An August Snowball

By:  Trisha Yanke

It all started around a campfire last August.  Little did we know that one train of thought could take us down a whole new path from our current “camping-status-quo”. Continue reading An August Snowball

Advertisements

Chicago….something something windy….

Is that really the title of this post?  Yes.  Yes it is.  I put that down, assuming something more cleaver would come to me by the time I was done.  And yet, here we are….

TRISH:

We were now really ‘booking it’ to head west again.  Chicago was the last stop we had specific plans for, as the guys were headed for their last baseball game there: Toronto Blue Jays @ Chicago Cubs.  Dale, as a Jays fan, had been looking forward to this game!  (Not to mention, he had a number of players from both teams on his fantasy baseball team).  You probably belong to one of two crowds – those who know what fantasy sports are, and those who are lucky.  Kidding, kidding.  Sort of. Continue reading Chicago….something something windy….

Food, Glorious Food!

We were at this camping trip for over a month which means we’ve tried out quite a few meals. Way back before we left I wrote a post about the possibility of doing this trip on a budget and in there I mentioned some marinades and such that I had prepared. Those were consumed within the first couple weeks and I am happy to report that they were all really good!

This blog post is about sharing a few more ideas of meals we enjoyed and hopefully you’ll find something new to try. You’ll notice the Blackstone Tailgater is featured in almost all our meals that weren’t cooked on a fire. I already mentioned our Blackstone here and shared that this was a splurge we made to make up for the lack of an oven in our camper. I have rave reviews over that purchase! We have thoroughly enjoyed it. Erick was the one who set it up and took it down each stop and though it was a bit much to take out for a rest stop meal (mostly because we’d have to cool it down before packing it back up again), it did go up pretty quick. One of the pins that is designed to hold the legs out when set up did break and he will be contacting Blackstone when we get home to see if they can deal with that. It didn’t stop us from being able to fully enjoy it though. He rigged something up for it in the meantime.

So, here we go! Kebabs! Here and here are the links I got my recipes from.

Chicken:

Cilantro Lime Chicken – Excellent!

Soy Honey Garlic – Excellent!

Beef:

Sweet and Sassy – Good, but probably better on chicken.

Balsamic – Yummers!

I had a couple frozen bags of fajita mix in my tiny little freezer. I originally saw this on Pinterest from Mommysavers as a slow cooker meal prep option and I took the chance that this would work just as well thrown into a pan and cooked up for a meal. It was perfect! And even better that we could do it on the flat top and I didn’t have to wash any skillets.

I did recreate the fajitas along the road after pre-made ones had been eaten. It was an easy thing to grab the veggies and meat from the grocery store along the way and just throw in some seasoning. I used a package of Fajita mix from Old El Paso and it was easy and good. Not quite the same as the ones I made at home, but definitely a good camping option.

Now, I usually make my own tortillas whether they are corn, flour or black bean flour. Call it the mennonite in me that needs to eat homemade goodness and the Guatemalan presence in our home that may or may not have influenced the need for tortillas in our lives. Really he only confirmed what I already knew. Tortillas ARE a necessity and made from scratch makes a big difference. The Old El Paso packages just don’t do it, but I did buy a pack for the ease of use along the road knowing that our first week was going to be too much driving to worry about homemade. We found that grilling the store bought tortillas really helped the taste! Toasting them gave a nice little crunch and anything BBQed just tasted better, right? Check out this post for the recipe for the Black Bean Tortillas I’ve made here.

Unfortunately, we threw away one of our prepared packages of fajita chicken as we headed towards the border. Everything we read was that we can not take meat over into the states. We thought we did enough research on that and I recalled one time when a border agent watched me eat my cold cut sandwich in the car because he wouldn’t let me take it across the border and I refused to waste my food.

A few too many meals  eating out (whole other conversation……)  meant we didn’t have time to consume what was prepared back at home. I wanted to chance it and bring our food – meat and all – till the border, but suggestions all around us was to just throw it and don’t bother bringing extra attention to ourselves when crossing. Well, wouldn’t you know as we got to the border I had a little chat with the agent about whether or not I should have thrown it. He slowly shook his head. He knew I was crying inside. What a waste. Turns out that at this point and time the only thing they take is fresh fruit and veggies. All else seems to be a go. I’ll be chancing it next time, that’s for sure. No more chucking things out before absolutely necessary! And I’ll note here that on the way back in to Canada they didn’t even ask us what we had. Didn’t even look into the trailer!

We’ve enjoyed pie/camp irons on a few occasions. I’ve written at length about those already so check out more on that in this post from New Hampshire.

IMG_5167

You know those specialty food shops that have prepackaged “gourmet” soups and dips and such? Usually I look at those and thing about how overpriced they are, but those are incredibly handy when camping. We used a couple of those for soups. Just add the fresh stuff and you have a great supper! Or lunch. Even better when you have homemade biscuit mix also prepped! Trish had some that she made up to go with this Thai Shrimp Soup.

IMG_5196

I’m going to share Trish’s recipe here, but a quick apology because we don’t know enough about these blogs to have a “Print” button. Maybe someday along the road we’ll figure it all out.

BAKING POWDER BISCUITS  (Prepared for camping trips)

1 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour

2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder

¾ tsp. salt

1/3 cup Shortening

¾  cup Milk

 MAKE AHEAD:

 -Mix flour, baking powder and salt together.

 – Store in a small Ziplock freezer bag (or container of your choice).  We like to use the bags and write the rest of the recipe out on them for easy prep later.

DSC02568

 WHEN READY TO USE:

–          To your dry mix, add any “extras” you’d like (ie – herbs, Italian seasoning, black pepper, grated cheddar cheese, etc.)

–          Mix in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly looking

–          Add enough milk so that the dough leaves the side of the bowl (don’t over do it, or you will be working with a soggy mess!)

–          Roll out on a floured surface until the dough is about ½ inch thick.  (I’ve also just used my hands to form “patties”, works just as well!)

–          Place on ungreased cookie sheet and cook for 10 – 12 min. in 350 degree oven. *

Trish used a pizza stone and made these in their trailer oven.  She made sure to check on them as they cooked, and they turned out perfectly.  I used our Blackstone Grill, of course.  This also worked very well!  Just make sure the temp. is not too hot (or the bottoms will burn before they cook through), and flip them half way through, so the top and bottom both get cooked.

One of my favourite camping meals over the last couple of years has been Black Pepper Breakfast Biscuits. Ideally you want these with amazing farmer sausage patties from southern Manitoba. I’ve mentioned the Mennonite/Guatemalan mix in our home and we love the foods of both those cultures, but the farmer sausage of my own roots is one food that Erick has talked numerous times about wanting to share with his family. If only we could pack it up and take it with us when visiting his family. We made sure to have some when his mom came to visit us last Christmas!

IMG_4260
Look! It all fits on there at the same time! Just add at different times to finish all together.

For these biscuits I use this recipe I found on Pinterest. Again, you need to be patient when cooking the biscuits over the fire or the flat top. They need low heat so they cook through to the middle before they burn on the outside. It’s much easier on the Blackstone. We’ve never been skilled enough at cooking over the fire to be burnt-biscuit free, but we HAVE pulled it off. Anything cooked over a fire….. Delicious. Serve these with a sausage patty and a fried egg. Then add whatever else you may like. Hot sauce, cheese (if you didn’t already put shredded cheese in the biscuits or just want more!) sliced tomatoes, etc. So yummy!

IMG_0124

Ok, this one might not be so common. Lentils and hot dogs! My oldest really, and I mean really, dislikes tomato. She sits there and gags the whole way through any tomato meals while I sit there with a mixture of amusement and annoyance. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from preparing meals with tomato. Lo and behold, she absolutely raved over this one! Strange girl asked me to make this again!

It’s another easy recipe/meal. One can of crushed tomatoes (the bigger cans), some hot dogs cut up and lentils! Add some salt and pepper or chicken stock for flavour. And if you want to make it “gourmet” cut the hot dogs on a diagonal…… That’s fancy, right? And the world wonders why I’m not a Master Chef. Cook it up till the lentils are no longer crunchy.

There are many different travel friendly pancake mixes out there that are just “Add water” and they make camping pancakes super easy. For the last 4-5 years our church has served a pancake breakfast for our town’s Winter Carnival. I’ve been the pancake girl each year which means I’ve adapted one of my favourite Buttermilk Pancake recipes into something I can prepare for 150-200 people. For camping I’ve further adapted this recipe to be camping friendly.

IMG_7157

Dry Pancake Mix:

4 cups flour

3 rounded Tbsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

6 Tbsp sugar

4 Tbsp powdered milk

I put this all in a ziplock bag and for camping there’s no measuring. Just dump some dry mix in a bowl and add water till you have the consistency you like. Throw in an egg or two and, if you prefer, add a bit of butter and maybe some cinnamon. One morning I threw in some blueberries and we even bought some whipped cream canisters that none of our kids had seen before. The joys of discovering canned whipped cream!! I’ll highly recommend the coconut version. Pure coconutty goodness!

In Chicago we had one hot, muggy day where we had no desire to try and cook anything. So we opted for a nachos kind of supper. I did turn on the flat top long enough to warm up some refried beans with chopped onion and then I toasted up some tortillas that Erick found in an authentic Mexican tienda in New Jersey. That with some fresh salsa (tomato, white onion, cilantro and salt) and random topping made for a pretty quick and easy supper. Trish had some chicken she quickly cooked up and pulled out random toppings of her own. That yummy little buffet stayed out for snacking all the way till the guys got home from their baseball game.

Another gooder is “Taco in a Bag”. We know of this from fundraisers back home. The hardest part is finding Doritos bags that aren’t too big! I’ve tried just buying a big bag of Doritos and preparing this in bowls for my family. Apparently it doesn’t taste as good. It must be served in the bag.

Instructions for this are pretty simple. Fry some hamburger with taco seasoning of your choice. Obviously the envelope kind is easy. Cut the side of the taco bag open. Throw in your favourite toppings and EAT!

Who doesn’t LOVE bacon?! And wrapped around a jalapeño with some cream cheese inside? I mean, come on!! I prefer the herb and garlic flavoured cream cheese. And when you splurge for the the thick bacon you get extra bacon-y goodness. Leave the seeds in the odd one for some Russian Roulette Popper-Style.

I love bacon. A friend shared this recipe for a salad once. She knows me well.

980

I’ve pulled out these few meals and snacks because they were all ones that I will keep in mind for future trips. Hot dogs were scattered liberally throughout our meals during the weeks on the road. Always easy whether you BBQ them, roast them or fry them. Easy Peasy, Ketchup Squeazy. Those along with hamburgers, steaks and spaghetti were all things that are pretty normal for most people, I’m sure. I’ll spare you discussion about each bite we took for 5 weeks and leave you with a couple pics instead.

DSC01015
Train them young!

DSC01117

fullsizeoutput_64c0
Hot dogs were quite common on travel days when arriving at campgrounds at suppertime.
IMG_5166
Of course, sandwiches are always super handy!
img_5628-e1504367505925.jpg
Leftover pizza. We lucked out when the gas station had a microwave!
fullsizeoutput_6497
Of course, baked potatoes!

I hope you got at least one or two ideas from this. I know each time we head out we’ll probably try something new, but at least I have a good selection of things that I know work and are easy to do. With a little prep we had a lot of meals that were quickly put together. I do wish my freezer was a bit bigger! I’d prep every meal if I had room. It was so handy.

Lastly before I leave, for those interested, here is just a bit more review about the Blackstone. We did choose to use it for the majority of our cooking. It was much preferred to heating up the trailer with the inside stove top. It cooked up porridge, mac and cheese, boxed scalloped potatoes (I hesitate sharing that we ate those!!) and popcorn.

IMG_4044
Porridge on the go!
IMG_5267.JPG
My little popcorn helper

The one area that it didn’t quite work out was for anything that needed simmering. The heat would not turn low enough for that so if it was really important for something to simmer, which the Thai soup was, I actually settled myself in a chair beside the cooktop and just turned it on and off and on and off the whole time to create a fake simmering effect! Most food is quite forgiving so it worked.

If you have any other great camping meal idea, please share! Buen Provecho!

 

Birthdays and Bridges and……oh shoot, “Waterpark” doesn’t start with a “B”

 

I was sad to have to leave the Hershey/Lancaster area.  We had just enough time there to realize we were missing out on a lot. (In fact, we did look into trying to extend our time there – but we couldn’t cancel our next night’s bookings over near Pittsburgh, so we continued on.)

Continue reading Birthdays and Bridges and……oh shoot, “Waterpark” doesn’t start with a “B”

Farmlands and Chocolate

I stated on my Instagram one day that when it comes to scenery I have “a type”. I love rolling hills, farmland, old buildings (preferably abandoned and falling over a bit), lots of trees and rocky cliffs are also quite nice. I was in my glory in the maritime provinces with so much character everywhere. Then we hit the states and the winding roads really took their turn making me fall in love with them. And then we hit Pennsylvania.

Have I mentioned already the road trip I took with my friend, Lisa, before I was married? We took a month and drove all around the outskirts of the mainland states, I believe they call them the lower 48 and then across Canada. Different spots from that trip have always stuck out to me and Pennsylvania was a huge favourite in my memory bank. Coming back is something I’ve wanted to do for years and it did not disappoint. Except that it was too short a visit.

fullsizeoutput_65f5

It was at this point in our trip that we reached a few days with no previously made reservations. We were so accustomed to knowing exactly where we were going that it felt a little strange when visiting around the fire in NJ and realizing we had no idea where we were going next. It was our chance to go with the flow and see what we wanted to do.

We wanted something somewhat halfway between Freehold, NJ and Pittsburgh, PA where we had our next baseball game stop. I knew I wanted to see the Lancaster area and Trish found Hershey, PA on the map. “Hershey… Do you think? Is it possible that’s the Hershey with the chocolate??” Well, IS it!! The search was on for a spot to stay close to that area. Not quite half way, but totally fine.

fullsizeoutput_66e0

fullsizeoutput_65d9
Waiting for the girls to check in at the campground office.

The choice for campground was Pinch Pond just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Technically it’s 3 miles or so off the highway however really you just loop over the turnpike 2 times to end up right beside it. It’s a very well kept campground and when booking the lady offered us “buddy sites”. Clever! I really don’t know why more campgrounds don’t have that option.

fullsizeoutput_65dc
One site was a pull-thru and the other a back-in.

We were able to set up with our campers facing each other and it was awesome! We set up our picnic tables in one long table down the middle and our awning lights together made for a nicely lit area for us to enjoy. Perfect for another pancake breakfast too.

The campground pros:

  • nice laundry facility
  • buddy sites option
  • reasonably priced full hook-ups
  • pool for the kids
  • excellent base camp for the numerous things to do in that area of Pennsylvania
  • different sizes of firewood bundles to purchase

Cons:

  • close to a busy highway meant for traffic noise though not enough to deter us from going back someday
  • internet option was supposed to allow 2 hrs free for guests, but it kept telling me I already used it so no internet unless you pay
  • playgrounds could use some type of ground covering to prevent it from being just mud
  • there is a shooting range close by so every once in awhile you do get a lot of gun shots

Because we had nice short drive from NJ we arrived with time for the kids to get in the pool for a bit while I did some laundry and nursed a bit of a headache. We sure do appreciate short drive days after all the long drive days we’ve had. Especially the ones we assumed would be short and ended up way longer.

We only had one full day in eastern PA and somehow we filled it full and still had a bit of a lazy morning. Trish researched all the chocolate related activities we could possibly do in Hershey and really, we just wanted to check out the free tour at Chocolate World. And get a free chocolate at the end. I was not at all expecting what we saw driving into the city of Hershey!!

fullsizeoutput_65e1

Hershey kisses for street lights! And the amusement park was WAY bigger than I thought. Somehow all buildings were related to chocolate. They even have a building for the Chocolate Workers Union. Somehow the idea of unions and something so happy as chocolate didn’t compute in my brain. I prefer not to think about it.

fullsizeoutput_65e3fullsizeoutput_65e2fullsizeoutput_65e0

We found our way inside a very busy Chocolate World. It’s amazing how we can make so many souvenirs of something like a chocolate bar. Really. When you think about it…. kinda crazy! Of course we bought some!

As we searched through the crowds for the free tour we came for we pass into a doorway and the staff standing there says, “Have a good ride!” What?! Ride? Trish and I immediately look at each other. We missed the part of the description that said it was a ride and Trish LOVES (nope!) rides so I’m sure her heart skipped a beat or two. There were no deadly falls or tight twists and twirls so no worries. Just some singing cows, a “freaky” pig (according to my youngest) and talking chocolates. The pig might’ve been freaky, but she wanted to go again. More than likely for the free chocolate at the end. An IG sewing friend that lives in PA pointed out that the chocolates actually taste creamier there than the ones you buy in the store. I agree totally!

From there we could’ve just gone back to the campground, but I really wanted to go to the Lancaster area. And I was determined not to waste the drive on the very “un”scenic toll roads. We switched the GPS to avoid all toll roads and main highways and headed out.

fullsizeoutput_65f6
So much corn!
fullsizeoutput_65f0
Silos everywhere!
fullsizeoutput_65e7
And, of course, red brick building in every shape and size.
fullsizeoutput_65df
This particular style of barn was seen a lot. I feel like there’s a story behind them.

 

Of course, we’re not disappointed at all with what we see. Even our route through Lancaster was beautiful. I noticed everyone here gets a covered porch. Even when the front door is 2’ from the road you get a covered porch! I love it.

fullsizeoutput_65f7

fullsizeoutput_65eb

fullsizeoutput_65ec

When people want to see the Amish countryside the touristy place to go is Intercourse. And can I just say what everyone has thought? Who decided that was a good name for a town? I’d google it, but I’m afraid of what will show up. The comments that were made/texted between the Yanke and Herrera adults were all what we call “saved for the secret blog”.

Secret blog, you ask? You would need a special password and a healthy sense of humour. And we’d actually have to write one. But if we did it would mostly star Erick! HAHA!! And when he reads this he’s going to shake his head at me as if he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Seriously though. Our secret blog content is pretty freaking hilarious and those who know us know I’m telling the truth.

Anyway, back to Intercourse.

We found our way down the back roads and saw lots of farms and the tell tale signs of the buggies and Amish lifestyle. Seeing the men doing the fieldwork with the horses somehow felt so right. Not that I’m about to sell our car though. At one point I was all excited and pointed out a buggy to the girls only to get close and see it was just a bunch of tourists. And then you have to ask yourself how much the Amish love being watched and made into a tourist attraction. There’s probably some mixed feelings on that.

fullsizeoutput_65ed

fullsizeoutput_66ff.jpeg

Because of our longer drive out we arrived in Intercourse a bit late. I feel I need to reword that. We arrived at our destination when stores were already starting to close. I just missed a fabric store, but we did manage to walk around the Kettle Kitchen Village and it was a flashback to my last visit here when the exact same thing happened (arriving too late to enjoy seeing much). So, two trips to this area and I still haven’t seen more than 2 stores! Still, I was able to find some souvenirs of the delicious sort and the girls milked a cow!

While we were enjoying our little jaunt out to the southeast corner of the state, the Yanke’s were out enjoying their own fun with a game of mini golf. It was an unintentional stop, but those really are the best kind.

The next day our drive was even shorter than our last and getting further from the east coast we were more confident that traffic wasn’t going to surprise us and slow us down. We took our time and advantage of a 2:00 check-out time (another pro for the campground) and went to visit a pond with the kids while the guys hitched up the wagons. Or trailers.

DSC02064

We hopped in the cars and headed west. Through the Appalachians we went and I think we all marvelled at how must faster it is to go through mountains as opposed to around and over them as we did in Ontario a few weeks earlier!

DSC02086

IMG_8735
I think it’s so cool how the vines coat the trees.

IMG_5393

IMG_5392

IMG_5395
And just around the corner we arrived at our next stop. But that’s a different post.

Turkey Swamp (I saw neither Turkeys, nor a Swamp….)

We were all pretty excited that our drive from Wakeda campground to our next stop (about half way between New York City and Philadelphia) was only going to be about 5.5 hours.  All things considered, that was a “short” day for us!  ‘Present me’ laughs at ‘past me’ now.  We were on the road for about 10 hours that day.  It wasn’t long after we left our New Hampshire campground that we started getting into a lot of traffic and towns/cities. Continue reading Turkey Swamp (I saw neither Turkeys, nor a Swamp….)

Is Hampton Falls “THE Hamptons??”

As I’m writing we have just left what was the longest stay of our trip. We’ve been staying at Wakeda Campground in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire and enjoying full hook-ups. And though those are both wonderful treats, I wasn’t sure what I thought when we pulled in. Gone were the beautiful, private, treed spots of the maritime provinces and here we could see everyone else all around us. Yankes were right beside us so that made it easier for keeping track of kids, but I do prefer feeling nestled in the campsites.

fullsizeoutput_649c

The drive down through Maine was probably not the best impression that the state could give us. There was a misconception within our group that the roads would improve once we crossed the border. Not so. And a little incident with a gross guy trying to get cheeky in a parking lot of a store that I felt I could be mugged in…. not a great image of Maine. I’m sure we missed the good there so I won’t write it off. This day was simply for driving through.

IMG_5193

fullsizeoutput_649b

We did expect this to be a longish drive, but not too bad. And this became our introduction to east side American traffic. Not horrible, but like I said, an introduction. Locals told me later that it’s a known fact that driving through Portsmouth/Portland is simply not done on Fridays or Saturdays. They have “weekend traffic” and we got stuck in it.

IMG_8646

Reasons for choosing Wakeda Campground:

  • reasonable driving distance from New Bruswick
  • close for the guys to get to Boston for baseball game
  • mini golf for the kids
  • reasonable driving distance to next campground

IMG_5076

 

I’ve found that at each new campground I have a day or two till I feel comfortable letting the kids roam free. I have a touch of helicopter mom when in areas I’m not familiar with. This spot was a bit bad for that because it’s a fairly large campground and the kids park was not close by. Our first day there two of the kids decided to try and race everyone home around a different loop. That ended in Dale and Erick searching the campground in the rain trying to find them. They were way off. I didn’t freak out, but they didn’t earn any permission to go to the park on their own either.

Each playground we find has something a bit different that the kids love and here it was the merry-go-round that the dads were more than happy to spin around at breakneck speeds (kids flew off) and where I couldn’t even look at it spinning without getting queazy.

IMG_5082

For some reason I woke up a bit early the first morning there and somehow quite alert even. So I decided to go for a run. I couldn’t see if Trish was awake so I set off alone to check out the neighbourhood outside the campground. What I thought was a quick 3 – 3 1/2 mile run was a much longer loop than I expected. 9 miles later I finally arrived back at the campsite. I was pretty glad I had my google maps along because I’d probably still be out there if I hadn’t. Definitely feeling the results of a more relaxed vacation exercise routine I was not deterred from enjoying this east coast vibe that I remembered from years ago and was so excited to find again.

fullsizeoutput_65cd.jpeg

The houses in this area are amazing! All so huge and with this area having so much history you could sense it. Of course, there’s a lot of new builds too and they are equally impressive. We met one family that said their house was built in the 1700’s. I love that. Adding to the gorgeous houses was the dense forest all around and the small winding roads.

All of a sudden, at one point, I came across a covered bridge and just through it was a farm. Without realizing it I was now running around free range chickens and checking out goats and cute pigs. I don’t know if it’s all good to take pictures of strangers houses, but I did. Usually in some manner that I hope looked like I was just checking my phone reception.

fullsizeoutput_65cb
As cute as this little stinker is (not yet squished) I was more than glad to see him feet up!

The kids found a few new pets while at Wakeda. A frog named Froggy and a little snake. The snake didn’t quite get the same treatment as Froggy. A little harder to grasp maybe. Froggy was given the royal treatment as the kids all created different homes for him and treated him as a superhero. Thankfully they eventually placed him back in the grass where they found him. Froggy was probably ecstatic at seeing that tree line.

The guys had their first baseball game while here. The took a car towards Boston and left it in a Wal-mart where they met their uber who took them in to the stadium. Now, I could give more details about that, but really, they should be writing their own blog post for that, right? I did enjoy seeing the pictures of the areas they walked around. Again, so much history in this area and so evident in the buildings.

They’ve decided this uber idea was a great success so plans are to continue the Wal-mart stop uber usage. It’s awfully entertaining to hear them talk about the uber driver who has amazed them with his friendliness, but they can’t agree on what his name was. I can’t wait to see how many more names they completely mess up. This portion of the trip, which I call “Phase 2 – United States”, was built around the guys addiction, I mean, great love of baseball and I’m glad they’re having fun in the adventure even from the drive to the stadium and back.

While the guys were away for the day, Trish and I decided to do camp irons for supper with the kids. The fire was built and roaring in very little time, I’m happy to report. Thank goodness there’s no video of my trying to swing that ax. That thing’s way too heavy while the other one was like trying to swing a butter knife at the log. Neither one super effective, but I made it work.

fullsizeoutput_64a4
Perfect pie iron fire.

We pulled out the camp irons, the pizza filling, the pie filling and the s’mores necessities and got to making supper. No food group charts here. Or EVER when camping! No matter how hard I try.

Not everyone is familiar with camp irons. Some people also call them pie irons. I grew up eating these so there’s something very nostalgic about having them with my kids. There are many ways to enjoy them, but here’s an idea of what we’ve done and how to make them.

I’ll warn you that not all pie irons are made equal. These were made in southern Manitoba and are super sturdy in comparison to some kinds I’ve seen in stores. Unfortunately the family stopped making them so I can’t provide you with a link, but I would suggest looking for the good cast iron kind. Not the flimsy metal ones. You’ll be glad you got the right ones.

First thing is to warm the irons in the fire. The fire has to have had time to calm down a bit first or it’ll be too hot and things will burn. Don’t rush the process! You want some nice burning embers.

Next is to coat both insides with some butter. Lay a piece of bread on either side and spoon some filling of your choice on one side.

Then comes the tricky part. As quick as you can (so the bread doesn’t fall out) swing the iron closed and pinch together to seal the bread around the edges and break off the crusts. And if you followed that you’re probably wondering how to pinch that shut when it was just pulled out of the flames. I’ve seen people step on it and they clearly have shoes that don’t melt easily or don’t care about the shoes. Or I whack it on ground a couple times and the crusts fall off.

Be prepared for the odd one burnt. Usually the first one.

The kids also enjoyed the s’mores version, which was new for us. One came up with the idea and the others jumped in without hesitation. It was a hit. We didn’t use graham crackers though. I usually buy chocolate wafers and mint chocolate for mine so that’s what we had.

IMG_5165
I settled for the regular s’mores version. “MY’ s’mores version, that is. Campfire hands and all!

Our last day in New Hampshire, Trish and I headed to a little store called Pintuck and Purl. We found it online when searching for places that carry Art Gallery Fabrics. Fabric is a bit of an addiction much like baseball is for the guys. And if it’s Art Gallery, well, there’s no words. We put in on our list of things to do and headed out.

Pintuck and Purl carries and small selection of some great fabrics on one side of the store and a yarn selection on the other. They also have classes at the store as well, but we weren’t able to take part in any of that sort of fun. We enjoyed checking out some other fabric lines that we’ve never seen in person and generally enjoyed looking and dreaming about what we could make. Trish had a fairly clear idea of what she wanted to do so she walked out with an entire roll of fabric. That’s a first! I can’t wait to see when she finishes those projects. Mine buy was more just ideas. I’d been eyeing Cotton + Steel fabric for awhile now.

fullsizeoutput_64b3
The campground offers a pancake breakfast on Sundays, but we opted for our own version. 

Of course the mini golf at Wakeda was used a few times as well.

 

And that was pretty much our New Hampshire stay in a nutshell. Such a beautiful state. The people at the campground were all very friendly and I could see why it was a loved destination for locals and those coming from a bit further.

Oh, did I answer my own question? Where ARE “The Hamptons”? I googled it. It’s NY. Nevermind. We just found ritzy New Hampshire Hampton Falls. Haven’t been to the NY version, but I’m willing to bet I’d prefer these.

A Clam Dig Day

My post today is a bit more specific to a particular tour we went on while in Prince Edward Island. It was suggested to us by friends to check out the Giant Bar Clam Dig with Tranquility Cove Adventures. This was the excursion that we sacrificed a bunk on the ferry to Newfoundland for. Now’s the time to go enjoy!

IMG_8364

We needed to be up at 5:30 to get ready and do the hour and a half drive from the Cavendish campground to Georgetown. We arrived JUST on time. Everyone was there waiting for us. We hopped onto the boat and Perry, our guide for the day, gave a little intro before we headed out.

IMG_4827

First stop was to pull up a few traps. We saw a rock crab pot, lobster trap and a mussel sock. We were given an explanation of how they farm, collect and measure each and then we could hold them and check them out.

Perry’s assistant for the day was Riley and he was super informative and friendly.

IMG_8359
This doesn’t show Riley very well, but here he’s showing us a female lobster covered in eggs.

From there we drove by the oldest wooden lighthouse on the island, but didn’t stop spend or much time there.

IMG_4694

We had a special driver for awhile.

IMG_4784

IMG_4688
Perry was so good with giving our oldest the time of her life.

It took a bit of time to get to our digging destination and along the way Perry called out that this would be the time to get into our swimsuits….. Swimsuits….. Right. I had a feeling I should’ve brought those. I’m very much a land lubber. I don’t even like swimming. Or showering. I’m not afraid of water, I just don’t really prefer it at all which means I don’t have much experience with water sports so when I read on the website that we would have wetsuits I thought “waterproof”. We would just put them over our clothes and be fine. In fact, I dressed all of us girls in clothes that would easily fit inside a suit. Yes, that was silly of me. It gets worse.

I mentioned to Erick that we didn’t bring our suits and he apparently already talked to Perry about it who said the other family on board didn’t either and they were just going in their underwear. He says this is a regular occurance. Well, now I really started panicking because it now sounds like we don’t even have the wet suits! I’m frantically whispering to Erick that I don’t know what we’re going to do and he says all nonchalant that we can just use our underwear. Good lands! Who does he think I am?! I’m simply not comfortable with jumping in the water with a bunch of strangers and me in my underwear! I’m considering just staying in my clothes, but we wanted to go into Charlottetown when we finished and now we were going to be in wet clothes! Things were getting out of hand in my mind.

A few minutes (felt like half an hour but probably wasn’t) later Perry calls out that we can now put on wetsuits. PEOPLE!! The relief I felt! It was around this point that Erick finally clued in that I was thinking we were swimming in our skivvies and he started laughing at me. I would’ve too. Into our suits we wiggled. I never felt more like a sausage than that moment, but the happiest sausage there ever was. I was dressed!

IMG_4696
Some look cuter in wetsuits than others…

Eventually we ended up at the bar where we would be collecting our clams. Perry told how this was where his father and grandfather dug clams and explained how much the shores had changed since he himself was a boy. Where we saw a sandy shore all the way across he remembers when they could still drive the boat right through that area. (Or his dad did….) The sand has drifted across and created the connection to the other side. Pretty crazy to think how fast a landscape (or shore) can change in just a few decades.

IMG_4710

We jumped into the water with our snorkels and rakes and started the hunt. We were searching for indents in the sand that looked like belly buttons or sometimes they would stick their nostrils out a bit and you would see the holes from their breathing. It was a bit of a slow start as we were finding lots, but they were not big enough to keep. It’s too bad we couldn’t take pictures at this point because my favourite part of this day was the digging. Every once in awhile we’d see a lobster or crab running around our feet. I could’ve stayed out there for awhile yet. Our littlest clam digger was kinda cold and got a special ride to the boat with Perry to wait for us to collect our clams.

IMG_4711.JPG

IMG_4714

Eventually we found all we needed and Perry called everyone to shore. They did a quick measure of the clams to make sure they were the allowed size and then the clams all went in the pot. When there was about 2-3 minutes left he added the crab legs that were also collected. While waiting for those to be done we got to sample some raw clam and that part was my personal favourite taste of the day.

IMG_4723

Once finished we got a little Chef Ramsay style tutorial on how to prepare the clams to eat. It included adding in some of the brine that they were cooked in. YUM! My oldest was in there like a dirty shirt once again. She got her own little lesson and then was very proud to present a specially prepared clam for Papi where she forgot to clean out the stomach. Oops.

We ate for awhile before heading back to the car. In all it was very fun and worth the early morning.

IMG_4728

IMG_4726
Enjoying a little coffee after a full morning.

IMG_4802

We headed through Charlottetown on the way home for a quick walk around. We needed to pick up more Beaver Tails for everyone.

IMG_4739

IMG_4814
Enough for everyone. And people stared at us as we walked down the sidewalk with this!

IMG_4805

Once back at the campground us girls headed to the beach for a little bit to enjoy the sand and have a quick sand castle competition. We started the day in sand, we might as well end it there too.

IMG_4764IMG_4761

The Island currently known as Prince (Edward Island).

As we began to approach the east coast a few weeks ago, my kids started asking “Is this the place where we go over the huge bridge?”  Or, as we crossed any number of “large-ish” bridges:  “Was that the big bridge?”  I had been telling them, before we ever left home, about the big Confederation Bridge that stretched across from the main land (New Brunswick) into P.E.I. and they were imagining the things of fairy tales (I’m pretty sure). Continue reading The Island currently known as Prince (Edward Island).

Charlottetown

Ahhhh, Prince Edward Island. I was going to move here once upon a time. I worked for a potato grading company and they were waiting to get a contract with the PEI potato companies. My bosses were well aware of my desire to head out and take a supervisor position when they got the contract. But then I met Erick and switched to a job that was closer to home and so goes life. I believe they did eventually get the contract. Oh well. Someone else got the job. I got the guy.

IMG_4579

The guys have had their five baseball games booked for months already and for us girls we had one day pinned down as our day out. A spa day in Charlottetown. (We’ll add a few more days as we go along.) After 2 weeks of sitting in the car I was very ready for a massage! The guys suggested that we go out for supper too so we happily headed out for the day.

IMG_0454.JPG

I was kinda curious how we were going to do with navigating. Not because we can’t, but these roads are quite different and the views incredibly distracting. Erick and I took about 4 wrong turns getting to the campground. Some due to lack of signage or expecting bigger roads. (Google maps took us onto some dirt roads.) Others due to me being busy taking pictures and not watching the GPS. Can you blame me though? What is with this province being so beautiful?

IMG_8394

I feel like PEI is a a mix of the maritime fishing life and the prairies farming lifestyle. Erick and I decided that as much as we loved Newfoundland, PEI would probably be an easier place to adapt to. It is the small town feel I know and love.

There’s something I really notice that is different from the prairies. I can’t quite put my finger on it except to say there’s an appearance of preserving the past and preserving the landscape. Instead of pulling up all the trees to give more field space they stay and define the beautiful patchwork of the many shades of green and yellow with canola, corn, potatoes and more.

IMG_4951

IMG_8402.JPG

Then there’s the abandoned barns and houses. At home they’d be bulldozed. Here they stay and I just know they all have stories to tell. They look like dollhouses. Most of the houses on the island do. So many houses I assumed were abandoned but then I noticed the lawn is mowed and cars are parked. They are simply older homes that someone still calls home. It exists everywhere, but these here in PEI felt different. I wish I could’ve gotten some pictures of them. They were usually hidden in trees along the road.

IMG_4577

IMG_8396
This one was a bit past being lived in.

It reminded me of the house I spend my first 10 years of life in. We were the last to live in that house. After we moved it sat empty for years and eventually was torn down. That house had so many stories and it was so sad to see it disappear.

IMG_0944.JPG
That room on the second floor was mine. I remember sitting on the window ledge with my feet hanging outside just enjoying the air.

Anyway, as mentioned in previous posts, we’ve had trouble finding good WiFi signal so we took our laptops with us to the city and planned on a coffee somewhere to work on some blog posts. Though we did find some phenomenal internet speed, we misjudged how long it would take us. Totally good though. We had some amazing treats at Casa Mia Cafe before heading to the spa. Much better than the Starbucks we were going to head for. The “Bloggers Paradise” as Dale called it.

IMG_4610
We booked at the Grand Senses spa.

Charlottetown has a bit of a similar feel that St John’s did in Newfoundland, but with a smaller hometown touch. The historical downtown is so pretty and pedestrians rule around here.

IMG_4609.JPG
Pedestrians only street

The restaurants are all so good and it was hard to decide where to eat. In the end it was Merchant Man for some super tasty curry and crispy lentil tacos. (We shared, of course.)

FullSizeRender 10IMG_4597

Beaver Tails were the dessert of choice. Yum! I felt so Canadian.

IMG_4601

And then a bit more walking.

IMG_4589IMG_4592IMG_4588

Our drive back to Cavendish was too dark to be distracted by the fields and houses so this time it was just the windy road and all the kids already in bed when we got home. A wonderful day.

Seeing our continent, one kilometer at a time.