|Nikki May's photo.|
It was a very special week last week. For one, there was a birfday in the offing, and, for two, Pippa's maiden voyage began the day after the big partay.
I'm not always one for going "all out" for birthdays, however, that said, I was inspired while perusing this month's Southern Living by this make ahead Tex-Mex menu and recipes. I made everything listed except the Hibiscus Tea (who the hell needs tea when you have tequila?) and, yes, I'm saying I went ahead on like a nutball and invited five people to eat dishes prepared from heretofore untried recipes. I would trust no one but Southern Living to such a culinary extent, and once again, I'm happy to say my confidence was not misplaced. (But, let's be honest, my fallback position would have been to step up the tequila service enough so no one would notice had there been a last minute food mishap.)
|Another Nikki May original.|
We're not fancy around here, so my tequila shakers were mason jars and they worked quite nicely for this purpose. The original idea was to enjoy the Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream Pie dessert in the hot tub, but this plan was quickly nixed by the weather who heard I was having a party and quickly whipped up a driving rain (haha!) coupled with 54-mile-per hour winds (wee!) on the heels of the biggest drought in years, just for laughs.
Not that anybody cared by that time. The pie ate quite fine at the table, thankyouverymuch. That's a cinnamon graham cracker crust, by the way, spiked with red pepper flakes, making for a combination of hot/sweet that is quite uniquely delightful, I must say [insert Ed Grimley hop].
|TenaciousF, the killer frog who took up residence in the Casbah and environs this spring and has been known to stalk the hot tub and enjoy chillin' in the grill. We found him indignantly clinging to the glass storm door after the party clearly annoyed that his invitation was lost in the mail. Guess who snapped this uber cool photo? Where, I ask you, would this blog post be with her? That's right, nowhere.|
Eventually, after all that food, booze, and frog terror, we went unconscious. This meant, of course, that Pippa's maiden camping voyage, set for the next day, would happen none too early. The important thing is it did still happen. And it wasn't just us this time, we decided we'd try out, not only the pop-up, but the dogs as well.
HA, yes! Dogs! Because we don't already haul enough shit to the campsite. We need more crap, cosmetics, cooking gadgets, complications and supplies. We need to add a layer of fur, hysteria, unpredictability and slobber to the mix. Damn it, we need more stuff to worry about! That's Vance Shepherd (a suspicious Katrina rescue) on the left, and Tallulah (a spoiled purebred) on the right.
See that look on Vance's face? The look says,
Clearly, they've brought me to the campsite TO KILL ME and they think I don't know it.
But I digress. Here is a shot of Vance enjoying the unbearable lightness of interstate wind in his face on ride to the campsite, before he realized we were taking him there to die. Unfortunately, before we could set about brutally murdering the dog, we had to do something much, much worse.
We had to back the freaking camper into place.
Friends? If you've never backed a trailer into place, I envy you. Because something happens when you hitch a trailer (camping or otherwise) to a vehicle. And I'm too stupid to know what that something is. But whatever it is, it means that turning the steering wheel (when in reverse gear) has an effect on where the trailer goes that is completely random and unpredictable.
It has the effect of causing people to invent completely new cuss words. I'm not the least bit happy to say our camper backing (we took turns being completely ineffective) skills, or lack thereof, provided the entire campground (apparently full of people who have mastered the art of trailer backing) with a good half hour of fun and entertainment. People were standing and pointing. Telling their friends, even!
Of course, we'd rather die choking in a pool of our own blood than ask for help. And so we didn't. And we eventually backed that bitch in place. All by our own selfs. That accomplished, we set about our next fun and exciting task. Unfurling the pop-up.
Ever cranked a thousand year old pop-up?
It's like a team of snickering invisible body builders oppose every click and turn of the rusty, wobbly ab-busting handle. Again, this is a task that requires inventive tag-team cursing. And beer. And hiking boot stomping. BITCH!
DAMN IT, is camping is fun or what?! LOVE IT!
And so, not a minute too soon, just as our supply of super offensive cuss words was exhausted, the very first Camp Pippa was established. In the late afternoon of a breezy August day, on the banks of Lake Barkley, amidst the swaying trees, and apparently not too far from a tribe of screaming monkeys in residence deep in the woods just to our north.
I have, unfortunately, been dismissed from my original post of Fire Keeper, prohibited from touching the fire biscuits, and I'm told accelerant is no longer among our camping supply inventory.
I'm at a loss to understand how keeping a raging fire going even in the drippiest of weather is an actual MINUS in a camper, but there it is. I really shouldn't think a few singed eyelashes is that big of a deal in light of our constant need for comforting warmth and protection from flesh hungry coyotes and rabid monkeys after sundown.
I'm going to have to go ahead and say our campfire on this trip was what I'd consider paltry.
I do continue to be in charge of chow and so, before nightfall our first day, I made the long (five minute) trek to the grocery where the Jeff and Emily IGA gave it to us up the butt for some bacon, biscuits and sundries, as is their tradition. By the time I returned, Pippa was glowing with reassuring electric light and the air conditioner [insert chorus of heavenly angels] was humming along most efficiently. We enjoyed the world's most delicious ham sandwiches at our picnic table as the monkeys screamed in the distance and the dogs cautiously sniffed out the limits of their new territory. We quietly cussed a man we watched expertly back a boat trailer into the campsite next to ours (first try! motherfucking show-off!).
Our first night in Pippa was noteworthy (other than being cool and delightfully tick-free) only because poor Vance Shepherd decided that his murder was clearly going to take place in there. At bedtime, Tallulah hopped in eagerly enough, but suspicious Shepherd was having none of it. He planted his front feet wide apart and dug in at the door. No way. No how. Was he going willingly to his demise in the camper-o-death. Coaching, encouragement, commanding, ordering, and threatening all failed to budge the dog. Even lifting his back end only caused his front end to become more fixed and stationary. Finally, we would resort to (you guessed it) more cussing, and brute force.
Helpfully, the monkeys lent their screams in the distance.
After a mighty effort, Shepherd landed in the camper where he immediately noticed, to his great surprise, rather than a giant doggie meat sausage grinder, his own soft bed from home. He hopped in and gave us a look.
Yah, whatever. I still don't trust you people. Go away.
I was initially concerned that Tallulah would launch into her glass-shattering bark alerts at every twig crunch and falling acorn while in the camper, but the constant drone of the air conditioner had the unexpected effect of drowning out, for the most part, all outside noise, thus allowing both dogs to sleep without hearing much of anything. I woke the next day to a misty cool morning, and found Mr. Expert Backer next door had gone off to fish with neither dog the wiser. I initially thought the noise of him leaving early would send them into a bark alert frenzy; but for the a/c noise, the entirety of LBL would almost certainly have been made aware of The Situation.
|Sunrise at Camp #6.|
As it was, I had to actually wake the dogs for their sunrise potty. Tallulah deemed the entire camp her toileting area. She located the the epicenter of the site and then, after a leisurely stretch, promptly deposited a moist shit half the size of herself in the gravel.
|There is a drop-off just beyond the table that is, essentially, the shore of Lake Barkley.|
I wish I'd gotten a good photo of the camp cook stove on which you see me here frying up the bacon! It is a three-burner gas cook top that runs on propane and is every bit as convenient as any such indoor device. It came with Pippa and, despite its age, was obviously rarely used. As delicious as waking indoors to the smell of frying bacon is, I put it at twice as delicious a scent experienced at camp. This is doubly true for the cook. I love to whip up a camp breakfast for some reason (who am I?). I no longer fry real bacon at home. Turkey bacon is as good as it gets around here--fat! cholesterol!--but camp calls for the real thing.
|Shepherd observes some morning fishermen as we took in some fresh air on a bench just outside the OK Corral.|
|Just beyond the drop-off of our campsite. The edge of Lake Barkley.|
Not surprisingly, Shepherd is walked on a leash as he is likely to try to escape from his death sentence at any moment, but Tallulah is trustworthy (and mommy spoiled) enough on such a walk to be largely off leash. She generally sticks close to the pack, but is also, in the end, a smaller dog with short legs. While us big people and Shepherd can cover long distances, this is harder for Tallulah, especially given her tendency to walk not only forward, but also to dart nervously back and forth, thus adding half as much again to any distance we cover.
Do you sense I'm getting at something?
How about I just cut to the chase:
We found this at a really crappy flea market in Eddyville (sorry, Eddyville, but it really IS crappy). It's a fairly high quality stroller, but was for some reason stripped of its baby seat cushion making it perfect for a fur friend ($8!). Tallulah prefers to stand, obviously. Chariot-style.
I'm THAT person.
My dog has a stroller.