AROUND THE KAMPFIRE (TIPS ON LIVIN’ OUTSIDE.)
In an earlier column I told you that we had bought a small used, 1972, Boler camping trailer. It looks like a bowling ball on wheels and has a little more room than the inside of one. It’s perfect for two short people and maybe two small children.
If you’re over 6-foot tall then don’t buy one of these. It is 5 foot 11 inches from the floor to the ceiling and the bed is 6 foot 3 inches long and around 4 foot across. It was made for two people that are very friendly. There are two bunk beds that were designed for small people also. Two children under four feet tall can sleep comfortably.
I’m not complaining mind you. Joanne and I are both under six foot (I’m 5’7” and she’s 5’4”) and we love it. It may be small but it beats putting up and taking down a tent or a pop-up camper. Now that we’re older, we like to just hook up and go. All the bedding, pots, pans, and other ‘essential stuff’ is packed and ready and it’s just a matter of using a check-off list.
Here’s a typical weekend camping trip like the last time we went to visit our son Michael and his family at Chapman Lake just north of Warsaw, Indiana and about fifty miles northwest of Fort Wayne. For some reason at the last minute they couldn’t be there but he had given us a key to his house earlier in case we ever wanted to “. . . just get away from it all in Fort Wayne.”
I filled the trailer’s water tank (they have well water which makes for very bad coffee). We carried our individually packed camping clothes storage baskets out to the trailer and strapped them to the top bunk, closed all the windows and vents, loaded up the wet cooler (where we keep ‘cold’ drinks, and ice, loaded up the ‘dry’ cooler (where we keep canned goods along with flour, cornmeal, etc.), loaded up the refrigerator (mustard, ketchup, cheese, mayonnaise, steaks, butter, etc.) and locked it shut.
I took the trailer off the leveling jacks and put them in the jack storage space, loaded up a box of firewood, hooked the trailer to the Jimmy (a 1989 GMC, S-15, SUV), locked the trailer hitch, got fishing bait from the house, called the neighbors to let them know we were leaving, and when we would be back (they already had the number where we can be reached, as well as a key to the house in case of an emergency), locked the house after checking it over and making sure the doors and windows were locked, and then we left.
A day or two before I had checked bedding, checked air in the trailer tires (plus the spare), checked flashlights, checked the Jimmy’s tires (and spare), checked oil, gas levels, etc., put my fishing gear in the back of the Jimmy, checked my wallet for money, credit cards, fishing license, insurance cards, etc., called friends and relatives and gave them my new cell phone number but I didn’t tell them where I’d be in case they might get an urge to come visit.
After we got there, we backed in the graveled space he has reserved for us beside his house, unhooked the trailer, leveled it up, plugged our extension cord into the outside electric outlet, grabbed our gear, and headed for my canoe that’s on saw horses down by the boat dock; I had brought it up earlier in the year. I went back to the Jimmy and got the bee moths that I forgot and then we went fishing.
We weren’t lucky enough to have fried bluegills for supper; so we broke out the pinto beans, a small canned ham, an onion, the bottled hot sauce, and a box or two of Jiffy corn muffin mix and declared it to be Ham & Beans With Cornbread Night. Oh, and I found that if it’s a little overcast you can pick up the Grand Ol’ Opry (WSM-650 AM) on the radio from Nashville, Tennessee for some good country music listening. We leave our TV at home.
Saturday morning we woke up and had TOE-EGGY for breakfast. This is a nickname my sister gave the dish when she was little, instead of calling it French toast without cinnamon. You beat one egg with about two tablespoons of water, dip a slice of bread in the mixture turn it over soak the other side and fry it on a griddle that has been lightly coated with olive oil). One egg with water should be enough to coat 3 slices of bread enough for one person. For meat with the meal, we fried up a few ham slices that we didn’t use in the beans the night before.
For Saturday night we brought along steaks to do on the charcoal grill, micro-waved (baked) potatoes that we just heat up, and a (store bought) tossed salad with Ranch dressing. For dessert we whipped up a (made in a Dutch oven while we set around the fire ring) Boy Scout cherry-chocolate pecan dump cake with (canned) whipped cream.
Sunday morning we had V-8 juice, pancakes, Smoky Links, hot coffee, and canned Mandarin orange slices. For the in-between meal times snacked on sandwiches, granola, gorp, cup-a-soup, or candy bars that we keep in a small backpack for taking with us on hikes or out in the canoe when we’re fishing.
I think my son will have wished he’d stayed home when he reads this. Thanks for letting us use your bathroom and, uh, we brought our own toilet paper.
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