31-Day Challenge: Day 22

Editor’s Note: I didn’t fall off the daily writing wagon, I swear. Our spotty internet was rendered useless by a day’s bad weather, and never recovered. The posts will be transcribed from my notebook and post dated asap.


Write about a family vacation you took as a child.


This one is a piece of cake because we almost always took the same vacation. With a few exceptions when my grandparents wanted to take everyone to Disney World, we went camping in Upper Michigan every summer.

I had a bit of a flashback to that time today, in fact. BV’s birthday present was leaning against the door when we got back home last night but since we were too exhausted to unpack it last night, he did it after work today. He had changed his mind as to what he wanted several times before I ordered it, so he had almost no idea what he was unwrapping.

As the packing materials fell away and the metal pieces spilled out onto the floor, he realized what it was and started to laugh. We’d been discussing our need for a new grill in the summer, and his last birthday request had been a tripod. The pieces came together slowly and the enormous circular grate was the final part. As we started to figure out how to put it all together, I picked up the chain and it slid through my fingers.

You know how some things jog incredibly strong memories? Sometimes it’s a smell, or a song, or a taste (Speculoos, that took me straight back to my grandma H’s house), and this was one of those times.

Since we went camping mostly when I was a kid, and when I was a sullen and cranky teenager I’m sure I wasn’t helping with set up, but picking up that chain just took me straight back to a wooded campsite. Whenever I touched that chain, I’m sure it wasn’t anywhere near as silvery and clean as the one that arrived today, instead covered in smoky ash or slightly sticky from years of use.

We had a small Coleman camping stove that we used for cooking when camping, but in my memory that was mostly brought out at breakfast time. Coffee was brewed on the stove in a splatter-painted black canister that matched the rest of the camping dishes. Evening meals however, were mostly prepared on the tripod over the fire. Maybe it was hot dogs, maybe it was fish if we had been lucky that day.

After dinner the grate was removed so we could roast marshmallows over the fire. I’m not sure if we’ll be doing much of that with our new tripod, considering the fact that Hershey’s bars and graham crackers are fairly hard to find here. Marshmallows are possible but all the ones that I’ve come across here have had an odd consistency. We’ll see.

A bit of discussion was needed but we found a spot in our garden that we’ll test out for a permanent tripod location. There are trees everywhere and not much open grass that I want to sacrifice, but I think the spot we’ve chosen should work. I think we’ll have to clean out the area around it a little bit, but I hope that pretty soon we’ll be able to sit around it in the summer evenings. Especially after all the outdoor time we had in the last few days, that’s something I feel like I need to be doing more of.


Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.



4 thoughts on “31-Day Challenge: Day 22

  1. Rewe/Edeka should have Digestive biscuits, which I am told can be used as a substitute for Graham crackers in recipes. Can’t help with the Hersheys though. And I don’t know about marshmallows having a weird consistency… maybe British marshmallows have a weird consistency too then? Rewe in Karlsruhe used to have bags of big marshmallows labelled “American BBQ marshmallows”, but I never tried them.

    • Have actually gone down that road before with some German friends who gathered exactly those things to attempt s’mores. It was a “nice try but no dice” situation (not that I said that, I’m not a total jerk), haha. Not sure how to explain the marshmallows… almost like they were too hard. Like they’d gone stale or something. Not sure, and haven’t repeated it since so basing this on memory. Just going to have to go camping again in the States sometime, I guess. Preferably after they stop being completely insane over there. 😉

      • Hmm.. I have had marshmallows in Germany that seemed a bit hard, but I just assumed they actually were stale! I feel like this requires investigating 😉

      • Pretty sure I also thought they were stale. So either they’re all stale or that’s just how they are here? (Calls ‘not it’ on buying a bunch of marshmallows to test)

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