Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tales from the Corn Portal

Are you fascinated by all of the weird and wonderful things to be found out on the internet and around the world? Then you may like my new blog Tales from the Corn Portal. This blog will host all of the weird stuff that I come across in my day-to-day ventures around the internet. Check it out, but be forewarned-- some of this stuff can get downright creepy, and other bits are nauseatingly cute and adorable! Check it out!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Snoop Dogg Does a Mini-Adventure

This weekend we decided to go on a little camping trip. Just a chance to get away, destress from technology and get some physical exercise. So we headed out to one of my favorite spots: Caloosahatchee Regional Park.

We booked our favorite spot (which is a great spot in winter when it's cold outside, but probably not a great spot when it is hot outside. There is nearly no shade!), and started unloading gear. On the path to our spot, we spotted these pretty berries.



This is beautyberry. They are supposed to be edible, but not too tasty.

While we setup camp and Woodrow charged his solar batteries, Snoop did what he does best and slacked off...

Woodrow and I decided to have a contest to see who could set up their tent the fastest (we each brought our own tent, since they are too small to comfortably sleep two people). Ready, set, go!

And about 7 1/2 minutes later we both finished in a tie.

I love this park, because you often feel so isolated from everyone else. We decided to go for a hike while we waited for dinnertime, and this is a shot looking back at our campsite.

I don't know what these flowers are, but the were pretty little things.

And then I spotted these guys, who had a very delicate look to them.

Woodrow kept smelling something sweet like Jasmine, and I had him smell these to see whether this might be where the smell was coming from. 

He said he thought it might be.

At one point on the trail, I spotted this fungus. I'd never seen a fungus so big!



Woodrow broke off a piece to try drying out and burning, as he has heard it makes good tinder.


Here's another pretty little berry shrub...

Some flapping at one point caught my attention, and I saw this moth. I tried to get video of it flapping, but it got camera shy and sat still once the camera was on it.

Here was another fungus growing out of the base of a tree...


And I spotted more berries...


And further on I spotted the leaf on one of these berry bushes to be all rolled up. I wonder what's inside?!


Berries, berries everywhere!

I saw this sign at one point, but I have no idea what it was supposed to mean.

Hmmmm... a fork in the road. Left or right? I had a feeling left would take us back to the campground, so we went that way. (Woodrow has no sense of direction.)

 And I spotted yet more fungus...

Once we got back, it was time to start the fires and get dinner going.

First I sprayed foil with Canola spray, and put a tilapia filet and a few scallops, a couple pats of butter, a squirt of mayo, the juice from half a lemon, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, salt and pepper, and some sliced onion.


I also did packets of veggies with corn, chopped potatoes, diced onion, parsley and butter (and salt and pepper.)

We put the packets on the fire to cook.

On a trip to the bathroom, I spotted this big boy dead near the entrance.


At dinner time we had salad with marinated onions, tomatoes and cucumbers (marinated in Italian dressing for several hours)...

...fish and scallops...
 ...and corn, potatoes and onions...


 Yum! Not bad at all! However the second the food hit the table, the flies began descending. It got worse and worse, and began to turn into a horror movie. We began to set "decoys" off to the side, to direct the flies away from our eating...




video

At one point, I think I counted about 40 flies on the corn cob. Ugh! But without the decoys, they were constantly swarming our food and faces while we ate.

As the sun set, I loved the way that it lit up the tops of the trees.


Unfortunately sometime soon after dinner, the rain began. Since our tents are pretty small (and it was really warm and steamy and stuffy in them with the rainfly on each), we each retired to our separate tents.


I spent awhile reading, and eventually fell asleep. Around 3:30 AM, I heard Woodrow get up to use the bathroom. While he was gone, I saw a large circle on the door to my tent. I wondered what it was, and I put my face close to the mesh of the door to try and tell. That's when I seemed to see the eight legs coming from the body. Holy Canoli! I realized with the 1 inch body combined with the legs, we were looking at a 3 inch spider! I thought about turning on a light and trying to get a better look at it, but I thought that I would probably freak out worse if I could really see it well! So I left well enough alone. A minute later, the spider scampered out of view.

Once I heard Woodrow return, I told him, "Hey! I have got the biggest spider on my tent! This thing is bigger than those Wolf spiders that I get at my place!" I told him that it had scampered off, but I thought it was in the upper corner of my tent, between the tent and the rainfly. He shined his flashlight on that area, and this is what I saw...

I'm wishing that there was a better way to show you the perspective of his body size, but I was NOT putting my finger right up by him! However that seam is probably 1/4-1/2 inch in width.

Woodrow smacked the side of the tent a few times to see if he could make it leave, but the best he got was it moving here, directly over my head...

I told Woodrow that if he now looked through the vent, he could probably see the spider. He looked and said, "Oh man! That thing is big! That has to be 3 inches from leg to leg!" I told him, "Yeah, you thought I was exaggerating, didn't you!"

I think that this was a Huntsman spider. Here's a better pic of a Huntsman...

 *shiver* These things freak me out worse than anything! I'll take my Wolf spiders any day, even though I'm terrified of them!


Well, we figured that the spider wouldn't be able to get inside my tent, and it would probably leave on its own before morning, so we would just let it be. Throughout the night, whenever I woke I would look up to see whether I could see the spider still there. By the moonlight, I could still see the outline of its body well into the morning as the light was beginning to come into the sky.

But by 7:30 AM, when I awoke, my spider visitor was gone. I got dressed and ventured out to see about the water collection around the tent.

I don't have a footprint (a type of "tarp" specially designed to fit your tent) for my tent, so I just use a tarp. This means that moisture collects under my tent, and with the rainstorm the night before I had quite a bit more than usual.

 See that vent? That is the one that was visible in the pic with the spider, just to give you a little perspective. That vent is probably 12-14 inches across.



But once again I was struck by the way the sun lit up the tree tops.


The fire was spent and didn't survive the rain storm...

The grill was still...

 I also spotted this pretty little Caesar Weed next to my tent...

At least it's pretty when it isn't growing in your yard. Have you ever tried to pull one of these weeds? Fuh-get-about-it!

So we decide to make what we had planned for dessert the previous night (before we got rained out) for our breakfast. While Woodrow got the stove prepped, I grabbed my camera and showed him the pics of the spider from my view the night before. I decided to clear a spot to begin the prep work, and moved the foil pan that sat out the night before. And what was right below it? Either the same spider from my tent, or one very similar! I screamed and yelled for Woodrow to get up from the table! He jumped up and asked what was going on, I told him, and we began searching for where the spider had gone. I finally spotted it hiding down in a table leg that had turned into a water reservoir given all of the rain recently.




Can you see its eye glowing?

So we settled into the OTHER side of the picnic table, and I began prepping breakfast. It was very simple...


Chopped apples and a pat of butter cooked until soft, then add caramel sauce and walnuts.






It is better to include apple pie spice as well, but we had put that in the car the night before and didn't want to go get it. So that was our breakfast, which had been intended to be our dessert the night before.

And a little Blackberry Sage tea. Mmmmmmm!
 
We decided to go ahead and head home, as we were exhausted and hot, and had had enough of spiders and mosquitoes.

I had intended to make eggs and potatoes in foil packets for breakfast, but we didn't feel like trying to get the fire going again. So I decided instead that I would try doing it at home in the oven. This way I would know whether this would be a good alternative in the future when camping.

So I mixed eggs and milk in a bowl with some diced jalapenos, mushrooms, diced onions and chopped parsley. Then added some salt and pepper and scrambled.


I made little bowls out of foil sprayed with Canola...


I poured in the scrambled egg mixture, and sprinkled with cheddar cheese. And then folded up the foil packets.

In another foil packet I sprayed canola and put diced frozen (semi-frozen, as the cooler didn't keep them frozen too well) and diced onion with a pat of butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Then I put the foil packets on a cookie sheet, and baked them in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or so.

The eggs came out quite nicely...

It was like an omelet. The potatoes were almost like whipped potatoes, they were so mushy. Part of the problem was that they had been frozen, and there was too much water for them to brown. They would have been better if I had just diced up the new potatoes from the night before.  


Otherwise they were very good!
I told Woodrow that even though my camping ventures may not turn out as I plan and can be quite exhaustive and stressful, I still enjoy my time out in nature. I still feel a sort of "release" and destressing that goes with disengaging from technology.

But I'm not sure when I'll be ready to camp again, after having been tag-teamed by gigantic spiders!