Final Days of Summer

This weekend marking the final day of summer and the first official day of fall.  While I’m excited to decorate with pumpkins and bust out all of my delicious fall candles, I have one final summer throwback blog to write.

We went late season camping in Nebraska and it was great!!

The Engineer and I drove down to meet his Sister and Bro in Law for a long camping weekend at Calamus State Park.  It’s about an even drive for all of us so it seemed like a good spot to try.  They spent the weekend telling me they needed good blog nicknames….but didn’t suggest any, so I’ll leave it as The Camping Pros for now!  Trying to get The Engineer to prep and pack for camping is almost useless….”If we forget it The Pros will have it so it’s not important.”

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Remember to pack enough food and supplies to provide adequate puppy lounging opportunity.

I think I’ve officially waited long enough to ensure that none of the camping participants….furry or otherwise…..caught West Nile.  The bugs down there were big and apparently impervious to any type of bug spray!  Coming home covered in bug bites was really the only downside of the weekend.  I had 18 on just my right ankle……JUST THE RIGHT ANKLE!  The Engineer and I spent days itching and scratching while trying to ignore the constant full body itching.

Besides the unrelenting mosquito blitz we picked a slightly questionable weekend to camp.  As The Engineer and I drove we watched a fairly severe thunderstorm brew up over the top of the park.  When text messages to the pros weren’t immediately returned we were sure they were hunkered down waiting out the storm.  Our suspicions of severe weather were reinforced by the gas station attendant in the small town neighboring the park.  We left with our 2 bundles of firewood and visions of hail and storm winds in our future.  Needless to say we were pleasantly surprised to find out that even though the radar system showed a huge red blob of thunderstorm death over the park, there wasn’t any rain happening at the campsite.  We actually lucked out and only got rained on early Monday morning before we packed up to head home.  All’s well that ends well I suppose!

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The trees were sadly not 10-12 feet apart, but we had hammocks to use!

 

Due to the predicted forecast of less than stellar weather I, being the only member of Casa Mishappenings who plans for things, began to stress over the fortitude of The Engineer’s bargain price tent.  Luckily, the Pros have several large, better tents, and they had one all set up for us when we got there.  Their’s held up much better to the wind and rain.  The Engineer, Puppachino, and I stayed nice and toasty dry and cozy!

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Everyone begging for dinner around here!

We also didn’t discover until we got there, but I had somehow managed to rent 4 separate campsites in a “Group Camping” area.  I had no idea!  I just rented what was listed as the only available site for the long Labor Day weekend.  It popped up site 09-12, but I just assumed that meant like site 12 inside of loop 9.  NOPE……the 4 of us had one whole half of a very large open glen area.  A large…..and somewhat odd family of rednecks took up residence on the other half, and for one night we did sublet one of our sites to a large Hispanic family.

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4 sites, but we can only have 4 occupants and 1 tent…makes sense I guess!

Mostly, we spent a pretty low key weekend just hanging in our hammocks and hanging out together.  Many naps were had and several beers were drank.  We did make a special trip out to one of the local breweries for lunch one afternoon.  If you’re ever in the middle of nowhere Nebraska I would seriously recommend the Ass Blaster Jalapeño beer from Bootleg Brewery!  Also, the sweet potato fries are bomb.com!  By this point in the weekend we had extra space in the coolers, so I actually ended up buying a whole growler of Ass Blaster!  It’s delicious….if I could buy it at a store locally I would keep it stocked in the fridge always!

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There was a slight blip of excitement when we thought we might have spotted a mountain lion.  I saw it first, The Pro Sister saw it second….in two separate viewings I’ll have you know!  I turned around from making bacon the first morning and saw something slightly redder than a deer off in the trees beyond our camping clearing.  It was moving in a way that caused the internal dialogue, “WTF was that slinking through the trees!?”  The Pro Sister saw a similar size and shape animal the next morning in about the same place.  I would like to point out that both of us are well versed in animals and their general style of movement.  I’ve never watched a deer move through a wooded area or field and thought, “Wow look at that deer slink around over there!”  The guys, and 2 park rangers, were quite sure that all we saw was a deer.  Ppppsssshhh it wasn’t a deer, but whatever I guess…..The Pro and I know what we saw!

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The ever elusive……BAT EARED PUPPERS

Outdoor Adventure

A couple weeks ago Lil B bought herself a pop up camper, so of course we all had to go test it out! I snagged what appeared to be the only open campsite in the Black Hills for the weekend, and The Engineer and I, his sister and brother in law, and Lil B and her girls all met up to have some fun in the sun and a few days without cellphone service!

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Lucky for The Engineer and I it didn’t rain, though for awhile on Saturday night it did look a bit dark and stormy.  We were just in a tent……a small tent once you put all our stuff……and Scout a Roo and her things…..into the tent.  The tent came from the premier retailer of outdoor equipment…..Menards :/

I wasn’t sure it would actually keep us dry if it needed to. I’m not sure that I’d want to be in that tent for anything other than a warm, sunshiney weekend….but for the $20 The Engineer spent on it it got the job done. Scout spent more time in the tent than anyone.  Having only briefly recovered from a 4th of July filled with death booms courtesy of our neighbors, the crackle of a nice campfire was more than her delicate nerves could take.  She spent the first night wedged between the tent wall and the air mattress, nose pointed as far from the fire as she could get.

My purchase for the trip was a percolator, and I was maybe more excited about it than a normal person should get! Come to find out, Lil Bs camper had several percolators stowed away inside, but better to have too much coffee than not enough! Actually, Lil Bs camper came with all sorts of forgotten camping accessories: roasting sticks, veggie roasting baskets…..it seemed like anything anyone had forgotten Lil B could scrounge up in her camper!  The cost of everything that was left inside the kitchen of her camper maybe totals more than she paid for the camper….it’s in great shape for it’s age and a bottomless supply of all things outdoor adventure related.  She found a great little buy!

Saturday morning we just made coffee on a camp stove……it wasn’t really my ideal camping experience, but it was fast and the girls desperately wanted to walk down to the lake. We all spent the day drinking and relaxing in the shade on the shore.  Well, the girls swam, and I did take my newly purchased giant unicorn float for a lap around the lake, but mostly we hung out and enjoyed the breeze. Our campsite, while it did have plenty of shape, did have a severe lack of breeze. Even Scout got in the camping spirit with several unforced dips into the lake. She doesn’t like to swim, but did spend some time walking around in chest deep water investigating things, so I was pretty proud! I became less proud when she discovered that campfires create lovely, crunchy, charcoal cube snackies and proceeded to hoover them up at an alarming pace.  Plus side it got her over her fear of campfires and she spent all of Saturday night out by the fire with us.  Down side…..she pooped…..a lot. :/

 

 

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Floating away from life’s bullshit on my mystical unicorn Misty!

I actually started a fire to make dinner that night, even though everyone said, “Just use the camp stoves, it’ll be so much easier.” No! We hauled The Engineer’s Grandma’s cast iron pan all the way out there, and God created cast iron so that mankind could cook directly over a smokey fire in nature!  So I made deer nachos over a campfire and they were amazeballs!  I think I’m just more down to rough it than maybe The Engineer is.  I’m willing to work a bit harder for some extra smokey flavoring!

Sunday morning I was the first one up, and I was determined to use my percolator over a fire……so I did!

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And then……I made bacon….and it was fantastic!  I think coffee tastes better slow brewed over a fire, but I will admit it does take some time. Having only used a percolator once, I spent several minutes in a panic and readjusting the pot over the fire being quite sure we had just experienced beginners luck the day before.  Suddenly…..percolation…..coffee was within my gasp! And, I only burnt one pan of bacon before I figured out the proper fire to pan placement!!

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We finished up our camping adventure with a trip to Lewie’s for beer and a burger for lunch, and I almost killed The Enginner making him hike up to Seth Bullock’s gravesite…..plus side he made his activity goal for the day in his new Apple Watch! I’m just trying to be helpful like that!  All in all it was pretty successful for our first camping trip!  The tent survived, Scout concurred some fears, no one got food poisoning, the camper didn’t roll spontaneously down the hill, and there were no major injuries!

 

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