M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Wednesday, August 31, 2005  

Fire in the Hole

As I mentioned several months ago, Trash and I have been planning to take M. Small on his first vacation out west. We planned to stay in hotels instead of camping, since we didn't really feel prepared to spend a week in a tent with a ten-and-a-half-month-old.

We're not planning to do that any more.

Oh, we're still going. But we're not staying in hotels. We're doing the full-on camping experience, sleeping under the stars, eating only what we can kill, and wearing clothes made from leaves and animal skins.

Okay, not really. But it's been a while since we cooked with propane, so it'll feel like roughing it.

I talked to my ex-bandmate Kraftmatik for tips on camping with a little one. He and his wife actually took their son camping when the tyke was only four or five months old. I can't imagine doing that with M. Small at his age. For one, thing camping in February in this part of the country is inadvisable under any circumstances.

Kraftmatik explained that it's actually easier to camp with a baby before he becomes mobile. You can just jam him in the crotch of a tree and go about your business. But once he can crawl and walk, you're constantly busy trying to keep him from crawling into the campfire, because, bright! Pretty!

Especially when Trash builds the fire. For some campers, fire-building is a science. For others, it's an art. For Trash, it's an Olympic event.

If you let her, she'll spend the whole evening making the fire hotter and hotter, turning the logs so that the unburned sides get exposed to the flames, blowing and fanning with large container lids, invoking Vulcan and what not until it's hotter than a forge. Seriously, a blacksmith would look at one of Trash's fires and say, "No thanks, I prefer to shape my horseshoes with a hammer, not a mold." On the last night of our two-week road trip in 1999, she literally got the fire so hot that aluminum cans burned in it. They didn't scorch, they didn't melt; they burned like a regular log in a regular fire. Not like the logs in this fire, of course, because by this point these logs were doing something that I can only describe as fusion. The campfire conversation was a little louder that night. Not just because of the wine, but also because the heat of the fire required a twenty-foot perimeter, and we had to shout across the distance between us. This fire was visible from space.

Cooling it down before going to bed was a task in itself. Trash tried to bank the coals, but the twenty-foot branch she was using burned down to half its length and became useless in less than a minute. We threw pots of water on it, which flash-boiled in midair. We assaulted it with entire coolers of icewater, the first few of which ignited merrily before disappearing altogether. After a few hours, a multi-pronged assault finally brought the fire down to a manageable level where Trash could bank the coals for the night. We all went to bed feeling like our tent was near the lip of an active volcano. When we got up the next morning to make breakfast, Trash got the fire roaring again by flipping a bottle cap at it. That fire pit probably didn't have snow on it all winter.

What with the baby in the mix this time around, Trash is going to have to curb her pyrokinetic skills. But maybe not as much as we thought. When shopping for camping equipment and baby bug spray last night, she came upon a miniature, freestanding, screened-in canopy just the right size for a camping toddler. It's like a tiny little tent, designed to protect a little one from excessive bugs and sun. Just zip him inside and he's all safe. A bambino gazebo, if you will.

We can't wait to try it. If it works while we're cooking over the fire, we might just find it coming in handy when cooking in our kitchen. A few tent-stake holes in our linoleum tile would be a small price to pay for some peace of mind.

Today's best search phrase: "Giant metal robot formed by cats." Like most of my search phrases, this one was found by Trash. She was so disappointed when I actually knew what this searcher was looking for. "You never watched Voltron?" She never had, and she was pretty bitter about it, too. But she felt better when I explained that the giant metal robot was formed by giant metal robot cats. Which I admit, isn't nearly as cool as the other kind of cat would have been in giant metal robot form. And it would have taken a lot more of them.

posted by M. Giant 10:06 PM 4 comments


Are you guys seriously thinking of camping with a baby? You are a far braver man than I, M. Giant.

By Anonymous Kent, at September 1, 2005 at 7:08 AM  

Timmy our now almost 6 month old is going on his 3rd camping trip of the year this weekend. We started him when he was 4 months over the 4th of July weekend. We camp in the White Mountains of NH (which is FAB by the way, if you are ever looking for somewhere else to camp). You will LOVE IT!!! Nothing like feeding the munchkin when it’s 32 degrees out (yes July 4th in the mountains got COLD this year) and then changing the dyedee, before the crack of dawn listening to night creatures creaching…. BTW what trash does with fire is called FIRE MAGIC, it is important for the cherubs to learn it early. Best of luck on your camping adventure

By Anonymous Karen, at September 1, 2005 at 7:18 AM  

I want a link to the bambino gazebo! What a good idea.

By Blogger Yana/Jenn, at September 1, 2005 at 3:26 PM  

Oregon State Parks have amazing cabins and yurts that you can rent - you still have the woods around you and a place to build a fire, but you also have a retreat indoors when your little one has stuck the 50th pine cone in his mouth. http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/rustic.shtml

By Anonymous Amanda, at September 1, 2005 at 6:33 PM  

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