Being a camper comes in handy when the electricity goes out at home.
We’re on day four with no power here at the shack-ri-la after storms ripped through our corner of the Ozarks just after midnight on Oct. 21. It’s a minor inconvenience thanks to gear that’s always ready inside the trusty wooden camp box.
Of course, thought number one when the lights go out is, “How am I going to make coffee in the morning?”
It’s no problem when you’re a camper. Just fire up your trusty camp stove out on the porch and soon you’re sipping that hot morning brew.
There in your slippers and rocking chair you say, “Kilowatts? Who needs ’em.” It’s an adventure when the power goes out, like taking a camping trip and not leaving home.
I like tinkering with camping gear so there are two stoves in my camp box. The little butane-fired backpack stove boils a cup of water for coffee in about a minute. The trusty one-burner Coleman stove burns liquid fuel. It’s a tad slower, but has a wider diameter burner that’s better for cooking food in a pan.
People who go caving carry three sources of light. I keep three sources of fire in the camp box — two lighters and waterproof matches. No fire to light a stove means no coffee. That just won’t do on a crisp autumn morning.
We’ve not lacked for much in the way of simple pleasures since the electricity went out. There’s plenty of hot coffee in the morning, and hot breakfasts, too. Pancakes and juevos rancheros are a couple of dishes we’ve whipped up on the Coleman one-burner. Tacos, chili and rice dishes are tasty evening fare.
We’d love to do our cooking outside on the patio table, but when the tree came crashing down on the deck it smashed the metal table to smithereens. The trunk took out one of the chairs and a section of the deck’s wooden railing. I feel lucky that my cozy cabin remains intact.
The patio table is toast, but a portable camp table makes a fine substitute during a long power outage. It goes together in about two minutes. Once the electricity comes back, all the parts fit into a neat little cloth sack the size of a gym bag.
Being an early bird, I do a lot of work for NWA Outdoors at dark-30 in the morning, way before sunrise. Fact is, I’m writing this little ditty right now wearing my trusty headlamp kept in a corner of the wooden camp box.
The headlamp comes in handy later for reading at night. After a chapter or two, it’s good to step outside for a breath of night air. Night is normally silent here at the shack-ri-la. During a long outage, the din of gas-powered generators is heard across hill and hollow.
When the big ice storm hit in January 2009, our power was out for seven days in my neck of the woods. That’s nothing compared to others without electricity for two weeks or more. I got tired of heating soup on the camp stove. First thing I did when the power came back was cook a pizza.
Hats off to the linemen and crews from our rural electric cooperative who’ve busted their chops all week to bring the electricity back. It’s got to be a huge job with 300 power poles that need to be replaced, according to this newspaper.
One learns plenty going for days on end without electricity, like how to keep food from spoiling and how to take a good, hot shower. We’ll offer tips on those next time the power goes out.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org