We enjoyed a brief but lovely camping trip at Inks Lake State Park this past weekend. We thought of it as a belated anniversary getaway, of sorts. Despite our mutual love for camping and countless camping trips over the years, this was our first camping trip together since we've been married.
I prepared myself for the inevitability that we wouldn't be 100% prepared. We were a little out of practice. Ideally, we want to be prepared/organized enough that we can go on impromptu camping trips whenever we're in the mood. I'd say we're one step closer to that now...after forgetting a few things on this trip, such as pillows. ;)
The terrain is so interesting. The word harsh comes to mind, but I think striking better conveys the feel of the landscape. The main highlights were views of the lake and Devil's Waterhole, plus countless rock formations and cacti dotting the landscape. I joked about a so-called "cold-snap" here, but the weather dipped into much cooler temperatures than we expected—50's in the mornings and highs in the low- to mid-60's. Despite being somewhat unprepared for the cooler weather, (we ate our breakfast wrapped up in our spare quilt—no complaints) it was perfect. I wished I could quickly finish my Hitchhiker shawl so that I could wear it.
On drought conditions and the burn ban:
We chose this park because Inks Lake is particularly drought-resistant and still great for swimming right now (especially the Devil's Waterhole area). Although we didn't have any swimming weather (see above), the lake was beautiful and made for a cool breeze and a great view. Like other area parks, Inks Lake is currently under a burn ban, and since we haven't invested in a camp stove yet, we opted for cooler-friendly meals that didn't require cooking.
For our super short trip, our meals included these muffins (our friend Molly made us the other muffins), fruit, hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, and salami and a few nice cheeses for lunch the following day. For a longer trip during a burn ban, we'd prefer to bring a propane stove (check to see if they're permitted at the park you're visiting) to allow for more food variety. We also packed cold brew coffee concentrate (we got our's from Trader Joe's, but it's simple to make it yourself) so we could still enjoy our coffee, even without a heating source.
What we thought:
It was like a great novel you know you'll love the ending to, but aren't in a hurry to finish. We plan to savor this park and bring pillows (and friends) next time.
I love the cooler months for the feel of them, in every way. I love cold-weather clothing, and candles, and the idea of slower, soothing months, where life doesn't feel so hectic. I love the anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I love a good comfort food meal, that you can start in the afternoon, and let it simmer while doing laundry or a pre-dinner tidy of your home. This chili is that food for me. It's not altogether pretty, but you could always add some color by way of green pepper or jalepenos, etc. It's very mix-and-matchable and well-suited to whatever you have in your pantry. For us, that's chickpeas and lentils, since Nicholas isn't a huge fan of pinto/navy beans, etc. These ingredients afford a "traditional" enough chili for me, with a texture he enjoys as well.
Baked PB oatmeal or just "PB oatmeal" as we fondly call it, serves as our breakfast at least 300 mornings of the year. I've mentioned it about one million times on the blog, since I've been making is for us ever since Summer posted the recipe almost exactly five years ago, but I've never actually shared the recipe and how I make it. Over time, I've adjusted a few things and tweaked it to it's current state. I adore recipes like this that I can make again and again. We eat a lot of eggs for any meal of the day, and so it's nice to have an egg-free breakfast option. And I really love the idea of a make-ahead breakfast that will reheat easily and fill us up with both protein and carbs.
Yesterday, I stopped by my friend Jessica's house to see her and her son. I played with her little boy while she chopped veggies for a meal she was bringing to a friend that night. Whereas I prefer to follow a recipe, since I'm nervous that my kitchen experiments won't turn out, Jessica is naturally good at using up all the food in the fridge, coming up with new combinations and just "throwing together" a meal, or following a recipe with modifications, based on what she has on hand.