Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ladycamping II: The Schnappsenning

Fact: Camping is my favorite. It's so much my favorite, in fact, that I was sad to have only gone camping six times this summer. One of these trips was a hike-in ladycamping venture with Emily and our friend Julie.

Additional fact: Winter is another one of my favorites. It's beautiful, cozy, quiet, crunchy--just a great season. But it also means an end to camping.

Except! There are these magical buildings within select Minnesota State Parks called "Camper Cabins." They are snug and built of wood and double-paned windows. And the winter-friendly ones have electricity and heat!

This weekend Emily and I went to Jay Cooke State Park with Julie and our friend Beth to stay in a camper cabin. Beth and I went last year with her husband and our friend Morgan the weekend before Christmas, and it was so charming and wintry it shouldn't even be allowed. Snowshoeing! Cooking on a fire in the middle of winter! (We called it our "Last Christmas" weekend, after Wham! As one does. I mean, who wouldn't like to vacation within that video? So many sweaters, plus alps and feathered hair.)

This weekend involved some truly wonderful things. Julie made amazing pulled pork in a crock pot for dinner Friday, and Saturday morning we cooked bacon in my electric wok. We took a three-mile hike in the falling snow, napped, and drank. Schnapps, to be precise. And here is why these ladies are such good cabin-ing buddies:
  • Last year at the cabin, Beth introduced me to butterscotch schnapps. I, in turn, introduced Emily and Art to butterscotch schnapps. ("This cool brown liquid that tastes like pudding is getting me drunk!" said Art.)
  • When planning what we would all bring, it came up that all four of us had booze to contribute, because all four of us, separately, had butterscotch schnapps.
  • This led Emily to dub our trip "Ladycamping II: The Schnappsenning."
  • No one brought the same kind of butterscotch schnapps. So we passed around cups and much tiny sip taking, swilling, and large word ascribing followed. Truly, no group ever spent so much time using the vocabulary accrued in 13 collective years pursuing liberal arts degrees to describe candy booze.
  • They're not all called "butterscotch schnapps." Some are called Ice Hole, or Buttershots.
  • Julie showed us how to make hot cocoa with schnapps. It was so tasty, and made for such a good post-hike nap. Tip: mix the schnapps with the cocoa before adding water. It should be kind of like cake batter--that's when you know you won't get lumps. Julie, you improved my life by an overall 19% this weekend. Thank you.
We drove to Duluth in the snow Saturday evening (Emily's first time there), and on the way up there I really appreciated seeing that drivers anywhere north of the Twin Cities acknowledge the fact that weather exists, and we can't control it, and sometimes we all need to drive 15 miles under the posted limit so that we don't all drive into a ditch. Love that. And then we had dinner at Fitger's (always delightful) and while we were there learned about this thing called Bentleyville USA. And you can board "the train to Bentleyville" at Fitger's every Thursday night through Christmas. Do it!

So now I'm at home drinking more schnapps cocoa (hot schnapps-olate?), wearing flannel PJs, and enjoying the fact that a week from now there will be a pine tree in my living room. This weekend being the first snow of the season, it's really only appropriate to have spent it in a cabin with friends and a crock pot of mulled wine (provisions are important). Really kicks the holiday season into high gear.

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