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!


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. :/




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!





















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!!

















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!



Thoughts on Winter Driving

I’ve spent the last few weekends driving here, there, and everywhere…..and I have some thoughts to share with the world.  These might be most relevant to people living in South Dakota, but anyone living in a snowy climate will be able to relate.  This should be especially helpful given the looming winter storm!

First–I know that when it’s blowing snow and nasty outside it can get a bit hard to see the road.  I know that this can cause a certain amount of nervous energy to develop.  However, turning on your brights is not going to make anything clearer!  Instead you’re just going to blind and annoy the drivers around you, and you’re going to experience something akin to the Millennium Falcon entering warp speed!


While cool and geeky….this isn’t exactly the view you want when you’re trying to keep the car between the icy lines!


Second–I don’t know what sort of mystical meteorological forces are at work in the Northeast corner of South Dakota, but why is Summit always such a Bermuda triangle of weather?!


“Yes, back from Bermuda and the Century, heh heh. And believe me, you can have it. One big, modern mess!”

Merlin knows what’s up!  Was he in the tropics….was he in Summit…..no one will ever really know for sure.  But seriously, it could be sunny from here to Canada but Summit will be raining.  Why?!  I know it’s something to do with elevation or some such science-y thing, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s always crappy and unpleasant.


If you’ve travelled Eastern South Dakota in winter, odds are you’ve been stuck at this gas station a time or two….the Summit Coffee Cup!

Third–Don’t for one second assume that Western South Dakota is immune from weird weather patterns.  There is a small corner of the interstate down by the Interior exit which is always crappy!  I had bone dry roads the whole way out to the Hills the other weekend except for that corner and up to Wall.  Nearly every time I drove home for school it was crappy.  Last year I had white out conditions there on the way to New Years!  Hail in the summer, snow in the winter, it’s always crummy driving.

Welcome to Interior      “The Summit of the West!”

–I clearly should have been in marketing!

Fourth–Do you ever experience road envy?!  Like when your side of the interstate is snow covered, blowing, and icky but you can see that cars on the other side are driving in both lanes on dry road.  It’s the worst!  I’m sure it just has to do with how the wind is blowing or whatever, but it’s still super annoying.  You’re trapped in some sort of car caravan because there’s safety in numbers and people headed away from you are just driving like they don’t have a care in the world.


Sometimes you’re the mouse….sometimes you’re Scar I guess.