Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Night At Canton Lake

It was incredibly warm---in the low 70’s. For Oklahoma this time of year, this was amazing, even if short lived. By Tuesday night, the low is forecast to be back down to 5-deg. However, it was a great chance to take all the gear down to Canton Lake for a real-life trial. It seemed there’d be no better way to make sure all the equipment was ready to go than to rely on it for a couple days while trying to use every piece.

It was warm enough that I was riding with the truck window down. When I drove up onto the dam, I was at the leeward end of the lake, and in an instant the temperature dove at least five, if not ten, degrees from the wind sweeping across the cold water of the lake. The last time I was down to the lake it was frozen. Now there was no ice anywhere, but ice and snow were still caked in the riprap along the dam and shoreline.

All the facilities were locked at the campground, but I did find a frost-free water hydrant for fresh water. As soon as the tent was up, I began scouting for some dead wood for a small fire later. A lot of the state is under a burn ban because of the dry 20-25 mph wind, but this area was not included. Also, at sunset the wind went dead calm, but I finally still decided against the fire.

I started the Coleman single-burner propane stove to heat water, and got out a package of freeze-dried Mountain House Turkey Tetrozzini with turkey, asparagus, spaghetti noodles, mushrooms, pimientos, chicken stock, all in a rich gravy sauce. The directions say it is a dinner for two. Not so. I had heard this before, and it’s true---one envelope is one serving, period. I had made a cozy (an insulated container we’ll talk about more later) to save on gas, so as soon as it was boiling, I poured the water and dinner ingredients into the cozy to let it sit and make dinner. This eliminates the need to keep the stove going for simmering. The cozy worked so well that even after sitting for a half-hour, dinner was still hot enough I had to blow on each bite before eating. As the sun set, it was all rounded off with a big mug of steaming hot cider.

There was an amazing amount of wildlife that began to stir once it was dark. I heard several coyotes, a couple owls, several large, screaming birds I couldn’t begin to identify, and a small critter rustling about in the brush behind the tent. I’m very particular about not having food around the tent, or allowing any food spillage or even wash water from dishes in camp, so usually am not bothered by animals smelling and seeking food. After a walk to enjoy the brilliant stars so visible in the total darkness, I hit the bedroll.

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