a few days of magic

We checked the weather pretty consistently leading up to our trip to Iceland.  The forecast was gloomily unwavering ~ 53 degree high with 70% chance of rain every day we were there.  I wasn’t too concerned.  I don’t like hot weather and rain doesn’t especially bother me (it more so bothers my naturally curly hair, but ce la vie when in Iceland, yes?).

So it was a super surprise that our last few days were filled with sunshine.  The golden glow of the sun makes Iceland even more magical than it is in the grayness.

We arrived at six a.m. last Friday morning, and after getting our rental car (a cute little VW Polo with heated seats!) we made our way down route 41 from Keflavik to Reykjavik.  It felt oddly surreal.  To begin, our flight had been somewhat painful ~ neither of us had ever done a transatlantic discount flight, and let me tell you, Wow Airlines is discount. So we were tired.  There had been several delays for various, increasingly absurd reasons, and then no pillows, no water or snacks … and a fellow passenger who insisted on keeping her window open, allowing bright sunlight to stream into the cabin the whole flight.

The thing about Iceland is that it reveals itself slowly.  The mist and Scottish rain were in full force as we searched for our car in the parking lot.  The country felt vast, as though emptiness stretched out in every direction.  When we were finally ensconced in the car and we’d duly read the driving instructions (road signs for four-wheel drive only roads, how to navigate blind corners, flooded roadways, being mindful of the strong wind, etc) we set off, finding out that our GPS didn’t work, and doing it the old-fashioned way (y’know, with road signs and paper maps).  The country-side was fascinating~ volcanic rock covered in vibrant green moss interspersed with clusters of bright purple flowers.  Puffs of sulfuric smoke billowing from the ground ~ a different cloudy white than the mist.

We made it safely to Reykjavik, sprawling along the shores of the ocean.  It didn’t feel like a city, but a country town filled with quaint buildings and shops.  Our apartment was close to a main thoroughfare and after checking in at the office, we headed down for breakfast at a cafe recommended by a friend.  It was surprisingly good ~ avocado on rye toast topped with arugula and bright, sunny side up eggs.  After eating, I felt a little more like a human so we wandered into stores and explored the area, waiting to hear that the apartment was ready for our occupancy.  Reykjavik is amazing ~ clean and filled with well dressed people, flowers blooming in overflowing pots on every lamppost, cobblestone streets, musicians on the corners and street art lining the narrow roadways.  Our first day was filled with tiny discoveries of the country ~ clues as to the Icelandic culture and people.  We did an early dinner at a small restaurant called “Old Iceland” (it was the best meal we had our whole trip, and we had some great meals).  Cured salmon, plump sea scallops, and our first taste of Icelandic Fish Soup.  We ventured up to the church at Reykjavik’s center after dinner.  Following that, I was dead on my feet and looking forward (very much!) to sleep.

On Saturday, we did the Golden Circle.  Iceland has a road that traverses the whole island called the Ring Road, and the Golden Circle is a small piece of that route.  It includes Thingvellir National Park (the rift between tectonic plates), Geyser and Gulfoss. We spent the whole day on the Golden Circle.  Everything was more beautiful than the last thing, and when you finally walk across the windswept moor and see the Gulfoss waterfall at the pinnacle of the trip ~ it takes the breath right out of your lungs.  We walked right up to the side, rain coats zipped up and hoods on.  It felt like true, pure, unadulterated magic.

For John’s birthday on Sunday, we booked time at the Blue Lagoon and the LAVA restaurant there.  We arrived in the mist and rain of the morning ~ by far the coldest and rainiest day we were there.  After navigating the gauntlet of the changing rooms, I met John on the other side, and the lagoon spread out before us, fading into dark cliffs and mist.  We waded in, water warm as a perfect bath, and slowly floated out, stopping to get glasses of champagne at the lagoon bar.  It was amazing, how blue the water was in the dark grayness and rain of the day.  The juxtaposition of the water’s warmth and the rain’s slick coolness remains indescribably perfect.  The water was opaque, so you couldn’t see your hands even an inch beneath the surface, and no matter how much time passed and how many more people arrived and drifted in, it never felt crowded or loud.  It just felt blissfully peaceful.  People covering their faces and arms with silica masks, floating into caves and underneath the man-made waterfall.  We found perches in shallow water and just sat, talked and drank champagne.  The epitome of decadence.  Lunch was yummy, too.  We did fish soup again (it is exquisite) and I had lamb, since Iceland is very proud of its lamb.  It was tender and perfectly seasoned, served with buttery baby potatos and perfectly cooked vegetables.  The restaurant did a special dessert for John’s birthday which was both beautiful and delicious.

We’d left Monday open, because we didn’t want to overbook ourselves (MS has taught us that).  So when we finally pulled ourselves out of bed, we decided to drive south, toward waterfalls and black sand beaches.  On a small quest to see the Iceland we’d come to know from “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”  The Iceland we saw was better.  Full of blinking sunlight and intermittent rain.  Craggy cliffs drifting into the clouds, waterfalls dotting the mountainside.  Volcanic rock softened by moss.  It was the perfect last day, which ended with a walk behind a waterfall and sandwiches from a food truck.  As we wound our way back into Reykjavik at nine p.m. the city had begun its celebration of the big Euro Cup win over England.  Fireworks set off in the midnight sun, car horns intermittently beeping.  The kindest and safest sports celebration I have ever witnessed in my life.

Tuesday morning was full of sunshine, not a cloud in the sky.  The blueness was vibrant.  We made our way back to Keflavik and enjoyed our last fish soup at the airport with Sauvignon Blanc and cured salmon over sliced hard-boiled eggs and arugula.  It was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

Iceland gets into your consciousness, filling it with optimism, with peace and gentleness.  I felt changed as we flew home across Greenland the wide Atlantic Ocean. I hope, as life reverts to the routine, I remember to hold the stillness, and peacefulness of Iceland in my heart and mind always.  And I very much hope that our next visit isn’t too far in the future.

more adventures in wyoming

 

When we planned this trip, we had a couple ideas of what we wanted to see and/or do.  We didn’t even get half of it in, but we did do several things we really enjoyed.

A few highlights …

One of the most touristy places in town, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, had saddle bar stools.  I thought they were a riot.  And we each had ourselves a bottle of Moose Drool Brown Ale.  Yum.  

 

How adorable is this?  And on the other side? His little hiney hanging out that back.  The pictures aren’t very good though, because the lighting was difficult.  You will just have to imagine!

We checked out a local brewery (we tried to find a vineyard … but the only one that exists didn’t have a tasting room … bummer).  I had an amazing Sour Ale (my new obsession) and the man enjoyed a couple really tasty brews.  Well worth walking all over the quaint village of Jackson trying to find it!  We also witnessed a very beautiful moon on our way home.

 

 

 

 

We rode the Red Tram to the top of the ski slopes and, despite my paralyzing fear of heights, enjoyed the scenery, the chilly temps and the strong gusts of wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tram, and a view backward during the ride up. 

 

The valley below. 

 

 

 

 

The man out on the platform that I couldn’t walk out to ~ I even had to enter the Tram to go back down through the out-door.  (I was literally paralyzed by fear ~ the drop off was very steep, and the wind was very strong!)

 

 

 

The Teton Village is at 6100 ft, and the Tram takes 12 and a half minutes to travel two and half miles ‘up’ to 10, 450 ft.  As I mentioned, it was chilly ~ especially as it was about 72 degrees when we hopped on the Tram at the bottom!  Luckily, I was prepared with a scarf and a jacket!

 

 

My favorite pic of us from the vacation.  Too bad there is zero scenery in it!

 

 

 

 

We saw the sun rise over the Grand Tetons, saw animal herds, and enjoyed as much of the scenery as we could.  Every day since we’ve left, I’ve wished we were still there, breathing in the fresh, dry Wyoming air, and watching the sun creep over the peaks of the mountains, the colors of the slopes changing and morphing as the sun rises in the sky.

 

Entering the park on National Park Day!

At this point, we’d already seen a few elk lazily crossing the highway in the pitch dark.  Those guys are pretty big! 

 

 

 

Another elk herd in Grand Teton National Park.  

 

Even driving is beautiful.

 

 

I know all the pictures of the mountains are probably starting to look alike, but it was just so magical.  I wish that pictures could show what we saw ~ what it felt like to look up and feel so very small.  

 

 

Saturday early morning drive ~ all bundled so we could drive with the roof off and enjoy the scenery.

Driving.  

The sun rising. 

 

 

 

More mountains as the sun came up.  Aren’t the colors incredible? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove around Jenny Lake, and Leigh Lake and up to Signal Mountain Lodge, along the shores of Jackson Lake.  We had an amazing breakfast at the Signal Mountain Lodge (Trout Eggs Benny ~ so good); we climbed down to the bank of Jenny Lake (still hazy with smoke from fires a few weeks before we arrived) and up to the Signal Mountain Summit where we could see the mountain range and the lakes and the valley.  Everything was more beautiful than the last ~ it was constant feasting for the eyes.

Jenny Lake. 

 

 

 

 

Jenny, Leigh and Jackson Lakes are glacier lakes, so they are over 200 feet deep in places. 

 

 

 

 

The path at Signal Mountain Summit.

 

 

 

 

Another attempt at a self-pic! Crooked mountains in the background!

 

 

On Saturday evening, after all our adventuring, and another dip in the pool and hot tubs and sauna (indulgence!) we headed out to dinner by way of the park, because this little lady was determined to see a moose.  Unfortunately, we missed major moose sightings all weekend (other people were more than happy to tell us all about their sightings, which just made me more sad that we missed seeing one!).  But we did hear several bull elks bugling as the sun went down.  It was very peaceful and the man was completely enraptured.

Mr. MOOSE! Where are you? 

 

(My artistic picture of our fruit-less search for a moose.) 

 

 

Our last sunset in Wyoming.

I’m so glad we took the time to go ~ it was a part of America I’d never experienced before, and the scale of things is so unlike anything I have encountered.  I can’t wait to go back.

 

oh purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain

This past weekend, the man and I had the great pleasure of taking a little trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  It was much-needed, and absolutely breath-taking.

Sadly, pictures do not do justice to the utter gorgeous-ness of the terrain, but I am going to share some anyway, because it was such an incredible and beautiful experience.  I can’t wait to go back.

We stayed at the Snake River Lodge and Spa, which has just undergone an ownership change, so I’m not sure how much of what we saw and enjoyed at the resort will still be intact when they re-open for the ski season this winter.  Buuut, we really loved the room, with the cozy fireplace, comfy bed and steam room shower, and the pool was amazing.  I realized I hadn’t been in a pool in years, so I was very excited about it.

We arrived at mid-day on Thursday, and we went immediately to the John Moulton Barn on Mormon Row in the Grand Teton National Park.  I had been hankering to see it in person after seeing all the stunning pictures of it.

Not quite what I was expecting, but oh my goodness, the mountains!  We were on the ground for less than 20 minutes, and we’d already seen antelope, a herd of bison and the barn I’d been day-dreaming about since before we planned the trip.

Ahhh.  Bliss!

In fact, I was so in awe of the sheer beauty of the mountains, I started taking pictures at the airport.  There are no ramps to board planes at Jackson Hole, so you exit the plane and walk across the tarmac.  The entire walk, I was gushing.  So stupendous.

We upgraded our rental,  so we spent the weekend driving a four door Jeep Wrangler with the front of the roof off.  Amazing.  I felt totally indulgent the entire time.

On Friday, after a good old-fashioned country breakfast, we drove over the Teton Pass into Idaho.  I was white-knuckled the entire time (good lord that road was steep, winding and seemingly narrow!).

  A view from the top of the Teton Pass.

A scenic trail in Idaho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was amazing the temperature difference when we stopped at the peak of the mountains (I was also grateful to take a little break and get my feet on solid ground for a minute).

The road from a distance, heading back to Wyoming. 

 

 

 

 

The mountains in Idaho.

 

 

 

 

I was obsessed with the birch trees.

 

 

 

 

 

Bundled and picture happy. 

 

 

 

 

Sunny skies. 

 

 

 

 

The Jeep, semi-topless.  😉

 

 

 

 

Isn’t my man a cutie?

 

 

 

 

On Saturday we took full advantage of National Park Day (all parks are free!) and got up before the sun to try to catch the herds of animals moving.  We saw a lot of elk, including two monster bull elks ~ gi-normous racks.  I’m not sure how those animals hold their heads up.  It was amazing to watch and to see the majesty of the park as it came to life.   Those pics will be up tomorrow!  I will say that Mr. Moose eluded us.  I guess we’ll have to go back!

 

to-do lists, and other everyday things

This morning dawned gray and rainy, and after a little bit of a sleep-in, we got up and got to business.  Yesterday was jam-packed ~ and pretty awesome.  But it left us only today to get everything done.

We went on a ten-mile hike yesterday morning, down through the beautiful greenery of Valley Green and Fairmount Park.  Lucy was in doggie-heaven, running here and there, lapping up water from the streams, chasing birds and squirrels, going ‘cracker dog’ in the sandy patches of the trail.  By the end, her long pink tongue lolled from the side of her mouth, and when we got back to the truck, she curled up in a ball in the back seat, completely content.  If that had been her only treat, it would have been a good Lucy day.

However, we spent part of the afternoon with her doggie boyfriend, and his parents and various friends baking cookies.  Extremely fun, and once again, Lucy had a ball.

In the evening, we went to dinner with my oldest friend from high school, and her man.  After which, we sipped adult beverages around our fire pit, while Lucy explored the yard (read: tried to dig lots of holes in the ground while her dad wasn’t watching).  Eventually, the rain drove us inside, and after our friends were safely on their way back to the city, we watched “Horrible Bosses” and napped on the couch.  Hilarious movie, btw ~ & I completely love Jason Bateman.

Today, we decided to be incredibly proactive, and we prepped lunches for the entire week.  Mostly, we are trying to be strict with our budget, because we have a couple plans that need financing, so while doing an endless amount of laundry, we made a pitcher of iced coffee for the mornings, hard-boiled eggs for mid-morning snacks and made a base salad to have with slices of pork tenderloin.  Because I loved the apricot and pistachio salad from Easter, I made a version of that and some homemade salad dressing.

I’m very much looking forward to lunch this week!

What I used:

1 cup baby spinach (because that’s what I had left in my fridge)

1/2 bag of butter lettuce and red lettuce

1/3 c dried apricots, sliced thinly

1/3 cup shelled and chopped pistachios

fresh parsley leaves, torn

fresh mint leaves, torn

snipped chives

fresh dill

*** I bought small packages of each of the herbs, and used about half each, except for the dill, which I used sparingly.

 

For the dressing (from Good Housekeeping)

In a jar that seals tightly, combine:

1/3 c EVOO

Finely minced peel of 1 lemon

2 tbsp lemon juice (I find that about 1 tbsp comes from each half of the lemon)

2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Shake well, and allow to sit for 2 hours, or as long as three days.

And now, it’s Sunday Night and time for “Game of Thrones.”  Goodnight!

space

For some reason, I have been a little bit preoccupied with space of late.

As in, every feels too small, and too closed in.

This was the majority of the motivating factor of our recent apartment ‘facelift.’  Luckily, the man is very understanding of my need for constant organization (I wouldn’t say I have OCD, but I wouldn’t not say it, either).

We stream-lined the apartment, and we’ve been spending a lot of time with Lucy at the many state parks in our area (we are very fortunate in that) taking long walks and enjoying the peace of nature.  It’s not quite the same as actually being in the country and not hearing a highway and the constant noise of traffic ~ but it’s a lot better than the constant crush and rush of inner-city Philadelphia.

My need for space to breath was also a factor in our purchase a few months ago of my new vehicle (or as the man refers to it, my ‘whip’).  I loved my Mini with all my heart, but being in a one-bedroom apartment and driving a car with ‘small’ in the name, plus commuting into the claustrophobia of the city every day ~ I felt as though I wanted to stretch and every time I tried, my arms and legs were bumping into something ~ penning me in.

I’ve been lucky that many things have changed recently ~ the new car, the new furniture, and most importantly, the new business offices for my company.  Now instead of sitting in an hour’s worth of rush hour traffic, I’m just driving to the next town over.  It means less time alone for Lucy, less stress for me … more space.

This weekend we are hosting the man’s family, and we *finally* have a place for them to sleep that isn’t piles of blankets on the floor.  Tomorrow, my parents will be here as well, and we will all break bread together (for the first time) over Easter luncheon.  Today I prepped my asparagus bisque (which I am serving chilled) and made craft-y DIY centerpieces that I found in “Good Housekeeping.”  I’ll share all that tomorrow ~ but for tonight, we’re noshing on Smitten Kitchen’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken with pull apart bread and a baby spinach salad with honey-roasted almonds and pear slices.

Hope you’re enjoying Easter weekend as well.

Valley Green

Philadelphia has one of the largest urban park systems in the country -collectively referred to as Fairmount Park- and the man and I are lucky enough to live very close to one of my favorite parks in the system, Wissahickon Valley Park.

Wissahickon Valley Park includes Forbidden Drive, Devil’s Pool, The Indian (a mysterious statue that I heard about for eight years before finally finding him today on our long Sunday hike) and a multitude of other great places, including the Valley Green Inn (which features Yappy Hour every Tuesday from 5-7pm … bring your pup and enjoy cocktails and snacks, for man and beast alike, on their heated outdoor deck ~ absolutely genius for people like the man and myself who have recently become three).  There is even a section of park where Lucy can run free of her leash and meet up with doggie friends also enjoying their dog park-esque freedom in the woods.

Forbidden Drive is 5.42 miles long and features the only red covered bridge in any major city.

Spring is coming …

The Fingerspan bridge … modern weathering steel bridge (this girl crossed it quickly … I’m not the biggest fan of heights!) Lucy also needed a little persuading.  It was cool walking over the bridge, though, because even though you are totally enclosed, you can see through the walls and the floor and you’re fairly high up, so the view down the stream is pretty gorgeous.

 

 

 

We hiked for about two and a half hours, finding The Indian with some help from fellow hikers.  It was not what I expected, and it’s a steep switch back path from one side to reach him, but well worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The legend of the statue of The Indian has many variations.  I liked the idea that it was an anonymous Lenape Indian Chief watching his people move West as the Eastern lands became over-populated.

 

 

This is the view of the river from the foundation of the old Mill (in fact, the last working mill in Pennsylvania!).

As I type, the man and Lucy are working on getting the fire pit roaring outside.  We are going to enjoy a relaxing Sunday evening.  I hope you’re enjoying yours, too!

 

Hills Creek Camping Expedition

All Set Up!

When we finally got home yesterday (ugh, traffic) after our long weekend camping (I survived!), we had the great pleasure of having to pitch the tent and canopy again in our yard, so that it could dry out.  When Mother Nature is feeling tempestuous, that can be a very tricky task.

Luckily, we hosed out the truck, the coolers and cleaned out the car and storage bins while the canvas dried ~ sort of ~ and we got the tent down, folded and rolled up with only a hint of dampness before the next huge raindrops began to drop.

Trunk's Full!

Fire pit!

All in all, it was a pretty successful weekend.  I managed to sleep in a tent not near a house for two nights, I showered in a public restroom (complete with other users and a lovely little tree frog in my shower stall) and cook a full meal.  Plus, I fried some eggs for breakfast (despite John encouraging me to make scrambled eggs, because they’re a ‘fail safe’ when camping).

Capt. Grill Master!

I’d like to add that while the whole showering thing wasn’t my fav, I did swim on multiple competitive teams, which almost always meant group showers, and I did theatre for a long time, which pretty much necessitated group changing rooms.  So it’s not that I’m particularly shy about those kinds of things.  It’s more about the cleanliness, and the other people who used the shower without any kind of cleaning in between.  My tendency toward OCD and germaphobia is rearing it’s ugly head.  That kind of stuff can really skeeve me out if I think about it too much ….

But campground showers aside, it was a pretty relaxing retreat ~ plus, we got to spend some QT with John’s side of the family, including his aunt & uncle and their respective spouses (some of my favs).  Plus (**bonus!***) we made some new friends with the folks camping next door ~ which John explained is part of the culture of camping (we all learn new things every day … I thought camping was for quiet relaxation surrounded by the “comforts” *ahem* of nature. Apparently, I was mistaken).

Our Agenda ~

Saturday

Mid-Afternoon … We journeyed to WalMart (which seems to be the only store of significance in John’s hometown) to get groceries, ice, and other camping “necessities” ~ which for us included a set of Coleman tin camping plates (great deal for 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 coffee mugs, and 4 sets of silverware) and a new 120 qt. cooler.  Funny story ~ we got to the car with all our loot, and realized we had to go buy a new cooler because all our swag was never gonna fit in our original cooler.  So now, we have a normal sized cooler, with wheels and pull handle, and a gargantuan cooler that John will take out West for his hunting trip in October.  That’s a lot of cooler space!

The sexy new cooler

Late Afternoon … We arrived at our campsite, #77, and we started to set up.  Not knowing what to do, I wandered around aimlessly while John set about getting the tent up, and organizing the firewood.  He finally gave me the task of organizing the contents of our coolers (I believe to keep me out of his way, since I was most likely slowing him down).

John setting up the tent

Evening … I undertook the task of cooking my very ambitious first camping meal.  My menu included marinated steaks, portobello mushrooms, asparagus, and boiled baby new potatoes.  I did accomplish the meal.  There were aspects that weren’t very pretty.  Sidenote: Did you know that when the sun goes down, and you’re outside, the amount of visibility that you have rapidly decreases?  If not, it’s a true story. All of a sudden, I was trying to cook the mushrooms and asparagus in near darkness.  Needless to say, some of them got a little crispy …. lucky for me, it added flavor that was good, rather than turning 50% of the meal into charcoaled yuckiness.

Steak Marinade

Soy sauce

Ground Ginger

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

** I’d love to tell you quantities, but I don’t know.  I cover the steak with soy sauce, and then I sprinkled the ground ginger on both sides, rubbing it into the steak and the soy sauce.  I do the same thing with the pepper.  (You don’t need to add more salt because the soy sauce is salty enough).  Then I put some saran wrap over the dish I’ve poured the marinade into, and let them sit for about 30-45 minutes, flip the steaks, and let them marinate for another 30-45 minutes on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I used for the rest of the meal ~

Asparagus

Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Garlic Powder; trimmed stringy ends; cooked in saucepan over medium high heat until sizzling


Mushrooms

Garlic Powder, Drizzle of Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, drizzle of water; cook in saucepan over medium heat until they reduce down ~ taste and season as necessary

Portobellos are my favorite!

All Prepped

 

 

 

Potatoes

Boiled in Water, Drained, Sprinkled with Salt, Pepper & Dried Parsley

My set up

My weapons!

 

 

 

 

Late Night … Spent round the campfire, learning all about Snapper Turtles (**more on this later!) from our new camping friends/neighbors.

Sunday

Morning … We cooked a nice breakfast, and bid adieu to our new camping friends/neighbors.  We discussed the plan for the day.  Top of our priority list = cooking during daylight hours in the evening.

Mid-Day … We decided to take a nice long hike around the campgrounds, and the adjacent lake.  John regaled me with stories from his youth, of his daredevil bicycling skills and his adventures climbing out onto a huge tree limb that dangled above the water and beaver dam (“Probably not the best idea, in retrospect,” he added, somewhat under his breath, with a sneaky smile and a twinkling eye).

Afternoon … We sent out text invitations (are there any other kind?!) to his family to come over and enjoy the afternoon weather (more mild than Saturday’s uncharacteristic 95 degrees in the shade).  Slowly, everyone began to trickle in.  We spent the majority of the afternoon sipping “Iced Tea” (State Park code for beer) and shooting the breeze.  For dinner, John did up burgers and kielbasa, I made some guacamole, and we enjoy deviled eggs and potato salad courtesy of John’s mama.

Evening … A heated cornhole competition blazed!  Everyone won, because we kept rotating teams, and it eventually got called due to darkness.  We retired to the firepit.

Late Night …. This is where it gets a little iffy on whether or not I’m sold on camping.  The rain had threatened to arrive all day, but held off … there were a few showers throughout the early evening, but we did okay until everyone packed up and headed out, and it was just the man and I.  We crossed hill & dale to visit the shower house before bed (I’m neurotic, okay?  I have to wash my face, brush my teeth and take my contacts out every night. It’s just who I am!) and when we exited, the heavens had opened, and down the water poured.  And poured.  And poured.  We gave up waiting it out, and sloshed back to our canopy.  We wrapped everything up and then made a mad dash to the tent.  Which, thank you God (I really appreciated this!) was dry.  And remained so throughout the night.

Misty Rain (Prior to downpour)

In John's Rain Coat

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately for us, the rain didn’t stop all morning, so in 58 degree rainy and windy weather, we tore down our campsite, packed it all up in the truck, and after a brief stop at John’s parents, we hit the road.  And traffic, for the next five and half hours.  Urgh.

I was so tired last night, I don’t even remember falling asleep.  Hence the neglect of getting this post up.

Things I learned while camping ~

1.  Footwear is key.

2.  Wrap your food properly, or you’ll be throwing away a lot of groceries.

3.  Sleeping in a tent can be relaxing, but it also makes you appreciate your bed so much more.

4.  Camping is fun.  Camping in the rain is not.  Breaking down camp in the rain is downright yucky.  So ~ check the weather constantly.  It’ll be to your benefit.

5.  There’s something to be said for taking away all the distractions of modern life, and just getting people together with some good food and beverage.

6.  Pack with forethought.  Throwing everything together in a hodgepodge fashion will only make camping feel frustrating (especially for OCD tendancy people like me).

7.  Bring bug spray.  Drink tonic water.  Do whatever voodoo you believe in to keep the bugs from biting.  Because man, oh man, they will.

8.  Camp with people you like.  It’s an up close & personal experience.

9.  Don’t wear make -up (which I didn’t) … but remember that if you’re not wearing it, there’s no need to pack it.

10.  Bring shower flip flops (this could be a sub-category of #1).

On a fun note, Philadelphia was under a deluge of rain all day, so for dinner tonight I did I twist of grilled cheese and tomato soup.  I also made Birds’ Nest (a Trader Joe’s snack that may qualify as my #1 favorite).  They haven’t been available for about a year, so when Minda called to say she’d found some, I immediately asked (very politely) for two.  And we enjoyed a really nice bottle of vino.

I won’t lie.  I used canned Tomato Soup (made with milk rather than water).  I also used Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. I shaved some slices of sharp white cheddar and Havarti cheese, and put it across the end of the crescent dough before rolling.  If you love cheese (like this lady does!) pack it in there.  I thought I put enough, but it turns out, I didn’t.  However, the cheesy crescent rolls were still excellent for dunking!

His and Hers

Sometimes the only think that hits the spot is soup … and doughy bread.  The man and I had spent the day getting doused with rain from all angles (me moreso, because my j.o.b. requires walking around the downtown area … by 11 am I was soaked through and never really dried out).

Mmmmmm....

 

 

 

 

Progessing through the construction of cheese-filled crescent rolls ….

As a little hint.  I followed the crescent roll baking instructions, but because I was simultaneously making Bird’s Nests, I put them on the bottom rack.  This was a big no-no.  The bottoms got a wee bit (umm… perhaps more than a wee bit?) charred.  So I would suggest putting them on the top rack ~ that will allow them to cook fully without burning.  I flipped mine over when I realized the error of my way, and we enjoyed them nonetheless.  But as a heads up to anyone who (like me) doesn’t think of these things … it does actually matter where you put something in the oven!

Bird's Nests

If you’ve never had these little bundles of goodness, I suggest you runnot walkrun to your nearest Trader Joe’s, and pick some up immediately (before they disappear again for years!).  Made with kale, carrot and onion dunked in tempura batter, you’d never know while eating them that vegetables were even involved!  Delicious.

They take about 20 minutes to crispen up in the oven (10 on each side at 350 degrees … after heating the oven to 400 and then dropping it down).  I have to pace myself, or I inhale them in no time!

Comfort Food!

Trust me, we were STUFFED when we were done.  We didn’t even have any of the cheesecake that was in the fridge.  Absolutely no room!

he finally convinced me …

To go camping.

We’re getting our gear together now (who knew you needed SO. MUCH. STUFF!), and then there’s a fantasy draft so I’m not sure when I’ll get back on the computer ….

Just wanted to let everyone out there know that this weekend is probably going to be full of … well, erm … learning experiences for me.

And I have complete confidence that they will all be good ones!

A Day at Cabela’s

I love the statue out front

Many months ago (we couldn’t quite remember if it was a year ago, or a year and half) John took me to Cabela’s for the first time.  I was utterly blown away.  It was SO much more than a store.  I felt like a small child experiencing something so totally outside of my knowledge and experience ~ big wide eyes, jaw dropped … I couldn’t quite take it all in.

I mean, to begin with, I did not think so many taxidermied animals could all be in one place.


Elk is so regal, and compared to deer (whitetail or mule) it’s gi-normous.  My favorite mounts (or as I like to call them, “Dead Heads,” are Elk and Caribou … aka Reindeer … beautiful). 

I heart moose

Next, have you ever seen the amount of gadgets & gizmos made for fishing, hunting and camping? I mean, the stuff is ridic!  No joke.

Today we went back to get John stocked up on some necessities for his upcoming hunting trip out west.  Cabela’s was no less impressive.  Some pics of our three hours wandering around the store.  Even for a non-hunting, non-camping gal, I think it’s a really fun place, and if you have the opportunity, you should check it out.

I went on safari back in 2008, and the display of African game at Cabela’s is also pretty impressive.

The Hefalump and moi

Cats!

Kudu

Simba stalking his prey

And don’t worry  … there’s a tunnel full of fish, too!

Entering the Fish Tunnel! (I make a lot of weird faces)

John checkin' out the frozen fishies

And just when you think there are no more deer …  you find the entire wing called “Deer Country.”

Wall of Record-Breaking Racks

I didn’t get a pic of the polar bears (I was a picture taking maniac everywhere else, tho!) but I did get a picture of these guys … brrrrr, cold!

And to round things out, a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt ….

Now, I’m not a hunter.  But I thoroughly enjoyed Cabelas.