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Summer, we hardly knew ye...

So, today is officially the first day of Fall. Where did my summer go?? Ah yes, I remember now, there is that sneaky thing called "work", aka "making a living", aka "toil, suffering, and vanishing days of summer." Well, onward and upward, right?

So, a little more about the trip we took to Colorado this summer. I think I left off with us getting to out first site at about dark, and setting up camp as quick as possible. I got the boys busy setting up their tent and getting firewood (a great distraction, no matter the weather or time), got the RTT open, and while I started prepping dinner, Jandi made the tent ready for our first night on the road. Since she hadn't yet aired up the NEMO sleeping pad, I showed her how to use the foot pump, and soon the rig was making these vaguely rhythmic up & down motions while the foot pump let out suspiciously heavy breathing sounds. I didn't know that setting up camp could be so....suggestive.

Here is the NEMO getting its fitment try-out at home before we left. The grey valves at the front are the intake valves, built into the foot pump, which is pretty stinkin' slick.

Anyway, after the mattress was aired up, sleeping bags deployed, and pillows placed, our quarters were ready for the night. By this time the boys had their tent set, as well as bags and pillows, and they were off exploring under the guise of "wood gathering". Uh-huh, I believe Elvis is alive and well, too. Anyway, in the meantime I had been getting food out of the fridge, and getting a quick dinner of quesadillas on the way to tame the unruly masses. This is where the homemade tortillas came in handy, as well as some leftover chicken breasts we had throw in so they wouldn't spoil at home. And then, surprise! NO CHEESE GRATER!

So, after a moment of head scratching, I decided that all i could do was finely chop the cheddar into small pieces and let the heat from the burner do the rest. And hey, this wasn't haute cuisine, we're camping!

So, dinner that night consisted of said quesadillas and some fresh cantaloupe, and finished off with mini chocolate bars. Not a bad way to end the evening of our first day on the road.

We allowed ourselves the pleasure of sleeping in, and finally pried ourselves out of bed around 7:30 the next morning. One of the first things I did was to inquire about Jandi's night. Sleeping on the NEMO had been easier on my shoulders, but wanted her input, too. There was some vigorous head nodding, followed by "I slept like a baby all night", which to me wasn't exactly a good thing. You know babies, up every two hours to eat and poop... anyway, she was very impressed and that was good enough for me!

Next order of business? Hygiene! And while we have a camp shower, that requires one to haul water, fill pot, heat water, fill shower, set up a place to shower, shower, and repeat for each person, depending, obviously, on the length of each shower. It is amazing how little water it takes to get clean, when you are hurrying cause you're cold.

But, we had this:

So, grabbing towels, soap, clean clothes and a pitcher type device, off we went, the wife and I. We picked our way up the creek to a spot not too deep, with a flat rock to stand on, with lots of sunshine to help fight off the effects of the Colorado water temps, and proceeded to get clean. I was really glad that I've been taking cold showers every morning, or it would have been a fair bit more of a shock to the old nervous system.As it was, the sunshine and a vigorous toweling off made a world of difference, and slipping into clean, dry clothes? I doubt it's ever felt as good! This would become our modus operandi for the entire trip. The next morning was a bath in another creek at about 11,500', and it was so cold that when a drop decided to check out the inner reaches of my right ear, all I could hear was a high pitched ring for a few minutes!

Then it was time to get the kiddos up and clean, which Jandi did while I started breakfast. I think we had steel cut oats that morning, it's a little vague now, but it was warm and filling, so that was good enough.

If you haven't tried steel cut oats yet, this might be just the time, now that we're headed full speed into fall. I like to cook them longer rather then not, as they are softer and just a little chewy, and I also like them with dried cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon, or honey instead of brown sugar. My wife always makes a look like "Hey, put the bucket of honey in the sink when you're done draining it, ok?" when I add honey to my breakfast cereal of choice. But a man has to do what a man has to do, right?! Not everyone can eat their body weight in honey during breakfast, but as a red blooded American male, I feel it's my civic duty.

After breakfast, we decamped, washing dishes, packing clothes, and cleaning the campsite (leave no trace, right?), then with a surge of power we pointed the Hundy up the road to continue on to Guanella Pass near Georgetown, where we would spend a disappropriate amount of time and fuel looking for a campsite not up against another bunch of people.

Steel Cut Oats:

This is an easy, relatively quick breakfast, whether at home or on the road. You can find them in bulk at select food stores like Sprouts, or buy them packaged from companies like Bob's Red Mill. Either way, they cook up the same.

Serves about 4, unless one is like my son Levi, which means this will serves six, since he takes a bite and claims he's full.

4 cups water, filtered if available

2 cups steel cut oats

1/2 teaspoon salt

dried fruit, sugar, honey, cinnamon or your favorite hot cereal additives. ( I got made fun of while adding jam to oatmeal at summer camp as a boy, and have never fully recovered, so be warned if you prefer this.)

Bring water to boil in large sauce pan, (with tight fitting lid) add salt and oats. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to as low as your burner will allow. Stir every few minutes, replacing lid after stirring. Test for doneness after about ten minutes cooking time. If you prefer a firmer, more substantial chew, then remove from heat, and serve. I prefer to continue cooking and stirring till about 20 minutes have passed, as the grain is noticeably softer.

Serve with milk of your choice (whole for me!) and other toppings, and enjoy!

P.S. If, like me, your family considers your oatmeal prep routine beyond the pale, then you too must enjoy stirring in a raw egg yolk. I love how it thickens the oatmeal, and gives it an extra boost of luxurious smoothness. Well, that, and a health slab of butter, too! And, if you are like my son, a type 1 diabetic, then there are studies that suggest this part of adding an egg yolk can help make the absorption of the sugars more gradual, rather than a spike. Which is good. Spikes are bad. Unless you're into '80s punk music. Or something.

#camping #breakfast #steelcutoats