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Camping Weekend and Catching the Decorah Bug

Last weekend, Lindz, Dave (told you he’d be showing up), and I went down to Iowa for a camping weekend.  We went to our usual haunt on the Upper Iowa river next to Randy’s Bluffton Store in, well, Bluffton, IA.  Lindz and I have been camping here for quite a few years with different friends and occasionally even by ourselves.  This was Dave’s first trip to northeast Iowa.  He had heard quite a bit about life there from me, Lindz, and Martha (who also went to Luther College).  While he didn’t get to spend much time in Decorah proper, he did greatly enjoy camping north of town.  He said so himself.  And the way he described it was that he caught the “Decorah Bug.”

We did not do anything terribly exciting.  Sat around, watched the fire, BS’ed, and just generally relaxed.  My personal highlight was sitting next to the fire, having a bloody mary, smoking a cigar, and reading some back issues of Cook’s Illustrated.  Basically, it was an indulgence to all of my vices at once.

Here are some images just to make you jealous of the R&R the three of us desperately needed and fortunately got.

Our freaking massive tent that I can actually stand up in.

The bluffs and the Upper Iowa.

A good river to canoe/tube/kayak on if you don’t mind bottoming out regularly on the rocky bottom.

When we go camping we tend to keep the meals pretty simple because everything just seems to taste better cooked over a campfire.  We do a really basic breakfast of bacon and eggs.  Throughout the day we just tend to snack when we get hungry and then make Hobo Dinners for supper one night.  On half of a sheet of tin foil, put in some burger and veggies of your choice and whatever you would like for seasoning.  Fold it over and roll the edges to seal it up and then put on another layer of tin foil (less likely to puncture and have everything fall out).  Make as many packets as you have meat/veggies.  Put the packet on a grate or on some cooler coals to cook.  Ours always puffs up like Jiffy Pop from the steam inside.  That is how I know that it is hot enough.  If you put in potatoes, cut them fairly small because they are usually the last thing to fully cook.  This last batch that I made included hamburger, onions, carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, garlic salt, and some steak rub.  I ended up cooking each packet for about 8 minutes per side.  Obviously, pick and choose whatever you want to throw in here and season to your preferences.

Somehow I even managed to get grill marks inside this packet.

By no means you need to keep things this simplistic.  One time we camped next to a middle aged Marine who had an easy half dozen dutch ovens that he cooked in.  He didn’t make these while we were there but he said he did chicken cordon bleu and peach cobbler once.  He was kind enough to give Lindsay a plate of homemade biscuits and gravy one morning.  Completely made her weekend.  For that he has my respect (as if serving our country wasn’t enough) and to him I say: Semper Fidelis.

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