Tag Archives: camping

Desert Madness: S’more Edition

Illicit s’more innovation

Desert madness manifests itself in many ways. Some bury themselves neck deep in the sand and drool. Others lose the ability to internally narrate. In our cozy group of four, however, desert madness took the form of wild and, at times irresponsible innovation in the s’more field, urged on in particular by one go-getter we’ll call Stew.

Stew is an active young man of about 22, and though I had only met him briefly before our trip, by the end of it I knew two important things about Stew: he’s hungry, and he never settles for second best. Whereas I always leap at the chance to settle, Stew refuses to even look at the second tier of life.

This is a man that used to drink multi-thousand calorie protein shakes before bed in high school in order to put on weight. Wait! Can you hear that? It’s the gooey sound of millions of dieting men and women exploding from rage. Eighty percent of his conversation revolved around things he had once eaten, liked to eat, or was planning on eating very soon. While listening to his culinary fantasies, one was also drawn into his passion and shown an eatable world of which only geniuses and madmen could conceive.

Since we are real, red-blooded Americans, each night we would crack open a couple bags of marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate, and graham crackers and get our s’more on. The first night passed quite lamely, featuring the usual discussion about how we like to roast our mallows: charred or golden brown and melted all the way through, etc. And just when I had accepted this level of normality, Stew remembered there was an unopened jar of peanut butter sitting on the sand. He hatched a plan, and then the magic began.

The next three nights were a kaleidoscope of different, almost unimaginable combinations of peanut butter, chocolate, marshmallow, twinkies, jam, and both roasted and unroasted banana.

Stew would be silent, and then burst out with a statement like, “What if wrapped this twinkie in foil with chocolate and peanut butter and then roasted it? You know what? Yes! I’m going to do it. Yes.” Never have I seen such a go-getter. There was no delay between the formation of his food wishes and their realization. In one night he ate nigh on 10 twinkies, all prepared different ways. It was a wonder and a blessing to behold. Were I a business person, I would hire Stew for any job that I had, especially if it involved him walking around without his shirt on or grabbing pushups on the go, two things he also excelled at

I once even heard him utter the words: “I’m going to impregnate this marshmallow with chocolate and then roast it.” This is the kind of literary and functional innovation that has made America great. Thank you, Stew. You make me proud to be an American.

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On the Moon and Under the Sea: Egypt’s White Desert

Yellow sand. Blue Sky. White Chalk. Colors.

When last with you, I chronicled my brush with food poisoning that was the result of a bacteria-rich egg sandwich. So weak was I on Thursday, November 3, 2011, that I could barely load episodes of Parks and Recreation as I lay curled on my bed in a fetal position, choking down mugs of vegetable broth.

At any rate, when I awoke the next day at the ripe hour of 7:30 am with only a dull pain in my empty stomach, my last retching completed at 1: 30 am in the morning, I decided I was well enough to go on an off-road-camping-desert-expedition-exploration-adventure centered around the desperate hunt for the remains of mythological sea creatures. Even though we didn’t find the Snorkoloptus, the excursion was still amazing, especially after the desert madness set in.

4 companions, 4 wheels, 4 days-worth of body filth, 4 different camping locations, and a whole lot of mutual annoyance while rambling through the beautiful, ethereal shapes of the White Desert made for a trip that I hope to rub in the faces of my great-grandchildren as we’re floating above a wasted earth in our spher0ships. “Before we destroyed the earth, kids, there was a lot of cool stuff there, like the White Desert in Egypt, something you’ll never get to see. We also ate peanut butter instead of this space paste. And no one was ever sad.”

Located in western Egypt, the White Desert is known for its beautiful sculptures carved by the wind, sand, and rain out of the chalk formed from the remnants of the sea creature skeletons, since the entire area used to be at the bottom of the ocean. As we tumbled around the desert, off and occasionally on-roading in the jeep, we saw breathtaking cliffs, moon-like landscapes, rolling sand dunes, mystical oases, and occasional groups of leathery European tourists, by far the least attractive things in the desert.

The colors themselves deserve an entire blogpost. Nay, an entire blog. Each sunset and sunrise was a feast for the eyes, a palette of ever changing shades that would make a MAC eyeshadow case blush. And at night, our world was lit up by the milky rays of a waxing moon as we tried to run away from our moon shadows and one of us wouldn’t stop singing that song by Cat Stevens. As I look back now on our last night there, I can see myself, a tiny figure, lying in a valley surrounded by forlorn, other-worldly cliffs, the moon illuminating the earth in its pale light while the ghosts of extinct sea creatures float over me. It was the closest I’ll ever get to time, space, and deep ocean travel.

Note: I remembered to charge my battery and bring my camera, but I forgot to put my charged battery back into my camera. Therefore, all pictures are compliments of a friend who was on the trip. See his flickr site here.

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Say No to the Egg Sandwich

Note: it did not look this good

I have recently tired of my daily falafel sandwich, and have taken to eating the mediocre and overpriced sandwiches from the cafeteria on campus. The main interesting feature about them is that they are cold, whereas the falafel sandwich was hot. This provides me with the variety that spices my life. It doesn’t matter which one you pick, they all essentially taste the same and the meatless ones all cost the same.

Unfortunately, one of these sandwiches provided me with an experience that left me with a valuable lesson and the answer to one of the more important questions of life, that question being:

Should I eat this thing that looks like an egg sandwich the day before I’m going camping?

The answer is no. You should not eat that thing that looks like an egg sandwich the day before you go camping. Here is a non-exhaustive list of reasons why:

1. Regardless of where you are in the world, mayonnaise is essentially a petri dish, a fertile and suitable growing environment for all kinds of bacteria.

2. Even in the states, egg salad is at least 50% mayonnaise. Overseas, this percentage jumps to 70-80%.

3. People seem to believe that an egg sandwich, as a finished product, can be left anywhere for an unlimited amount of time and will not go bad: the backseat in a hot car, on the picnic blanket in the sun, or outside the cafeteria in Cairo. This is patently not true

4. The incredibly mushy texture of the sandwich indicates that the contents of said treat have been pressed together for no small length of time. To someone slightly less hungry with a firmer grasp of common sense, this would be what is referred to as a “bad sign.”

5. The bizarre sweet flavor of the sandwich, and the fact that even after consuming it I wasn’t sure whether or not it had egg in it, also indicate that it was either spoiled or never fit for human consumption in the first place.

At any rate, as a result of said “egg” sandwich, I’ve been subject to one of the most thorough purification treatments I’ve ever had, something rich European ladies would pay thousands for I’m sure.

And the best part of all is that I feel better enough now to go camping! Wish me luck and see you on Tuesday, probably!

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