Des Moines Dinner

Dear readers, I’m back in the states.

Driving in Canada has given me a great appreciation for driving in the states–there are so many more roadsigns here! About 30  minutes or so before we plan to stop each night, Boyfriend and I start looking for the lovely bright-blue or deep-brown signs that denote campgrounds.

Last night we acted with a little more finesse. We had a plan, you see–for the last several nights, we’ve been ending our driving days a little late. Yesterday, we were going to act like responsible adults–we were going to find a campground using my dear Bethany (the name for my GPS), we were going to get there before sundown, we were going to fix a delicious gourmet dinner (bean-and-cheese taco night!) and we were going to get to sleep at a reasonable time. And except for the “responsible adult” thing, all that happened.

We made it to our campground just barely after dark. I volunteered to set up the tent while Boyfriend satisfied his inherent male desire to set things on fire. About half-way through tent set-up, I noticed that the air was starting to get lighter–not the light in the way that sunlight is not night, but in the way that gray is not black, and so thick gray smoke against a black night sky looks lighter. Our fire was not a fire–it was a smoke.

Close inspection of the flames revealed it to seem to be an issue of starter–not wanting to part with our yet-unread newspaper for the day, Boyfriend had lit a stack of glossy ads, the ink from which was now smoldering. I grabbed a stick and a lighter and began to adjust the smoke (I’d call it flames, but there really weren’t any). The smoke, becoming angry at this adjustment, turned and indignantly threw itself into my face. My eyes watered and burned, and I (with no grace whatsoever) flung myself backwards on the grass, taking shelter beneath the smoke. Boyfriend stepped in. By the time the smoke attacked him, I had recovered. By the time the smoke attacked me again, he’d recovered. Rinse and repeat, stop, drop, and roll, and curse a whole lot at smoke–for 20 minutes.

We then determined that the problem lay with the wood–it wouldn’t burn. Our paper (when we finally began to shred the unread pages) would flame up quick and sharp, and then disappear into the smoke from the logs. By this time, I was ready to give up on my beloved taco night–or any food at all. We’d long since precariously balanced our pot-o-beans on some log now woefully obscured by smoke, but I felt that there was no hope. We were defeated by our own hateful creation.


Boyfriend dragged me away from my mourning post at the smoke, to check on our other dinner items. This led to further heartbreak. Our tortilla packaging had sprung a leak in our cooler, leaving our tortillas sopping and broken and weak. They were pathetic. While removing them from their packaging, they splattered across the ground. The one and only ingredient that was in good condition for our much-anticipated taco night was cheese.

Cheese is not a meal.

And then, as I was about to begin openly weeping for our food lost in battle, I heard a beautiful noise: sizzling.

I poked around in our smoke column until I found our pot-o-beans, and stirred them. They were hot and ready. Beans is an almost-meal, it is a college-student meal. Our tortillas may be shot, but we had beans. We could eat dinner!

While I was rejoicing over the discovery of our (admittedly smoky-tasting) refried beans, Boyfriend, my Taco Hero, appeared by my side–holding a tortilla carefully balanced in a skillet. I’m assuming he used some sort of voodoo black magic to get it in there. After a few minutes of holding said skillet over dastardly smoke, we had a slightly-damp, kinda-warm tortilla. We dressed it quickly (crying like babies from the evil smoke-monster we’d made) and ate it lying down, so that we could both keep our food slightly-warm and not want to claw our eyes out.

And that was dinner last night. We woke up this morning to find some innocent-looking embers in our fire ring, but I know better. At this moment My Taco Hero is packing up the campsite while I am sitting in the laundry room, washing clothes and using the campground’s wifi (!). As my post title (cleverly) suggests, we are in Des Moines, Iowa–the land of cornfields and (recently) flooding. Today is another day of driving, and our goal is mountains–we want to make it into the state of Colorado.

Categories: Travels | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Des Moines Dinner

  1. Rachel L

    Shauna! I just read your whole summer worth of adventure! I should have been reading all along. I should have also been writing my own blog. You seem to be having a great time with “boyfriend” (tell him I said hi and that I love his musical suggestions. I miss both of you and Austin and can’t wait to get back there. I’m sad you wont be at the co-op but there will be much visiting and (hopefully) more walking. Enjoy the rest of your summer, I’ve never been to Colorado, but it looks beautiful!

    Cheese is not a meal.


  2. MCWilson

    Richard and I have made a few of those campfires, but you really haven’t lived until you have eaten burnt fried canned spagetti. It was great because I didn’t have to cook. Love the way you write. Gramma Wilson

  3. Katie

    ohhhh i love you guys sooo much! That is amazing and I am picturing you and Dana (or should i say Boyfriend 🙂 ) struggling with this but loving it because you are both so cute. Write more soon!!!!!!!!

    -xox katie (and tais)

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