Saturday, September 8, 2012

Emerging Pattern Nipped

Rob and I took The Beast, along with our bird, Ollie, and cats, Louis and Brandy, to Hat Creek over the Labor Day weekend from August 31st to September 4th. We gathered there with many of our paragliding friends and lots of hang gliding community.

Hat Creek is located in the north end of Lassen National Forest in northeastern California, near the town of Burney. The area is strewn with volcanic rock—the last eruption having been on May 22, 1915. I didn't find anything stating Mt. Lassen is an extinct volcano, so I must assume that it could erupt again. 

The town of Burney proudly hosts the McArthur-Burney Falls State Park and, for anyone traveling through the area, it is a must-see. Not only are the falls spectacular, there are beautiful campgrounds, hiking trails and Lake Britton to enjoy. Sadly, because we don't have a vehicle to tow (known as a toad), we didn't get to visit the falls this trip.

On Friday, we had an uneventful drive to the campground, which is a good thing. Both Rob and I are becoming more comfortable with the size and feel of The Beast, but a day on the road takes its toll. We seem fine for the rest of the day, but the following day we seem tuckered out and cranky. We bickered and argued a bit. This happened when we went down to Long Beach, too.

We stayed close to our camp and Rob worked on some projects, such as buffing one of the interior doors to the basements, and I cooked in my new Lodge camp dutch oven for the first time.

Dutch oven cooking takes some getting used to and there is a bit of a learning curve. My first meal was breakfast using a recipe from a Texas Dutch Oven cookbook. It turned out delicious, but getting there was fraught with doubt. I used the recommended number of coals, but it didn't seem like the oven was getting hot enough for a good fry. I had placed the coals and the oven in the bottom of the fire pit, but that was smothering the coals. We moved the coals to some bare ground outside the fire pit, which seemed to help and breakfast tasted like a success. After a trip to the campground store, we found a portable, tabletop barbecue that you can see in the photo. We turned it upside down on a rebar grill wedged into the fire ring and used it to support the coals and the dutch oven. That evening, I cooked a stuffed, pork tenderloin in it with a recipe from the Lodge cookbook. Believe me, that will be cooked again!

In the photo, above, the best chili in the world is cooking in the dutch oven. I prepared the chili on Sunday for the potluck we had that evening with our paragliding friends. I have a tendency to make everyone a guinea pig as I rarely try out a recipe before feeding it to others. It was no different this time, either. I found this recipe for Fusion Chili on I feel (and I can safely speak for the others who ate it that night), that it is worth cooking it yourself. It is not a recipe designed just for camp cooking, so you can prepare it in your own kitchen. You won't be sorry. Don't expect leftovers if you're having a crowd over.

Everyone left camp the following day to get home and prepare to go to work on Tuesday… everyone but us. We stayed another day and enjoyed a nearly empty campground. Although we liked talking with people and seeing kids around camp walking dogs, riding bikes, having a good time, we relished the peace of having the campground to ourselves. Our only near neighbor was never there during the day. He was out fishing. All other campers were at the other side of the campground.

We kept our meals simple on our last day. I've decided that dutch-oven cooking is a twice, maybe three, times a week proposition. It takes a lot of monitoring, which is really part of the fun, but it takes a bit out of you if you have to spend much time bending over the pot. I've since ordered the Lodge camp table which will make cooking easier.

On our way home on Tuesday, we stopped at a place in Redding that sells satellite dishes. Turns out they are also a dealer for Dish Network, which had already been looking like our satellite service of choice. Rob had spoken with a camper over the weekend who had his satellite dish set up and said he'd bought his from these folks in Redding. He spoke highly of them and their prices. Rob liked the man's set-up and decided we'd explore our options. By the time we got done at B&T Satellite, we had Dish service pending and the satellite dish and other components riding home on the bed. I think we were in Redding at least three hours! 

We didn't get home until around 9:00 or 9:30pm. We got the bird and cats into the house, leveled The Beast so we could keep the fridge running, and chilled in front of the TV before crashing into bed. The next day, we were beat and cranky, starting to argue, and getting on each others nerves. We are unfamiliar with being this way with each other. So, in the future, I think the day after travel, we need to lay low, recognize our exhaustion, not take on too much, keep it simple… and to ourselves. After nearly 26 years of marriage, I sure don't want to start a pattern of arguing now. Especially when the remedy is simply a good night's sleep.

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