I just had to give you a little peek behind the scenes at what it takes to go on Pilgrimage in the 21st century. The dates are a given; the Pilgrimage to Mount Saint Macrina in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been held on Labor Day weekend every year for the past 75 years. This is our fourth Pilgrimage, and we've just about gotten it down to a science.
First we have to plan menus. We make a chart with blocks for each meal, then decide what to eat at each meal. The only non-negotiable meal is Sunday night's dinner; we always have filet mignon and salad - I get the vacuum-packed bacon-wrapped steaks from Kroger, freeze them, and by the time Sunday rolls around they are thawed but still cold, and ready to pan fry on our camp stove.
From the menus we make an exhaustive grocery list; it usually takes at least two trips to get everything because we can't buy the really perishable stuff until a couple of days before we leave.
Then we get out all the sleeping bags, tents (yes, you read that right), dining pavilion, screen house, folding chairs and tables, dinnerware and cooking supplies, and check everything over well. Anything that needs to be replaced gets an entry on the shopping list. This year we needed a couple more flashlights and some batteries; I splurged and got a headlamp to wear for reading in bed and singing on the porch (more on that when we get home). I also bought a spare can of white gas for the stove, just in case.
We took the chairs and tables up to the monastery and left them under a tarp behind the rectory last week when we went up to clean the racetrack kitchen (more on that upon our return as well). That clears out the floorboards of the car so we're not riding with our knees up by our ears for 30 miles. We still have to put the tents, sleeping bags and clothing in a soft car-top carrier on the roof, because they will squish and the cooler and other 'hard' items have to go in the back of the Subaru.
Tonight we made the final trip to the store, Birdman baked the pepperoni rolls, and we moved everything that's packed to the back room ready to go in the car on Friday. Tomorrow we'll make the tomato soup, a batch of Prosphora (Communion bread) for our parish, get the outdoor feed box filled for our chicken-sitters, and gather the rest of the non-perishable food.
Friday morning I'll deliver Eli to my mom's, then come back home and we'll start packing the cooler and loading up the car. I hope we can be pulling out of the driveway right after lunch; once we get to the monastery we'll set up our campsite and then relax a bit until services start.