So, tried to go camping this weekend.
I had made it to Missoula on wintery but not bad roads. I turned the phone on to check messages after fueling up and Jeanne called. She'd been in the ditch! Crap. And was headed home. Fortunately she and Sadie (the dog) were fine and claim to continue to be fine. But I don't blame her.
On my way out of Plummer 2 different people warned me a of a 'big storm' headed this way...8-11 inches of snow...yada yada...by Sunday. I figured I'd be headed home MONDAY so a storm that is over SUNDAY is just about right and also the weather stations I checked all said regular winter stuff, 1-2 inches of snow and warmer temps.
But, when it came to deciding whether to winter camp alone (albeit in a cabin with a stove) I figure IF the storm did materialize, I'd be 4000 feet higher up and alone within 1 mile of where they stop keeping a road open and what if I fell on the way to the crapper and broke an ankle. I'd end up in some crap movie of the week. The kind I hate. You know. Where someone takes a stupid risk and ends up getting hurt and other people, tax payers generally, have to spend a bunch of money helping the idiot out (e.g. the family who drove on back roads in the winter because the interstate and main highways were CLOSED and ended up lost and stuck. So they LEFT THEIR VEHICLE (apparently having never read or heard anything about winter safety). The woman and a nursing baby get stuffing in a snow cave by the husband as he walks around like a moron looking for help. They hadn't packed food, blankets etc. STILL he was heralded as a hero after they were rescued at great effort and expense and much emotional trauma to themselves and their families. What I thought was, "what an asshole" and that the wife was as stupid as him for agreeing to go. I just hoped stupid skipped a generation and the kid turned out alright. Same with the guy in the movie now. He goes hiking alone in back country and tells no one where he's going. Again. Has he not read or heard ANYTHING about safety? Days later he ends up cutting his arm of with a pen knife and he's heralded as a hero. No. Stupid. Possibly with a high pain threshold but it was that or die of thirst while contemplating his own stupidity. Why would I go see a movie. I did NOT want to be in a movie like that. If I ever head out to do something terminally stupid yet manage to survive, the polite thing to do is to not mention it.
So, I turned around and headed home. I thought of getting a hotel for a night but if that supposed storm was happening, I'd be stranded at a hotel, with the hamster (no hamster sitters available) waiting out a storm and watching a very expensive organic chicken thaw and go bad (I would rather watch it rot than try to cook it in the microwave and then throw it out...though possibly I could have made a passable soup in the coffeemaker...2 cups at a time).
I spent about 9 hours on the road to get to my own trailer. On the upside, if I fall down here on the way to the crapper and break and ankle, the cats will tear through the floor and eat me before I have to face the shame of a movie of the week.
The good news was I decided to pretend I was camping for at least 24 hours. I unplugged the phone, turned off the cell, left the computer and TV off and just relaxed and read books. I spoke to no one for a full 24 hours. It was lovely. I made the meal I had planned for the cabin which, while delicious, is not as fun to cook on a regular stove as the woodstove and since I doesn't take as much effort, I didn't appreciate it as much. Still, roast organic chicken with herbs de provence and giant cloves of garlic roasted in my dutch oven, wild rice, cherry pie from the last of the home canned cherries (Sally: hope the trees are back in service soon! I'm also on the final jar of cherry jam from 2007), sourdough rolls, and I started pumpkin soup but honestly I was too full to eat it so it's waiting in the fridge and may get moved to the freezer. The only disappointment was making broth out of the chicken carcass (after stripping it of all recognizable meat for soup or something). I put it back in the dutch oven since that is where the delicious spices, roasted garlics, and pan crusties were. I simmered it for a bit and checked it. It smells amazing, but the dutch oven turned it black. I've made broth in iron pans before and it's been dark, but this looks like gun metal. Smells great, probably high in iron, but ugly. It's in the fridge in a container while I try to think of something that won't be made inedible by the color. Maybe something with black beans as the main ingredient since that will be black anyway. I was going to put some in the pumpkin soup and save the rest for chicken noodle soup. But black chicken noodle soup and god knows what color pumpkin soup...ick. Any suggestions?
Anyway, some animal will enjoy the skin and bones that are going out in the trash. I'd like to compost them but I know something would just dig them out of there too.
SO: I had all that lovely quiet time and I read a book. "Julie and Julia", like the movie. It's better than the movie! Most books are. This is more a memoir of one year, the one when the author turns 30, when she needs a new creative outlet. I think lots of people do this sort of thing, and now many put it on the web (e.g. No Impact Man, New Dress A Day, etc). Then I wondered what makes a few of these blogs take off and most just sit in the abyss. For Ms. Julie Powell (author of Julie and Julia) is that she's a funny writer and seems to be pretty honest, admitting the not so flattering bits (like meltdowns over failed eggs). No Impact Man was also pretty honest, or at least appeared so, but less funny. Both of these also talk quite a bit about how the projects they've chosen change their relationships with others and the rest of their lives. For New Dress A Day, she's gotten some fame, but hasn't talked much in the blog about specific folks. She is however a very amusing chatty-style writer.
My blog will never take off since it is an open ended project, I'm not documenting in the detail, and it is funny only intermittently. Oh well. Better keep the day job.
SO: I wanted a new project. But not for a year. I like projects and the book reminded me of that. I'm going to see how long I can go without getting groceries. The pantry list keeps reminding me of how much food I have in this house. To get ready for the thanksgiving cabin trip that never was, I needed to buy a small bag of noodles for the soup (which now won't happen), a few potatoes and an onion. I have lots of dry onion but I wanted to make potato soup (which I did Thursday night when I got home). It's easy and pretty much cooks itself so seemed a good thing to have the first night at the cabin. It was also good when I got home after the 9 hour drive to know where. It made me realize again that I have a TON of food in this house.
There are still 4 squash and now a box of quince (like an apple) in the root-cellar/front-bedroom along with some garlic. There were 5 squash but one went off and had to go in the compost. I think it froze.
ANYWAY: Given the nice variety of food and spices and oils and fats and whatnot, I'm going to see how long I can easily go without grocery shopping. I often do that at the beginning of winter and thought of it with the pantry inventory so now is the time. If people show up with elk jerky or invite me to lunch, obviously I'll accept. I'm not trying to set up some strange nazi rules that will limit my already limited social life. Just see how long that amount of food lasts in my regular life and see what I run out of first.
It was funny that as I left for the cabin, I thought of throwing in a bag of beans, bunch of rice, and some spices so that if we got stuck we'd be fine for a week. We'd stink ourselves out of the cabin, but we'd be fine. Oh well. Next time.