Thursday, July 20, 2017

On hot dogs and magic

2008- Flagstaff, Arizona

Ryan: I feel like hot dogs for dinner.
Sara: Ew.
Ryan: You don’t like hot dogs?! That’s un-American!
Sara: I love hot dogs on a campfire. Otherwise they’re disgusting.
Ryan: They’re always good… but they are best on a campfire. Well, let’s go!

So we did.

We stopped by Fry’s and grabbed a package of Bar-S, a bag of chips, a soda for Ryan, and apples. Dinner was served.

That night was magic. We ate our hot dogs and then we sat there under the stars, the smell of campfire saturating our hair and our clothes, and we talked for hours. We fell in love a little more, though we hadn’t said it yet. He took me home and I put my hoodie in my hamper, then pulled it back out and smelled it one more time. It smelled like the woods, like campfire, like Ryan.

We drove out to the cinders for hot dog dinners fairly often after that. One snowy November night, when we were young and careless and a little foolish, we decided we could make it.

“It’s not that deep,” Ryan decided.
“We have four-wheel-drive,” I added.
“And I got these great tires,” Ryan said.

We called Ryan’s aunt and uncle an hour later and asked if they would please, pretty please, come tow us out of the snow. Ryan explained why we were out in two feet of snow at 7pm and while he, Uncle Kim, and some random passers-by worked to un-stick us, I opened up the door of the truck to get chapstick or water or something. Aunt LeVonne spotted the hot dogs on the center console. 

“Oh,” she said with surprise. “You really were just out here to roast hot dogs?”
“Yeah,” I shrugged. “We like to do that for dinner sometimes.”

2009- Lake Ashurst, Arizona

We blew our paychecks on camping supplies. Camp chairs, a tent, sleeping bags. Hot dog roasting essentials. We had our first big fight and I vowed to never speak of that weekend again… but now I look at those pictures and I smile.

2012- Battle Ridge, Gallatin National Forest, Montana

There was a campfire ban. We should have thought to check on that before we drove six hours out, over an hour away from the last grocery store…but we didn’t. All we had were hot dogs, granola bars, Rainier cherries, and a Bic lighter.

We saw a moose on the drive up. Something brushed up against our truck tent late that night and even though Ryan says it was just a squirrel, I still swear it was a moose’s shovel, knocking against the side as it scoped out the scene.

We woke up in the morning and hiked around Fairy Lake. It is still one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, topped only by the sight of my husband holding our newborns.

2012- Thermopolis, Wyoming

Ryan’s uncle Mark passed through Casper, where we were “stationed” in our RV, on a road trip with his granddaughter. We accompanied them to Thermopolis, where we all swam in the hot springs before settling in to roast hot dogs and fake s’mores.

2013- Avon, Utah

We loaded up our two-month old and everything we thought we might need, and headed up the mountain for a camping trip with Ryan’s dad. Inquisitive squirrels darted uncomfortably close to me while I nursed him, maybe curious about the scent of my milk. Tropical-like greens surrounded us while we hiked. The baby had this look on his face, like he was madly in love with the pines and the sky. It was our first time using that tent and we could sense all the beautiful memories we’d be making in it over the next 18 years. The hot dogs tasted like campfire.


My aunt sends out a group text informing us that it’s National Hot Dog day. I inform the group that I only like them roasted over an open campfire and my aunt suggests that I try them over a gas oven.
“It wouldn’t be the same,” I reply. “You have to be able to smell campfire and feel pine needles crunching under your feet. Otherwise it’s just a hot dog.”

I’m really only half-kidding.

Hot dogs are just hot dogs, unless you’re in the woods. And then they’re magic.

My kids happen to be fishing plastic fish out of their water table, scooping them into a basket they’ve decided is their campfire, while I sit in a camp chair beside them and write out our grocery list for tomorrow.

“Who’s ready for dinner?” my son asks. “Fish cooked over a campfire!”

“This settles it,” I text the group. “We are taking our kids out to the woods this weekend to roast hot dogs, their first time! We’ll obviously finish up the night with fake s’mores, chocolate kisses tucked oversized marshmallows and lit. on. fire. This all sounds so magical but I fully acknowledge that there is a 98% chance this will not end well.”

“toddlers and fire,” my aunt replies. “What could go wrong?”

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