Monday, January 7, 2008


The weather last weekend was epic, so when we got home from the party Saturday morning we made a quick turnaround for a family camping trip on the farm.

There's a lot of stuff involved in packing for family camping. Here are the girls and the gear, ready to go. No easy feat.

A few years ago we sussed out a site in Gravelly Gully, a section of Locharburn Station along the Clutha River. Now the Kiwi Tent is a second summer home. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but this tent is giant. Maizie, Lucy and I have one bedroom, Sara, Bella and Doug have the other.

Still a bit rough around the edges from the night before, I had a solitary wander through the woods for a quiet spot to swim and dry out a bit.

Sometimes everything looks better once you get horizontal. After a big Friday night, a two-hour drive home and a marathon to get the fam to the campsite, this was definitely a moment to appreciate my Auntie status.

Back at the ranch, Bella played hard to get with her friend Harry when bedtime rolled around. Don't worry, Harry, she'll be back.

After the little ones were asleep (which takes an exceptionally long time when camping as it's light until after 10 pm), the real fun began.

The last time I saw a fire like this was on a TV screen at a Christmas party in Chinatown.

As an American, I always thought that the main late night event of camping was making s'mores, which we taught even the most seasoned Kiwi campers to do. They appreciated it, but had something else in mind...

You're never going to guess what it was.
While we were roasting marshmallows, Patrick, who is 14, was off shooting rabbits (commonplace, as they are a menace to the livliehood of sheep farmers.) He brought one back which Doug skinned by the light of a flashlight next to the river. I have photos of that, but I'm not posting them, cause I don't want my more squeamish friends to stop reading this. Sooo...he skinned the rabbit, cut out the liver, tied it to the end of a line, tossed it in the river and came back to the fire.

And we waited. And it got very very dark.
Patrick and I checked the line with the flashlight, and nothing was there. We waited some more and then Patrick checked it again, and said "Hey...Doug?
And we caught this:

That, my friends, is one hell of a large eel.

Since the creature could have been older than us, returning it to the river seemed to be the right thing to do. So my bro the crocodile hunter took out the hook and it swam away.

Really, that was enough excitement for one night.

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