Another confession . . .I hate campfires. The smell, the bother, helping little kids roast stuff. What a pain!! When Kev is here, being the pyro he is, he builds them, minds them and even does most of the roasting for the girls because he's such an expert. But truth be told, he's NOT here most of the time. Mostly it's just me, so I have to deal with it. Luckily, we camp so much that the girls don't ask for one every night. When we're up here for a week or more, we mostly reserve them for the weekend. This trip, I told them that we'd have a fire 2 out of the 4 nights we were here. We did have one on Friday and we were going to have one last night, but I lured them away from that idea with the promise of dinner in front of a movie, plus popcorn. What kind of a mom am I? Tempting my kids out of the fresh air and great outdoors, into a camper to sit and watch movies and eat. I'll tell you what kind - smart!
Oh, and want a tip on what NOT to buy in an effort make the whole experience a little less painful? Giant Roasters Campfire Marshmallows, that's what. Have you ever had them? My kids have been begging for them, since they were introduced last season, but I've never brought them. I broke down this time though because they were on sale for $1.99, so I thought we'd give them a try. What a big freaking, disgusting mess they turned out to be! They are just too dang big. Too big for s'mores, and when you try to roast them they don't melt all the way through. If you want to sit there and peel them off layer by layer, roasting as you go, they work, but that's really your only option. And even then the kids end up a big sticky mess (way worse than usual) when it's all over.
Campfires are a pain. Will I try to get out of them using movies and popcorn and candy and any other means I can think of? You bet I will, and not feel a bit guilty in the process!
Made Caramel Apples today and wanted to share my favorite recipe (that I got from my sister Beth) with ya'll. Mine turned out a little firmer than I like (caramel is so tempermental), but they're still yummy, and the girls had a great time decorating them.
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. light Karo syrup
1 stick butter
1. Combine all ingredients. Stir constantly over medium high heat until soft ball, about 240 degrees (in Utah, due to sea level, this is actually about 230 degrees). Allow caramel to cool to 180 degrees.
2. Dip apples that have been washed, dried and chilled. Or dip pretzel rods.
The new camp managers hate Kevin, and therefore, hate me by association. Unbelievable. We had a really nice friendship with the old camp managers. Kevin would talk hunting with him. I would talk kids, church, camping, movies, and on and on with her. They are one of the reasons I loved this place so much, and losing them has been hard this summer. And now, this.
July went fine. We both tried to be very friendly, lots of smiles and hellos. Inside, I was actually very resentful that they were here, but I know what side my bread is buttered on, so on the outside, I was very accepting and pleasant. Then August and the hunting season arrived. The 2nd weekend of the bowhunt, Kev comes up with a friend. Check-in at the park ends at 9pm. If you pull in after that, you're supposed to pull in somewhere by the office and stay until morning, when you can find a site. They don't want you disturbing other campers by trying to hook-up and level out at midnight, or running over spigots after dark when you can't see anything, which makes total sense. So Kev pulls in just before 10pm. He's actually just in the suburban, and doesn't even want a camp site. He just needs someplace to park until 4am, when they'll get up and head out hunting. There's a big street light at the entrance of the park, so he decides to pull all the way to the back of the campground and park in a big open area back there. He does this, they quietly roll out some sleeping bags in the back of the burb, then get up in the early morning and leave.
Well, apparently, unbeknownst to them, someone out walking their dog sees them and gets freaked out. Even now, I'm not sure why. You're certainly allowed to drive your vehicle in and out of the park all night long if you'd like. There aren't gates that lock. They just don't want you pulling your camper in after hours. So, this "incident" is reported to the new camp managers, who are new and over-zealous and on a power-high, and by the time Kev has pulled back in the next night, right before 9pm, they are fired up! Gary, chases Kevin down and is ready for a confrontation. "You really freaked my campers out last night, " he says, automatically on the attack. Kevin doesn't get upset, thankfully, and they have somewhat of a conversation, where Gary also said, "You're not even a member here, are you son!?" I'm not a customer service pro, but I'm pretty sure it's not politically correct to call your customers/clients/members "son" or "boy" or anything close. So Kev has to flash his ID and credentials, which cools Gary down considerably, but the damage has already been done. We have been blackballed. And each visit since, there has been something.
"You can't park your car here, you'll have to move it. You can't put the fire pit there, you'll have to move it. You can't have a clothesline to hang wet bathing suits on, you'll have to take it down." Just pick, pick, pick at things we've always done, or things that we see other people doing all the time.
So, it wasn't a surprise when he chased us down, upon our arrive last night because he had a problem with the spot we'd chosen. "I have a bit of a mess back there behind your camper," he says, referring to the leaves. "That's OK," I said. "We don't mind, and we won't let the girls spread them around." "I just can't figure out why you picked this spot," he said.
I honestly think that he thinks we picked it just to tick him off. Really? Maybe he'll develop amnesia over the winter, and by spring he won't remember us, and we'll get a fresh start. One can only hope. In the mean time, I think I'll take him a couple of homemade caramel apples in an attempt to sweeten him, and thaw his wife, the ice queen.
We're back and I'm really happy about it. I confess that I was really toying with the idea of not coming up this weekend. I've been planning, since the beginning of time, to come up for my last camping hoo-rah of the season over UEA (Utah Educators Association - not sure what it is, but I'm happy for the 2 days we get out of school for it every year). But last week was such a busy week for me, that I started thinking it would be too much. Monday morning I was still thinking that I wouldn't come. Then I asked the girls what they'd like to do and they said CAMP! I'm raising them right, aint I? Once I decided that I was coming, I started getting really excited. And oh, aren't I glad to be here. It is absolutely beautiful up here and the weekend is going to be perfect. It dropped below freezing last night, but today dawned sunny and brilliant. We're wearing sweatshirts right now, but I bet we'll just be in shirtsleeves by mid-afternoon.
I promised the girls that I would let them pick the camp site this time. I know that they love #48, which is a nice little spot, but during the summer when it's busy, it can get a little crowded, with people all around us. This weekend though won't be busy, so it seemed like a good time to park here. As we backed in, they spied about 15 big leaf piles that had been raked up, but not picked up yet, and as you can imagine, that brought squeals of delight. They spent the morning playing in the leaves (though not spreading them back out too much), establishing their clubhouses, making poo-stew, and most recently making a new friend, Victoria. And me? I'm about to bury myself in a good book.