Archive for June, 2010
It is fire season again in Arizona. We’ve already had some devastating fires up near Flagstaff, including the Schultz Fire which burned more than 15,000 acres. In fact, just this week, Flagstaff law enforcement had to deal with an additional THREE little fires. Officials are thinking arson…
Fires take up a lot of airtime on our summer news broadcasts: man-made fires, smoking restrictions, fire restrictions, wildfires, and really scary terms like: “defensible space”, percent contained, homes lost.
You all know how much I love s’mores (4 recipes in one cookbook!) and that I have written articles in the past about safe fire starting. But, one of the most important steps of the fire making process, I’ve only mentioned in passing. And, that’s the right way to put out a fire.
HOW FIRE WORKS
The Basic Elements of Fire
The word “fire” refers to the natural phenomenon that occurs whenever a combustible fuel comes into contact with oxygen at an extremely high temperature. Fire is the byproduct of a chemical reaction in which fuel stored in a combustible fuel is converted to a gas. A fire’s flame refers to the visual indication of light that occurs once the gas is heated, and is evidence that a fire has taken place.
Fires can be man made or natural. When lightning starts a fire in dry grass, it can be just as devastating as a campfire that gets away. A few summers ago, a wildfire in Arizona was actually started by a dust devil. The story goes that a dust devil scooped up a piece of tin, the tin hit a power line and gave off sparks. The sparks fell into dry grass and BANG! a fire was started.
The Fire Triangle
The Fire Triangle was developed by natural scientists as a simple way of understanding the factors of fire. Each side of the triangle represents one of the three ingredients of fire — oxygen, heat, and fuel — demonstrating the interdependence of these ingredients in creating and sustaining fire. Remove any of these three factors from the triangle, and a fire will die.
The interaction of the three equal sides of the fire triangle: heat, fuel and oxygen, are required for the creation and maintenance of any fire. When there is not enough heat generated to sustain the process, when the fuel is exhausted, removed, or isolated, or when oxygen supply is limited, then a side of the triangle is broken and the fire is suppressed.
A heat source is responsible for the initial ignition of wildland fire, and heat is also needed to maintain the fire and permit it to spread. Heat allows fire to spread by removing the moisture from nearby fuel, warming surrounding air, and preheating the fuel in its path, enabling it to travel with greater ease.
Matches, sparks, coals from a campfire not properly put out, a cigarette butt, etc are sources of heat.
Fuel could be defined as any kind of combustible material, and is characterized by its moisture content, size and shape, quantity, and the arrangement in which it is spread over the landscape. The moisture content of any fuel will determine how easily that fuel will burn.
In Arizona, the large number of dead pine trees (caused by drought and the pine beetle) are an easy source of fuel for a wildfire. Since it is still hot and dry here the moisture content is low. When it rains, even dead wood will have a moisture content, absorbed from the rain and the humidity in the air.
Slurry (the red stuff dropped from the planes in the case of a wildfire) is 85% water. It’s used to raise the moisture content and help stop fires.
Air contains about 21% oxygen, and most fires require at least 16% oxygen content to burn. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during a wildland fire. When fuel burns, it reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air releasing heat and generating combustion products (i.e. gases, smoke, particles). This process is known as oxidation.
Make Sure it is Out!
1. Let the fire burn down as far as possible. This is why having a small fire is better than having a big fire. Don’t leave a fire unattended.
2. Pour water onto the fire and around the fire area. Use enough water to float the coals and totally soak the area. Roll back any rocks from around the fire and pour water in and around where they were. Be sure to put rocks back into the fire ring when you’re done.
Be prepared for ashes to kick up into your face so stand on the up-wind side and pour water on slowly, using a small stream of water. Don’t throw water on the fire since it can actually spread hot coals.
3. Stir the coals, ashes and dirt. At this stage, you’ll most likely need to add more water and then stir again.
4. Check the coals for heat with your bare hand when you think it is out to make sure there are no hot areas. If there are any hot areas, go back to step 2 and pour on more water!
Make putting the fire out one of the first things you do when breaking camp. Put it out well in advance, so you can watch it for some time before you leave. Make sure that no roots are burning. Do not bury your coals — they can smolder and break out.
Readers Weigh In:
- Have you had any experiences with a campfire that got away?
- Have you ever been traveling the back roads and needed to put out an unattended campfire?
- What tools do you carry with you to put out fires? (Shovel, water, etc)
While I was in Flagstaff camping, I got to check up on all the caches I placed last August. I was really excited to see how they had fared after a winter of snow, wind, and rain.
I haven’t hid that many caches (13) so I’m not really sure how often I needed to check on them. The ones in Flagstaff are kind of tricky, since I live about 2 hours from them; not really practical to scoot over to check after the first DNF!
The first cache we checked on was The Quiet Zone. This cache is a favorite of mine, but I was concerned about the container; the prior three people searching for it had been DNF. As I drew closer to the cache, it was clear to see what had happened.
A bear had made off with the cache!
I found a better location and replaced the container. I was rather disappointed that the original contents had disappeared as well but there was no way I was going to argue with the bear!
But I did have to wonder about No Cows Here. It’s just off a trail bordered with tall Ponderosa pine trees. It is just off a main road so a lot of people look for it. But, for some reason, No Cows Here gets a fair share of DNF. Now, I’m pretty sure that has to do with bounce (the GPS signal gets interference from the trees) but I don’t feel I need to point that out. The cache seems so obvious to me — hidden but under a rock pile that just seems to scream: Here’s the cache!
So, what’s your take? Post a hint that the trees might interfere or leave it as is and trust to people’s geosense?
And for Cousin Trees, I changed the altitude of the cache just a bit. (I moved the cache from UNDER the tree to being IN the tree.)
Do you think that I need to explain that in the hint? I think saying something like “YBBX HC!” would be too much of a giveaway. What do you think?
To decrypt that hint, use Geocaching.com’s decryption key.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
(letter above equals below, and vice versa)
Readers Weigh In:
- How often do you check on the caches that you’ve hid?
- Do you rely on people’s geosense or do you try to make your hints obvious?
- Do you like hints that say if the cache is under something? (A rock, tree, etc) What about hints that say the cache is in a tree?
Use 73: Reflecting In The Dark
Okay, I don’t know if there are REALLY 127 uses for clothespins but it sure seems like there might be!
When ESP Boss trained dogs for Search & Rescue, he used clothes pins with surveyors tape attached to them to mark where the “victim” had walked. As the victim walked, she would clip the pins to bushes, marking the trail. That way, ESP Boss would be know more or less if the dog was following the scent trail or if he was just off in chase-the-lizard land.
Since then, these clothespins with surveying tape on them have become a must-have item for all our outdoor adventures!
Not only are they perfect for closing the bag of potato chips (use 23) or hanging out among the general debris of the truck (use 103) they are fantastic to clip on the guy wires of the tent so we don’t walk into them.
ESP Boss made his clothespins to not only have surveyors tape attached, but also reflecting tape. That way, when I’m walking near the tent in the middle of the night, not only does my flashlight beam illuminate the fluttering clothespins, the reflecting tape shows me exactly where the guy line is!
How To Make Reflecting Clothes Pins
- Surveyors Tape
- Reflective Tape
Make sure the clothespin is clean and dry. Cut a narrow strip of reflective tape. Peel off the paper backing and firmly press the adhesive onto the clothespin. Repeat with other side.
Cut a length of surveyors tape: about 10-12 inches. The tape is pretty wide so I cut down the middle and make two strips. Holding the clothespin open with one hand, slide the tape into the pin, against the hinge. Make sure you have equal lengths on either side of the pin. Tie the tape securely around the clothespin.
You want to make sure the knot is tight, but don’t pull it too hard; the surveyors tape will stretch and break.
Add a second color of surveyors tape or 1/8″ ribbon.
You can also clip these clothespins to your backpack or clothing when you’re hiking in the dark or at dusk (use 57). It’s a great way to add reflective strips without actually sticking it to your clothing. This is especially helpful if you’re walking along a roadway!
Readers Weigh In:
- What are your outdoor adventure “tricks” that make life safer and easier?
This is a great Mexican soup that is quick, easy and filling. Albóndiga means “meatball” in Spanish and is pronounced ‘all-BONE-dee-gah.’
- 3 cans chicken stock
- 1/4 cup uncooked rice
- 2 4oz cans of chopped green chili (I like the Hatch® brand of green chili)
- Frozen pre-cooked packaged meatballs
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
Simmer chicken stock, rice and garlic until the rice is almost fully cooked. Add the 2 cans of chopped green chili and as many frozen, pre-cooked meatballs as you would like. (We always use Armour® brand meatballs.) This soup also tastes great with leftover cooked chicken or turkey instead of the meatballs. Simmer until the meatballs are heated through.
(This is the recipe The Queen Mother takes for her first dinner in camp!)
Do you remember how I said that there are now Northern Pike in Ashurst Lake? Well, I did a bit more digging into that and I found out that not only are the pike a non-native, invasive species, they were also introduced into Ashurst Lake by somebody OTHER than Game & Fish.
Now, that might not seem like a big deal to you. Ashurst Lake can easily support a population of pike. However, Ashurst has always been managed as a trout and catfish lake. By some angler moving Northern Pike from another lake (probably Upper Lake Mary which IS managed for pike) into Ashurst, that person effectively killed the trout population.
There are invasive species that get introduced into our waterways through all types of means. Sometimes a well meaning person “frees” the crayfish a 5-year-old caught, not knowing that it was just introduced into a new water area. Or the invasive species hitchhikes from one lake to another on the bottom of a boat, like the quagga mussels that are invading Arizona.
And another way is somebody just DECIDING to introduce a species.
However it happens we all have to do our part to not knowingly continue the spread of invasive species.
Game and Fish Department officials are asking for all boaters and anglers to help fight the continuing spread of these and other invaders by routinely taking simple precautionary steps:
Know Your Fishing Regulations:
For example, any Northern Pike that is caught in Ashurst Lake must be killed. It doesn’t matter the size of the fish, it cannot be caught and released back into the water. But, if you didn’t know that and caught a little one, you might think you were doing everyone a favor to release it back into the lake for it to grow a bit more!
Game & Fish officials are usually the nicest people around. They are passionate about maintain habitats for everybody to enjoy. Before you head to a new fishing area, give them a call and find out if there’s anything specific you need to know.
Kill Your Catch At The Lake-Side
One major rule in Arizona prohibits the transportation of any live fish. If you catch a fish (or a crayfish) it must be killed at the lake before transported.
If you can’t clean the fish at the lake because there are no facilities or trash service, then usually you can put it on ice until you get home. That’s how we transport the crayfish we catch at a lake when we’re taking them back to camp to cook.
Know What Species Are Invasive
Again, being familiar with your state’s invasive species and the state’s policies goes a long way towards helping maintain healthy waterways.
The quagga mussel invasion in Arizona has advanced from the Colorado River lakes to the state’s interior. Arizona Game & Fish got very concerned over finding just one mussel since they knew that it there was one, there were more.
A single quagga mussel can produce 30,000 to 40,000 fertilized eggs in a single breeding cycle, and one adult female quagga can release up to a million eggs in a single year.
Maintain Your Boat
Before leaving a lake or other waterway, always:
- CLEAN the hull of your boat
- DRAIN the water from the boat, livewell and the lower unit
- DRY the boat, fishing gear, and equipment
- INSPECT all exposed surfaces
- REMOVE all plant and animal material
After you leave a lake or other body of water, please wait five days before launching your boat someplace else. This five-day-waiting period will aid tremendously in killing those hidden hitchhikers on your boat, such as the microscopic quagga mussel larvae.
Also, it is a good idea to wash the hull of your boat with high-pressure water either at the lake, if washers are available, or after leaving the waterway.
Remember, many of these aquatic hitchhikers can harm your boat as well. These invaders will attach themselves to boats, and can cause damage to boat motors if they block the flow of cooling water through the engine.
It’s a lot easier to prevent the spread of an invasive species than it is to get rid of it after it has a foothold in a waterway.
Readers Weigh In:
- What species have invaded your area?
- What steps do you take to prevent the spread of invasive species?
I had so much fun on our vacation. The weather was to say the least, very strange. We got to Pine Grove Campground and it was just plain HOT the first week. And very windy. And the fishing was lousy. We explored back forest roads and saw lots of wild game, deer, elk, antelope, turkey, ducks, squirrels and ONE skunk. The second week, we experienced rain, hail, wind and very cold nights.
Sad to say we feel blessed though, because we did not have to breathe forest fire smoke or worry that our trip would be cut short due to the Hardy Fire or the Schulz Fire. We had explored Schulz Pass and Lockett Meadow and found both to be beautiful areas. Now it seems that the whole Lockett Meadow area is threatened by the fires. The Outdoor Princess is a bit put out because we had JUST taken photos of the campgrounds in that area for EatStayPlay.com and now she’s afraid she can’t put them up; the fire might have destroyed the campgrounds.
As we leisurely ate dinner or just sat around talking, we got to watch lots of campers setting up their camps. It was wonderful seeing families together and young parents with their children making memories.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that for that first dinner meal at the campground I bring it prepared. Setting up camp after a long drive is hard work even when everybody pitches in to help. It’s really no fun if somebody still has to cook a meal too.
On this trip I took a hearty albóndigas soup. Heated that up, set out a roll of Ritz crackers and we were happy! [I'll post the recipe this Friday; it's yummy!]
I also took several baggies filled with frozen orange smoothie mix. I let those thaw a little bit, poured that into a cup and called it dessert.
We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful state. I just wish everybody had the opportunity to visit northern Arizona. Looking up through aspen leaves with that brilliant blue sky behind those quivering leaves is a gift beyond compare.
This article was written by the geocaching family of Kris Mazy, or kmazy on geocaching.com. Kris can offer some unique advice that I just can’t: 15 tips for caching with kids.
Caching With Kids
In this day and age of technology, it is hard to persuade kids to get outside. I know this for a fact! We have 5 kids in our family ages 11, 8, 6, 4 and 2 who love playing on their computers, wii and gameboys. (My husband is a Network Administrator and I am a digital graphic and web designer, so computers are our life.)
A year ago, in order to both get additional exercise for our homeschooled family and find a family activity that was not only fun, but also a way to get our kids “thinking outside the everyday box”, we discovered geocaching from our friend of many years, The Outdoor Princess. With a family of this size, it was hard at first to organize ourselves to get going with any activity. In the last year, to date, our family has placed 5 and found and logged 83 caches.
Here are a few tips to get your family started in geocaching.
- When searching for caches online, find ones that are not on main busy roads. It is much too hard to get your kids out of the car and search for the geocache safely.
- Caches are ranked on the website 1 to 5, 1 being the easiest. Only take the kids out on caches that are ranked 1 to 2. Success is the key. If they can’t find it, it will no longer be fun.
- Print out each cache that you are planning on going to and put each sheet in folder. They are easier to keep track of in the car and to keep track of after you finish.
- 3-5 caches is about the limit for 2 year olds. (Trust me on that!)
- Always think ahead, carry hats, sun screen, extra batteries for the GPS, a camera or 2 and bottled water. We have a canvas bag that we load up with the essentials to take with us. Don’t forget a SNACK!!! Nothing is more trouble than a hungry 4 year old. If you are going to be gone for a long time, pack a picnic lunch.
- Before you jump in to find a cache, make sure that your kids each get a turn at carrying the GPS (they will not break them and it makes the experience more fun for them.)
- Some kids can find geocaches better than others. Let the little ones look first. It is not a game against each other. Your family is on the same team!
- Kids are smarter than you think. They will follow clues, sometimes better than adults. My 8-year-old discovered that the names of the caches are sometimes clue – If something is called a honeybee, then it is probably hidden near something yellow and black.
- You never know what you are going to come across. Keep that camera readily available.
- To get started you do NOT need a $500 GPS. We picked one up for less than $60 and it has lasted us a full year and is still going strong.
- When traveling on vacation, make use to check out the area that you are going to. On the way, there are bound to be a few that they kids will enjoy to find, also a chance to stretch your legs.
- Take photos of every place that you go. I guarantee that your 6 year old will have an adventure story to go along with each place.
- Don’t pick flowers! You never know what they are… and a 2 year old itching will end the day.
- Bring some little knickknacks to exchange. A dollar store bag of army men go a long way.
- Have FUN! This can be a GREAT family experience! It has been for our family.
Caching Parent’s Advice:
- If you could offer one piece of advice to a family new to geocaching, what would that be?
- How many geocaches do you try to find in a day?
- What size of cache do your kids prefer?
Happy Father’s Day!
About three years ago, my folks hosted a Rotary Exchange student from Brazil. While this was an interesting experience all the way around, one of my favorite parts was getting to do all types of brand new adventures in my own backyard.
One of the first things we did with Diogo was rent kayaks on Watson Lake. Needless to say, I was hooked! I bought a red 10 foot kayak (a Perception Prodigy) and starting heading to the lakes. Soon after, ESP Boss decided he couldn’t let me have all the fun, and bought an identical kayak as well.
Now, Dad & I are getting set for our next big adventure: an overnight kayaking trip! Much like backpacking, we’ve got to figure out how to get all our gear into the storage spaces in the front and back of our yaks.
And that brings me to how we spent our Father’s Day: ESP Boss decided that he wanted to test out some different kayak models. Luckily, our one & only local sporting goods store Manzanita Outdoor offers kayaking testing every weekend.
The first yak ESP Boss tested out was a Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Kayak. He said it was okay, nice and roomy, easy to paddle, and with a hatch for dry storage. (Our Prodigy kayaks don’t have any dry storage.) But, he wasn’t overly thrilled with it because it seemed kind of tippy and not really stable.
(If you’ve ever seen ESP Boss get into or out of a kayak, you’ll know that stability is a must. That man ALWAYS gets wet!)
The second kayak was a Native Watercraft, Ultimate 12. The kayak was super steady (a good thing) and had a large cockpit. That’s a really good feature for ESP Boss since he get’s kind of claustrophobic if he has to put his legs into too small a space. It had a ton of storage too! And a really comfortable seat.
The problem with the Native kayak was that it paddled more like a canoe than a kayak. ESP Boss said that it didn’t cut through the water very well and it had problems with tracking (going in a straight line).
The third kayak of the day was a Dirigo by Old Town. It had lots of tie-downs for cargo and a dry hatch in the back. Of the three, this seemed to paddle as close to the Perception Prodigy that he already owns. One really cool feature was a built-in cup holder that is molded into the deck. When the cup holder is in the seat between your legs, you always bump it and send the water bottle rolling around the cockpit of the kayak. It also had a little tiny dry storage well — perfect for a cell phone or small camera.
The biggest thing that made ESP Boss not like this kayak was the width of the cockpit. Old Town makes excellent yaks, but the cockpits do tend to run a little narrow.
But, the good news is that ESP Boss did find a kayak that he really loved. The fourth kayak of the day. ESP Boss got in, paddled away from the shore, and turned to me suddenly and said: This is it! This is the kayak I like!
And the lucky winner?
The Perception Prodigy 10.0. Yep, the kayak he already owns!
I’ve always been a big fan of Cornish game hens. When I was little, I thought they were the perfect kid-sized chicken — and I could eat the whole thing! For this latest camping trip, the EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family decided to try out a new recipe of cooking the game hens in the Dutch oven.
- 2-3 Cornish game hens, thawed
- Salt & pepper
- Large bag of charcoal briquettes
- Cooking oil
First off, make sure your Dutch oven has been properly seasoned, according to manufactures” instructions. Nothing is worse than spending time on a meal and then, in that first bite, having it taste like hot metal!
Make a pile of ALL the charcoal briquettes in the fire ring. Light them according to the instructions on the bag. Keep an eye on the time — our bag said the briquettes would be hot and ashy grey in about fifteen minutes. It took 20.
Wash the birds and remove any giblets. Our birds didn’t actually have the heart, neck and gizzards inside, but always be sure to check it.
Rub the inside of the Dutch oven with cooking oil, making sure to evenly coat the sides and bottoms. Place the game hens directly on the bottom of the oven, breast-side up. Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
Surround the game hens with carrots. We used baby carrots, but large cooking carrots would work as well. Put the lid on the oven.
When the briquettes are hot, flatten out the pile. Place the Dutch oven (ours had built-in legs) directly over a single layer of briquettes. You want to make sure the bottom of the oven rests evenly on the briquettes and there are no hot spots or areas without heat.
Carefully place a single layer of briquettes on the lid of the oven. You want to work kind of quickly but you also need to make sure the briquettes are spaced evenly on the lid. Push any remaining briquettes against the sides of the oven.
Cook 40-45 minutes.
I recommend checking the birds at 40 minutes. We didn’t check them, but took them off at 50 minutes. Most of the bird was moist, but the breast meat was a bit dry.
For our first time, this recipe was excellent! My only complaints were that the carrots caramelized and stuck to the bottom of the oven so I didn’t get to eat any of them. The salt and pepper added some flavor, but not a lot so I recommend sprinkling the birds with your favorite seasoning mix as well.
Next time, we’ll try it with larger carrots, putting an onion quarter inside each of the birds, and cooking with a sprig of rosemary on top. I figure we’ll also stuff garlic cloves into the birds as well. We LOVE garlic in my family.
I also recommend using a pair of LONG metal tongs to move the briquettes around. We had short metal tongs and long leather gloves but ESP Boss still got scorched! If you’re planning on doing a lot of Dutch oven cooking, also invest in a Dutch oven hook to remove the oven lid from the coals.
I was supposed to be able to report on how our Homemade Fishing Baits did at Ashurst Lake on last weekend’s camping trip. But I can’t! When I got to Flagstaff I found out that all the trout in Ashurst Lake have been eaten by Northern Pike.
Since all my baits were pretty much for any fish species BUT pike, I have to save that until I can fish a local lake. So I will tell you how my 5 homemade fishing baits perform, but not until I can test them out!
Frankly I’ve never fished for Northern Pike before. I’ve caught one or two on accident, though!
ESP Boss’ friend and hunting partner, Dave, had come up to visit my folks just before I got to camp. Dave has fished for pike before and offered us these suggestions:
- Use at least 10-pound-test fishing line. (I actually set up a different rod & reel for pike, since I fish for trout on my lightweight pole with 4-pound test line)
- Use steel leaders when fishing for pike. (I did know that part!) Unlike trout, pike have big, sharp and scary teeth that can bite right through a traditional monofilament leader.
- Buy whole, frozen anchovies as bait. You’ll want to keep them frozen until you’re ready to stick them on a hook! (Be sure the lake you’re fishing at allows for this type of bait — some fishing areas will only allow artificial baits!)
Attaching The Bait
(Now this is so gross, I didn’t take photos when I was at the lake!)
- Using a good-sized hook (hook size depends on the size of the anchovy and the size of the Northern Pike you want to catch!) thread the hook through both eyes. Pull all the leader through the eyes until the head of the fish is nearly at the start of the fishing line.
- Wrap the leader around the body of the anchovy, moving from the head toward the tail. Be careful not to draw the leader so tight as to cut or damage the body of the anchovy.
- Thread the hook back into the body of the anchovy. Make sure most of the hook (especially the barb) is buried in the body of the anchovy.
- Cast your line out and pray that the whole thing doesn’t fly off in mid-air!
Since I had never fished for Northern Pike before I wasn’t sure if the whole set-up would work or not. I was able to cast the whole rig out without losing the bait. And I was really pleased to see how FAR the cast went since I’m not really used to tossing that much weight out at the end of the line.
Did it work?
I didn’t get a single nibble! When we were ready to call it a day (cold, windy, and raining) I pulled in my bait to find that a crayfish or three had stripped all the flesh from my anchovy and left me with just a skeleton.
What About You?
- Have you ever fished for Northern Pike?
- What bait did you use?
- Have you ever heard this technique that Dave shared with us? Did it work for you?