Archive for September 3rd, 2014

Camp Savta 2014 – Day 3

Lost River Gorge in Woodstock, New Hampshire is a family favorite – – we took our own children here when they were small, so it’s a great feeling to be able to take the next generation.   It is pricey – –  $14 per child and $18 per adult – – and worth every penny. (For more extensive photos, you can see pictures from a past visit to Lost River here.)

Located in a deep gorge, there are intricate  staircases and over 1000 steps leading down, up and out of the gorge.  The stairs are architectural wonders in and of themselves.

Some of the grandkids climbing one of the staircases in the gorge.

Some of the grandkids climbing one of the staircases in the gorge.

A beautiful view of the gorge.  My daughter and her youngest child are at the top, on the bridge.

A beautiful view of the gorge. My daughter and her youngest child are at the top, on the bridge.

Besides the rushing water and waterfalls and weird rock formations and glacial boulders, there are a series of caves that are fun and exciting to climb around in.  (Note that strollers are not allowed, so if you aren’t prepared to carry your baby in your arms or in a backpack carrier, wait until they can walk on their own.)

Posing in front of a cave.  The kids were so excited they kept running ahead to explore the caves.  I could barely catch up to them to take a picture.

Posing in front of a cave. The kids were so excited they kept running ahead to explore the caves. I could barely catch up to them to take a picture.

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Heads peeking out

Heads peeking out

The Lemon Squeezer cave is the favorite due to its narrow opening.  Once you squeeze into the opening, you must crawl around on your stomach to get through to the exit.  Fatties need not apply.

The Lemon Squeezer cave is the favorite due to its narrow opening. Once you squeeze inside, you need to crawl on your stomach to reach the exit. Fatties (such as myself) need not apply.

At the gift store tourist concession (where the bathrooms are located) at Lost River Gorge, two of my grandkids cuddle up to a "bear."   It didn't help when a few of my grandkids glanced at the merchandise and declared in loud voices, "These prices are a RIPOFF!"  (they were right!)

At the gift store concession (where the bathrooms are located) at Lost River Gorge, two of my grandkids cuddle up to a “bear.” It didn’t help when a few of my grandkids glanced at the merchandise and declared in loud voices, “These prices are a RIPOFF!” ( They got a few dirty looks from the employees, but they were right!)

 

 

 

After a quick dinner back at home, I took my 3 granddaughters, ages 5, 7, and 8, on their first-ever camping trip 3 miles from my house, to a primitive site in the White Mountain National Forest.  The four oldest grandsons had a Boys Night Out with my husband the previous night, and now it was the girls’ turn.  We had set up the tent 2 days beforehand.

We had set up the tent a few days before the actual camp-out.

We had set up the tent a few days before the actual camp-out.

It was a magnificent spot on the edge of a stream that had two waterfalls and a natural swimming hole.

It was a magnificent spot on the edge of a stream that had two waterfalls and a natural swimming hole.

They were VERY nervous.

My granddaughter was fine with the idea of sleeping in the dark, as long as she had her blankie friend to provide an extra dose of courage.

My granddaughter was fine with the idea of sleeping in the dark, as long as she had her blankie friend to provide an extra dose of courage.

Little kids are normally scared of the dark, and in the Maine woods it gets very dark indeed.  Also, there are many strange sounds that they’d never heard before, from bullfrogs to barred owls to the occasional howl of coyotes.  It didn’t help that when we arrived at dusk, we had barely settled in when we heard a loud “BOOM!” – – a single gunshot about 1/2 mile up the road:  we are smack in the middle of bear-hunting season.  It also didn’t help that their mothers were not exactly fans of the camping experience, and made no bones about saying so (the ground is hard, the bathrooms non existent, and lots of bugs).

But I told them that we would all be sleeping together in one tent, and each person would have her own flashlight.  I also assured them that if they had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, they should wake me and we’d go outside together.  I was confident we wouldn’t be harassed by bears since bears really aren’t interested in people  – – just the food associated with people. We had eaten dinner at home and brought no food nor snacks along, and we’d return home first thing the next morning before breakfast. I figured it would be an uneventful night.

Once the girls got over their nervousness, they were happy and excited by the prospect of sleeping in sleeping bags in a tent, and for the next 20 minutes they chatted and giggled happily before finally falling asleep around 9 pm.

having fun and being silly

having fun and being silly

finally!

finally!

About 11 pm I was awakened by a feeling of claustrophobia, heat, and difficulty breathing.  A quick check revealed that two of the sleeping girls had rolled on top of me during the night.  I eased myself away from them and moved to the extreme opposite side of the tent.  But every hour, I’d awake to find yet another body part resting on top of me at all sorts of weird angles.  It didn’t matter where I settled – – the girls gravitated towards me in their sleep.  It was going to be a long night for me!  But I was happy they were sleeping soundly, and the next morning, despite my own cranky exhaustion, they woke up with huge smiles on their faces.

After I moved to the other side of the tent, the two sisters gravitated towards one another - in their sleep!

After I moved to the other side of the tent, the two sisters gravitated towards one another – in their sleep!

They absolutely LOVED camping!  It brought me great joy that I was able to share this experience with them, and create some wonderful, positive memories.

Upon awakening, it was a bit chilly.

Upon awakening, it was a bit chilly.

P.S. Although I own a small, lightweight backpacking tent that I love, when camping with my grandkids I used a larger, heavier tent with an “anteroom” to stow our stuff, and a large open room with a high ceiling for sleeping.   There are definitely better (and much more expensive) tents out there, but it’s perfect for fair-weather camping for newbies.   It’s made by Coleman and I got it for $60 on sale at Costco – – a true bargain.  

http://www.costco.com/Coleman%C2%AE-Evanston%E2%84%A2-Screened-4-person-Tent.product.100116995.html

 

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The Flying Chicken

Once in a while, events in one’s life become such a comedy of errors that one can’t make this stuff up if one tried.  Today was that day.

Several months ago my husband bought a high-caliber rifle (he does not hunt but he enjoys target shooting).  He has been wanting to shoot the new rifle for many weeks.  Although we have plenty of room on our property to shoot it safely, our dog is petrified by the sound of gunfire so we avoid shooting practice unless the dog is not around, which is, like, never.

My husband joined a gun club that has a very nice shooting range.  But joining was a story in and of itself.  The gun store in town, whose proprietor is a Member of the Board at the range and is in charge of membership, has irregular hours, and the gun store was never open when my husband could get there, so joining up took many weeks of attempts.  Then, when he wanted to go to the range, something always got in the way:  weather (too hot, too buggy, too rainy), hours incompatible with his work schedule, or people visiting us for the summer, making it difficult for him to excuse himself from the company.

But today was the day!  He planned his work carefully so that he could get off exactly at 5 pm, jump in the car, and reach the range with plenty of time to shoot his rifle before closing time.

As they say:  man plans . . . and G-d laughs.

Today I spent the day cooking and baking.  I have friends coming for Shabbat and they are as picky about food as I am – – meaning, we all love good, home-cooked food made with wholesome, natural ingredients, lots of vegetables, salads, exotic flavors, and whole grains.  That kind of cooking takes a lot longer than convenience-food cooking, but it’s definitely worth it.  There’s nothing quite so wonderful as sharing a hearty meal that’s been carefully prepared with good friends and a few l’chaims.   Also, I don’t like to usher in the Sabbath under pressure with the clock ticking.  So I start cooking 1 – 2 days in advance of Shabbat so I can be relaxed and ready well in advance of my guests’ arrival.

I decided to grill some chicken.  First, I made a wood fire in the campfire area.  Only a few days ago, it had been used for hot dogs, hamburgers and toasted marshmallows, but today, I was going to grill some amazing, quality chicken by searing the skin at high temperature till crisp, then reducing the fire to cook it slowly so it was nice and juicy and tender.  It looked and smelled so good that at the last minute I decided to grill a couple of extra pieces, so I could freeze them and serve them next week.  When the first batch of chicken was done, I put it in the house.  When I pulled the second batch off the fire, I put it in a disposable aluminum pan and rested it on top of my car which was parked alongside my house’s front entry way.  While the chicken cooled down, I was busy cleaning up the grilling tools and the fire pit ashes.

Five o’clock came and my husband quickly put his rifle in the back of the car and off he went.  As I waved goodbye I suddenly remembered:  my chicken was on top of the car!!!

One thing about living in a rural area in the Maine woods, is that cellphone reception is pretty iffy.  And just beyond our driveway on the road, there is no cellphone reception at all.  I tried calling, I tried texting – – to no avail.  The call was not getting through.

Finally I texted:

#STOP THE CAR!  MY PAN OF CHICKEN IS ON TOP OF THE CAR!!!

I was cooling it down.

When my husband finally got cellphone reception and got my text message, he was 5 miles from home.

He stopped the car, but there was no chicken on the roof.

(How he missed seeing a flying chicken, I don’t understand!)

But, to his credit (what a guy!), he turned the car around, and backtracking, he started looking for the chicken on the road.

He found it about a quarter-mile from our house.  And after putting the chicken in the car (other than a little gravel that I washed off, not really worse for the wear; luckily he got to it before it was eaten by a wild animal or run over by a truck), he brought that chicken all the way back home instead of going to the rifle range!

Have you ever said exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time?  Because instead of saying “thank you,” I said,

“Where’s the fork?”

And before I could say another word, he was backing down the driveway and went off to look for that fork!

(He did not find it.)

So that is my story of the Flying Chicken.

Tomorrow my husband is hoping to go to the range.

We are not serving the Flying Chicken to our Shabbat guests.

But my husband and I will eat it.  It’s too good to waste.