In Which We Have Hot Dog Tea

            The summer after Italy, I was determined to rectify the small sore point that my parents, Brendan, and I had gone to Yellowstone without my sister. She was on her way to work in Crater Lake, and I was on my way to school…the long way.

            Instead of heading down to Tucson, we headed up through Utah, Idaho, and into Wyoming for the adventure of every geo-enthusiast’s dreams. To the daily tunes of “Say it right” by Nelly Furtado and “What goes around comes Around” by Justin Timberlake, we wandered north through some of the best geography the world has to offer, camping in such illustrious places as Bryce, Cedar Breaks, and Moab (Ok, not those, but I wasn’t really driving, so I was only half paying attention. Bonus points if you know which one was actually right).

            At last, we came to camp in the Grand Tetons, and amazing campground with absolutely no view of the iconic mountains the national park is named for. Maybe they get amusement from watching the campers’ faces as they come around the hill that blocks the mountains from view.

            There is at least a nice river to stare at while thinking about mountains and the daunting idea that those mountains were once 18,000 feet above the valley floor. There are also a number of signs about keeping wildlife wild, particularly the bears, particularly the very large, grizzly bears.

            My sister took this to heart in which she started planning all the ways that we would leave no trace of food scent anywhere near where we were camped. This included brushing teeth at the pit toilets, bagging any wrappers, and to our everlasting chagrin: dealing with the hot dog water.

            Hot dogs were our dinner for the night, which were delicious as eating a hot dog generally entails pulling them out of the water, putting them on buns, and slathering enough condiments on them to subdue their strong flavor.

            Dinner was delicious.

            Dealing with the water was not.

            My sister was very convinced that even pouring the hot dog water down the sinks at the campground would attract a mob of hangry grizzlies that would promptly trace the scent back to our breaths and devour not only us in our pickup but any camper that ever visited the site in the future. (I can’t fault her for this line of thinking because I have seen the videos of bears in cars at Yosemite, and grizzly bears are much bigger and stronger. I wouldn’t want one anywhere near a campground because it would turn into a scene from Ghost and the Darkness.

            Also, since I am rather impressed with the abilities and somewhat convinced that a bear in the camp will be my inevitable end, I was ready to comply.

            Advice on how to deal with hot dog water:

  1. Pour it down the sink.

This is good. I no longer care that hoards of bears are after the ghosts of future campers.

  • Pour the water out in the river or at the spigot to dilute it.

This is also good. Maybe others will have to deal with a bear attack, but it is better than the alternatives.

  • Drink the water.

This is bad. Remember that strong taste you used condiments to dilute. It’s stronger in the water.

  • Make tea out of the water.

This is worse.

It borders on taking two edible things and making poison from them.

The thought process that led to this very unfortunate culinary experiment was something like:

We can’t pour out the water (bear-pocalypse)!

The water tastes gross.

Why does it have to taste like meaty campfire tea?

Maybe tea will drown out the flavor.

Maybe more sugar and tea will help.

Maybe this is the worst thing I have ever tasted.

How did we think this was a good idea?

Maybe I can make it through. I’m pretty determined.

I can uphold the family honor.

Maybe I can just invite a bear in. At least it will keep me warmer than this now lukewarm tea-hot dog abomination.

My sister and I were not that determined.

We poured out the hot dog tea. No bears were sighted. They probably took one sniff, and thought: POISON!