Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back from camping

The organizer of this camping trip, the father of two boys, set it up as a fathers and sons trip and invited me and Child Three, along with men and boys of a few other families. Then the organizer's brother decided to come with his daughter, and another father decided he wanted to bring both his children, one of either sex, and my girls thought it sounded fun, so it became a fathers and children weekend.

Each family was to be responsible for one meal. We chose Saturday dinner.

We arrived at Voyageur Provincial Park mid-afternoon Friday. I took the tent out of the bag and I immediately remembered our last camping trip, in upstate New York to see the Geneseo air show last summer. It had rained a lot. We had meant to dry out the tent when we got home. We didn't.

The tent was in surprisingly good shape. It smelled a little musty, but you got used to it quickly. It wasn't overpowering.

We set up and sat around. The others weren't up to doing much. Nobody was. It was too hot. The father delegated with bringing wood brought little, so the campfire was only lit once it got dark lest we run out too quickly.

Friday was hot as hell. Saturday was wet as Atlantis. In late morning, the skies opened up. There were about seven children in my tent (a big, two-room affair; Elvi and I registered at REI). I was in the van with my craven dog, who hates thunder, water, and even the sound of rain.

The kids soon burst into the van because the tent was leaking. I thought that was odd. Although too big for a fly, the tent has a water-resistant roof, and it has never leaked before. Child One had put books, clothes, and other items beneath a tent formed of the two air matresses. The pillows and sleeping bags where on the ground. Had the water in the tent been dripping from the roof, that might have worked. The water, however, was seeping up from the floor despite the tarp below. We'd pitched the tent at the bottom of a slight slope - no way around it, really. The tent floor had sprouted puddles.

It stopped raining by 1:00 p.m. or so. We ate lunch and I spent the afternoon in damage control. Fortunately the campground provides washers and dryers. After scrounging enough quarters, I put the wet sleeping bags and pillows in the dryer. I used a large towel to sop up the puddles in the tent, wrung out the towel outside, then repeated until it was dry.

A few small puddles get creeping up, but within a few hours I had saved the weekend. The others went swimming while I stayed to prepare supper:

3 lb skirt/flank steak
1 lb boneless chicken
2 onions
3 red bell peppers

1 C olive oil
juice of 4 limes (about 6 T)
1.5 T grd cumin
1.5 T chili powder
16 garlic cloves, crushed
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T salt
1.5 T ground pepper

Cut meat into strips and marinate. Skewer meat with cut vegetables. Grill.

It's fajita meat, and good stuff, as was my homemade guacamole. The meat was too tough, which is entirely my fault - I hadn't found flank steak and had to go with round, I think. It was also cooked unevenly, which was not my fault, but was due to the method I had to choose to feed some folks who are finicky about grills.

It was an uneventful weekend after that, although Child One threw up Sunday morning. We were, with one other family, the last to leave, and we couldn't find Child Three. We searched and called. The other father and I thought that Child Three had gone to the beach with another family, and we tried the cell phone but only got voice mail. We decided that I would follow him in cars to the beach (I didn't know where it was). As we pulled out, I spotted Child Three. He was returning from the bathroom. He hadn't told anyone that he was headed there. A minute sooner or later, and we would have left without him. Take that, natural selection!

What is it with my kids?

Bonus list of wildlife members of my family got a kick out of seeing:

syrphid fly
eastern painted turtle (which we rescued before it got crushed by traffic)


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