camping at trap pond

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This past weekend we remembered the life of my grandfather, who died earlier this month at the ripe old age of 95, with a camping trip with the kids.
My grandfather was born into poverty in a farming community in Idaho and had a rough childhood before marrying, becoming a farmer and father to seven kids. He wasn't the warmest man on the exterior, and life on the farm was all about work, but once a year he would load up the family in the truck for camping in the Rockies. My mother and her siblings have fond memories of these trips where Grandpa was his happiest. The camping continued on after grandchildren came along and my family would spend summers out West visiting cousins and camping in large fun groups.
The kids have been begging to go camping since we got a larger tent for Daddy for Fathers Day. We got one that claims to sleep six, knowing it would actually sleep four. Never trust the capacity claims at the sporting goods store unless you want to be sardines and have no room for your gear.
We discovered while planning this trip that you have to go to the state park websites to reserve a campsite early. Our original plan was to go to Rickett's Glen State Park in Pennsylvania because of its awesome waterfalls and woodsy campground surrounding a lake, but it was booked up. Then we decided to scale back the plans, stay closer to home, and make it for just one night. Trap Pond State Park in southern Delaware fit the bill. It's not a large park, like the ones in the Rockies, but the campground was nicely wooded and we were able to get a secluded walk-in site in loop E.
Trap Pond's claim to fame is it's stand of baldcypress trees, the largest this far north. At the far end of the pond, where it becomes swampy, the trees grow straight out of the water from their swollen bases. They have canoes and rowboats you can rent as well as a pontoon boat tour so you can see them up close. You think to yourself, is this really Delaware? It feels prehistoric.
The kids managed to find some wildlife within the first 15 minutes. We think it was a smooth green snake.
Never saw these weird hairy-capped acorns before. They belong to the bur oaks on the edge of the forest.
One of the things I remember most about the Rockies trips, besides the stunning scenery, was how everything revolved around the meals. The aunties were always scurrying around organizing, preparing, and cleaning up afterward. It's a wonder we got any hiking done. In similar fashion, I found myself spending the whole day before making a list and grocery shopping at 3 different stores to prep for the trip. In my old age, I don't have the patience for mediocre food anymore, and I was hoping to rustle up something gourmet for dinner. I came up with a fish and vegetable concoction that cooks in tinfoil packets that I had a vague recollection reading about in a magazine somewhere. Although my grandfather would scoff that I'm using supermarket fish, not fresh-caught on the trip, here's my recipe:
Campfire Fish and Vegetables
(serves two) 
1 carrot julienned
3 scallions coarsely chopped, mostly white parts
mushrooms- 2 handfulls, sliced
snowpeas- 2 dozen or so
2 frozen mahi mahi fish filets or other firm fish, frozen 
salt & pepper to taste
1 lemon, sliced 
fresh herbs- thyme, parsley, chives, whatever you like 
1/2 cup white wine, divided

Roll out 2 pieces of tin foil, twice as long as wide. Assemble the vegetable in the middle of the foil, lay frozen fish on top. Season with salt & pepper. Top with lemon slices and herbs. Drench in white wine & seal packets well. Fold the seams over several times and store inside a plastic grocery bag (in case of leaks) on ice in a cooler.

I put these together in the AM before we left the house. By dinner time, the fish was thawed and ready to for the fire. We got the fire going to a point where the flames were below the grate and hot coals were in the bottom. They needed very little cooking time- about 5 minutes. Careful opening them due to the hot steam that will escape.

Bring along some crusty bakery bread to sop up the juices!

By the next day all our ice was melted, causing me to wonder how we could manage a two-night or more trip. I guess we could buy ice somewhere... what a pain. I see why serious campers eventually buy an RV. Two couples in the campground had these darling little T@B campers.
It turns out they are (or were) made by Airstream, which explains why I was attracted to them. They are very compact, but well-made and appeallingly designed. They have a small kitchen and u-shaped banquette around a table which folds into a 2-person bed at night. It sure would be convenient to have running water, refrigeration, and a place to have all your gear ready to go on a moments notice, but for now we'll rough it as car campers.
We got rained on before we got very far on the hike that goes around the lake. We were hoping to see the more of the baldcypresses. Oh well! That gives us a reason to come back for another quickie camping trip.

1 comment:

Jo said...

Hi Becky, one aunty here after reading our blog. Yes, our trips each summer with mom, dad and siblings were memorable! It looks like you, Curtis and the kids had a good time too. Love ya, Jo

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