Archive for April, 2010

Mystery Mondays: Guest Author

As I mentioned last Monday, I met some amazing people at the Overland Expo 2010. I’ve asked a few of my new friends if they would like to be a guest author for the blog in the coming months. My first author is Mr. Joe Bacal.

Joe with his vehicle.

Guest Author Joe Bacal:

I’m a professional off-road racer and cancer survivor — on a mission to inspire fans across my social media sites and at race events like the legendary Baja 1000. I’m 41 from from Anthem, AZ. Began my sophomore year of racing this January with a growing fan base on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. After beating Hodgkin’s lymphoma with the support of my care team from Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), I decided it was time to make my dream of racing off-road a reality.

I was a Toyota test driver and instructor for years before racing. Following cancer, my team (JTGrey Racing) debuted in ’09 with a win at the Baja 500, and capped off the ‘09 season by driving more than 27 hours, day and night, to cross the finish line at the perilous Baja 1000, the “granddaddy” of off-road racing in Mexico. We have two wins under the belt in 2010 in the SCORE Desert Series – the Laughlin Desert Challenge and San Felipe 250.

Joe Bacal in action!

Cancer and off-road racing have a lot of parallels – they are both chaotic worlds, but it’s about taking control amid chaos.

A cancer diagnosis takes control of your life, physically, emotionally, mentally and even financially. It affects your family and all those who care for you. A cancer diagnosis creates chaos.

Unlike the feeling of losing control that cancer creates, I feels in complete control when I’m driving in the chaos of off-road racing. The truck bounces violently. Animals, rocks and trees seem to appear out of nowhere. It’s extreme, full of obstacles, often unpredictable – it’s chaos.

My cancer treatment experience mirrors my driving experience. I had doctors and clinicians dedicated to making sure my body remained strong during treatment; state-of-the-art technology to treat the disease; and a care team – including my wife Teresa – who provided the information needed to make treatment decisions.

My mission is to help cancer patients take control and be in the “driver’s seat” of their care to cross the finish line. You can’t win the race if you don’t finish. To finish, you need to be in control of what’s ahead of you and supported by a great team and family and friends who love you.

Follow our mission to take control when it comes to fighting cancer by becoming a fan of Control Amid Chaos on Facebook –


Thanks Joe, for sharing your story and mission with us! When Joe & I were chatting at the Expo, I asked him why he was still so focused on cancer. I mean, if you’re cured, why keep constant reminders around you all the time. His answer was that everyone has been touched by cancer in some form or another; either they have had it or they know somebody who has. Joe was very clear in sharing his passion with me: inspiring others.

If you would like to be a guest author for The Outdoor Princess blog, please send me an email at

Fun Food Fridays: Chili-Olive Snack Wraps

This is one of my favorite make-it-and-go recipes. Perfect for when you know you’ll be spending the day out exploring.


  • Large flour tortillas
  • Plain, spreadable cream cheese
  • Black olives
  • 1 can green chopped chili
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Chop olives into fine pieces. Mix the olives, chili, and shredded cheese into the cream cheese. Spread onto a tortilla (it is better if you make the spread really thick!)

Roll the tortilla so the spread is on the inside. Cut into slices and serve.

Do you have a favorite make-it-and-go recipe? Tell me about it by leaving a comment below!

Pitch Your Tent: Ice Chest Tips

5 Ice Chest Tips

Camping and ice chests just go hand in hand. The big question is: when you’re living out of an ice chest instead of a refrigerator and freezer, what can you do to make life easier? Here are five tips to help!

Look over your ice chest before you head out. Is the drain cover still attached? Are there any bubbles or cracks in the sides, bottom or lid of the chest? Does the lid still fit tightly? If your ice chest looks worn it won’t keep your food cold. That makes it a good ice chest for drinks (cans of soda pop won’t spoil if they get warm), but you should invest in a new ice chest for perishable food items.

Block ice will last longer than cubed ice. Just make sure that it is cooling the entire chest and keeping foods at an even temperature. Of course, you’ll still need a bag or two of cubed for drinks.

All items in your ice chest should be packed in watertight bags or containers. Who wants soggy lunch meat? Gross! Also, don’t put items in your ice chest that could be left out or stored in large plastic containers, like peanut butter or mustard.

Freeze some camp cooking ingredients to help chill the ice chest. Good examples are meat and cans of frozen juice. Just be sure that your dinner will be thawed by the time you want to eat it!

To remove odors from your cooler, wipe it with a water and baking soda solution. You can also leave it in open in the sun for a few hours. Make sure that it is 100% dry on the inside before you close the lid for storage.

The ice chest of choice.

As for me? Yeah, I totally recommend going for the one of the Coleman Xtreme® Coolers. You lose a bit of internal storage space, but the cooler will keep ice a lot longer than a conventional ice chest. This is the exact ice chest that the “Royal” Family uses when we’re out for adventures.

How do you use your ice chests? What tips can you share?

Mystery Mondays: Overland Expo 2010

This is officially on my wish list! A tent, cargo trailer, and small enough for my Nissan to tow.

Now that tax season is over (yeah!) ESP Boss and I spent Friday south of Tucson, AZ, checking out the Overland Expo 2010. Last April was the first Expo, held in our own backyard here in Prescott.  Here’s my blog post about it.

Official Logo

We had such a great time in 2009 that for Expo Overland 2010 we got up at 4:30 am on April 16th and drove the 4+ hours to Amado to check out what was new in the world of overlanding.

I spent a VERY long day in the hot sun (WOW! Southern Arizona gets HOT when you’ve been away since college) pounding the dust to visit 100+ vendors.

Now, if you were like me last year, you’re probably wondering: “Just what IS overlanding?”

In a nutshell think about everything needed to take a backpacking (hiking) trip and the put it on wheels! At first I thought that it would be extreme 4-wheel drive vehicles but overlanding encompasses everything from motorcycles to 4-wheel drive trucks to vehicles that cost more than my house!

Overland Motorcycle with sidecar and full gear.

Close-up of critter riding on the sidecar!

Overlanding is car-camping to the extreme. It’s far more demanding (and adventuresome) that what the “Royal” family has ever done. But it sounds like such FUN.

Take Lois Pryce, for example. I first met Lois at the Expo in 2009 when she was giving a PowerPoint presentation to her adventure (and book) Lois on the Loose. It’s fantastic! Get it on Amazon here.

Front cover of Lois Pryce's book "Lois on the Loose"

Basically, Lois describes herself as a fed up office worker in Britain who learns how to ride a motorcycle. So, she quits her job, ships the bike to Alaska and proceeds to ride, solo, from Alaska to the southernmost city of South America, Ushuaia, Argentina. All by herself!

Lois is funny, candid, and honest both in person and in print. And did I mention brave?

Another tent on top of a cargo trailer.

Another tent atop a cargo trailer.

At this year’s Expo, I visited each and every exhibitor looking for products, stories, and ideas that I could bring back to the family. While we might not have the extreme adventures that some of the overlanders do, there was a lot I learned!

In the coming weeks, look for some guest articles from some of the new friends I made. There will be an article from Joe Bacal, cancer survivor and professional off-road racer; Mark & Brooke Stephens who blog about camping with small children; Phil Golden and Chris Nash who will be driving the Continental Divide to raise awareness for ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy); my buddy Lance Blair from Disabled Explorers and more.

Disabled explorers was raising money to buy one of these nifty all-terrain “wheel chairs”. Check out the tank-like tread on this bad boy!

Designed to go over uneven ground.

And no, the Expo wasn’t all walking, sweat, and work! I also tried some of the equipment,

The Outdoor Princess driving the cool chair.

visited with my good friends Scott & Stephanie Brady from Overland Journal, and had lunch at the fantastic Amado Territory Steakhouse.


Scott & Stephanie have helped me a lot in the past year through suggesting different ways that all the “tribe” (as Scott calls it) of have a forum where we can interact and get together. And Stephanie has always been quick to remind me to keep the “whimsy” in what we do. Stephanie, my “The Outdoor Princess” dangly orange earrings are for you!

Check out those earrings!

Fun Food Fridays: Fantastic Fried Bluegill

Bluegill are a tasty pan fish, but few people actually know how to cook one. I found this recipe recently and thought I’d share it with you. From what I’ve seen lakeside, bluegill are easy for kids to catch.

No matter how hard I try with my corn (a favorite food of bluegill) I can still only catch trout! Even when I’m at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ and I can see the bluegill swimming around, I can’t catch one for anything. I guess I’m just a trout magnet or something!


  • 8-10 bluegill, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 2 TBS oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 TBS butter or margarine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix corn meal and flour together. After thoroughly cleaning the fish, salt and pepper both sides of the fish and roll in the corn meal-flour mixture. In a good size skillet, heat the oil and butter to 325 degrees. Fry fish until golden brown, turning only once.

Serve with Southwest Rice Mix-Up; a great use of leftover bait corn.

And, just so you know, these recipes and others are all available for download in my eGuide “Camp Cooking from the Newsletter”.

Pitch Your Tent: Batteries

The Power of Batteries

Don't let this happen to you!

Don’t you hate it when you get to where you’re going and when you turn on your flashlight you discover that the batteries are dead? And, doesn’t it always happen when you REALLY need to use that flashlight to get somewhere? And, it never fails, you don’t have the right size battery to fit the flashlight!

My dad, ESP Boss, was a volunteer for the K-9 unit of Yavapai County Search and Rescue for many years. He quickly got tired of having the exact same thing happen to him. So, here’s dad’s solution:

  • Standardize all the equipment to take just one battery size. He uses AA (double A) because it fits his GPS, flashlight, walkie talkie, you name it!
  • If your equipment doesn’t take AA, replace it. He had a great flashlight that took 4 D-cell batteries. Not only was it heavy, he also had to remember to bring extras!
  • Bring several replacement packages of batteries so you have them on hand to replace ones that are dead.
  • After every trip, replace the batteries that you used. So, if you keep 8 extra batteries with you when you’re camping and you just used 4, be sure to replace them so you have them the next time you go out.

If you will be keeping the batteries in the flashlight between trips, you can flip one of the batteries so the ends are opposite of where they are supposed to be. This keeps the flashlight from turning on accidentally! Just remember to flip it back!

Another related tip: be sure to turn on all your battery powered equipment and flashlights before leaving home. It’s a lot easier to test them and make adjustments when you are at home rather than in camp, hours away from the nearest store!

Cabelas flashlight

Just remember, your flashlight might turn on, but that doesn’t mean that it is bright enough. Take it to a dark room to test the brightness of the bulb and then replace the batteries or bulb as needed.

And please, dispose of your batteries properly! Make sure they make it into the trash and are not left in the forest or at the campground.

I’m a big fan of Cabela’s Outdoor Outfitters and I get a lot of my outdoor equipment through them. So, here’s a link to all the excellent flashlights that are available through the website. Test them out and let me know what is your favorite!

What do you do to make sure all your battery powered equipment is ready to work?

Find Your Geocache

The Truth About Trackables

Ah, trackables! Trackable items can be the Holy Grail for some geocachers. But, what exactly are they? This article is about that a trackable IS; next week’s will be about what to do with one once you find it.

Put simply, a trackable is an item that is moved from cache to cache, around the world, and its movements are recorded on

But, if you’ve ever tried to explain that concept to a Muggle, then you know the most common question is: “Where does it keep the tracking chip?”

The first time I was asked this, I honestly didn’t understand. I mean you TRACK it at… Then I realized that with GPS technology, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the trackable item itself can be read and registered from a satellite. While that’d be really cool, it’s not the case.

(Although, if they can microchip a dog, it does make a next-step type of logic!)

Trackables, also called travel bugs, TBs, or hitchhikers can be a variety of items. Each trackable has a unique code that has been registered with

So, just what IS a trackable item?

A travel bug is a “dogtag” imprinted with the image of a bug made from a barcode and a unique tracking code. These are produced by and available from the website directly or a variety of retailers. These “dogtags” are typically attached to an item like a small toy.

Image courtesy of; travel bug dog tags

Trackables can also be trackable geocoins. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes but are typically metal. They also have a unique code that is registered with geocoin

How do they work?

With most aspects of geocaching, there are two sides to a trackable item: the online and the real world.

Real World Trackables

In the real world, a trackable is placed into a cache, ready for another geocacher to come find it and move it along. Once it has been placed (or picked up) the online aspect of the item gets updated.

Online Trackables

If you’ve ever found a geocache and logged it online, then you’re familiar with the online aspect of geocaching. The rules are very similar for the online life of a trackable item. Once and item has been placed into a geocache, the cacher logs into their account on and records the trackable is now in the cache, using the unique tracking code.

Once the trackable has been logged into a geocache, it appears in the cache’s inventory. When a trackable is removed from a cache in the real world, the finder should also log online that they now have the trackable. Once that happens, the trackable is removed from the online inventory of the cache and is listed as “In the hands of” the geocacher who has it at the moment.

Example of the inventory on a geocache.


Most trackable items have a goal or purpose. Some are in a race with another trackable to reach certain destination, others want to be placed in caches with a theme, etc.

ESP Boss has a trackable geocoin dedicated to his final Search & Rescue dog, Kodak. I have a trackable that wants to visit campgrounds.

Some Of What I’ve Encountered

Our very first encounter with trackables actually was a pair of them. They had been in the cache for MONTHS. We were very excited to pick them up and take them along for the ride.

The first trackable items my family & I ever found.

This little guy, (technically found by ESP Boss) wants to have its picture taken at different caches. Boy, is THAT ever easy since he’s very photogenic! He is the Mechanical Man travel bug.

Mechanical Man travel bug in the spine of a saguaro cactus.

Once, while out for a day of geocaching, I placed a trackable. By the time I logged our cache finds the next day (I got home VERY late) the trackable had already been scooped out of the cache and had been re-hid. Very cool!

For all you experienced geocachers:

What is your favorite trackable item you’ve ever encountered? What happened when you found your first-ever trackable?

Mystery Mondays: Outdoor Princess Productions

This post was really going to be an after-April-15th announcement but because of recent developments, I simply MUST tell you sooner!

(In case you didn’t know, ESP_Boss has a very large tax practice that I work in as well. We prepare well over 1,200 returns in a pretty tiny town!)

I am pleased to announce that The Outdoor Princess will be producing a series of How-To videos about the most common outdoor adventures. That’s right, in addition to the newsletters (camping, fishing and geocaching) we’ll also be making short videos for those subjects that simply MUST be seen to be understood.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m announcing this NOW instead of in two weeks after the end of tax season.

That’s because my very good friend and, Isabel has auditioned for The Biggest Loser reality TV show. And, as part of the audition process, she needed to make a video to send in.

We’ve had the video camera for months now and have been collecting our ideas for the videos that and The Outdoor Princess (that’s me!) will be creating first. But, this opportunity to test it all out AND help a friend was just too good to pass up.

Here's ESP_Boss getting set up for our first shoot.

All afternoon on Sunday Dad & I were at Isabel’s house, filming her, her kids, and munching on Easter candy. We finished filming this morning in the tax office. Once the video is all edited, we’ll be putting in on YouTube so the judges can find it. I’ll be sure to post the link on the blog so you can see all our hard work!

Today, I took the footage to a friend of Isabel’s who will be editing it for us. In fact, after April 15th, he’ll be teaching ESP_Boss and I how to edit our own footage!

Here are some things for you to be thinking about:

What types of How-To videos would you like to see? What’s something you’ve always wondered about but aren’t sure how to do?

Send me an email or drop a line in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

Name That Pup! He has a name!

He's just begging for a name!

I am pleased to announce that my father, ESP_Boss, has FINALLY picked a name for his new puppy. And, without the excellent contest from last week, the poor pooch would STILL be nameless!

The winner of the Name That Pup Contest is:

Drum roll please

Jon B. for submitting the name ‘Sir Charles’

And, because that’s only the name for when he’s being good and wise, I’d also like to extend congratulations to

John K. for submitting the name ‘Chuck’.

Both Jon and John will get the value tee shirt of their choice from the EatStayPlay shop.

Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who helped ESP_Boss name the puppy. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Since I can’t send EVERYBODY a tee shirt, as much as I’d like to, what I can do is offer you a very special deal on outdoor cooking eGuides. What I’ve done is put BOTH the “Camp Cooking from the Pitch Your Tent/Set Your Hook Newsletter” eGuide and the “Set Your Hook – How to Catch Trout” eGuide into ONE download. I typically sell each of these eGuides individually for $5.95 but I’m offering you the COMBO for just $4.25.

In this combo eGuide, you’ll get over 80 pages filled with great outdoor cooking recipes PLUS all my tips, tricks, and hints for catching the wily trout.

And Chuck’s two siblings that also went to homes in the family? Jacque named her puppy ‘Gracie’ and Isabel named her pup ‘Boogie’.

Fun Food Fridays: Southwest Rice Mix-Up

Canned corn is a popular fishing bait in my family. Since we put about half the can into a sandwich bag to take with us that leaves half a can of corn at home or in the RV fridge. So, we came up with a quick, after-fishing snack that uses up the leftover corn. This is also a perfect, quick dinner when you roll back into camp late, after fishing all day, and the kids are hungry and all you have is leftovers!


  • Canned corn (NOT the corn that you fished with, the non-contaminated leftovers!)
  • Breakfast sausage, patty or link
  • Rice-a-Roni®
  • Small can green chili

Prepare the Rice-A-Roni® according to the package directions. (If you’re like my family, you might have some leftover from another meal; for us, Rice-A-Roni® and trout go together perfectly!) While that’s cooking, prepare the breakfast sausage. Once the sausage and rice are cooked, crumble the sausage into the rice. Add in the corn and the chili (to taste) and heat until everything is warm.

This is also great without the chili.

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