Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How to make ice cream with duct tape

This past weekend was our second YMCA Adventure Princess campout. You may recall Natalie and I headed to one in back in October. Since then Uncle Harry has retired, and the temperature dropped about 75 degrees.

The theme of the weekend was "cold". The temps topped out in the middle of the day at about 15 degrees, so outdoor activities were pretty limited. We did manage to rough it through a few hours of sledding on "Killer Hill", though it was quite the fiasco. Virtually every kid who went down this icy, slippery slope had a good cry at the bottom, a result of the blinding shards of ice thrown up from the front of the sleds into their eyes. No permanent injuries, happily. I learned something, though. Last winter I picked up one of those bent-wood classic style tobaggans on eBay. It did not have a cushion on it. I learned there's a good reason to have that cushion. Without it, the snow comes through the slats in the wood and flash-freezes your tush awful quickly. I had no feeling in my rear for the next several hours.

Two of the primary activities of the weekend were the Pinewood derby car races and ice cream making. First, the car races...

The term "pinewood derby" is actually trademarked, I believe, by the boy scouts. Therefore they were referred to as "FADCAR races" in Adventure Princess-speak. I'm guessing that "FAD" stands for "Fathers And Daughters, but let's get serious for a minute here. Daughters have virtually nothing to do with these cars. This is simply an excuse for dads to disappear into the workshop under the pretense of father-daughter bonding. One dad showed up at the campsite with an entire box of tools, which he spread out across a table in the cabin so he could spend the next several hours filing, sanding, gluing, balancing, weighing, and streamlining. Another spent most of Friday evening with an upturned car in one hand and a chisel in another, as he proceeded to carve out a precise location to place extra grams of strategic weights in the chassis of his machine. All the while, our ladies continued on their quests to find the best corner of the cabin for hide-and-seek, the bounciest bunk mattress for a game of moon bounce, and the finest collection of late-night salty snacks which no mom would ever allow their daughters to eat so late at night.

I, unfortunately, had procrastinated long enough that when the weekend came for us (okay, me) to build our (I mean my) car, I got distracted by frozen pipes in our house and never got around to it. So instead, I used this event as a recon mission for next time. And I learned something. You see, the contest includes not only a race, but a "best of show" competition. I know, you're thinking that only those professionally carved, hi-gloss clearcoat-painted, scale model Lamborghini replicas were worthy of the best in show contest, right? Wrong. The voting was done entirely by the girls. Therefore, the hands-down winner was the car that seemed to have been carved with a dull spoon, BUT had a picture of Hannah Montana clued to the front and a pink ribbon on the back. Go figure.

Another fine event was ice cream making. We were forewarned to bring two coffee cans with us on the camping expedition: a 1-pound can and a 4-pound can. Most of us, used to buying coffee in BAGS rather than in Maxwell house tins, were quite daunted by this assignment. We learned that there are only a few items needed to make fine vanilla ice cream: cream, vanilla, sugar, ice, rock salt, and duct tape. The first three items were combined in the smaller can, then that can was placed in the larger can which was then topped off with rock salt and ice. Both cans were duct taped solidly shut. We then proceeded to roll the cans back and forth on the floor for twenty minutes. So there we are, in the ten-degree winter, gathered in a common area heated to a balmy 55 degrees, rolling cans of ice around the floor. Together I think we found a solution to global warming. But the ice cream was tasty.

Happily, Natalie made it home in one piece without throwing up in the Mazda like she did last time. Unfortunately, she almost landed in the hospital when she discovered that balloon catch is not something to be played while sitting on the edge of a bunk bed. She fell and came very close to crushing her ankle. But an ace bandage, some TLC, a bandaid, and some Doritos made it all better quickly.

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