First Time Alone

Over the next five weeks, Lee has to work on Saturday nights, so we decided to try camping somewhere close, setting up on Friday and him driving round trip to Keene on Saturday while I hung out alone.  I had some reservations.  I travel alone all the time and don’t really mind being solo, but I am careful of personal safety when all by myself.  Wasn’t sure how I would feel in the camper in the dark woods, but since this whole adventure is partly about stretching our boundaries decided to give it a shot.

It helped that the campground is a very nice one.  Tree Farm Campground in Springfield, VT was one of my favorites from the weekend tour we took.  I remembered the friendliness of the people and was not disappointed.   The young man who runs the campground was an absolute doll, incredibly friendly and helpful.  The site (#19) was terrific, a large pull through, well-wooded, with great wooded views.  The fire pits are very nice, made of rings of stacked bricks and generous in size and overall exceeded my already high expectations.  Wireless is free and works just fine, plus when we asked if we could leave late Sunday he said absolutely and there was no extra charge.  They take Good Sam discounts so the site was only $30 a night.  It was super hot so we paid the extra $3 a night for AC  (well worth the price) but I turned it off on Saturday because it was so much cooler in the woods.  Springfield is close by, an old mill town with a decent small downtown area.  There is a full grocery store and a McDonald’s within a mile or two of the campground.  The only downside was a nearby camp site had a barking dog, but after some initial morning ruckus they seemed to get him settled down.  No pool, but there was a neat playground with a mini climbing wall for kids, and all the kids we saw were well-behaved and seemed to be having a good time.  It seems like a place where grandparents hang out and have their grandkids out on weekends and all the seasonals seem to know each other and are friendly with one another.  Definitely 5 out of 5 pine cones 🙂

Friday night I cooked Grilled Chicken Fettuccine pasta and biscuits. I used two new recipes that required numerous steps and Lee jumped in and helped me towards the end when things got a bit hectic.  He loved both of them and I was proud we managed to navigate the small kitchen together on a more complicated dish.  The biscuits in particular were tons of fun to make and I felt all fancy with my recipes.  I love to cook, not much of a baker, but cooking is fun for me.  Unfortunately all those years of managing family dinners on a tight budget kind of sucked the joy out.  This is an opportunity to try some more adventurous recipes and I am rediscovering the joy of preparing food.  It can get a little stressful though especially when part of the food is cooking outside on the grill/campfire and part is inside.

Lunch on Saturday was good.  I made this absolutely yummy new coleslaw recipe that I loved.  See below for recipe which I highly recommend.  I started a fire and made some hot dogs to go with it and then Lee took off and went to work.  I kept the fire going for a while, being extra careful not to inhale too much smoke.  ever since I saw that Survivor episode where that guy pitched head first into the fire from smoke inhalation I am pretty cautious about that.  And if something happened and I was alone it would obviously be much worse.

One thing I did do was say hi to our neighbors.  I had bought some organic dog biscuits on the last trip and used those to meet the people next door.  We didn’t exchange life histories or anything, but I wanted to know who they were so if something happened I would be comfortable running over.   The side benefit was they had a lot of people over later in the evening, but did a nice job keeping the noise volume down.  I have to believe that partly because I was a person to them and not just the trailer next door.

So I was alone and it was weird.  I can’t stress enough that I like being alone.  After raising three kids (who I love dearly) I have had many years of lots and lots of noise.  So the quiet for me is still a bit of a novelty.  That being said, being alone at a campground is way different from being alone in a hotel room.  For one thing it’s not quiet.  There are animal noises and neighbor noises and oddly enough, noises from the camper settling or something. I finally turned the overhead fan on for some white noise which helped some but I found that I was pretty restless and couldn’t settle into one thing.  I read awhile, I watched a Deadwood episode on HBO Go.   The only time I felt settled was when I was doing chores.   That’s when things got interesting.  I went to wash the dishes and checked the tanks and saw the grey water was full and the black water was 3/4 full.   After a previous adventure with the grey water filling up, I check it pretty frequently now.  Even though Lee does the outside chores, I have been paying attention and on occasion have gone out and tested my knowledge.  So I felt completely confident when I went to open the tanks.  Imagine my surprise when I turned on the black water and stuff starting squirting out the side.  I didn’t panic, but I had absolutely no idea what to do.  Lee was unavailable via cell phone so I turned the black water off and thought about my options.

Option 1:   The dishes could wait and I could probably squeeze by until Lee came home to fix it.  Of course that would mean he would be messing with it in the nighttime.

Option 2:  I could walk down to the nice kid at the office and ask for his help, but if it was something simple I would feel bad for bothering him

Option 3:  I could try to figure it out myself.

I decided on Option 1 and that lasted for a couple of hours.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and with an internal speech that I was a smart woman and could figure this out I went back out to take a look.   First problem, no rubber gloves.  Lee said he didn’t need them. Well I certainly did,  so I settled on an old rag as the best I could do.  I looked at the connector and pulled it out then had to twist it pretty hard but I couldn’t see any openings at the bottom.  As you may have already guessed, Lee had left the cap on the sewer pipe, but I didn’t understand that at the time, but after fussing with it I thought I could put the hose directly into the drain without the connector I would just have to watch it carefully.  Next problem the hose was completely full and had rolled off the plastic lifts it normally sat on.  I crawled under the slide out and (with some difficulty) got the hose back on the lift and finally decided to give it a go.  I let some grey water out slowly and it worked just fine.  Breathing a sigh of relief I went back to the black water, finished that and then the rest of the grey.  Overall I was pretty proud of myself and glad that I wouldn’t leave Lee a mess when he came back that evening.

So I went inside and did the dishes.  I looked at the clock and it was only 6pm.  I still had a lot of time to kill.

The main thing I would have to say I learned about myself from being alone is I need to find something to do.  These weekends have been wonderful and relaxing, but if I am going to spend anytime alone, I don’t really have the capacity to sit and do absolutely nothing for hours at a time.  When I am traveling and in the hotel room, doing nothing is great, because I have spent a long day working very hard.  But a full day of this is too much for me and I definitely need to find a way to fill my time.  The good news is for a change I actually have time to fill, which is a very nice problem to have.

Lessons Learned

  • Say a quick hi to your neighbors
  • Carry organic dog biscuits in the trailer, it’s a great excuse to introduce yourself
  • Take the cap off the sewer pipe
  • Pay attention when your husband connects the sewer up, you never know when you might have to do it

Crunchy Cool Cole Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 (16oz) package of coleslaw mix
  • 1 large carrot peeled into thin strips
  • 1 crisp apple (julienned)
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (shelled and split)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  1. In a large bowl combine first 5 ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl whisk remaining ingredients
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to coat

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Just Camping

We have spent a considerable amount of our camping time taking in the sites or running errands, so this weekend we decided we would just camp. with the exception of one trip to the farmer’s market (which I will talk about in a bit).  Relaxing (for me at least) is not as easy as it sounds, and in my opinion is a skill that for some must be learned.  I personally intend on perfecting the skill 🙂

I was working in Albany this week so Lee and I selected one of the campgrounds that we liked from our weekend research trip that was located somewhat in the middle between Keene and Albany.  We met on the site, landing within 10 minutes of each other and for me it was a beautiful drive across Vermont farm country on Route 11.  Despite the pretty drive it was a bit difficult to just dive right in.  I was still in work mode and did not find it that easy to make the adjustment.   Thankfully the setup went very well, with me focusing on the inside and Lee on the outside and the weather cooperated with a nice and reasonable temperature.  We had gotten our first choice (Site 117) and it was even bigger than I remembered.  This lot is fantastically large.  We easily fit the truck, camper, and my car on it and could have fit several more cars to spare.  It is well wooded which we like and the campsite was quiet and not crowded.  I have to say based on the site alone, any other campground would be hard pressed to match it, and we settled in for a pleasant stay.

Since I was out-of-town, Lee selected a couple of recipes from my growing “try it” pile and completed the shopping.  I don’t think I mentioned it, but for years I have collected old and unusual cookbooks.  Since I travel so much, they have largely been collecting dust, but over the past month while at home, I have been looking at them and cutting out any recipes I thought were interesting.   Yes I did feel a twinge for cutting up books, but many of these I have had for 15 plus years and it was the only way for me to make sure the recipes actually got used.   The end results is a small plastic coupon holder that is now full of recipes to try, and the results of those experiments are what occasionally show up on these pages.  As I mentioned before, I am only experiencing a 50% success rate, but apparently Lee is a better selector than I am because all three of his recipes were good!!!

The next morning we were up bright and early and Lee asked me to try to find a farmer’s market to supplement his meal choices with some fresh veggies.  Perkinsville is really in the middle of no where, and the closest one I could find was 45 minutes away, but he quickly found a farmers market that opened at 10am within a 10 minute drive.  Lee is the Goggle zen master 🙂 So we jumped in the care and drove to the market.  It was basically a large roadside stand, but they had tons of products from local growers.  While there we bought the mushrooms for that night’s dinner and I found some homemade dog biscuits for visiting puppies at the sites.  We decided to not bring our dog on these trips (she’s a bit of a princess and incredibly high maintenance) but I do enjoy talking to other people and petting their dogs.  The organic dog biscuits were just the thing and should be acceptable to any dog owner, even those who have dogs with special dietary issues. In addition they had small chunks of local Vermont cheese… yummy.

After the farmers market we went into town (basically a cross roads and a few stores) and went into the grocery store/deli to pick up some dishwasher soap.  It was amazingly well stocked (if small) and had its own little salad bar and hot bar for $5.99 a pound.  We both made a salad for lunch and Lee got a couple of yummy ribs that had just been cooked to take back to the campsite.  “Foraging” for local food is fun and in this case reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.  Next we went across the street to the local feed store to look for a wire grill cleaning brush.  I had been using a plastic one and it wasn’t getting the job down, and luckily they had exactly what we needed.  In addition, I picked up a great pair of rubber farm boots for $20 and two bags of kiln dried kindling for $4.95 a piece.  I love feed stores and have fond memories of visiting them as a child, but had forgotten how much of an eclectic selection they could contain.

Finally we stopped at one more farmer’s market (I couldn’t help myself it had a statue of a goat outside that grabbed my attention) and picked up a little jar of honey, maple cotton candy, eggs, and some egg salad all locally made.  It was a nice little trip to see the area and only took an hour or so, and then we were back at the campsite.

Dinner that night was an unqualified success, Beef Satay, Mushrooms, and Roasted potatoes then we watched a movie and went to bed.  Oh yes somewhere in the day I took a nice long nap.  In my real life I never nap but the fresh air and soothing sounds of the birds made a nap just the thing, so between some solid sleep at night and the nap I feel VERY well rested. Since the campground is so inexpensive $70 for three full days Fri – Sun, we paid for the extra day and will take our time leaving.  Stoughton Pond is within walking distance and if it’s warm enough we want to try out our kayaks, which Lee brought in the truck.  Overall the trip was very nice and relaxing and definitely showed the value of just camping.

Lessons Learned

  • When driving to the campsite straight from work allow a little extra time to decompress
  • Just camping is fun

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Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.  Search Amazon.com here