LOCATION: Near Valley City, North Dakota – in South East part of state
CAMPGROUND: West Ashtabula Lake Crossing, part of Lake Ashtabula Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Area. Disappointing for a COE campground – no paved sites, just grassy areas that are all on slopes. 30 amp. Central water and dump station. Pit toilets only. BUT – the view is spectacular. We are right on the water. At $13/night with senior discount, I give it a 3 out of 5.
WEATHER: Very nice. Cool in the AM – jacket weather! High 74. Locals are complaining a lot about the heat, though.
DRIVE: 1 hour
We putzed around the Harvest Host winery, enjoying the sunrise over the vineyards and the cool breezes coming in from our open windows. Then, we headed west on I-94.
It took us a while to set up because the site is wet and has a steep slope. We tried multiple ways to park to be fairly level, out of the mud, and close enough so that our electricity cord would reach the hook-up post. Finally got that sorted out. We have a lovely view of the lake…
And, we are the only campers here! The posts indicate, however, that it will be full this weekend.
We drove back into town, about 20 miles away, to go to their farmers’ market, that someone had recommended. That was a bust. It was not a farmers’ market but a downtown street sale. Nothing for us. While we were in town, we stopped at the library to use their internet. Like many libraries we have found, it is closed due to Covid-19, but we could still use the internet from their parking lot. This is one of those old Carnegie libraries that you see around the country. Lovely building…
Our Harvest Host winery owner told us that there is a microbrewery here, so we went in search of it. In a town that doesn’t offer much, the microbrewery was a very pleasant surprise – brand new with a good vibe and good beers…
Back at the campground, George built a fire for cooking dinner. I took photos along the way, to show a friend how he does it….
1. He makes a triangle or square, stacking construction wood that he has cut into small pieces. (We picked this wood up at construction sites around our neighborhood before we left Texas. You cannot transport campfire wood – with bark – from place to place, but this construction wood is fine to haul around).
2. Then, he places the firestarters I made (toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint with a dab of Vaseline) in each of the corners
3. More layers of wood and whatever paper bits we have around – sometimes newspaper or writing paper. Today we used a greasy paper that leftover pizza had been wrapped in.
4. More paper. We wad the paper up so it burns better
5. Then, very small chunks of wood go in the center of the triangle (or square). We collected these wood remnants from the woodshop at the village where we lived during the winter.
6. More small chunks (I don’t want to bring any back to Texas!
7.. Then, the magic moment – lighting the fire. George lights it from the bottom – on the paper bits. It starts with smoke but the breeze quickly fans up the flames
8. Yay! We have fire!
9. After the fire gets going, George put on two logs to burn more slowly.
This particular firepit has a grate, so we put that on after the fire was going well, to cook our dinner.
DINNER: We placed the iron skillet on the grill to get it good and hot. Then, we put leftover pizza in the skillet to warm up and to crisp up. Side was zucchini and onions, cooked inside the trailer.
BOOK: “The Long Way Home” by Louise Penny. Part of a series by an excellent author from the Eastern Townships of Quebec. 5 stars out of 5