(Maple Ginger Bacon Carrots with Sesame Seeds! This was one of the great side dish from this evening! And the only one which featured a sauce!)
When I finally made the lobby, after a thrilling twilight boat ride, the front desk clerk informed me that the rest of my party had assembled in the dining room.
They saw me first.
All together they called: “Phoebe!”
I made my way over to the large round table under a rustic chandelier, made from antlers, where everyone sat.
Me (feeling corny): “Cheers everyone!”
This met with a round of laughter, clinking of plates, silverware, and glasses. With a slight sense of deja vu, I sat down to my second family-style meal in under a week. Which featured at least one entree covered in bacon sprinkles, one platter held jamón wrapped root vegetables, and we weren’t eating off paper plates.
The bacon almost made up for the shocking lack of sauce.
Wood (in-between bites): “According to the Rangers the best hiking weather is tomorrow. So I rented a boat. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have enough time to see Pumpkin Mountain. It’s a two and a half day hike if you’re focused.”
Beatrice (helping herself to a bowl of roasted vegetables): “Boat? My map didn’t show a landing anywhere on the trail.”
Laney (taking over for Wood, who’d just took an enormous bite of steak): “Not on the official maps, but the locals made their own version, augmented with all the tricks and trivia outsiders are unaware of. Sam told me there’s a natural landing just under the trailhead we can use.”
Beatrice (looking very interested): “Do they sell copies of these expanded maps?”
Laney: “I don’t know. They’re lending us one for tomorrow. You can take a picture of it if nothing else.”
Beatrice excused herself from the table for a moment.
Sarah (ever efficient): “How will we know what to look for?”
Wood: “They’ve spray-painted the landing bright orange or something. They’ll show me some pictures of what I’m looking for tomorrow, we’ll be fine.”
Talk shifted away from the trip onto more mundane matters, Laney wondered what I thought of FLYT, and Sarah asked Wood about the boys. It wasn’t until we’d practically licked the platters clean that we noticed Beatrice hadn’t returned to the table. Just about the time, we were going to mount an expedition to find her she reappeared in the dining room doorway, waving several folded sheets of paper above her head in victory.
Beatrice (her smile wide): “I got a copy of the map!”
We all started at her blankly.
Beatrice: “The augmented map! I got a copy!”
Me (speaking for the group – hesitantly): “M’kay…and this cause for celebration?”
Beatrice: “Yes! It means I can win!”
Wood: “Win at hiking?”
Beatrice (finally realizing we were confused): “No. Geocaching. My archenemy, Horus….”
Wood: “Wait, archenemy? Seriously?”
Beatrice: “Yes. An annoying player who says my caches are pedantic and pedestrian.”
Wood (trying and failing not to laugh): “He’s just needling you, Bee.”
Beatrice (haughtily): “I am not boring.”
Turns out Beatrice had bamboozled Sam into loaning her an augmented map, then fetched her unaugmented copy from her room. While we stacked the empty serving dished upon one end of the table, she snapped opened the two maps at the other. Then, using a wide array of colored pencils, she started transferring information from the former to the latter. We all watched her with varying amounts of humor.
Beatrice (concentrating on her task): “This isn’t funny, it’s serious.”
Laney: “Of course it is, but you can’t say you have an archenemy named Horus without us at least asking if you are driving on three wheels these days.”
Beatrice’s eyes didn’t waver from her task, but she did smile, Laney has that knack. When the waiter cleared the table, we ordered a round of drinks and continued watching Beatrice (from a distance she growled when we got too close, I mean she politely asked us to refrain from standing in her light). When she finished with a triumphant flourish, I warily approached her and studied her handiwork.
Me (tracing tomorrows trail with my finger): “That blue triangle is the authorized camping spot, but what are the blue circles just past it?”
Beatrice: “They’re the unofficial camping spots. Sam says the locals avoid them now, but they’re still on the map, I thought one might make an excellent place to hide a cache.”
Me: “I agree.”
Those unofficial dots would indeed make excellent hiding spots – for all kinds of things.