Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Food ala CL & Michelle

I volunteered (and Michelle gamely let me drag her into helping) to organize the food for the river trip. My favorite part of the menu was our surprise appetizer for Friday night.

Before the trip, Michelle and I got a little loopy after hours of figuring out the menu and doing all the pre-shopping we could before I left for Lake Powell. Somewhere out of our demented minds we thought it would be really funny to pull out a beautifully arrange artisanal cheese tray. So, the night before we left on the trip, Michelle and I stood staring at the cheese case in Costco trying to decide if we were crazy or if people would actually like to eat a bunch of cheese. We dived in, and I have to say ... it was a complete success after a few odd looks from some of our campers.

Self-pampered city girl spends 15 days camping (almost consecutively)

That's right. Me, the girl who doesn't like to go more than two weeks between mani/pedis, just got back from two weeks of vacation spent in the "wilderness."

The first week of my vacation was spent at Lake Powell with my cousins, aunts and uncles. I slept under the stars every night, albeit on a houseboat. But don't knock it ... some of us need to ease ourselves into hardcore camping (which was soon to follow).

Lake Powell was beautiful, and just the right mix of relaxation and fun. Everyday went something like this: Wake up, go out on the ski boat, eat, sleep in the sun, eat, read a book, eat, sleep in the sun some more, eat, play games with the cousins, sleep. Oh, and did I mention copious amounts of chilled Diet Coke? Could it get any better?

I learned my philosophy of successful vacations with a lot of people from my Aunt Leslee. Leslee's plan of attack for keeping a large, tightly confined group happy is to keep the tasty morsels coming. This philosophy proved itself again this year in Lake Powell.

I was sad to see the Lake party come to an end, but we headed home just in time for me to hit the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and then hit the road for my next week of vacation.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I loaded up Larry & Carol's Expedition with seven of my friends and the Haulmark trailer and we set out for a 6-day whitewater adventure on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. After a memorable stop at Costco, the eight of us joined up with the rest of the group at Boundary Creek putin, just outside of Stanley, Idaho. We spent the rest of Monday afternoon and evening rigging the rafts and then camped at Boundary Creek, surviving an epic rain storm in tents. Our group of 24 launched Tuesday morning (more like afternoon if we're honest) to tackle the Middle Fork.

What a trip we had. The first three days seemed like they were filled with one disaster after another including freezing (if you ask me) rain and hail, trees blocking the river, massive mud slides that turned the crystal water to mud for the remainder of the trip, a 9-year-old with a bad case of the flu, a dislocated shoulder for one of our rowers and a dramatic tear in one pontoon of Big Al's brand new cataraft. Luckily the next three days settled down a bit and we were able to focus on running the spectacular rapids of the Middle Fork.

While Lake Powell was still a bit on the cushy side, the river trip is the closest thing to hard-core camping I will ever come. I do manage to bring a bit of my pampered self along -- I pack three people into my six man tent and use a battery powered pump to inflate an air mattress every night. I have my limits.

I made a new friend on the river this year. This is Jon Osgood, owner of American Whitewater in California. Jon let me be a passenger on his boat for the first three days of the trip. When he got bored, he made me take the oars so he could assume the River Princess position on the bow of the boat (I guarantee I was in Princess pose far more than I was on the oars).
After day three, Jon wanted to spend some time in the two-man paddle boat (aka The Shredder), so he turned his raft over to Matthias. I bravely got on board and we went through impressive Tappan Falls without a hitch.

The proof is in the banana ... and the grapes

Lake Powell banana and some grapes that lasted more than a week ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Would it be too much to say: Debbie Meyer, you're my hero?

For the past two weeks, I've been living life out of the Debbie Meyer Green Bag. To my complete surprise, the damn things actually do prolong the life of fruit, veggies and one very long suffering bag of cilantro.

I will post pics of the famous Lake Powell bananas when I get the battery on my camera charged up. After a very HOT car ride to the Lake, they were amazingly fresh and yellow for Tuesday's breakfast.

Last week, Michelle and I packed all the fresh stuff for 6 days on the river with 24 of our friends and I'm truly impressed. Red peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes lasted the entire week, even through some new, wild rapids on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

This damn bag better work.

Michelle and I made a last minute mad dash through Target before I leave on my Lake Powell vacation tomorrow. Michelle, with her eagle eye, spotted an "as seen on TV" treasure that we just couldn't pass up: The Debbie Meyer Green Bag.

The Green Bag is supposed to extend the shelf life of fruit and veggies almost to the point of petrified wood. And, with Debbie's face plastered on the front of the box making the promises, the challenge is just too tempting (especially at 1 a.m. after spending way too much time packing up a two-year supply of food for a six day vacation). So Leslee and I decided to put the claims to the test and take the bags to Lake Powell.

Our litmus test will be with bananas (the very ones I'm holding above -- fresh from Costco today), which Leslee says only last about 2 minutes in the heat of Wahweap.

We placed the whole bunch of bananas in the not-so-large large Green Bag and folded over the top loosely, like the directions say ... but we weren't satisfied that the bag will really stay closed on the journey to Powell, so we added a little scotch tape to the mix (bagged bananas in Leslee's hand at left -- if you look real close you can see the all-knowing grin on Debbie Meyers face on the Green Bag box).

Tune in next week for the results of the "This Damn Bag Better Work Because I Want Good Bananas on My Cereal in Lake Powell Thursday" scientific study.