This week I’ve been doing the tango with chaos.
I’ve lost every critical item at least once, brewed a pot of crystal-clear hot water when I really needed some coffee, and found time-sensitive e-mails inexplicably lingering in draft folders, or sending instantly but showing up as blanks. As we approached Camping Cookoff weekend, 75% of the campers had bailed, and I feared that there would be some snafus, misfires, and tangled communications.
It was difficult getting out to Jordan Lake, due to the above issues. I collected Julia early in the afternoon, and we planned to make a quick grocery run on the way. This was our closest grocery store, with a sign that said “grocery/farm equipment/feed.”
We thought that would be *amazing.*
But it was closed. We were meant to stop, though, because we found this hanging on the door:
Yes. It’s a Husqvarna calendar. Chainsaw porn.
We left it hanging on the door for the next visitors. But somebody please find me one of these for Christmas. We used our Iphones to get to the next closest grocery store to Jordan Lake, 4.2 miles away.
Fully twenty minutes later (lies! Siri lies! Lying liar.) we were on High House Road in Cary. Mean trick, Iphone. So we did a rapid swoop through the grocery store for all the critical items for our recipes.
I was really excited about my recipe, which was in the Lantern cookbook Ollie let me borrow, and she had flagged the perfect campfire meal: bacon and eggs cooked in paper lunch bags, hanging over the fire. I got cheese to sprinkle on top and planned to sneak some of Julia’s tomato when she wasn’t looking. For the first time in something like twenty-five years, I got canned biscuits, trying to recreate a meal from my first camping trip ever, where you fry the biscuits and then roll them in cinnamon and sugar. I thought that would go great with the eggs.
We drove the miles and miles back to Jordan Lake and found Nate and Lovisa already set up. We figured out the tent situation, and then took drinks down to the waterfront to watch the sunset. Anna and Andrew joined us with lemonade and marshmallows.
It got good and dark, fast. The park gates were locked for the night. Nate built our fire, and we talked about the dinner plan. Julia and Lovisa had both done versions of stuffed fruits: Lovisa was cooking oranges with cakes baked inside, and Julia was stuffing bananas with candy and roasting them. We hadn’t coordinated in advance (why would you) and whew! at least one of us had brought bacon and eggs as protein before we feasted on dessert.
When the fire was just right, I started unloading the cooler and putting the bacon and egg bags together. I found the bags and bacon and cheese and….
“Hey, um, Julia? Do you remember putting any eggs in the cooler?”
“Hmm.” says Julia.
“Do you remember seeing me with any eggs?”
“Hmmmmm.” says Julia again.
“Because I remember being near the eggs. I just don’t have that critical piece of memory for when I picked them up. In the grocery store. As in….I FORGOT THE EGGS.”
At that point I apologized to Team Campfire, but I was doubled over and laughing so hard that I was crying. “I….could not….be sorrier….but we…..are having….biscuits…..from a CAN….for dinner….” and it took me a really long time to get that out.
Well played, Chaos. Well played.
Team Campfire was, collectively, a really good sport about it. We poured more drinks and toasted Chaos. Julia and Lovisa had both thrown backup items in their cars: a bag of potatoes, a stray sweet potato, an onion; they started dicing them all up and making little foil packets. I stuffed half the canned biscuits with cheese and rolled half of them in cinnamon and sugar, and put the bacon in a pan. Then I was exhausted from trying to stare down Chaos, so I shamelessly let Nate cook everything. So did Julia and Lovisa, so I didn’t feel that bad.
For dinner we had five kinds of potatoes, with a side of biscuits.
Betty joined us in time for dessert, having just come from a sixties-themed birthday party. She was wearing a mini-dress with cutouts, a faux fur coat, and black knee-high boots. I’m not saying she looked like a scene from Pretty Woman or anything, but when she stopped at a gas station on the way to the campsite for chips, french onion dip, and malt liquor (I KNOW!) she said the clerk wouldn’t even look her in the eye. It is a wonderful thing, to sit around a campfire with one of your most refined friends dressed as a prostitute and drinking Olde English 800. And then we ate our stuffed fruit.
Dessert was just amazing.
You should definitely make those.
Things turned out great, actually. Chaos has won a few hands. I’m not out of chips yet. I’ve called its bluff a few times. When I woke up in the Taj MaTent, stood up, and stretched, this is what I saw at dawn:
and then we got up and toasted marshmallows to melt in our campfire coffee.
We totally won that trip.