Wednesday, July 7, 2010

High Camp

Last week was one of those weeks that wore a thin sheen of strangeness where every day felt as if full moon madness was settling in but there was no full moon. There was upheaval in the personal life for certain but this oddness was more about the behavior of our fellow man. The weather was beautiful so we couldn't blame the heat. I'm just going to fault the onset of Twilight mania as Eclipse, the latest installment stampeded into the theaters. Somewhere between the traffic jam Keith was stuck in due to the live appearance of one of the actors at our local movie theater (Jacob's Dad?) and the muttering fortysomething man at our store in the "Team Edward" T-shirt, it seemed a good time to hit the road.

We headed to Bennett Springs, Missouri to once again join the Family Camping Extravaganza that only Keith's family could put on. I've written about the their outdoor lollapalooza before...a big pack of tricked out RVs converging on a campsite where surprisingly elaborate meals are cooked, cocktails are sipped and great stories are told and made simultaneously. This was no different and as always it was big fun for child and adult alike. We first met the ladies in Lebanon and had lunch at Dowd's Catfish and BBQ where I chowed on some delicious spicy catfish, BBQ beans and fried okra. We only stayed Saturday night at camp but still had lots of fun....wading into the Spring with the fishermen, watching the kids sail by on their bikes and seeing Kaitlyn learning to go without training wheels and listening to tales of Dave facing off with the park ranger (these folks have a record of getting into trouble....they got tossed en masse from JELLYSTONE, for Pete's sake...yes, the Yogi Bear park.) Mostly, though, I continue to be blown away by the meals the family put together on their camping trips. There's the gang pictured below loaded into the van en route to the Spring.

Camping and food, have not, in my history, enjoyed a good marriage. My family never camped so much of that history was defined by group camps. A quick synopsis:

* Church camp- The first was an all-men's outing at Camp Cowen when I was really young. I do remember there was a lot of grilling out but my primary food memory involves Doug Williams threatening the kid who stole my Red Twizzlers to give them back. Camp Hervida was the quintessential short-sheeting kind of camp experience....with nasty food. Parchment Valley was the exception. Charlie and Rhuie Plemons ran this excellent camp and they cooked up some great meals as well.

* 4-H and Band Camp- 4-H camp was also known for fairly horrific food and the indomitable Jean, Jean the Lima Bean Queen. It's a telling statement that my primary food memory at Band Camp involved a....well, campy Vincent Price film they showed on Movie Night called Theatre of Blood. Price plays a stage actor who plots over-the-top revenge on his critics....and one of them involves something called Poodle Pot Pie. Moving on....

* Campfire Cooking- this typically occurred around roaring campfires and involved the staples like hot dogs and the ever-popular S'mores. I did and do love this. S'mores are still the best. Cooking under the stars by the fire is truly one of life's joys. I have many a campfire memory from BYF trips to the camping outings I shared with my friend Christina.

The meals with the Winges and Vanloos are complete team efforts and Saturday night was Mexican Fiesta Night. The guys cooked up some excellent fajitas, Aly and Tim made a fantastic corn casserole and Ann mixed up some tasty Margaritas. Oh, and did I mention the jello shots? Everyone gathered around the tables and it was yet another terrific meal. We were all ready for a power nap following the feed.

The night was not complete without a at least a tad bit of drama. This trip marked the first time that I met Keith's Aunt Mary who inadvertently provided the evening's entertainment. Her RV was the primary vehicle in the central gathering spot. As several of us sat and talked in our post-meal and Margarita fog, I looked up and noticed that the light was on in what was clearly Aunt Mary's bathroom. It was clear because her silhouette was...well,...obviously going to the bathroom. My eyes widened and I quickly averted my eyes to the stars, Keith, the other campsites and anywhere else I could land them. Dave, on the other hand, proceeded to point out loud and clear that it was poor planning to put a bathroom there where we could all tell what was going on. At this point, the entire group went lookie-loo and Aunt Mary's shadow was performing for everyone, including her husband who in between laughs decided to call her cell phone and inform her that she was on display. The lights went dark instantly and we were all engulfed in laughter at poor Mary's expense. She defiantly burst from her trailer and lifted her shirt to wordlessly bare her bra at all of us. She was none too happy but eventually forgave us and wasn't about to let anyone spoil her weekend. Ballsy lady, that Aunt Mary.

We finished off the weekend at at a breakfast of BLTs with some seriously yummy bacon. Wistfully, we watched as most of the camp prepared to head off on a day-long float trip that we had to miss as we had to go back to work. Ah, well....maybe next time.


Lisa Mandina said...

Campout looks like lots of fun, I love those kind of family trips.

But, HEY, leave us twihards alone. Sorry about the traffic jam Keith got stuck in because of Jacob's dad being in KC. I was already in the theater when all that was going on, waiting for him to show up. :-)

Anonymous said...

Whoa. A memory of campouts and church camp just came flooding back to me. Thanks for the stroll down Amnesia Lane.

Anonymous said...

My family has the best camping trips. There are usually those memorable tales that we talk about for years. Aunt Mary will live on forever.


Kristy said...

Parchment Valley did have great food. BAnd camp? Eh, not so much. What band camp had was geat movie nights. Theater of Blood was one of my favorites as was the term Poodle Pot Pie!!! Sounds like Aunt Mary is similar to another Mary you know so she must be a gal after my own heart!

Confounded Cook said...

There is a similarity there, Kristy....that didn't occur to me! Your Mary would've laughed it off quicker and just told us to kiss her....

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