Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Hostess and the Great Outdoors

It’s been a while. Nearly six months in fact. While my baking sheets can attest to the fact it has been a long recovery from Royce, I really have no stinking excuse for my negligence when it comes to chronicling both my misanthropy and my hostessnes.

So, I’m moving on.

Movin’ on in fact, to the next thing: Project Redwoods.

Somewhere between the windowlessness of my office and the fact that our economy is in the pits, I decided that it would be an adventure to go camping this summer. No, no big fancy European trips for us this year. Cannes will just have to live without us and they’ll surely miss us in the Berkshires (wherever the Berkshires are). Charge up the flashlights and get out the hotdog sticks because we are taking on the California Redwoods. For a week. In July.

Now, after nearly 10 years of relations, my husband and I have never been camping together (not unless you count that night we spent in the tent in my parent’s backyard for my cousin’s wedding). The following is a list of our existing camping supplies:

1. Tent

2. Sleeping bag (1)

3. Lantern

To some, the fact that we have little shared experience and barely a humble structure to keep our heads dry would be a deterrent. Not me, in fact, this type of plan-it-out, multi-phase project is exactly what the Misanthropic Hostess has needed.

Of course there is an Excel workbook with checklists and timelines and relational budgets.

Of course I have a notebook with product reviews, recipes, maps and activity ideas.

Would you expect any less?

The first two considerations I had when I began planning this odyssey a couple months ago were (in this order): 1) what I was going to wear; and 2) what we were going to eat. I will briefly address the former so we can get it out of the way. As I mentioned above, I grew up camping. And I liked it a lot. Well, mostly. Save for one thing. I hated, HATED camping clothes. They were old, mismatched and generally had me looking like I was waiting for a flood. I realize no self respecting six-year-old should have such wardrobe concerns, but much to the chagrin of my mother, I did. It’s just the way I was born. As an adult, I fully understand how inappropriate and impractical wearing my prom dress to roast marshmallows may be. But don’t think for a minute one of those spreadsheets doesn’t lay out in careful detail exactly what I’ll be wearing every day (with contingencies for weather and activities, of course).

Now concerning the food.

Not to sound like Seinfeld, but what’s the deal with camp food? When camping as a kid, we ate real food like spaghetti and grilled steak. As I’ve been researching what to plan for our five nights in campfire heaven, I have come across some very strange camp recipes. It would be one thing if their weirdness was disbursed here and there or perhaps limited to the earning of some form of scouting merit badge. The thing is, odd and cutely named dishes appear to be the norm among the camping crowd. I don’t know about you, but spending a day breathing in the fresh outdoors and engaged in vigorous outdoorsy activities does not need to be topped off by anything called ant flambe, beansaroni soup or peanut butter dump cake. I’m not kidding! Peanut Butter Dump Cake! This is supposed to be a nice week in the woods, not Survivor.

So, herein lies my first camping challenge: what to eat for dinner.

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