Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quick Frugal Trips

When I was a small boy, vacations consisted of one day trips to Tweetsie Railroad, Natural Bridge, Guilford Battleground, Dixie or Luray Caverns. My family never vacationed several days at any location. On vacation day, we were up before the roosters, on the road for several hours, stayed a few hours at our destination, then headed back home arriving, quite often, on or around midnight. Exhausted, we’d flop onto our beds and sleep until nigh noon the next day. In fact, I’d never seen the Atlantic Ocean, which was a mere five hours east of where I lived, until I was out of high school.

To this day, I do not know why my family took one day vacations. Perhaps money was an issue, though we never seemed to be in want of anything. We had plenty of clothes, food; we had shelter. Our essential needs were never an issue.

I don’t begrudge my parents for our thrifty one day vacations. I had fun. I often came home with a souvenir though, secretly (ever being the adventurous sort), I did want to see the ocean and walk barefoot on a beach.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with friends when the subject of finding frugal things to do outdoors, not too far from Mayodan, made its way into our conversation. I suggested a hike up Hanging Rock, a mountain located at Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County. And so, the next day, my friend Deedee Grummett and I packed water and trail mix, drove 30 minutes east of Mayodan and tackled the 1.3 mile hike to the summit. Here are a few photos from our trip:

Deedee conquers the submit

But the park has more to offer as this excerpt from my haibun journal notes:

Hanging Rock

at the summit...
a hawk rides a thermal
below us

We make our way down a winding trail, my neighbor and friend Deedee and me, still in awe of the view we saw minutes ago atop the mountain. We stop by a little museum at the ranger station, whereupon I become fascinated by the Saura Native American exhibit. Fish hooks fashioned out of deer bones, stone knives and axes, an arrow tipped with a stone arrowhead are laid out in a display, necessities to combat a harsh life, but the Native Americans survived here, even thrived. All day we’ve been hiking on what was their home until diseases, introduced by the Europeans, contributed to their demise.

Map in hand, we exit the museum and follow the trail to Cascade Falls. Earlier, we met a park ranger who apologized for the graffiti we would find there. “It’ll be removed in a couple of days,”  he assured us. We hear and sense the falls moments before the trail turns onto a wooden bridge. We cross the bridge, climb down a flight of wooden stairs, turn and smile. The falls are aptly named. Water, fed by a stream 20 to 30 feet above us, cascades down a cliff, flowing over a series of rocks that jut out like rungs on a ladder. We cannot fathom why someone would want to mar a section of rock to our right with paint. We pause for a moment in reverent silence, then slip out of our footwear and wade into a clear mountain pool...

lull of a waterfall...
the hushed whispers
of the ancient ones

Delighted to be in what looks like paradise
Deedee ascending the waterfall
I felt like a kid again climbing those rocks!
I've learned or, perhaps, relearned the merit of one day adventurous trips. Very little money was spent that day. We left the park with a deeper appreciation of what can be explored a few minutes from our homes.

Happy Birthday Deedee!
I'll close with a recipe of one of my favorite foods.

Salmon Cakes


1 can (16 ounces) salmon
1 small onion, finely grated
black pepper, to taste
Old Bay seasoning, to taste
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 to 1 1/2 cups fine dry bread crumbs (or, in a pinch cornmeal will do)
oil for frying

Heat oil in skillet or pan on medium
Drain water from the canned salmon.
Remove the bones, empty salmon into a mixing bowl and flake with a fork.
Add onion, bread crumbs (or cornmeal)
Mash and mix thoroughly
Add eggs and mix thoroughly (to bind it)
Add black pepper and Old Bay seasoning
If the mix looks like it's not binding well, add a little mayonnaise

Spoon into patties. Drop patties into oil and cook from three to four minutes per side. Remove the patties when they're a golden brown, placing them on a plate covered with paper towels to help absorb remaining grease.


  1. I love when folks share their travel adventures! Sounds and looks like a wonderful day filled with invigorating physical activity and friendship plus nature appreciation and learning that inspire great writing...definitely my kind of day! I'll do the salmon cakes, but not with canned salmon, Curtis. I'm gonna try this recipe with a nice piece of freshly grilled salmon all seasoned up as you suggest. Looks delicious! I might do a dill sauce topping. Will have to think it through. Thanks for the inspiration! Beautiful poetry too.

    1. Hey Angie,

      Thank you for dropping by The Frugal Poet and for your kind words, too. :)

      Dill sauce sounds like a nice topping for salmon cakes. I may have to try that next time.

      Yeah, getting out and exploring Hanging Rock was a lot of fun. There's no way you can see everything in a day. Such wonders...and so close to home...

  2. Nice posting, Curtis. I love trips like that myself.

    1. It was just a lot of fun getting outside, hiking, exploring. I hope to do it again sometime soon.

      Thanks for dropping by The Frugal Poet, Brett.