black, she'd let out a concerned "Mmmmm." If they were too runny to flip, she'd gasp in a huge intake of air, as if I were about to drop a booger on them. Needless to say, everybody got fed and liked it, dammit! So much for the cooking show.

On the first night, it was like 65 degrees, and I swear to God, I don't know how he does it, but Eddie managed to find the only hornet that hadn't closed shop for the winter. Yep, he got stung on the leg. Damn, that kid must taste good or something! Every time he's been stung, whether at cub scouts, at a kids party, whatever, there's always like 8-20 kids and it's always Eddie getting stung. Every time. Poor kid. If anybody deserved a complex for bees, it's Eddie. Of course, his leg swelled up and itched all weekend, and we had to make a run for Benadryl. But he was a champ through it all, and didn't complain at all. (He did suffer the heebee jeebees the rest of the weekend.)

On night two, we tried to do an "Indian Naming Ceremony," Sharon's idea, but I guess we waited too late, and the kids weren't really in the mood. Our intention was to give them Indian sounding monikers and place a glowstick around their heads. Really cute idea... if the kids would cooperate. Sharon's kids were all for it, but Pam's kids, particularly Andrew, wouldn't tell us the name he wanted, and my kids were jockeying and fighting for particular colored glow-sticks. Poor Sharon. I felt sorry for her. If it's any consolation, my kids enjoyed the glowsticks anyway!

We tried to give the kids names that were derived from North American wildlife (as would be apropos for an Indian name), but Luke absolutely insisted on being "Hungry Ape". We earnestly tried to explain to him that there are no apes in North America, but his mood only worsened. He was tired. It broke down into a crying fit about the color stick he got or didn't get or was about to get, and he basically pouted the rest of the night until bed.

For what it's worth, here's the kids' names I can remember:

  • Maura - Night Raccoon - because she's just like a raccoon, getting into stuff
  • Eoin - Hungry Bear - because the kid's pretty big, and always hungry
  • Ronan - Little Oppossum (Hungry Ape, Jr.) - His Mom wanted him to be the former, but because Luke (pronounced "Yuke" to Ronan) was Hungry Ape, Ronan had to be Hungry Ape. You can see how this all was breaking down.
  • Eddie - Hunting Mojave Rattlesnake - He was enchanted with the latest Jeff Corwin show on Animal Planet, and it has left this indellible mark upon him.
  • Luke - Hungry Ape - Should have been Stubborn Exhausted Mule
  • Gabi, Andrew, and Zach - I just don't remember. It was all breaking down pretty quickly.
Anyhow, we had a nice weekend. Despite the fact that the first night's wood was soaking wet (which we paid good money for!), we were able to get enough of a fire going to keep us warm. The second night's wood, which Desi bought at a local orchard, was much better, and kept us toasty through the night.

Everybody complained about the cold, but I found it refreshing. There's something enchanting about waking up in a dark tent at night, snuggled in your sleeping bag, watching the glow sticks swing from the roof, while your wife and kids toot up the mushrooms and onions from dinner. Good thing we're all hermetically sealed in our own sleeping bags. (Mine was no rosebed either!)

The only bad thing? I guess it must be age, but it seems when I'm home in a warm house, I can sleep through the night no problem. When it's 50 degrees outside and howling wind, I have to get up three times to pee in the night.

Next time, I'm saving the water bottles.

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