It's that time of year when most families take a summer vacation. I know most of the summer is vacation for the kids, but being away from home adds something extra special to enjoying the season. It's fun to have a change of scenery, and often being away means you don't focus on the many daily tasks that can take away from quality time. So, apart from trying to put your phone away, here are a few suggestions if you are heading out.
Road trips are a big part of the summer vacation, and they involve many details which need to be attended to. (I know I left my participle dangling, but it is summer vacation after all!)
Things are informal when you are traveling in a car. When I was a kid, we always went on summer vacation by car. It was packed to the roof, and my brother and I had the seat properly divided right down the middle, as is proper sibling behaviour.
I know that certainly some activities are really better when not done in the car, but sometimes it just wasn’t feasible to stop. I remember once we stopped for lunch and then had to get back in the car when we noticed a bear at a neighbouring picnic table. (My Mom at first thought without her glasses he was just an ill-mannered child, but when he ate the marshmallows, plastic bag and all, we started to pack up.) I think that was the first time I noticed how adept my Mom was at balancing a coffee cup from the thermos so that my Dad could grab it while driving (there were no cup holders in those days). Nowadays food stops are an even bigger bonus; when I was a kid the stop in Sicamous for ice cream was a big deal that highlighted 10 hours of driving. It is still one of my favourite roadside stops. DeMille’s fruit stand used to be just that, and now it has become a full attraction with barnyard animals to pet and feed and a corn maze in the back field. Go figure…
Camping too, was a whole other world and it is still much the same as I remember. We had breakfast cereal in those little boxes you could use as a bowl (how cool was that?!) and store-bought cookies (Mom always baked hers for home). You could stay up late at the campfire, and learning to roast the perfect marshmallow was the pinnacle of achievements – what constituted perfect however, was based on the individual. Golden brown, flame roasted or even lost in the fire and watched as it melted – you got away with trying variations that you were pretty sure wouldn’t be appropriate in the everyday non-camping world. That made it all the more exciting. (Except for when your cousin lands it in your pigtail and then you are scarred for life… or at least given the chance to tell a good story years later!)
Staying with friends was a very cool way to spend summer vacations time, as you got to see how “the other half” lived. A chance to have a peek at someone’s life is special, and to be told to make yourself at home by someone other than your parents seemed like I was being given the keys to the city! Even as an adult, I always feel very honoured when people are so hospitable that they take you in like extended family. Being comfortable while also being spoiled is a great feeling to have, I think!
SO, here’s to summer vacations! I am all for them, even if they only last a few days. I say, take ‘em when you can get ‘em and just remember the most important things:
- Stop on the road when something interesting comes up
- pick up a bag of Oreo’s before you go
- always have a flashlight (if nothing else, it’s good for shining into the night sky to signal the aliens)
- don’t forget the marshmallows!
Over the years, I have done a few road trips, whether for camping or fishing or even mushroom picking trips!
I say be adventurous, plan your meals so you can eat good food, but allow yourself some Cheetos or Doritos on your way there, if you like.
I once brought a frozen rabbit from my butcher so I could roast it on a self-made spit. The whole thing for me about camping is a wood fire with something cooking on top. For the trip this weekend I brought something a bit more simple but very tasty. A month ago I bbq/smoked a beef “Tri Tip” and I brought it with us frozen so it would defrost slowly while we found a camp site. A simple meal - I just sliced it and reheated it in vintage home-made bbq sauce with corn on the cob. It was really good; the taste was very outdoors-y and it was super easy to do.
Another thing I find great about camping in a tent is that it instantly makes you forget about work issues and puts your mind somewhere else. Kids should experience this as it is very grounding for them to know they can live without a cell phone, TV or MSN! Not everything has to do with technology - sometimes scrambled eggs and percolated coffee with burnt toast on a fire is just what the doctor would order.
This is what I suggest you bring to eat well on your next camping trip…in the right order or importance! (By the way, you can enjoy cooking on a fire even if you don’t sleep in a tent.)
- a fire grill to put your pan on top of the fire
- matches or a lighter (unless you want to rub two rocks together)
- a good pair of tongs
- a cast iron pan
- salt & pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh garlic
- a chef knife & cutting board
- a non-stick pan for eggs
- foil paper
- a pot to boil water
- an old dark colored oven mitt
- dish soap, dish bucket and dish cloth
- one gas burner (in case you can’t make fire where you decide to camp)
- a bbq cooking grill for steak on the fire
- a serving spoon, a wooden spoon & spatula to flip your eggs
- can opener (just in case…)
I may have forgotten something on that list, but that’s also part of camping - you always forget something and make miracles without it!
Have fun and enjoy our beautiful peaceful country.