Hot Cocoa On The Road

Grab someone in the room and read this out loud.

Trust me.

How to make Ducky’s “Hot Cocoa On The Road”

Necessary items:

Small camp stove

Brown Sugar



Sugar in the raw

Goat’s milk

Unsweetened cocoa



Excellent animal identification skills

Foul language

Just a few quick and easy steps!

First, lay out the ingredients in the order you fantasize you will be using them in. Light the camp stove’s burner and put the kettle on. Pour small ammt. of milk or cream into a mug. (About a fifth or so.)

Relight burner due to wind.

Second step: Go chase the Stellar’s Jay away from the opposite end of the table. This usually involves waving a dishtowel and yelling. Upon success, drop dishtowel triumphantly without realizing it’s landed into a bit of this morning’s oatmeal.

Return to stove, relight burner due to wind.

Third step: pour a small amount of salt into the milk. Stop to chase after a squirrel who is making off with the dishrag that now smells enticingly like Apples & Cinnamon. Retrieve towel, glare at squirre l, throw it into soapy water. (The towel that is, not the squirrel. Park service doesn’t really go for that kind of thing.)

Return to stove, curse, relight burner due to wind.

Fourth step: Realize one or more of the items above is missing. Turn the burner off, fetch item(s), return to table, relight burner and discover (The Damn) wind has deposited pine needles in cup. Pour milk and foliage out, restore original settings, and COVER THE FREAKING MUG.

Return to stove, curse, contemplate getting cheap swiss miss packets next grocery run, relight burner due to wind.

Burner goes out immediately.

Relight. With prayer this time.

Flames start to waver.

Stand while desperately cupping hands around the HOT burner in attempt to keep it lit.


Give up on prayer and go back to cursing.

Fifth (?) step: Have a “Really Good Idea.” Grab two large water containers and the cooler strategically placing them in a protective barrier around the burner and kettle. Use your body for the fourth point and stand in a sentinel position until the water boils.  When it does boil, do a happy dance with a battle cry while flipping off the sky. Lose three dishtowels to a sudden gust of wind.


Fifth step, (pt.2): Pick up muddy dishtowels and plop them next to the fire to dry (or burn up. Whatever, at this point.) Run back and quickly add salt, (measurements? You think we use MEASUREMENTS? *hysterical laughter*) somewhere between ½ teaspoon or ½ a tablespoon, depending on how upset you are at this point.

Sixth step: Pour boiling water in. Nearly burn yourself realizing that one of the dishtowels was to be used for the kettle. Run and get a dishtowel from area next to firepit, shake off ash frantically while running back to table.

Realize ash has fallen in the cup. Decide it’s either fiber or protein and proceed.

Seventh, eighth, and ninth steps: Add about a tablespoon of hot cocoa. Actually less. Okay, truthfully I’ve no idea; we use an old Menchies’ FroYo spoon so whatever one of those heaped comes to.

Start stirring frantically.

If the cocoa starts to blend, add cinnamon, allspice, sugar, and splenda. If not keep stirring while swearing and attempting to open the brown sugar one handed.

Note: opening things one handed never goes well.

Tenth step: Finish hot cocoa and look at the mess that was once the table. Add any of the ingredients that you have no doubt forgotten. Wonder if the “no crumb” #Fail you have accomplished is enough to get you banned from your beloved state parks.

Call out in your cheeriest voice, “Ducky! Hot Cocoa’s ready!”

Try not to kill offspring when he says, “I think this need more sweetener. It’s also a little cold. Do we have any whipped cream?”

Quietly chant to self, “I love camping, I love camping, I love camping…”


Back Out Here

Campground #1 of ?

There are a pair of birds of prey that in spite of my desperate lunges atop, and at one point nearly OFF our bluff, I am still unable to identify. Mind you this is with both bird book & binoculars in hand (which kinda explains the nearly falling off the hill bit.)  I do know for certain they they are predators. The biggest indicator of this is the local crows. They have made it abundantly clear with an avian rendition of “get the hell of my lawn.” Sorry, “out of my sky.” It’s the same routine I have witnessed hundreds of times off my mother’s balcony only in this case the hawks (?) are white, not red tailed and the crows fewer in number.

The calls of crows are universal but the ones they’re chasing  have a different cry than the ones I’m accustomed to. The Red Tailed Hawk cry (Also called the “Hollywood Bird Cry” by Ducky since that is used universally for every bird in every movie ever made,) is a classic scree-scree-screee. These newbies have a small sharp squawk like a red tailed who keeps getting cut off by an impatient family member when trying to speak.

We have an amazing view of evergreens the bottom of which there is an unseen marsh. Rabbits and quail are here in abundance, both scrub jays and blue jays, the aforementioned crows and gorgeous western bluebirds.

There is a large pine of some sort in our site, branches sparse with nearly no needles left but dropping due to the hundreds of large pinecones weighting things down.

(Maybe the birds are Cooper’s Hawks? They are kind of whitish.)

I have resolutely turned my back to the expanse behind me trying to let got of the idea that I’m ever going to find out what these damn hawks (falcons?) are.

The air is fresh and bracing. The dog has appropriated my chair and is dozing from a height she can’t get up or down on her own. The sounds of the ocean can be heard and I keep having to grab at my hat for fear of one of the small gusts of wind stealing it away from me.

One of the damn crows stole a cap to one of our telescoping marshmallow toasters. (Google it, they are totally a Thing.)

We made easy friends last night with a group of campers who had caravanned down from the Bay area. We had a mutual love of fog which was good because the evenings roll it in like a blanket and in the morning it gives way like a grumpy teen being told to get out of bed. The blankets eventually come off and the landscape becomes awash in sunlight.

Dammit. My hat. *whoosh!

Okay, back now.

Let’s not discuss the fact that  I am pretty sure while hunting down my signature headgear, I just scared the heck out of my neighbors (hey, they’re packing up to leave anyway,) stumbled too close to a bunny, and may or may not have nearly twisted my ankle at the entrance to a ground squirrel’s lair.

I’m out of practice at this.

Plunking myself down to write again, (now, just do it, come on,) there are California towhees in the bushes in front of my table. Their scrabbling about sounds like a town meeting is taking place in there though there are only two of them.

The wind gusts are picking up and I’m going to have to secure our chairs and put out the fire that has been burning since 8:30 (“That’s some good wood there,” the campground host told us last night, “$10 a wheelbarrow, return the barrow when you can.”)

It’s now nearly 11am, Ducky is still asleep and I’m loathe to wake him enjoying having so much quiet time to myself.

A wasp just landed on my bottle. Time to go.