Saturday, July 31, 2010


Back again, this time from Texas. (I don't want to see another Interstate highway for some time.)

As part of our decompression-from-traveling and get-back-into-normal-life routine, Geogal and I decided to head out to the garden. Lots of weeds, as expected, but it appeared some of the Yukon Gold potatoes were ready for harvest (vines were dead). So, with spade and bowl we started digging.

Hmm. A bit disappointing.

The potatoes were there but diminutive in size. I didn't intend on reaping a crop of new potatoes. Plus a few of our yellow onions were ready as well.

See for yourself.

But life's not all bad. Turns out our yellow squash is producing well.

I joked with Geogal, saying it's a good thing we don't live in a hunter/gatherer society today. Given my lack of ability to bring down game birds and our teeny-tiny veggies we would likely starve. Unless we could barter services of some kind.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Between journeys

Back from Yellowstone, will head to the Lone Star State before long.

Yep, in the throes of summer. Upper 90 degree temps and all. Oddly enough after the Fourth of July I began thinking a lot about hunting season. (For the curious, pheasant season here doesn't begin until November 13.) Last Monday (a holiday for all of us) we spent the afternoon and evening at a friend's property. I mentioned my recent preoccupation with hunting. He paused for a moment then said "Yes, July 4th has now come and gone. Sounds like you're right on schedule." I think getting out the shotguns has crossed his mind as well.

What have I learned so far from camping this summer?

1) The pop-up can hold up under a storm fairly well.

The first leg of our trip found us overnighting in Sidney, Nebraska. Why there? Not only was it a good stopping place for the night but the Cabela's retail store there beckoned. We've been to several of their brick-and-mortar sites but as Sidney is the headquarters (the company was founded in nearby Chappell in 1961) there's something special about this location. Plus they have a campground in between the retail store and the corporate building. We set up camp, had dinner at a local steakhouse (it won't be named as we can't recommend it) and then went back to do some shopping.

And then the sky opened up.

Severe thunderstorm warning. Pouring rain. Drenched. There's this frightening feeling when you're in the store and hearing torrents hammering the glass roof. I'm talking to one of the salespeople and she said if we hear a "Code Brown" being issued (tornado spotted), find an outfitter (their term for salesperson/associate/team member) who will direct us to the shelter.

That didn't happen but it was enough to kick away my relaxed feeling. We finished up the shopping, I ran out to get the vehicle (thank God we didn't walk over to the store from the campground) and drove under the overhang to pick up the rest of my clan. We returned to the campsite and realized that while there were a few wet spots under one of the bunks, overall the inside was dry.

Sleep (what little we got of it that night) was scarce and fitful. But come morning the storm had moved on and we started to break camp. We were rocked back and forth all night long from the high wind but that little Coleman Cedar did its job well.

2) Yellowstone can get rather cold, even in June.

The last morning there we awoke to 24 degree temperatures. Our camper being what it is (simple and small), we don't have a heater or A/C. The whole Geofamily learned how to throw off the blankets and get dressed quickly in such scenarios.

Builds character, right?

Overall our Yellowstone stay was memorable. The weather cooperated for the most part (only one nasty day) and meeting up with our Arizona friends was a pleasure. Not to mention wildlife, such as opening up my camper door and being greeted with two bucks grazing no more than 15 feet away. Still had velvet on their antlers.

3) Wyoming is larger than it looks on a map.

We left our campground at Yellowstone on a Friday morning and arrived at our hotel in Cheyenne 500 miles later. Did a diagonal across the state. For all of the beauty and grandeur of Yellowstone and Grand Teton there are plenty of places in the state that can make you utter, sotto voce, "Dear God, please just kill me now."

Miles and miles of nothing.

Not to say we won't re-visit The Equality State again. Both Geogal and I enjoyed our time in Thermopolis (the second night's camp, much calmer weatherwise than Sidney) and would go there again in a heartbeat. Not to mention Cody, which has enough to do that you could spend the better part of a week there. Hmmmm, maybe next year.....

4) We're getting more adept at camping.

It's just something that you enjoy more with experience. So far as a family we've camped 8 nights (I also used it for an overnight a couple of weeks ago, but that was by myself) since buying the thing in April. With each trip we're getting better.

And in contrast with some of these behemoths we see at campgrounds (some of these RV's and fifth wheels cost more than my house, I'm sure), my rig is paid for! (I also get better gas mileage, even if I don't have all of the comforts of a hard-sided rig.)

Check back here for more camping-related rants, I'm sure.