Thursday - October 4, 2007
It's time for another joint rally with my RV.net Open Forums group and our local camping club, North Texas Camping Association (NTXCA). This is the second year we've hosted a joint campout. Like last year, our hosting duties are being shared with our good RV buddies, Steve and Leslie. They've always been so kind to help us with the rally/campout each year.
Terry and I picked up the trailer after work and headed to Loyd Park in Grand Prairie, TX.. Loyd Park is a wonderful facility that is owned by the COE (Corp of Engineers) and managed by the City of Grand Prairie. The park is right on the banks of Joe Pool Lake. We arrived at the park a little before 6:30 and proceeded to our private loop of 10 sites. Three of our rigs had already arrived including our RV buddies, Steve and Leslie. This was going to be a huge campout/rally. Along with the 10 RV.net member rigs on our loop, there was also another 10 RV.net members signed up on sites surrounding our loop. There are also around 25 NTXCA rigs signed up as well. That brings our total for the rally to 45 rigs. I do believe with all the kiddos that will be attending we're going to have over 120 folks attending.
When we arrived, Steve and Leslie had just finished setting up. After getting set up in our site, Steve and Leslie invited us over for dinner. That was so nice of them. We chowed on "Bubba Jalapeno Burgers" plus homemade salsa and chips. What a wonderful way to begin our campout with excellent food, good friends and good conversation. After dinner, the girls started cleaning up and getting out all of the "outside" stuff setup while Steve and I were given the assignment of getting our satellite dishes setup and pointed at the correct DirecTV "bird in the sky." Since we'd both stayed in the same sites last year, we knew the general direction in which to point our dishes. In no time we both had great signals locked in.
We all said our goodnights to each other and retired to our respective trailers. Terry and I watched some TV while I went over the plans for the weekend. Hosting this size campout/rally required a lot of planning and organization. We had a lot to do tomorrow and I wanted to solidify the plans in my mind. Our private loop had 10 sites surrounding a wonderful covered, lighted pavilion. We love RVing at this park. It is an incredible facility and less than 30 minutes from home. After the 10:00 news was over, Terry and I turned in for the evening. We both ended up having a very restless night and never could get settled in for a restful night's sleep. Bandy, our dog, was also restless. Just when I drifted off, Bandy "decided" he needed to go outside and wouldn't take no for an answer. I got up and walked him around a bit until he got settled down then came back in to try to get back to sleep. Nope, it wasn't going to happen. By now Terry was wide awake as well.
Friday - October 5, 2007
As I mentioned, Terry and I never could be comfortable and soundly asleep. So guess what, we were both wide awake at 4:30 in the morning. It was insane, we kept trying to go back to sleep, but we couldn't. We both ended up getting up, turning on the TV and Terry snoozed on the couch while I read and worked on my laptop. Around 7:00 we decided it was time to start breakfast. Next door Steve was out walking their dog, Winston. Leslie, Steve's wife, was getting ready to head to work at Texas Christian University where she is a professor in the Social Work Department. For this time of the year, the temperature was very warm. We were all hoping for much cooler weather, but it just wasn't in the cards.
On the menu this morning:
Over easy eggs
Fresh baked biscuits
First thing this morning we were going to tackle the task of decorating the pavilion for the weekend. We really wanted to have the pavilion looking very festive by the time all the rally attendees started arriving later on today. I had purchased a large variety of decorations and tablecloths that should make everyone say "Wow" when they arrived at the pavilion. Fortunately we had lots of help with the decorating so the task was finished off in record time. We now had the rest of the afternoon to rest and relax before our "Grillin' & Chillin'" event tonight. The opening event of the weekend that the four of us were hosting.
Around 4:00 Steve and I started getting ready for our "Grillin' & Chillin'" event tonight. The purpose of the event was to serve as a mixer for our two groups (RV.net and NTXCA) plus provide something for everyone to eat without a lot of muss and fuss. Families were starting to arrive at the park and some of them would be arriving later. Having all of them come to the pavilion to eat would save them time in their setup by not having to fix individual dinners. We were furnishing hot dog, hamburgers, buns and all the fixings. Everyone was welcome to bring a side idem to share and their own drinks. Before the campout families were letting me know what they were planning on bringing to the rally mixer. There was going to be a very large variety of side dishes for all to share. With all the decorations in place the the campout attendees commented how beautiful everything look.
Our Loop & Group Pavilion
I had also brought my large smoker/charcoal grill from home for use during the weekend's campout. Steve and I dumped a 20# bad of charcoal in the bed of the grill, lit them and waited for the coals to get just "right." After a 30-45 minute wait, it was time to start cooking the burgers and dogs. As folks were arriving, many were bringing us more dogs and burgers to cook. Steve and I took turns playing host and cooking. The greeting and welcoming duties were being taken care expertly by our wives. They made sure everyone was comfortable, knew about the weekend's schedule and answered any questions they might have.
Grillin' & Chillin' Event
Everyone had a great time. We had over 100 people milling around the pavilion eating, visiting, relaxing and just having a good time. Around 9:30 things started to wind down and most of the folks started leaving to head to their individual campsites. Everyone came by to say goodnight and thank us for hosting the event. No one went away hungry and if they did, it was their own fault.
Steve and I were glad that the group was making an early evening of it. This weekend we had decided to do something insane for this campout. I had brought the smoker from home and we had brisket and whole pork butts to smoke and ribs to cook later for the potluck Saturday evening. Before we went to bed, Steve and I applied a dry rub to the brisket, pork butts, and ribs, wrapped them back up and placed them in the ice chest for holding overnight. We were going to have to get up early to get the smoker going so we didn't stay up late.
I mentioned the word "insane" since that's what both of our wives described what we were going to do. So how early were we going to have to get up? How about 4:30 in the morning! Yep, that's what I said, the two of us were planning on getting up at 4:30 so we could be the firebox stoked by 5:30 and the meat on by 6:00. The cooking time for the brisket I had picked out would probably take around 10-12 hours. The brisket would come off the smoker just in time for our group's 6:00 potluck. It's time for bed. I'm so exhausted, I'm sure that I'll be sleeping soundly throughout the night.
Saturday - October 6, 2007
It can't be time to get up yet? Yep, the clock says 4:30, it's time to get the old bones up, moving and out of bed. I got dressed as quietly as possible so I wouldn't disturb Terry. I headed outside and met Steve over by the smoker. We looked at each other and just shook our heads at the insanity of getting up at this ridiculous hour, especially on a Saturday. I worked on getting the firebox of the smoker started and up to temperature. While I was doing that, Steve put on the coffee and charcoal for cooking a batch of cinnamon rolls in the Dutch oven. To keep the cooks going, they've got to be fed. We'll be cooking on mesquite gathered from Steve's family farm south of Fort Worth.
Around 6:00 the smoker was right at the temperature it needed to be so it was time to put the pork shoulder and brisket on to smoke. Since the pork ribs wouldn't take as much cooking time, we'd put them on around noon or so. After getting the meat on the smoker, it was time to sit back and enjoy fresh baked cinnamon rolls accompanied by a pot of fresh hot coffee. All we had to do now was watch the temperature of the smoker and make adjustments as needed. It was also time to take a little nap in the recliner while we were waiting and watching. Steve and I relaxed back in our recliner while the folks on our loop started stirring. Several of the folks came over for a visit and to see what was going on. I needed to wake Terry up around 7:30 so she could prepare the coffee cake for our group's potluck luck breakfast at 9:00. I was also cooking up a batch of sausage patties.
Early Morning Smokin'
At 7:30 on the dot, I headed over to the trailer to wake Terry up. Fortunately she was already up and showered and preparing the coffee cake. At the pavilion we had our 46 cup coffee pot brewing. The fresh coffee was starting to smell good. There's nothing better than the smell of a pot of coffee brewing early in the morning at the campsite. It was fairly warm this morning as well. It was going to be a great day. At bit later everyone started arriving with their contribution to the potluck breakfast. Oh yum, everything looked delicious as always.
Our Group's Potluck Breakfast
Breakfast was incredible. We've got some excellent cooks in our group. The recipe I couldn't get enough of, like I really needed it, was Debbie's "Heart Attack On A Plate". Debbie was kind enough to provide the recipe. Trust me, it's rich and a little goes a long way. A nice hot cup of coffee went perfectly with cutting through the sugar in the recipe.
Heart Attack On A Plate
2 dozen glazed raised doughnuts (Krispy Kreme Doughnuts work really well)
1 can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
2 cans fruit cocktail
2 each eggs - beaten
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans - chopped
pinch of salt
1 stick margarine - melted
1 pound powdered sugar
rum flavoring - to taste
Cube doughnuts into large bowl. Pour other ingredients over doughnuts and let set a few minutes to soak in. Mix all ingredients together until doughnuts have soaked up as much liquid as possible.
Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees until center has jelled. Top with butter rum sauce.
Glaze: Melt margarine and slowly stir in powdered sugar. Add rum flavoring and heat until bubbly. Pour hot glaze over the top of the "Heart Attack On A Plate" and let soak in a bit before serving.
After breakfast it was time
for everyone to relax and do their own thing. This afternoon we have a
scavenger hunt planned for the kids. Terry and I are not sure how it's going to
be received in this age of computers and computer games. We'll see if the kids
get excited about the hunt. Bandy, our dog, was getting a bit overwhelmed by all
the activity at park and all the people, especially the kids so Terry decided to
run him home and let our next door neighbor watch over him. Fortunately Loyd
Park is only around 20 minutes from home so it was a short trip back and forth.
After checking the smoker, Steve and I headed over to our trailers so we could shower and change clothes. We were both very "smoky" smelling. Hopefully this afternoon we'd both have time to take a much needed nap. The shower and the change of clothes felt really good and helped give me a second wind. After snoozing for a bit, Terry brought me a sandwich for lunch. She also started getting ready for the kid's scavenger hunt that was getting ready to start at 1:00. I put the slabs of pork ribs in the smoker so they could start cooking. The pork butts and beef briskets were looking fantastic. The meat would probably need to come off around 4:00 or so followed by the ribs a little before 6:00, right on time for the potluck.
Relaxin' at the Pavilion
Before the campout Terry and I went to the "dollar store" to pickup a little prize for each of the children that were going to be at the campout. Terry laid all of the "booty" out on one of the picnic tables and you'd thought that Santa had come to visit. The kids were all so excited about all the little prizes, we couldn't believe it. When Terry announced the start of the scavenger hunt, the kids were totally excited. She organized all the kids in groups of 5 or so with an adult or two to accompany each of the teams. One of the teams that was left was a group of 5 little girls, they were so cute. Terry gave the groups the rule of the hunt then handed out the lists. Everyone synchronized their watches and the whistle was blown for the official start of the hunt. All of the kids "blasted off" from the pavilion area in search of the 40 items that Terry and I had put on the list.
After the kids left on their search, Steve and I had to get back to tending the pit. We had a good "draw" of smoke coming from the pit and the temperature was holding steady. Every once in a while various teams were showing up at the the pavilion to ask questions for see if we had any of the items on the list. The adults at the pavilion were just waiting to be asked. At 2:00 on the dot all of the teams started arriving back to our pavilion area. Terry and her volunteers started checking the various teams in. Some of the teams got very creative in satisfying the items on the list. One of the items was a cup with flowers on it. Some of the teams did find the item, some of the other teams took a Styrofoam drinking cup and drew flowers on it. Hey, we didn't tell them they couldn't so why not?
The team that returned first and had gathered all the items on the list was the team of the "Little Girls". Way to go! Each of the team members got to go to the prize table and each chose a prize. Like I mentioned previously, you'd thought it was Christmas. The kids were so excited about these little dollar gifts. All of the parents came up to us afterwards thanking us for our efforts and organizing the hunt. Terry and I were so happy the hunt was so well received and the kids had so much fun.
The Great Scavenger Hunt
|First Place Winners||Second Place Winners|
|Third Place Winners||I've Got What I Want|
Around 4:00 it was time to take the pork shoulder and brisket off the smoker and put in the Nesco for holding until serving time. By the looks of it, the ribs needed around another hour or so. They were cooking much faster than I anticipated. In the meantime it was time for another little snooze. Steve and I were still "whupped" from getting up so early this morning. At 4:00 I checked the ribs again and the meat was starting to pull away from the bones. I didn't want to dry the meat out so I placed them in the oven for holding until we were ready to serve.
Around 5:30 most of our group started arriving with all the food for the big group potluck. With as many families in attendance, this was going to be one heck of a potluck. I just hope we have enough room for all the food. Steve and I also got all the meat out so we could start preparing and cutting it up. We needed to cut up the briskets and ribs and "pull" or shred the pork shoulder. Of course the "chefs" had to sample their wares. Oh my gosh, all of the meat off the smoker was absolutely incredible. Terry was also making a tossed salad for the potluck, There were storm clouds and lightning forming to the east. We never got any rain where we were. We kept an eye on the sky and the weather just in case.
I was right, there was more food that any of us had ever seen at one of our group's potluck. Steve's comment was "The last time I saw this much food, it was at a funeral!" Put it this way, no one went away hungry. Leroy, one of our RV buddies, made an incredible corn salad. I would definitely have to get the recipe for it before he left. There was so much food it was really hard to choose and get around to all of it. Our smoked meats went real quick. I'm glad the two of us were able to sample it before the big crowd arrived.
The Big Saturday Night Potluck
After the potluck was over, we made a community campfire for all to enjoy. Steve, and Leslie turned in, they were very tired and had worked very hard all day long. Someone brought ingredients for Smores, so it was time to start roasting marshmallows and making Smores. The kids had a great time making the delicious treat. Around 10:00 the campfire was starting to burn down and folks were starting to turn in. Terry and I finished off the last of the cleanup at the pavilion, turned out the lights and headed over to our trailer for some much needed rest. We were both dead tired from the very long day. We got to bed around 11:00 and slept very soundly throughout the night. I don't think we stirred all night long. Hosting this large a group was totally exhausting.
Community Campfire and Smores
Sunday - October 15, 2006
Terry and I both woke around 8:00 very refreshed after the much needed sleep. "Wrangling" this large a campout has really been a chore but we've all had so much fun. The tiring long day was worth it to be able to provide so much fun and enjoyment for all that attended the joint rally/campout. We both decided to shower before starting breakfast. We looked out the window and several of our folks on our loop were up and about, walking their dogs, or taking in a morning walk. The first task of the morning was to put a pot of coffee on for us to enjoy.
We couldn't believe it, but we both were hungry so it was time to start my favorite camping breakfast. On the menu this morning:
Pancakes with all the fixin's
Making pancakes on the last morning of our campout has become one of our camping traditions. The pancakes were delicious. They just taste better when they're made while camping. In fact all food seems to taste better when you're camping. After cleaning up the breakfast dishes, we headed over to the pavilion to finish cleanup. We had lots of help. After the cleanup, our "core group" sat around and talked for a bit before heading over to our trailers to pack up for home. Fortunately Terry had done a lot of pre-packing yesterday so there wasn't a whole lot of stuff to stow away. Around noon we were ready to head out to our storage facility so we could dump and flush and put the trailer up until our trip to Petit Jean State Park this coming Thanksgiving. It indeed had been a wonderful campout.
Authored by Chuck and Terry Mencke
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"Loyd Park - October 5-7, 2007" was last modified: March 22, 2009
Chuck and Terry's Pilgrim 281 RB-S Adventures