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April 5, 2005

I’ve had a few questions about our camping trip, so I thought I’d treat you all to a play-by-play of the weekend.

(follow along via Ofoto pictures)

We drove out to Colorado Bend State Park, near Lampasas on Saturday around noon, and arrived at the park around 2:00 p.m. Lindsay had snagged a tent and two sleeping bags for us from UT, and they ended up being of really great quality.

We all pitched our tents and set out our fold-out chairs and decided what to do with ourselves. The day was gorgeous, not too hot, not to cool, and not a cloud in the sky. We set out for a 4.5-mile hike around the park. It was the best hiking trail I have been on…it ranged from grassy fields to rocky hills you had to climb carefully, to shaded desert-like areas, and we had to cross streams several times (all of us trying very hard not to get our feet wet). At the end of the trail (well, it was actually beginning, but we hiked it backwards), a beautiful oasis of small waterfalls, natural springs, and a clear pond awaited us. The boys and I jumped in, being the only crazy ones in the group, I guess, because it was COLD!

By this time we were all tired and hungry, so we headed back to camp for some of my four-bean chili cooked over our tiny two-burner stove. Unfortunately, I left the house in such a hurry that day that I forgot the beans and the tomatoes, which are of course very important ingredients in a four-bean chili. We ended up having sauteed vegetables and tortillas and cheese and Chex Mix and cornbread, and the guys grilled up some sausages and made hot dogs with sauerkraut. It was all cooked over the fire because we couldn’t get our stove to work. It all turned out fine, though. Then we toasted marshmallows and chatted a bit, and headed off to bed.

I might add that by this time, it was COLD out there. Thank goodness we had super-duper-warm sleeping bags. They were a little claustrophobic, kind of mummy-shaped, but man, they were warm.

The next morning we got up (some of us earlier than others, and yes, I slept in) and the boys made breakfast over the fire…breakfast tacos (with egg beaters and veggie sausage) and apple dumplings (Chad’s very own specialty). It was so yummy and perfectly campy. We packed up our tents and trekked back to the springs to hang out (the boys jumped in again), then had a picnic on the grass with hummus sandwiches (with avocado, sliced tomato, lettuce, and cheese) and chips. Then it was on the road again to come back home.

The weather was so perfect all weekend, and we had such a good time. Amazingly enough, we all got along really well, and no one wanted to kill anyone else by the end of the trip (as far as I know)…

So based on our experiences, I would recommend the following things:

  • Go to Colorado Bend State Park! And take the hiking trail backwards.
  • Buy Marmot sleeping bags for cold camping nights.
  • Never rent a two-burner stove from UT.
  • Don’t forget the beans.
  • Toast marshmallows as often as you can.
  • Play hackeysack–it’s fun!
  • Live life before it’s over.

Four-Bean Chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery in hot oil in a large pot over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, over low heat for 45 – 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender and flavors have combined.

Makes a lot! Maybe 6 big servings?

Source: me

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