Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Farm Party, Fall 2013

1.  Getting There.

We left at 8:30 a.m.   It was cool, 48 degrees.  We drove south down Hanley and it was sunny.  There was a speed trap on Hanley before 64/40, a cop on a bike in boots with a gun.  It was twelve minutes down Hanley to 44.  It was another five minutes to 270.  We passed a deer opened up.  Billboards.  84 Lumber.  We saw a county cop out past Lone Elk Park.  Fall colors.

I'm congested, a cold I can't shake.  The Meramec.  Two miles to Eureka.  A guy in a Civic was reading a road atlas, alternately looking over bifocals at the road ahead.  Fastenal, Sherwin Williams.  Six Flags.  A tiny field with hay bales.

We lost the sports talk station signal at Union/50 West.  A Meramec Caverns advert: panning for gemstones.  Vistas, hills.  Maples gone orange.  Pacing, rhythm, tepees.  Jesse James Wax Museum, Rolla in 50.  A turkey vulture, a field of sorghum.  A store in Sullivan called Outdoor Gear.  A red pickup's bed full of pumpkins.  The sky interspersed with just a few smudgy clouds.  A car pulled over by the Bourbon Police.

Speed limit 70.  Hay bales for sale, some maybe from the spring.  Grapevines.   4M Vineyards.  St James.  A little stand where grapes are for sale, brimming bowls on the counter.  Exit 195, which we reached in 91 minutes.  68 West.  Country Bob's Café—always packed.  Jct V, Missouri out in front of us.  The Bourbeuse.  Longhorns lying down.  Speed limit 55.

Fallen limbs and trees that would make great firewood.  A robin flies across the road.  Then a blue jay.  Wood: $100/cord.  Jct 63.  A right—north.  Hundreds of hay bales, the airstrip.  What's left after the hay is cut and baled?  Clean, green grass.  Getting passed in a no-pass.  Spring Creek Gap Conservation Area.  The vista looking southwest.  The Gasconade.

An uphill, an additional lane.  We take it and are promptly passed.  Signs for The Catfish Patch.  B says she likes it out here but that there's a lot of meth.  How do you know I ask her.  I see a lot of meth billboards, she says, I'm assuming there's a bunch of meth.

A fire at the Dairy Park.  We think it's recent.  Forty miles to Jeff City.  Vienna.  G & W Foods. We stop for gas and the restroom.  I pass up a penny in the parking lot.  I do the windshield.  Done, I lean against the side of the Jeep.  The sun's been working it.  It's warm against me while a light breeze is crisp.  I see something glinting.  It's a nickel.  That I don't pass up.

A guy adding a new coat of paint to a huge propane tank.  42W to Iberia.  Fly Creek.  I'm on my phone and B sees an eagle—fanned out white tail, white head—as big a bird as one can find 'round here.  Little Maries River.  Jct 133—the jog.  North, then a quick right—a car or two parked out in that island—commuters?  A Sinclair, the brontosaurus logo.  Little Tavern Creek.  Entering Miller County.  Donkeys.  Greasy Creek.  Tt.

2.  Early Outfitting Thoughts.

fleece—water repellant?
duck boots
plastic sheeting
even more trash bags
waders/Ryan's yellow rain outfit (Gorton's)

3. A Rainy Night, The Morning After.

A Friday night in October,
standing in the rain, Cardinals Game 6
on the radio—warming, drying ourselves
by the fire.  A steady, spitter of a rain—
going under the tree for a break.  More wood, more
wood—the cedar, sloughed together by
the summer's flood.  Foil caps for our metal
cups.  Coals under the grate.  Potatoes, in
foil, set on coals in a group.  Turned,
took—70-80 minutes?  Eaten plain, its
skin the condiment.

The next morning: "Fought
through a shitty night for a glorious
Saturday."  Bars, Kind Bars.  Wiffle ball,
disc golf.  Chairs, the log carrier.  Holding
a jacket, a shirt over the fire to dry it.  Holding
gloves there, a hat.  The grill glove.  Croissants
w/ pumpkin filling and whip cream.  A garbage
bag as a poncho.

4.  Sunday morning Solo.

Baked potatoes, 4 for $10!
The Shrimp Boil was—
corn, potays, scrimp; garlic
cloves—strewn out across the
table on newspaper.

Sixteen camping chairs,
nine coolers.  The wood we'd piled high
on the trailer is almost gone.  My phone is
charging in the house—that was
my only time in the house this trip.  Two
pickup trucks down here, one stubborn
tractor, two full trash bags, one
that could be full.

On water: got most of an Evian tall-boy left,
about one full 2-gallon jug, one-sixth of my
Nalgene.  The Old Crow is 80 percent gone.

A paper bowl with ten meatballs.  Another
bowl with scallions and a black plastic spork.

Imitation bacon bits.

Two 26 ounce iodized salt containers—one
empty, one fill (for stumps, among other things).

An open, two-thirds full plastic container of sour cream, with
a metal spoon in it.  Spray butter,
hand sani, two rocks, a
barely opened bottle of Sour Splash
sour apple liqueur, an unopened can
of raspberry pie filling, an opened
half-full can of blueberry pie filling, a
metal knife, two beer cans (High Life,
empty, partly crushed, a Bud Light
mostly full).  A Coca Cola Cherry Zero,
mostly gone.  One ziploc with tea,
Via, and Emergen-c).  One of our metal
cups, a blue plastic cap to a mostly empty
two-gallon jug of water, salt shaker,
pepper shaker, plastic cap to butter spray,
ziploc with twelve plastic knives and three
plastic forks—dogs howling and barking
in the distance—crows—cardinals chitting—
eight paper bowls, stacked, unused—a
ziploc with dirty rice, a bottle of Zatarain's
concentrated shrimp and crab boil—at least
two of the three people in tents down here snoring—a
four-and-a-half pound glass jar of Zatarain's
CRAB BOIL, half full.  A fairly hefty metal
knife with a black plastic sheath, metal tongs, two two-
pronged roasting spits, unused newspaper (mostly
ad inserts), three unused styrofoam bowls, a glass casserole
dish of mostly eaten cornbread, now mostly crumbs and
stuck-to edges.

Now away from the table.

Four pie irons, my hoodie draped over the back
of my chair.  On the ground a survey of beer cans:

Bud Light, 14 (one unopened)
Founder's All Day IPA, 2
Bud Select, 1
Third Shift Amber Lager (bottle), 1
Paul's Pale Ale (bottle), 1
O'Dell's IPA, 1
Pabst, 1

Also on the ground:

A Black & Decker flashlight—a mozzarella cheese singles pack, one slice left—one half-gone twin french bread—a mini red lighter (it works)—wiffle ball—can jam canisters (2)—can jam frisbee—a crushed empty water bottle (with the lid on)—

Another two-pronged spit—a metal set-up table (contents listed later)—the picnic bench (contents listed later)—hammock—two of the camping chairs, downwind of the fire, have all kinds of soot and ash on them—a blue bag, for storing a chair—our grill gable—the box for said "Lumberjack" grill—the box has a second pair of tongs on it, the ones with the red plastic handle coating—my metal cup (with Old Crow in it, some of which I poured last night and some of which I poured this morning)—three of four sheets of still-connected toilet paper (does not look used)—some freshly trimmed branches—some cedar branches with the green still on—the yellow plasticky/nylon cord we used to tie down the haul of wood we went and got on put on the trailer late yesterday afternoon—the can jam box—more sounds of crows—all kinds of wood detritus—shovel—paper plate—wiffle ball bat—a black skull banner—wrapper for Al Capone mini cognac cigars—insert tag for "Timber Ridge—Zero Gravity Lounger"—an Aqua Fina bottle almost empty—a prop-up, old-school tope-colored metal card table with faked leather top—four chairs for that table, two at or under table, two further away—an orange, really long extension cord that I plugged my iPhone and charger into, hoping for a major charging coup, only to find that the cord must have been pulled from its source at the house at some point early this morning (said cord powered the boom box last night)—a plastic, 20-gallon sterilite container with black rectangular, snap-up handles—a tent bag—the pants part of Ryan's rain suit—

The box—what old, wet cardboard is that?—for one of our chairs I think—seven discs, six are mine, the white Valkyrie is not—a green plastic bag [author's note: it was not even a green plastic bag, it was a green plastic poncho, which I now have!]—the fire—two or three stones near the fire that give a vague sense of someone thinking about making a fire pit/ring—a baker's dozen of foil-wrapped potays—Nick comes down and gets sunglasses off of the first-mentioned metal prop-up table (before I have a chance to catalogue them...)—

5.  Sunday Morning Rendezvous.
Just thinking out loud here.  A compost/pitch fork would be useful for the fire...to sift...

As of eight o'clock Sunday morning?  We have seven pieces of texas toast left.  We've run out of paper towels down here.  Also, I had to go back to the Jeep for more tin foil at one point because....  I've got burrs in my sweater, dozens of them.  They are brown, not round, not quite diamond-shaped.  Two centimeters wide?  I'm wasting time trying to pick them off of me.  Already this morning: business; ate the rest of a left-open bag of sea salt and vinegar kettle chips; drank a double shot and a coffee + energy drink; brushed my teeth; changed from crox to boots—

B and Doug up.  Doug was technically second, I neglected to mention him make a cameo earlier before ducking back into his tent down here.  Nick Mick was third, he who had come down for his shades and now, sadly, has left the farm altogether—got to get back to Louisiana, 11 hours...

Then Patrick, then AM—gun shots in the distance—"Clothes-wise, I had the right amount."—"I'll make y'all some cinnamon rolls."—"How 'bout a potato?"—trash bag filling up—pick a couple more burrs off—I think my not-brought fleece would have been better to imperve/frustrate would-be burrs—or puffy coat—or rain jacket—"There's three more cookies."—"The toilet pipe filled up."—with all this ground 'round us—a 1.5L of Diet Mountain Dew, half full—a burn mark on the right cuff of my long green T, peeking out from 'neath my grey wool sweater—Patrick in an orange puffy coat—AM in a light blue puffy coat—B in black fleece—Doug in a grey, zip-up hoody—Patrick with only one black glove on (left hand)—"Somebody's quail hunting or somethin."—"Shotgun."—"Quail, dove—whatever."

A breeze.  Light, pleasant.  Blue, blue sky.  One wisp of a cloud in all the sky I can see.  More crows, chirps of dozens of other birds.  A blue jay's "kee-auk".  Ryan P and Candy still in their octagonal orange tent.  I fretted and crept earlier but it did not stir them.  There is yellow light in the tops of the trees.  Around us, these two days, a million leaves have fallen.  A trillion ashes collected at our feet.  Patrick has the kettle on, his back to the fire.  Miz is next, with cutoff sweats as outer shorts over jeans.  "We've got a survivor," he says, picking up the unopened can of Bud Light.  He is going around and picking up the beer cans over in the Can Jam area that so willingly participated in my informal survey.  He snags the wiffle ball bat and a chair.

Ryan K, in Washington Nationals shorts and a t-shirt, drains a cooler, grabs a chair or two.  Then Ryan P and Candy.  Then E Van.  E Van unwraps and tosses a potay—it lands with a thud.  I go and get more wood from the creek bed.  Patrick helps, drags back a cedar.  E Van is working on the tractor.  Will it start?  "Putt, putt, huff, huff."  "Come on, baby!"  "Now we have liftoff!"  "Don't start counting your chickens yet."

Patrick saws.  B offers up the last two cinnamon rolls.  Bucky and Sarah are down, getting their stuff together.  There was a day, down here, the first Sunday, when we were eager for getaway....

E Van backs the tractor up the hill.  Proud, with an orange plastic spool, is rolling up that extension cord.

"How did you and Ryan meet?" someone asks Candy.

"Pat set us up."

"Oh God."

The End.

6.  Epilogue: Need/Thoughts.

• Bring at least one other bucket—empty?

• Bring veg oil and a ziploc for pie iron storage; take it home ready to store.

• How can we use Chinet more efficiently?  Mark on bottom with pen?  Stash in a bag?  (So it doesn't get thrown away.)

• My boots were OK in the rain but the Bean boots would have been better.
• Seal bottom/floor/edge seams of tent.

• I could've used more socks—a variety of thicknesses—two thin, two mid, two thick.

• Get another tarp.

• Are we gonna use a liner/tarp inside the tent?  We had some water come in at the edge—but it rained for hours.  The fly seemed fine.  Water also came up from the bottom—condensation?  Hard to say.

• The bucket was a great waystation.

• Get another Ken Onion—good knife—I'm always taking it in and out of the e-kit.

• The chainsaw chain is dull and needs sharpening.

• I really like using the shovel to move coals, dig a hole, play with the fire—it was Eric's—if enough room: bring own?  Did see a compost fork-type implement in the screen room.

• I liked getting there early.  I would gladly do another night—Thursday—"the chill night"—go for a hike at Ha Ha Tonka Friday a.m.

• I did not use the safety pins but they were needed at one point.  I didn't have them on me and didn't want to go get them. (Magnets might also have done the trick.)

• The canopy a la Doug saved us for the homestretch of the Cardinals win.  Either me or Patrick needs to get one.

• I didn't use the Neosporin but it's a "must bring".

• Think more about what to have in pockets, or in a cache by the fire (bucket)—lip balm, lighters, drugs mix, paper clips and safety pins, extra gloves, hat, foil, sharpie, pen and paper, bars, etc.

• I did not use the long johns but I did wear three different pairs of pants.  It got down to 36 degrees (my estimate) on Friday night, so it wasn't exactly warm but to go through the process of changing out of my current clothes and into longies...I'm saying it would have to have been below 30 degrees.  It's always warm by the fire and I didn't really spend much time away from it, other than to use the telescope.

• I thought about taking a shower Friday after the chainsawing I did.  But I never took it.

• My phone got rundown when I started an audio recording Friday night and then forgot about it.  Two hours and forty-nine minutes later, in the tent, half-conscious, I realized the phone was still going and might battery had gone from 97% to 50%.  The audio recording was not useful.

• Wipes.  The wipes are big time.

• All kinds of plastic bags.  Ziplocs, grocery bags, trash bags with strings.  And they'd be a nice add to the fire bucket.

•  As far as cleaning myself, I used those wipes and then I did alcohol/cotton pads.

• I parked up by the barn.  Kinda far away, but I wanted to leave room open for other cars and I also moved a second time for disc golf reasons.

• Disc golf: Not nearly as easily done.  Didn't play a whole lot—played three or four holes early, then played five the next day.  The field was grown out, bearded.  It would have been impossible to play out there.  Pat and I played one hole out there and I nearly lost my Nuke.  So we make-shifted around/through the house/camp area and it was alright.

• Both of our rain jackets failed an albeit tough test Friday night in the rain.  We were standing in a steady rain for five to six hours, but still.  Ponchos would have done better.  There was a poncho in the Jeep (that thing has been in the Jeep for like twelve years, unused) but I never gave it serious thought.  I think my fleece would have been better, because rain would have beaded up on it.  I also now have Pat's green poncho!  To dry our coats afterward I held them over the fire.  That did, perhaps, get them dry faster but they also absorbed a lot of campfire smoke and they now reek.

• There was only one tick sighting.  That was Jeanie and she said it was because she had just walked through a bunch of brush.  I sprayed my boots and pants really good early.  That said, the flies and bees were a pain in the ass.  Fly paper?

• Should I have brought a bit of sunscreen?  My face is red.  Today (10/20) it hit 70 degrees, believe it or not.  Sunny.  Yesterday was 64 degrees and sunny.

• Hand sanitizer—can't have enough.

• Water—same deal.  We brought 5-6 gallons and probably drank/used 4.  Had it been warmer, we would've needed more.  I was good to have: some water in the Jeep, a gallon at the tent, a couple of gallons at the campfire.

• Boots—B's boots did well.  Mine might be slightly too small.

• I didn't need any newspaper, but it's essential.

• Batteries—I stashed some AAAs and some AAs in the pockets of the Jeep seats.  At one point I might've had my headlamp on in my pocket for awhile—not sure.

• I really like my Old Navy "Broken-In Khakis".  They are comfy enough to sit around in but also rugged enough for firewood duties.  The black Nike warm-up pants are on their way out—the pockets are terrible—but the pants themselves are very water-resistant and were admittedly good in the rain.

• Those cedars—how many did we burn?  Ha.  Dozens.

• It's 17:30 Sunday night.  I'm whooped, I still haven't showered.

• We got more rocks—maybe only 15 total, but bigger ones.  Two bigger, mini-boulders.

• Sleeping bags, tent, rain fly, clothes—they're all out on the deck airing out.

• That bag of sea salt & vinegar chips I ate this morning at 5:45.  Ha!  Loved it.

• B did awesome cooking for me—made me four turkey toasties.

• For rain conditions—pack and take the time to put newspaper sleeve footies on.

• Goddam!  I miss the place already.

• My grey sweater.  I was just now picking those diamond-shaped burrs off of it and tossing them over my deck's railing.  Their mission is accomplished!

• Hammer—that is some rocky ground up there: rocky and not that even.  One needs a hammer and some serious stakes.

Until next time, friends!

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