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Camping, Friday - Elf M. Sternberg
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Camping, Friday
The patch-- a single two-by-two patch of duct tape-- held. Almost. We awoke safe and suspended above the ground but just barely.

We made oatmeal and cream of wheat in pots over the fire, and while we cooked I had an insight: there are Coleman campers and there are REI campers. Coleman campers care nothing for even the illusions of roughing it: they want their living rooms in the woods. REI campers, on the other hand, want to "rough it," to some degree. They want to chop wood and carry water. Our campsite is REI ready. I can't remember the last time I had oatmeal so delicious.


The girls vs. the volcano.
Hosted on Flickr!. Click to enlarge.
We drove out to The Johnston Ridge Volcano Observatory, a scant two miles the volcano and looking right down the barrel of its spent cannon. Even as we stood there, the seismometer registered a 2.4 earthquake somewhere under the base of the volcano.

We chose to walk the boundary zone trail, a 2.3 mile trail that would take us down to the trail leading to Harry Truman's house. Not the president, but another Harry Truman, who died in the 1980 blast. He had the home closest to the volcano and he swore he would never leave, saying that there wasn't enough material on Mt. St. Helens to reach his home and threaten him. His home is now buried under 500 feet of ash and mud, and he's still in there.

The trail took us along a cliff face for a while, and the girls were very competent as always. I like how brave and strong they are when they want to be. We passed the sunbleached skeletons of ancient trees that had been knocked over by the explosion, scoured clean by the storm of pumice so that their exposed torsos revealed the terrible torsion experienced as they were thrown far from their stumps. We spotted an eagle and a hummingbird and a bright orange caterpillar, and Omaha's eagle eyes found elk tracks in the dust.

Elk tracks in Mt. Margaret backcountry
Hosted on Flickr!. Click to enlarge.
The day was incredibly hot and dusty, and yet Yamaraashi-chan insisted on wearing her sweater through most of the day. She finally took it off on the hike back, since that was mostly uphill. Each step took us closer and closer to the volcano proper, and at one point a chunk of the west-face glacier fell into the crater and an enormous steam explosion silently spewed into the sky. Very cool. Kouryou-chan skinned her knee at one point and had to be gently reassured that she could finish the hike, and she did. By the time she was back to normal by the time we got to the car.

We ate "peanut butter" sandwiches for lunch. I put that in quotes because I noticed that the cover of JIF Low-Fat jar doesn't say "peanut butter" anywhere on it. No, it's "60% Peanut Spread," the bulk made up with corn solids. So much for trying to eat healthy. But I was hungry and I ate and I can't complain: it tasted great.

Omaha bought the girls 13 minutes in the showers, so they got cleaned. They expressed the same feelings I had about the "tingliness" of Dr. Bronner's on sensitive skin.


Back at the campsite.
Hosted on Flickr!. Click to enlarge.
We made burgers for dinner, and we almost had a crisis: water from the melting ice in the cooler had leaked into the bag of sandwich rolls, but only two were ruined and that left four. Two of those were a little damp, but they toasted nicely on the fire. Then we made S'mores[?] for dessert. Yamaraashi-chan has truly skiffy parents: she didn't complain that her marshmallows burned but rather they had "carbon scoring." She ate them anyway; nobody turns down a S'more. And I'm including this photograph just because I think it's a great picture of Yamaraashi-chan.

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Current Mood: happy happy
Current Music: Flogging Molly, Death Valley Queen

3 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: technoshaman Date: August 4th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Carbon scoring, eh?

I knew that kid would come out of her shell...
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 5th, 2006 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I like Dr B's hemp almond, because it doesn't "zing".
srmalloy From: srmalloy Date: August 6th, 2006 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
It takes a great deal of work to get that kind of 'living room in the woods' feel buying from REI, and that's way too much trouble. Although I remember getting some weird looks back in the Boy Scouts eating my Turkey Tetrazzini or Chicken a la King on backpacking trips (when freeze-drying was new, it wasn't really cost-effective to use it on common meat-and-potatoes dishes, so you got more elaborate dishes. It confuses me, too, that people would want to go off camping and try to drag their house with them; if you're going to do that, you might as well haul a trailer or drive an RV and give up any pretense of 'roughing it'.

I'm afraid that I've gotten spoiled by Alton Brown's Overnight Oatmeal; basically, you throw a cup of steel-cut oats, eight ounces of whatever dried fruit you favor (I like cranberries), and a half cup of milk, half-and-half, or cream into a crockpot on low and let it cook overnight. Beats anything made from rolled or quick oats all hollow.
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