Emergency Preparedness

By Keith Fisher

I’m on a personal writer’s retreat today. I’m so close to being finished with this book I just had to take a few days and knock it out. Anyway, as you might have guessed, I’m not disclosing the location because I don’t want to be interrupted. Suffice it to say I’m someplace in the state of Utah.

You know it sure is nice to have your own camp trailer so you can disappear. Of course that brings up an interesting subject dear to my heart. Years ago, before the invention of all our modern conveniences, like dirt, I used to store all my camping gear neatly on a shelf. I didn’t have a garage so the shelf was in a tin shed.

Anyway, when I got ready to go camping, I’d pull up to the shed, toss everything into the truck, and drive into the mountains.

When I got to where I wanted to camp, I quickly discovered the things I’d forgotten to bring. Little things like food, a sleeping bag because . . . oh yeah, I let my brother borrow that, and a coat. Along with the irritation of forgetting things, came the problem of tripping over all the unneeded and useless equipment. The stuff I should have discarded years ago, but in my haste to unpack after camping the time before, I just put it back on the shelf.

Oh the joys of camping in the good old days.

Then, I acquired a wife. (Nice invention, I think every man ought to be owned by one). Shortly after our vows were said, She wanted to prove to me that I’d made a wise choice. She agreed to go car camping with me. Notice I said car camping, and not backpacking? I wanted to take along the modern conveniences because we all know it’s a good idea to be considerate of a lady. I even planned the trip. I took the things I needed, and not those things I didn’t.

It went well, except we were on a four-wheel drive trip, way up in the mountains. No bathroom, no running water, and our bed was a foam rubber pad on the floor of a tent. (But it was a cabin tent so she didn’t have to get dressed behind a tree).

On top of all that, It rained most of the time. We were above 9,000 feet so it was cold at night. I had fun exploring old mine shafts, playing in the mud with my truck, and building shelters from the rain so she could come out of the tent.

Now I should be fair and tell you I’m an inconsiderate oaf, but I think you’ve already surmised that. In my defense, however, I would say I warned her. After that trip, which, by the way, will go down in my book, as one of the best camping trips I ever took. Not just because I spent time in the mountains with my wife, but because I actually had everything I needed on the trip, and nothing I didn’t.

Anyway, after we came home, I began to look for lightweight campers to go on my truck. When I found one, in a field, I brought it home. A whole New World of camping opened up for me. Gone, were the days of the shelf. The camper was filled with everything I needed and some things I didn’t. Well you get the picture.

As you might have guessed, I needed a trailer so I didn’t have to load the camper on the truck. I could back up to the trailer, hook it on and go. I also needed one, because I now had more stuff to fill it with.

When my daughter was born, my wife let it be known that yes, we now needed a trailer with a bathroom. (Enough said about that). We found one in another field. Remember the point was to get a trailer with a bathroom? Well, the owner guaranteed the plumbing worked.

Can anyone say, Buyer beware? I won’t bore you with all the details, well, I might mention it sometime, on a cold rainy night, when I want to tell ghost, and horror stories. Lets just say that in 2002, after a very disappointing deer hunt, spent in the company of my sick brother. I took my truck into the shop and made the mistake of telling my wife, "Let’s go look at new trailers."

My fate was sealed. But you know . . . I kind of like it. Here I sit, writing this blog in the comfort of my trailer. I’m going to take a shower in a little while. For Lunch, I might make pork chop casserole in a Dutch oven.

Okay, I admit it. Life is better without all the fuss of retrieving gear from the shelf. I can hook up the trailer and be gone in moment. We have food stored in the cabinets, clothes in the closet. Towels on the towel rack. The Light-weight pots and pans live in the trailer, (not that we ever use them, with Dutch ovens in the cubby hole outside.)

My neighbor is fond of telling me that I have the best 72-hour kit there is, parked in my driveway, outside my house. If you’re into that kind of thing, it’s a good excuse. "It’s not a waste of money. I’m preparing for emergencies."


Recipe provided by Tom Jackson

12" Dutch oven or heavy pot
1 1/2 lbs. cut up chicken
1 lb. smoked beef sausage, chopped
1 lb. cubed ham
3-4 chopped red/green peppers
1 or 2 chopped onions
2 cups sliced celery
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 cup rice
1 cup water
several minced garlic cloves (to taste)
2-3 oz. hot sauce
1/2 lb. tail off shrimp (optional)

Preparation:Brown the chicken, sausage and ham then add the peppers, onions, celery, chopped tomatoes, rice, water, minced garlic cloves and hot sauce. Bake in your Dutch oven or large pot until rice is completely done - approximately 1 hour.
Shrimp or other seafood like crab meat may be added for extra flavor, but add only for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

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Sometimes, Simple is Best

By Keith Fisher

I went camping last weekend. I had planned to leave the house by ten, noon at the latest. I could’ve been writing or doing other work but I ended up doing busy work while I waited for my brother.

When we arrived, I barely had enough time to level the trailer and light a fire in my portable fireplace before darkness fell. (Not enough time to cook a Dutch oven meal.)

So there I sat, enjoying the comforting glow of a great campfire, when my hunger made my mind stray to thoughts of what I could make for supper. I asked Dad, and he didn’t want anything. My daughter had eaten chow mein before we left, so I was left with my hunger and thoughts of a solitary meal.

I grabbed the bratwurst and hotdogs. The marshmallow roasters, condiments, buns and a soda. I staggered back to my chair and proceeded to roast a brat.

After watching awhile, Dad caved in. He asked for one. I gave him a roaster. My Daughter came out of the trailer, sniffed the air and asked for a hot dog.

Ahh . . . life’s simple pleasures. It wasn’t Dutch oven cooking but it was just as good that evening. The icing on the cake came when the setting sun cast beams of light around the backside of Mount Timpanogos.

There was a full moon all night and the fish were able to eat at night, so fishing the next day, left a lot to be desired. I got some work done on my novel, and I made banana pancakes for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch.

My purpose in going on this trip was to let my daughter get some fishing in and to be with my family. I also hoped to get some writing done. My Dutch ovens didn’t get used, but I got some editing done. We had simple meals but they were good. My Dutch ovens will be ready for next time, and hopefully, my editing will be done.

One word of advice: If you have a camp trailer, turn off your propane between camping trips. I got up to reset the warning light on the fridge about thirty times before my brain figured out that maybe there was a connection to the fact the furnace wasn't working. 1:30 a.m. is not a good time to find out that both Propane tanks are empty. I had to use my shorter, cooking bottle, and I had to rig it so it would fit.

Here's my recipe for banana pancakes. Enjoy.

Banana Pancakes

Mix up your favorite pancake batter, cut up a banana into half-inch chunks. Sprinkle them on the pancake before turning pancake over. Cook other side, and you have Banana pancakes. This also works for other kinds of fruits and raisins. Let me know if you find a good combination.

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