|Turkey Creek Lake, Scioto County Ohio|
I had fun messing about with my tent during Field Day last month so I thought it would be fun to take the family out for a few days of real tent camping. My wife LeeAnn usually handles the logistics and planning for our adventures away from home so I left it up to her to search out a destination and secure reservations at one of Ohio's many State Parks. We have not done much camping in the past few years but because our son is ten years old now we thought we better let him in on the fun. I grew up experiencing the magical adventure that is camping and I would deeply regret not giving the opportunity to my son.
LeeAnn chose well and got us a great spot at the Shawnee State Park Campground through the State's Department of Natural Resources website. We have our favorite locations that we have returned to over the years but lately we have decided to visit some of the other parks in Ohio that we have never seen. The park is located in the middle of Shawnee State Forest a 100 square mile expanse of public land located in Scioto and Adams Counties and bordered to the south by the Ohio River. As I was studying the map I noticed to my surprise that the nearest town was Portsmouth, Ohio which was once the terminus of the Ohio and Erie Canal I blogged about earlier this year.
The rugged and hilly topography of the area was created by thousands of years of erosion as surface water made it's way south to the Ohio River Valley. This is as close to mountains as we get here in the buckeye state and I love spending time in the hills of southern Ohio.
Years ago I tired of flimsy and leaky department store tents so when we go as a family our home away from home is the Cabela's Extreme Weather Tent. Our model is a 10' X 10' square dome that stands 7 feet tall on the inside with a huge rain fly I like to call the turtle shell. The tent has numerous guy points and uses 45 tent stakes to keep it firmly planted to Mother Earth. The Cabela's literature boasts that in testing the tent withstood a 75 mph blast from a jet engine and I believe it. I have weathered a couple storms under the shelter of the tent and always felt safe and secure.
The tent was furnished with high quality steel tent stakes but to cut down on weight I substituted generic orange plastic stakes. The bag of 45 steel stakes alone probably weighs 30 pounds. Although we are not backpacking I like to take it easy on the aging 4-cylinder of my compact SUV.
When we are not out engaged in some outdoor activity our favorite pursuit is camp cooking of course. A staple at our camp is something we call "Campy Potatoes" This is a hearty dish packed with Carbohydrates and fresh colorful vegetables that satisfy after a long hard day afield.
The recipe is very simple and requires only a sharp knife and your imagination. In this case we diced up our potatoes and red bell peppers. When we were shopping for provisions we spotted carrots in the grocery already chopped so we saved a little effort there.
Next combine the pieces onto a sheet of aluminum foil with spices and a dollop of butter. The possibilities are nearly limitless with this recipe. Onions, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and even mushrooms could be added.
Fold up the edges of the foil into a loose packet and wrap again with another sheet of foil. Repeat this procedure until you have four layers of foil to protect the goodies and plop the package down on the grill. If the fire ring does not have a grate simply position the pack right in the hot coals at the edge of the fire and periodically rotate to prevent hot spots.
While our foil packs cooked we grilled some filet mignon to add a little protein to our feast. The potatoes take about an hour to cook depending on their placement in the fire and this allows ample time to cook and eat the meat leaving the vegetables for a delicious second course.
On the last night of our four day excursion I prepared my old standby Spaghetti with meat sauce and fresh mushrooms. It's extra work carting along the pots and pans but well worth the effort. Why is it that food just tastes better when enjoyed in the great outdoors?
As an interesting side note the Coleman camp stove and matching cooler in the background are the first pieces of camping gear my wife and I bought together 20 years ago. They look new in the photograph but they have dings and scratches from use over the years. Most importantly they still function as flawlessly as their first time out.