Billy's Mom, her friend (Billy's sister's mother-in-law, to be precise) and our niece were staying in one of the park's many nice cabins nearby. They had invited us to a potluck dinner for the night, so everyone wandered off to prepare supplies and drive over. My Dad arrived to stay for the evening, too. Billy's brother-in-law was frying a turkey, and the rest of us provided appetizers and side dishes. It was like Thanksgiving in June!
I threw together some potatoes, cooking them in the microwave first (because I was short on time) and cutting them up, then tossing them with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and fresh thyme. Finally I browned them in the oven before serving. Yum!
Some of us sat on the screened porch to eat and chat, and everyone else had fun groaning and offering commentary on some terrible TV movie. Billy's brother had brought their little dog, who was leashed with us on the screened porch. (Dogs were not allowed in the cabin.) One of my nephews' friends sat under the stars and practiced some songs on his acoustic guitar. It was a mellow, relaxing little family gathering.
As we were clearing up and washing dishes, there came a knock on the cabin's door. Yes, it was a park ranger. Yes, we were breaking rules again. What was the problem this time? Apparently we had too many people in the cabin. We weren't making too much noise, we hadn't bothered a single soul, and we weren't damaging any property or otherwise causing a disturbance. The fire regulations limit cabin occupants to 8 people, so apparently that means no more than 8 people can be physically inside the cabin at any given time. The ranger had stopped because there were several cars in the cabin driveway. Bonus for him: we had an illegal dog leashed on the porch. (Who had behaved beautifully, by the way.) Such was the end of our little family gathering. Luckily, we'd been preparing to leave anyway. Oh, well. We returned to camp that night mostly without incident (Except for my sister-in-law, who missed a turn and ended up outside the park gate. Can you believe, they totally lock the park down at 10 pm? It took her 5 phone calls to get the code to get back in. Every time we turned around we felt like adolescents getting caught: breaking rules, having illicit parties, breaking curfew. . . It was a bit ridiculous.)
As a special treat, I made ice cream, and served it up cold and soft with strawberries and syrup. We shared it out under our tarp lit with glimmering Christmas lights, as the barred owls hooted and called all around. A cat came visiting, and I gave it a few licks of half and half and some good ear scratches. It was another pleasant end to an adventurous day.
3 days ago