Last night just past midnight, David and I rolled in from Rhode Island. We had been at the Atlantic Union’s Courage to Shine Pathfinder Camporee, which was very much enjoyed by everyone in our group.

I wanted us to arrive there about an hour before dark, but since the Camporee started on a Wednesday, I really needed to wait until kids got out of school. They were going to miss Thursday and Friday as it was. We left our church at about 4:00pm, and drove directly into Boston’s rush hour. I had already figured that would happen, so it wasn’t a surprise at all. It added an hour to our trip.

We arrived just after dark and it was raining lightly. We set up our kitchen shelter and began pitching our three-man tents inside of it. As they were pitched, we hauled them out and staked them down. By the time we had pitched two this way, the rain had stopped, so we just pitched the rest in situ. After the kids had stowed their gear in their tents, we hung out for a little while before going to bed.

Thursday morning I woke the kids up and we began to set up the rest of our campsite. Then we cooked breakfast. We were expecting guests for that, but they did not show up. That was a bit of a disappointment, as I always enjoy hosting guests for meals when we camp.

The day was filled with activities, and the kids enjoyed them all immensely (as best I could tell). We ate PB&J for lunch so we wouldn’t have to hang around the kitchen for an hour preparing a meal, and then another huge chunk of time cleaning it up.

I did institute one new rule while we were there, and I think I will adopt it permanently. We have had a chronic problem of kids abandoning their dirty dishes. All the dishes are numbered, and each kid has an assigned number, so we know who left the dish. But even when we bust this kid’s chops repeatedly, the behavior remains unchanged. The new rule is that if we find a dirty dish laying around unattended after ample time to clean it has passed, we will simply return it to the kid’s kit without cleaning it. If that makes the rest of his dishes dirty, well… that’s really just too bad, isn’t it? When kid number 12 returns to his kit for the next meal, he will have some dishes to wash first. After I announced the new rule, I saw a behavior change. There were no more abandoned dishes. 🙂

Friday was much the same as Thursday: gorgeous weather, and active, happy kids. Oh – except we had some pretty high winds. They were high enough to roll our kitchen shelter over. We had not anchored it properly, and that is a mistake we will not repeat. The strangest thing is that I had a lantern hanging from a rope thrown over the ridge pole, and the globe did not break during the tumble, nor did the mantel. Wow. The dish kits were hanging in mesh bags on a line we had strung between two legs of the shelter, and even though none of them were zipped closed, they only dropped a couple of items of flatware. It must have been a fairly gentle roll-over. None of us were there when it happened, so it’s kind of hard to say for sure. It was enough to bend one of the shelter’s joints, but one of our staff members has taken that home with him to fix it.

While the kitchen was rolling over, our club was participating in a Drilling and Marching competition. They did very well, and I was very proud of them. The crowd was pretty noisy though, and because of that, our squad was not able to hear one of the commands. Some thought “Counter columns, march” was called, and others though that “To the rear, march” was called. The result was chaos, but they recovered quickly. The last “big” maneuver they performed was the “Flashing Starburst” which is one that I had developed about three years ago. I may be partial to that move. I took some footage of their performance, but it’s pretty obvious from this that my camera was not designed for capturing video. I uploaded it to Youtube.

We were supposed to have guests for breakfast on Saturday morning, but no one showed up. The only guests we did have were three of our area coordinators that I invited over for dinner on Friday. Usually, the clubs cook for the AC’s (a worker is worth his wages), but this time they were on their own to make way for other guests (some from the Union, Division, and GC). These guests did show up, and they very much enjoyed dinner. Unfortunately, I missed most of it, as two girls in our club who were dying to earn the Tie-Dying honor (pun intended!) finally scored the last available slot. I chaperoned them to the Honor Midway so they could do that, and we were 30 minutes late for dinner. Our guests were well cared for in my absence, and they were still there enjoying the meal when I arrive with the two girls and their new T-shirts.

On Sabbath morning we marched in a parade. We had eleven kids from our club there, but only four of them marched with our club. Two others were up front carrying a Burundi Flag and wearing their native clothing, which was pretty cool. Two more were carrying our club’s Pathfinder and AmericanFlags (also up front). Another was carrying the conference American Flag, and two more were “moose haulers”. Paul had brought a life-sized model moose with him in our trailer, which is why he wanted to tow it to RI for us. I was more than happy to let him do that, as it solved a problem for both of us (I wouldn’t have to borrow a truck, and he could get his moose to the Camporee).

After the parade we had the church service, then lunch, and then more activities. While half the staff had the kids out for activities, the other half stayed at our site to start packing up. We had the kids drop their tents as soon as they had changed our of their dress uniforms. They were nice and dry for a change, which is really nice, because I didn’t have to pitch them at my house to dry them out.

As the time for the evening program was nearing, some storm clouds began rolling in. I consulted with the staff, and not one of them wanted to sit through the evening program if it was raining. Staying would also prevent us from getting home at a timely hour (I had predicted 1:00am, but in retrospect, 2:00am would have been more likely). The weather was only getting worse, so I made the call. We packed up during the evening program and got out of there about the time it ended. Everyone was in a pretty good mood, and two of the three kids who rode in my car slept on the way home. I met one parent in Concord, and delivered another to her house (about three miles from my own). Then David and I came home, and Penny was there waiting for us, and very happy to see us. She wanted to play! But David and I wanted to sleep. And we got our way.

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I was pretty busy yesterday. The Pathfinders are headed to Rhode Island on Wednesday for the Atlantic Union Camporee. Paul, our conference’s Associate Pathfinder Director was to take our trailer there today (Monday), so we needed to get it packed yesterday (Sunday).

Sunday was also the day we had planned to sweep the church parking lot. Everyone was to arrive at 2:00pm for that, and they were supposed to bring all their personal camping gear with them so we could get it loaded into the trailer.

Before the clock struck 2:00, I exchanged our empty propane tanks for two full ones, and bought some other supplies that we found we were out of at the last campout. I also took the canvases for our new kitchen shelter out of my garage where they had been drying for a week.

While some of the kids swept the parking lot, I had one staff member checking everyone’s gear. I had made a list, and they were supposed to bring everything on it. Most did, but others will be bringing a few forgotten items on Wednesday.

I was also planning to empty the trailer before we reloaded it. This would give us the opportunity to cull out things we did not need to haul, inventory what we had, and while the trailer was empty, refit the shelving. The shelves have been racking front-to-back and also they’ve had a tendency to tip towards the center aisle (but only towards the back). This puts a lot of stress on the two-by stock that supports them. I engineered some bracing that should put an end to that. The challenge was to brace the shelving in a way that wouldn’t present a nice surface for perpetual head-bumping. We also swept out the trailer for the first time since we bought it (it was filthy!)

Then at 4:00, we started a regular meeting. I had to rearrange our schedule because one of our counselors was going to arrive late. Paul was there to teach the Fire Fighting and Fire Safety honors we’ve been putting together, so we worked on that first. While we were doing that, two other staff members went out and bought the non-perishable food items for our trip. We wanted to compare our shopping list with our inventory before buying anything, and by clearing out the trailer, we were able to do that.

They arrived back in the nick of time, and then the kids practiced their drill routine while we loaded the just-bought food into the trailer. Our fancy drill team will compete in Rhode Island, so this was pretty much the last practice, except for whatever we wedge in while we’re there.

It was a long day, filled with logistical challenges, and I am very pleased with how it all came together (even though it seemed it wouldn’t at times). I think I can say that because of all this planning, we should have less “adventure” next week, and instead just have fun.

Before the meeting ended, we had refitted the trailer, reloaded it with the things we need, and Paul hauled it off. It should have had room to spare so Paul could fit the things he wanted to bring too (a pair of full-sized model mooses, one male, one female). Pretty sure they’ll fit.

It was a long day. I still have a few loose ends I need to wrap up (mostly paper work, but also some perishable food purchases), but I think I’m pretty much ready to go.

Spring Camporee was pretty OK. We arrived at the campground around 5:00pm and had the campsite set up in short order. We did not bring a canopy for the kitchen, but opted to use a tarp instead. The first iteration of hanging the tarp was pretty awful. I took it down and made another stab that came out much more betterer.

Camp Kitchen

Camp Kitchen


This photo came out pretty bad, which is good, because none of the kids can be identified in it. I don’t post pictures of other people’s kids here as a general rule, but this one is just so bad. Looking at the meta-data for the photo, I noticed it has a half second aperture, and an ISO of 100. I know better than to try to take a picture of moving kids (or even a still scene without a tripod) with that kind of aperture, and I never select an ISO of 100 (preferring 80, but in a dark situation, I’ll try 200 or 400 – but 100? never!) From this I can conclude that I must have had the camera set on AUTO. Oh well.

Saturday morning was a bit of a disaster. My mistake was in making up the breakfast, lunch, and dinner crews. I put all girls on lunch, and all boys on breakfast. It took them 90 minutes to cook breakfast, and they were late for flag raising. There was no time for them to straighten their tents. Inspection came pretty much right after flag raising, and we didn’t do as well as I would have liked. I will not likely repeat that mistake, and will take my Great Uncle Elbert’s observation to heart:

“A boy’s a boy, two boys is half a boy, and three boys is no boy at all.”

I had four boys on breakfast. I got them up 15 minutes earlier on Sunday, and they did much better.

On Sunday they competed in the events. The first was the “Tea Boil.” This is the one for which I baked the log. The judges were admiring our log selection. Other clubs brought 10 inch logs (which kids had to split with a hatchet? I don’t think so!) Ours was four inches in diameter, knot free, and bone dry (I guess the baking helped).

Our kids split it in under five minutes and had kindling-size pieces in short order. Then they made a nice pile of shavings and set them on fire. And watched it burn out as I prompted them repeatedly to add wood. “Add wood! Add wood! Add wood! It’s going to go out! Add wood!” Not knowing what I meant by “Add wood!” they looked around, selected a single stick of wood, and laid it next to the fire. By then, the shavings had burnt themselves out. They repeated this many times over the next 40 minutes, never achieving a flame large enough to boil the water. I guess we should have practiced a little more.

The second event went much better. They actually managed to light a fire with a spindle, fire board, and rope. Woot!

Fire from Friction

Fire from Friction


That was pretty cool.

The competitions ran a little on the long side (only one group managed to boil their water as far as I know), so we were a little late getting out of there. But we did break camp pretty quickly. Melissa treated us to ice cream at Friendly’s (I had some black Raspberry which was to die for).

So! That’s the camporee.

In other news, my Mom went back in the hospital this morning with more TIA’s. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about her. She also had a nasty cough when I spoke to her on the phone this morning. I learned since that she has a touch of pneumonia (which doesn’t make me feel any less worried). She is getting gunk out of her lungs though, and I’m glad to hear that. If you pray, please add her to your list.

I’m back from the campout. The beautiful numbering job I did on the tents didn’t stick. When we woke up Saturday morning, the temperature was 27°F with a nice thick coating of frost on everything. And most of the numbers had simply flaked right off, completely intact. Huh. Wasn’t expecting that.

Saturday afternoon I took the kids on a hike. We were going to try for five miles, but the morning program went about an hour longer than I was expecting, and the kids were taking their own sweet time cooking their lunch, eating it (especially eating it), and washing up. I had intended to get off site at about 1:00, but we didn’t leave until 2:45. No way we could get five miles in with a start like that.

Instead we did what I always do when I’m hiking with time constraints. I figure out when I want to get back to the trailhead, and hike until we’re halfway to that time. Then we turn around. That system works pretty well, but I suppose it ought to be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a second or less. The trick is to remember to check the time when you set out and do the math. And then stick to the plan. Here’s a scene from our hike:

Smart's Brook Hike

Smart's Brook Hike

When we got back from the hike I had a bit of trouble from one of the kids. I don’t think I’ve written about this before, because I don’t like to share a kid’s problems, but I have a feeling this is going to absorb a lot of my time in the future. I won’t go into his problems except to say that when he becomes unhappy about something, he deals with it by fleeing the scene. This is very dangerous behavior on a campout or a hike.

I am very happy I recognized this tendency during our first meeting of the year and had the foresight to formulate a plan. I met with him and his mother and went over it. Unfortunately, I had to activate that plan yesterday, but fortunately, we all knew the consequences ahead of time (a 30-day suspension).

We were camped about 30 minutes from his house, so I had him pack up and I took him home. I hope this will be a learning experience for him.

I got back just in time for the evening program. This is always a lot of fun as the kids from the various clubs put on something of a talent show. Our group was the first up. David and another kid had written a skit on our way home from Oshkosh last month.

The gist of the skit was that a bank robber (the other kid) came to rob the bank where David was the teller. The teller informs the robber that he cannot complete any transactions without a bank identification card. So the robber fills out an application. That part contained my favorite gag:

Teller: “Social Security number?”
Robber: “Man, I can never remember that.” (digs out wallet). “Here it is. 123-45-6789”

No one ever accused a bank robber of being smart! In the end, the teller assesses half a dozen (successively higher) fees, including one for performing a transaction on a day ending with ‘y’. Here they are:

Bank Robbing the Robber

Bank Robbing the Robber

Afterwards, I went to a director’s meeting and Paul shared lots and lots of info with us about upcoming events. His planning skills are very impressive (and very much appreciated). During that meeting, someone burst into the tent (actually, an “instant garage” canopy) and told us that a drunk, shirtless man had burst through the woods into one of our clubs’ campsites. He asked “Where’s the store?” and was directed that way. Then he disappeared into the woods again. That was a bit… alarming? Police were called, and all the adults in our organization were on alert. As it turned out, he had been camping on the other side of the creek (same campground), got drunk, and assaulted his own mother. She called the cops. He fled into the woods, removed his shirt, jumped into the creek, and swam across to our area. He was apprehended after a couple of hours.

David’s observation was something like, “Drunk guy, no shirt, hiding in the woods in New Hampshire on a cold September night with a 100% chance of rain in the forecast. Not very smart from a survival skills perspective.” I heartily agreed. A very large percentage of the wilderness tragedies we hear about in these parts sound remarkable similar (especially where alcohol is involved).

We stayed up pretty late and had a nice fire going when Paul came by and told us the guy had been caught. We all went to bed feeling quite a bit less apprehensive. The forecast was true to its promise too, with the rain commencing at about 3:30. Joyce was up when it started (she was on her way back to her tent from the bathroom). I didn’t notice that it was raining until 6:00am, and that can only mean one thing: I slept soundly from 3:30 to 6:00. And by soundly, I mean I was probably snoring pretty loudly!

I got up at 7:00 knowing that the day’s events were almost certainly cancelled. Paul came by and confirmed that soon enough. So we finished breakfast, struck camp, and headed home.

When we got here I learned that our microwave is broken. A cable in the door snapped, and we cannot retreive Jonathan’s burrito. It’s still in there. Normally, I would attack such a problem with my large arsenal of tools, but microwaves are another kettle of fish. If you mess up the seal, it can easily begin emitting microwaves into the environment, and you can’t really tell that until one of two things happens (or maybe both): people in the family get sick, or (worse!) the wifi quits working.

We’ve had this microwave for something like 22 years. It has been good to us. But maybe it’s time for a new one. So Va and I went and bought one. My suspicion is that no one makes microwave ovens capable of lasting 20 years any more. I put the new one in its place and we tried it out. When it’s running… no wifi! Aaaaagggghhh!

After I got the microwave set up, I donned my rain pants and rain coat and pitched four tents in the yard. I know they won’t dry tonight (still raining!), but as long as they’re set up they won’t mold either. I still need to pitch my little one-man tent though. I’m thinking living room.

Wow. What a weekend. For me it started Friday because I took the day off. The plan was for me to clean out the trailer, do some Pathfinder paperwork, buy groceries for our camping trip, and then start loading stuff. I was going to do that from about 8:00 until 3:00, which would leave plenty of time to get everything done. But the dryer conspired against me (as per yesterday’s post). Instead, after I dropped Beth off at school, I went to Sears to buy a thermal cut-off switch for the dryer. But they wouldn’t open until 10:00. So I went back to the church and cleaned out the trailer. At 10:00 I was at the Sears parts desk, and at 10:01 I was on the way home to fix the dryer.

It took five minutes to replace the switch. It took 30 minutes to get the stupid exhaust vent hooked back up again.

Then I bought groceries, came home, picked up the boys, and we set out for the church again. Other Pathfinders started to arrive, so we had plenty of help loading stuff.

As a real show of my confidence, I directed some of the older kids to wrap the HMS Sinkytowne in plastic – the forecast was for scattered showers, and we couldn’t let our cardboard boat get wet! The horrors! Here’s what it looked like when we arrived at Camp Lawroweld.

The Sinkytowne wrapped in plastic to ward off the rain.

The Sinkytowne wrapped in plastic to ward off the rain.

Also, I didn’t know how well it would hold up to the gale force winds it would be subjected to as I went barrelling down the Interstate. It did just fine, thank you!

We set up camp and sent the kids to bed just before the rain started. At first it was just sprinkling, and then it really started to come down. I had not yet set up my own tent, but since it’s a pretty small one-man backpacking tent, I was able to pitch it under our kitchen canopy where it was still nice and dry. Once it was set up, I hauled out where I wanted it and staked it down.

In the morning we went to our Sabbath School program, marched in a parade, and went to church (outdoors). Then we had lunch. After that we went for a short hike up to Center Hill (I think that was the name of the place). Here’s the money shot from the top:

The view from Center Hill

The view from Center Hill

Before we left I told the kids in the club that if they could find a flower that I could not identify, I would pay them a dollar. David told them that no one was going to get a dollar, but they tried anyhow. For a while. The reason I do this is so that the kids will be on the lookout for some nature. Maybe when they’re done hunting flowers for money they’ll continue hunting them for fun. I guess I ID’d a dozen plants before they gave up. But on the way up Center Hill, Joyce (a staff member) spotted some of these:

Dunno what this is!

Dunno what this is!


I have no idea what it is, so I guess I owe her a dollar. I’ll look it up later and see if I can figure it out. On the way down, I spotted one of these:
Another one I didn't know

Another one I didn't know


I don’t know what that is either, but I didn’t point it out to anyone. They had all run ahead of me (because I was stopping frequenty to take pictures of moss and weeds, and to look for blooms). Also, I didn’t want to let go of that dollar!

When we got back I showed the unknown flower photos to some other people in our group. Karen told me she had spotted some trilliums in the woods behind her RV, so I went out there for a look-see. Here’s the best photo I took away from there:

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)


Then I found out that a little deeper in the woods were some red trilliums. I had never seen one of these before (except in photos), so I was keenly interested in finding one. Here’s the best shot I got of one of those:
Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

Red Trillium (trillium erectum)


Cool. Including the two unidentifieds, I managed to see three new to me flowers on Saturday.

On Saturday evening we went to the evening program. Those are always a lot of fun. Each club puts on some sort of performance. We didn’t have anything prepared, but I signed us up anyhow thinking the kids could ad lib something. Also, if we don’t do anything, we lose points, and that could cost the club a blue ribbon for the camporee. David was horrified that I had done that. I suggested an idea he might want to work on, but he didn’t like it. Instead, he came up with his own, and it was fantastic. I caught most of it on my camera using the video mode. Maybe I’ll upload it sometime, but not tonight (I’m really tired!)

Sunday morning we woke up to a hard frost. I guess it must have been 25°F, and we were all very cold. We weren’t allowed to build fires at this place either, because it was all cabins and lawn. Brrrr.

We had a few activities until 10:00am, and then came the one we had all been waiting for. The cardboard boat regatta. I removed the plastic from the Sinkytown, and the kids posed in front of it

The Central NH Flames pose behind the HMS Sinkytowne

The Central NH Flames pose behind the HMS Sinkytowne

We were not the first boat in the water. In fact, we were last. But that was OK, as it afforded me the opportunity to take a lot of pictures. Two clubs made cardboard boats by following the instructions in The Cardboard Boat Book. I was originally going to do that too, but decided against it. I’m kinda glad I did too, since we’d have been the third club to do that. Those boats looked pretty good, but I really did like ours better.

After a long wait, it was finally our turn. I hauled the boat down to the dock and immediately impaled the hull on a dock cleat. Doh! The boat hadn’t even touch the water and I had impaled it. The breach didn’t go all the way through, but it didn’t have to. Once water can get past the outer skin, the cardboard will absorb water like a sponge. But since it hadn’t gotten wet yet, there was hope. Three strips of duct tape later, and it was (almost) as good as new.

The first crew consisted of Jonathan (I put him in the stern because he is our strongest paddler), David (bow – he’s a good paddler too), Joy, and Connor (those four scored highest in the merit point tally). Here they are boarding the Sinkytowne.

The Sinkytowne's crew boards

The Sinkytowne's crew boards

Here’s who they were up against.

Our Competition

Our Competition


This was one formidable cardboard boat. It was far and away the best looking one, and it’s kinda what I was shooting for. We didn’t come close to reaching the bar set by these guys, but I think that’s mainly because I made the kids do most of the work on our boat. Yes, I could have done better if I had done it myself, but it was important to me to let them do it. I wanted them to have ownership, and we did achieve that. They all referred to it as their own boat. Also, if it sank I didn’t want them to pin too much blame on me (even though I designed a good deal of this one).
The Viking ship was fast too, but it was also paddled by people I happen to know are great paddlers anyhow. Most of them live at this camp and have daily access to the lake and canoes (when the lake’s not frozen over. Which is prolly three weeks out of the year.) Also, the youngest person in their crew is 15. Not that I’m making excuses. OK, I am making excuses. These guys clocked in the quickest, but the Sinkytowne was only t en seconds behind them:
The Sinkytowne returns from its Maiden Voyage

The Sinkytowne returns from its Maiden Voyage

Then we sent out our second crew.

The Sinkytowne's Second Crew

The Sinkytowne's Second Crew

They did great too, though the came in a little off course and that cost them some time. I had three kids with me who didn’t want to paddle the canoe. I have no idea why, but I’m sure it was a variety of reasons. OK – I’m not going to make anyone get in a cardboard boat in 35 degree water. We only had two more kids who hadn’t paddled but who wanted to paddle. I would paddle stern, and David volunteered to paddle bow (his second voyage). We got in.

I board the Sinkytowne

I board the Sinkytowne


By then, the boat had been punctured at least one more time and the cardboard was feeling a just a tiny bit spongy. But it was still pretty solid. The vikings were changing crews too, so we had to sit there (absorbing more water) will they loaded up with something like 8 or ten people (three of whom were area coordinators, i.e. PhD’s in Pathfinders). I sponged water out of the keel while we waited.

And finally, we’re off! The two kids in the boat with David and me are both named Alex. So we have a main Alex, plus an emergency backup Alex. And they are both paddling pretty hard, as is David. We’re off like a shot. I’m padding pretty hard too, but I’m also steering the boat. We made a beeline for the first bouy, rounded it handily, and then rounded the second one. I lined us up for a beeline to the dock, but I could tell the kids were letting up a bit. So I hollered at them “Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!” and they dug in again. We shot straight as an arrow back to the dock.

Beeline for the dock

Beeline for the dock

And… we tied the Viking’s first attempt. Furthermore, they were still out there padding when we pulled up to the dock. That means no one had a better time than we did (and we did it with half the paddlers, half of whom were under the age of 14). Yes. I think we can boast!

We hauled it out of the water and up off the dock. I guess it doubled its weight with all the water it had absorbed. We flipped it over and saw the the duct tape repair job I had effected was… not completely effectual?

Compromised Hull

Compromised Hull


But that was not the only hole in the boat. We let it set for a while. The Vikings brought their boat up too and deposited it in the fire. Soon others piled their crafts in the fire as well. I was ready to submit the Sinkytowne to the same fate, but by then the fire was huge and on the verge of being out of control. I briefly considered that the SInkytowne consisted of more water than flammable material, but dismissed that thought quickly. Instead, it was almost time for flag lowering, and since I was scheduled to be a part of that, we abandoned ship and went up to the flag area. We would burn the Sinkytowne after lunch.

When we came back, the SInkytown had settled in a bit, developing a nice crease in the hull. It was unable to support its own weight. Warran (who had been manning one of the safety boats during the regatta) suggested we cut the name off the boat, and we did.

Warran with our trophy

Warran with our trophy


Then I offered to cut off a chunk for any kid who wanted their handprint. Several took me up on that, and then we lifted the boat up to transport it to the fire pit. It folded up like a lawn chair.
Folding the Sinkytowne

Folding the Sinkytowne


Then we committed its corpse to the flames.
The burning of the Sinkytowne

The burning of the Sinkytowne

That’s about all the energy I have for writing tonight.

I’ve spent the evening getting ready for the Camporee this weekend. I have about a thousand things to do. Tonight I planned the menu and entered it into a pretty slick spreadsheet I developed a couple of years ago. For a given number of people it calculates how much and what kinds of foods I need to buy. For example, the meals we have that will feature bread as an ingredient are grilled cheese sandwiches, French toast, and PB&J . The speadsheet tells me I’ll need 12 loaves for that, which kinda makes sense. That’s roughly half a loaf per person. It does this for every ingredient I could think of for each meal, and since I’m reusing the menu from a previous time I used this spreadsheet, it should pretty much cover everything (it did before).

When I got home from work I took a quick walk on the trail through the woods. I found a goldthread (Coptis groenlandica) in bloom. Last year I didn’t see one of those until mid-May. Maybe this year I was looking closer? Here’s the pic I took of it.

Coptis groenlandica

Coptis groenlandica


This photo doesn’t show its leaves (I had to trace the stem beneath the fallen tree leaves to find this guys leaves a couple inches away. Once I found those, I remembered what this guy was). The leaf behind the bloom is from another plant, False Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense). Those should bloom in a couple more weeks.

I think it was yesterday when I found my first Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) in bloom. That’s another interesting plant. The stem forks into four branches about halfway up. One goes straight up and sports the flower. The other three branch out away from one another and sport the foliage. Here’s what it looks like.

Panax trifolius

Panax trifolius


This year I might try my hand at identifying grasses too. But we’ll see. It’s hard enough keeping up with the plants I’m familiar with, much less adding grass.

I’m trying to think up the menu for our camping trip this weekend. I have heard complaints about the way we’ve been running the Friday evening meal, and perhaps they are valid. Basically, we’re not going to arrive at the camp site until 6:00pm at the earliest. That gives us 90 minutes to set up camp before it gets dark. Also, we’ll end up shuffling the kids off to flag lowering and the evening program, so the staff will pretty much have to set up camp by ourselves. And cook. By the time the food is ready, it’s sure to be 8:00pm. Everyone will be starving and thus – cranky.

The suggestion is that we bring supper in a sack. My only problem with that is we always plan a sack lunch for Sunday. That way we can start tearing down the kitchen as soon as breakfast is over. I can’t think of two cold meals that I think all the kids in the club will eat. So maybe it’ll be PB&J twice.

I was worrying over this when some neurons in my brain randomly fired and dredged up a vague memory from the depths of my subconsciousness. It is possible to cook food in the engine compartment of a car. A little Googling reveals the last word on this subject – a book with the fabulously clever title: Manifold Destiny.

I am so going to cook my food on my engine manifold on the way there. My plan is to make some Boca burgers and maybe some taters and carrots. I will also have a kaiser roll with tomato, lettuce, onions, and pickle on hand in the passenger compartment. If the Boca works out, the patty goes on the kaiser. If not, it’s veggie sub city for me.

Everyone else can slog through a cold supper.