Some Things Should Not Go Together, Like Shopping And Camping

Nov 22, 2011 by

To me, the purpose of camping is to follow the proverbial mantra of “getting away from it all.”

Forget about work for a couple of days; unplug the electronics. All electronics – including all “i’s.” As in iPods, iPads, iPhones and any other “i” type device.

The only electronic exception, especially when you have 50-odd parents trying to ensure an even greater number of offspring don’t stab each other with sharpened sticks, is a large coffee urn. This is especially true when it’s 20 degrees outside and you’ve just woken up – or rather gotten up – because you didn’t sleep anyway.

And you can chuck your wallet in the deepest recess of your backpack. Because you are out in the woods and there is no mall. Again, you are out in the woods and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to buy.

Unless of course, you are the Little Black Dress.

This past weekend the Men of 47 (sometimes called the Cub Scouts of Pack 47) and their parental units spent the weekend in the woods. It was our annual fall campout and of course the first night it was beyond cold. But that is fodder for another blog.

The place we stayed was beautiful. It’s basically a privately-held reserve with hundreds of acres. There’s a small zoo, lots of bike and horse trails and some incredible camping areas.

And this past weekend, the staff also has a small festival – complete with a big old smoked pig. And they make cane syrup the old fashioned way. And they bring in some blacksmiths who show off their art.

I say art because that’s pretty much what it was. How people can take a piece of metal and turn it into something – a ladle, a spoon, a door knocker – is beyond me. These are true craftsmen.

So imagine the scene: you’ve got these guys with big hammers pounding away on chunks of red-hot steel and a big coal fire raging behind them. And every now and then they’d dump that molten steel in some water and there’d be this big hiss and cloud of steam and …

Yeah, the Men of 47 are all over that.

And, apparently, so is The Dress. Not so much the molten steel and steam and fire, but rather what comes after those craftsmen have finished pounding.

The ladles and spoons and spatulas and forks and other assorted serving pieces.

And apparently (I’m learning all this after the fact), The Dress spies a piece or two or three or four or … that she really likes. And apparently, (again, I’m learning all this post-fact), there’s some rather intense bargaining going on.

I pity that blacksmith. He is an artist, a master of his craft.

He stands no chance.

Because pretty soon The Dress comes up to me and asks if I have any money. And I’m figuring she wants to buy some real lemonade or kettle corn or something and she throws out some number she needs.

And I look at her and very bluntly tell her there is no way I’m buying lemonade and kettle corn for everyone and their brother who happens to be attending said festival.

And she goes on this long dissertation about how she has convinced the poor blacksmith to part with his handmade items that he’s – literally – slaved over a hot fire making and pounded for lord knows how long for a special combo rate of  half of half off. But she needs to pay him now.

And I try and point out that we’re camping and I really didn’t bring that much money. Because for some crazy idea I didn’t think the ice cream truck would somehow get to our camp and I’d end up buying ice cream for all the Men of 47 and their siblings.

And she walks off. And I realize I’d better figure out that whole loaves and fishes miracle thing.

So a few minutes later she comes back. And she needs one of my business cards. And I’m thinking to myself, why would I bring a business card on a camping trip? But I have learned and don’t say anything. I just dig in my wallet and sure enough, I find a crinkled up card and hand it to her. And she saunters off.

And she returns. Loaded down with about eight various ladles, spoons, slotted spoons, forks and whatnots.

And she proudly informs me she got them, not at half of half off, but half of half of half off.

And the blacksmith apparently agreed to part with his wares without any down payment.

Apparently, again, I’m learning all this post-fact, The Dress and the poor blacksmith agreed that The Dress would just mail a check.

And I realize only my precious Little Black Dress could go camping, find stuff to buy and convince the owner of said stuff to settle for a “check is in the mail.”

And she wasn’t even wearing The Dress.








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