Perhaps the best byproducts of a good road trip are the epic tales of adventure that get told again and again, becoming family legend. Here’s a peek into our first camping trip and the nicknames that everyone earned along the way…
Nothing good could come of his two favorite camping activities: whittling a stick with a pocketknife and poking roaring fires. This kid seemed bound and determined to finish our trip with one less eye or finger than he started with. Near misses included: pulling the knife straight towards his face while whittling; flipping a flaming log completely outside of the fire pit onto a pile of dry pine needles; and purposefully igniting his marshmallows so he could wave his hands and shout “IT’S ON FIRE, IT’S ON FIRE!” I’m packing bubble wrap and safety goggles for our next trip.
We were floored to discover the vegetarian who’s afraid of spiders is a rock star camper. She embraced it all — the dirt, the wildlife, the meat cooked on sticks (especially the meat cooked on sticks). She dug through the dirt to choose the perfect worm, created a 9-hole pine cone golf course on our campsite, and happily sprinted for a bucket of water when Firestarter flipped the flaming log onto the pine needles. Most impressive was the extreme skill with which she roasted marshmallows: fifteen minutes of patiently rotating the skewer to create the most perfect golden, melty treat. She’s found her calling.
The first morning of our trip, my husband left for what has to be the camping equivalent of a Saturday morning tee time: the early morning fly fishing expedition. The kids and I ate cereal, played cards and wandered to the camp store to buy postcards. Our intrepid fisherman returned home happy but sorely lacking in fish.
Later that afternoon it was the kids’ turn to fish and they each plucked two from the lake. Emboldened by the adrenaline from hooking their first fish, they started talking smack. “Wow, we both caught two fish, how many did you catch this morning, dad?” “Zero fish. We should call you bagel. No, we should call you donut.” “Do-nut. Do-nut. Do-nut.” With the donut chant ringing through the pine trees, he grabbed a pole, added a worm and bobber, and a few minutes later, caught a fish. It didn’t matter, the nickname stuck.
The family decided my name had to be Cookie, as in the grizzled character who made the camp food in all the old Westerns. Turns out, I love cooking in a cast iron skillet over an open fire. I don’t know if it was the smoke or the abundance of bacon grease, but everything tasted so good and was so much fun to make. I considered it training for when we undergo a kitchen remodel and are cooking on a hotplate for two months. I think we’ll be ok…
After four days we headed home a changed family. We were campers, nature lovers, fish hunters and hikers. We were Firestarter, Happy Camper, Donut and Cookie.