Archive for September, 2010

Set Your Hook

Polite Fishing Line

Nothing is more frustrating than a day of fishing when the fish just aren’t biting. Then, you finally get a “strike” and as you’re reeling in you realize that it’s not a fish on your hook, it’s a snarl of used fishing line.

Gross!

If you must change out your line on the lakeshore, DON’T put it in the lake!

This fishing line receptical is at Goldwater Lake in Prescott, Arizona.

Ideally, there will be PVC receptacles from the Monofilament Recycling Project, sponsored by Berkley, for used fishing line that you can use, but again, push the line in deep! The fishing line poses a serious threat to fish, birds, and wildlife.

If there aren’t any recepticals (they’re getting to be pretty common here in Arizona at least) then push the fishing line way down deep in a trashcan. Line is lightweight and will float out of trashcans on a breeze. Of, even better, take it with you and recycle it later.

If you cut off line at the lake shore, throw it away properly, not just “away.”

Developed in the 1930s, monofilament fishing line is made from a single, continuous strand of nylon. Discarded monofilament is believed to last 600 years in the marine environment.

Special thanks to reader Paul Coomer for this tip.

Readers Weigh In:

  • How do you dispose of fishing line (and trash) lake side?
  • Have you ever seen wildlife snarled in fishing line? What did you do?

What is A “Polite” Tip?

I’m a big fan of enjoying all Mother Nature and our public lands have to offer. But anybody who knows me (or reads the blogs regularly) knows I have no patience with people who don’t take care of the Great Outdoors. That’s why I regularly post articles in my “Polite” series. These tips and articles are designed to give you easy-to-follow rules that protect the great outdoors for you, me, and future generations.

Pitch Your Tent: Hiking

Sticker-Free Hiking

It’s next to impossible to go camping without also going hiking. Or at least walking in Nature! I nearly gave up walking anywhere other than on pavement because of how much I hated getting stickers, prickers, thorns, and other pokey-scratchy things in my socks.

(In fact, this was one of the reasons I didn’t want to go deer hunting with ESP Boss when I was in high school!)

Then, my ESP Boss gave me the best invention EVER: hiking gators! Gators (also spelled “gaiters”) are traditionally used to prevent snake bites. Snake gators cover the legs from boot laces to knee and are made of a hard material to prevent fang penetration. Snake gators are hot and stiff.

Hiking gators, on the other hand, are just enough to cover the boot top and your socks and can be worn either with pants or shorts. Mine were marketed through Cabellas (they’ve since stopped carrying them) and are of a heavy duty canvas with an elastic top that goes around my ankle.

I'm just wearing sneakers in the picture - NOT the boots I hike in!

I wear my gaiters every day when I’m out camping. I also wear them when I’m weeding my garden to keep stickers out of my socks and to keep bugs from crawling up my pant legs.

My camping tip for the week is to invest in some hiking gators. If you find a pair you really like, go out and buy a second pair. That way, you’re covered if you lose one or if your favorite gators aren’t being made anymore.

I did some research, and it seems like these Hiking Gaiters through Amazon.com are pretty close to what I’ve got.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What is your must-have item when you’re camping or hiking?

Product Review: Find Your Geocache

Product Review: Insect Shield Repellent Apparel

As The Outdoor Princess, I realize that bugs are just a part of being outside. But, I will admit, I was surprised at how many geocachers said that they absolutely never go caching without some type of bug spray. Here in Arizona, we have our share of biting bugs, but thankfully, we’re pretty much safe from ticks, chiggers, and no-see-ums.

For all the long-term blog and newsletter readers, you’ll know that I’m allergic to pretty much everything that grows here in Northern Arizona. So, a few weeks ago, I was in my allergist’s office and I mentioned that I wanted to do a product testing article and review on various insect repellants.

Well! Dr. Zeschke got very animated about that subject. (He’s opinionated about EVERYTHING so it wasn’t surprising.) Dr. Z told me that I absolutely had to test insect repellent clothing. He’s an avid hunter and when he told me that a shirt and hat were enough to keep the car-sized mosquitoes at bay in the Arctic Circle in the middle of summer, he had my attention.

The shirt I tested.

I contacted the great people over at Insect Shield to see if I could test their products and see if Dr. Z was right or if his success was an isolated incident. Not only are the Insect Shield shirts insect repellent, many are also rated at 30 SPF. Very cool!

The Test

My Insect Shield long-sleeved shirt arrived via UPS (happy). Of course, it arrived on the Tuesday before Labor Day weekend so there was no way I could test it until the holiday weekend.

Test 1:

Sunset picnic at Fain Park

Fain Park has a small trout pond so I thought it would be PERFECT for an evening test. I sat at a picnic table for a few minutes (munching KFC chicken) and looking for mosquitoes. The light breeze would have been great on a normal night but not when I was LOOKING for bugs! I finally found one buzzing around and then ran to my truck to put on the Insect Shield shirt. I never saw that mosquito again, or any others, all evening, even when I walked by the water.

Test 2:

Morning kayak at Lynx Lake

It was interesting to kayak in long sleeves, but I got used to it quickly.

Lynx is a beautiful lake here in Prescott. I really wanted to try out the SPF 30 rating on the shirt so I made sure NOT to put any sunscreen on my arms under the shirt. It took a while to get used to wearing long sleeves in the heat, but after ten minutes or so, I really didn’t notice if I was hot at all. I didn’t see a single bug all trip so I don’t know if it was the Insect Shield technology or if it was just a bug-free day. I can say that the SPF 30 worked like a charm though. I didn’t get any color on my arms but I DID get pink on my hands. I’ll remember next time to put sunscreen on my hands!

Test 3:

Morning kayak at Goldwater Lake

I was determined to find mosquitoes at the lake so I could really test the insect repelling properties of my new shirt. I saw several swarms buzzing around various trash cans and signs, but they were all too far away from my kayak. Then I hit the jackpot! I large swarm of mosquitoes buzzing along the shore, about a foot over the water, near a tree. I kayaked over and held out an arm. Poof! All the mosquitoes got near the shirt and then promptly took off. Gone! Outta there! Adios!

Test 4:

Afternoon geocaching in Prescott National Forest

It was a lovely day for geocaching: hot and buggy. But not a bug to be seen near me!

In my area of Arizona, it seems the nastiest mosquitoes are the really hungry ones that lurk on the sides of the trails. So I went geocaching along trails, in bushes, and over boulders. No bugs. Even when I could see them up head on the trail, by the time I got close: gone! The closest I came was when I brushed a bug off a bush I was pushing through and onto me. The clothing not only repelled bugs, it also held up well to sweat (breathable and not too hot) and didn’t snag or catch when I was pushing through scrub oak. I was still careful with it as I bushwhacked, but I didn’t feel like I needed to find a path AROUND the bushes!

The Results

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit, I figured the clothing would work (truth in marketing) but I wasn’t prepared for how WELL it worked. When I saw all those mosquitoes head for the hills on the lake, I was sold on the Insect Shield Repellant Clothing right then.

I hate getting bit by mosquitoes. Like when I went camping with Nicole — mosquitoes turned our trip from “Great!” into “Okay”. But with this shirt… I’m 100% sold. This is a must-have for any adventure weather it is geocaching, camping, kayaking, hiking, hunting, biking, fishing, bird watching… (you get the picture!)

Pros

  • The clothing repels all types of bugs: mosquitoes, chiggers, black flies, ticks, ants, etc.
  • SPF 30 (not all clothing, but a lot of styles)
  • Very stylish (pockets, breathable, variety of colors)
  • No mosquitoes! It even kept the flies away.
  • Excellent construction (I didn’t worry when I was pushing through the brush going after geocaches)
  • Comes in a variety of styles: shirts, pants, socks, bandannas and more
  • Lasts through 70 washes. Which, when I sat down and did the math, comes out to be 3 years or so. I wore it as a shell (over my tee shirt) so even though I wore it 4 times, I don’t feel it needs to be laundered.
  • Not a bug bite all weekend (while I was wearing the shirt. Without…well, that’s another story!)
  • Wash at home like any other piece of clothing. In fact, if you dry clean an Insect Shield product, it removes the bug repellent!
  • Not putting chemicals onto your skin. (That’s a big thing that Dr. Z really liked about the clothing!)
  • Kid and pet safe. Tie a bandanna around your dog’s neck, or over your kid’s head and you’re good to go!

Cons

  • Price. Clothing ranges from $20 to $80. My shirt was $80, so it can be kind of spendy. BUT, when you figure that on a per-wearing basis (maybe wear twice before washing?) then it comes out to be about $0.57 per use. Not bad!
  • You have to wear long sleeves in the heat. Of course, if you’re in an area with ticks, you probably wear long pants and long sleeves ANYWAY so it probably doesn’t make much difference.
  • You have to remember to bring it with you AND to wear it. Trust me, insect repellents (of any type) don’t do much good sitting at home!

About Insect Shield Technology

Insect Shield uses a man-made version of a natural insect repellent found in certain types of chrysanthemum flowers, like an African Daisy. There is a patent-pending process and proprietary formulation that secures the active ingredient to the fabric fibers. It lasts through 70 washings which would be more than the life of the garment.

Please check out Insect Shield on Facebook or directly on their website.

Where To Get The Clothing

If you follow any of these links and purchase your Insect Shield clothing, then I get credit as an affiliate. And that’s a GOOD thing!

Future Testing

ESP Boss & I will be kayaking the Colorado River next month. We each have our Insect Shield shirt, socks, and bandannas so we can see how they perform over extended conditions.

Plus, a friend of ours, Dee, will be wearing the bandanna on her nightly walks and will report back. She says that she gets eaten alive each night and is really excited to try something different.

Mystery Mondays: Flagstaff Elk Adventure

Do you ever just have one of those days where you just HAVE to get away? Well, yesterday was one of those days for the entire EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family. I had articles to catch up on, ESP Boss had taxes to do, and The Queen Mother is getting ready for fall, but we all decided to hop into the truck and head for Flagstaff.

(If I seem a bit crazy this week, it’s because I am! Corporate tax extensions are due on September 15 and ESP Boss and I are working like crazy to get them all done!)

We stopped in Flagstaff for lunch at the Flagstaff Brewing Company. This is a great little restaurant we discovered when we were camping in June. I had the French Onion Soup. Now, I’m not a huge fan of onions, but this soup is to die for. The waitress told us that on Saturday, she had a table full of Japanese tourists that had come in JUST for that soup. (I’m sure they were in Flagstaff to go to the Grand Canyon though!)

I'm going to have to learn how to make this!

Then, we headed out Lake Mary Road to go check on one of our geocaches that had turned up missing. Unlike The Quiet Zone which was stolen by a bear, the No Cows Here cache had clearly been muggled. I reset it, moving it a bit further away from the road.

Since it was getting on towards dusk, we headed to the Mormon Lake Lookout to see if there were any elk standing in the shallow waters of Mormon Lake. It’s a little early for the rut (elk mating season) but we were hoping to hear an elk bugle.

ESP Boss looking for elk.

The first lookout had a few nice elk to see. WAY out in the lake though. There was another family (I’m sure all those girls are future Outdoor Princesses) also scoping out the elk.

All those kids politely took turns with the spotting scope. Their parents should be proud!

I was more interested in the fantastic views. Look at that yellow field; all wildflowers. And yes, that really IS the color!

I'm sure I'm allergic to them, but they're so pretty to look at!

A new lookout had just been finished so we headed that way. To our surprise, we saw a doe and a fawn playing in the water. You can’t really tell, but that fawn still has spots!

Fawn and doe in the waters of Mormon Lake.

See the spots?! I took this photo THROUGH the spotting scope. It's not going to win any awards, but at least you can see the spots on the fawn.

And the pleasure of the evening was when we heard a bull elk bugle. If you’ve never heard it before, you’ve got to head to elk-country and check it out. The sound is fantastic!

Then it was back into Flagstaff for a quick ice cream cone and then home early.

So we could do more taxes. Yuck!

Fun Food Fridays: Glamping Fresh Basil Pizza

What Is Glamping?

Are you familiar with the term glamping? It’s “glamour camping” where you might be in a tent but it has a Persian rug and you’re served with fine china. Typically, you would pay a LOT for these camping “adventures”.

Anybody who knows me knows that glamping just wouldn’t be in the style of The Outdoor Princess; I’m more of a get dirty kind of girl. But, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t bring a bit of glamping to some camp cooking!

The difference between a glamping camp cooking recipe and a normal recipe would be that you might need exotic ingredients or more specialized equipment. And the final bit to take it from ordinary camp cooking to GLAMPING camp cooking? It has to be a to-die for recipe!

Fresh Basil Pizza

This is an absolutely decadent pizza that was shared with me by my friend Patty. Each month the 8 singles ladies that live on my street get together for a potluck dinner. Last month, Patty brought this pizza and I just had to share it with all of you.

The best part is that the fresh ingredients are in-season right now at your local grocery store or farmers market! But, in order to make this, you need to be in an RV with an oven. (Or just make it at home and eat it outside as a picnic!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 frozen puff pastry dough (there are 2 in a package)
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh tomatoes cut into chunks
  • Fresh basil, washed and torn into bite sized pieces

Start by completely thawing the puff pastry dough. If it is frozen even a little bit, it will break as soon as you start to handle it.

Place the dough directly on a no-stick baking sheet. There’s plenty of grease in the dough so you don’t need to spray the baking sheet. If you had some, and wanted to get REALLY fancy, you could line it with parchment paper. (I don’t have any so I went without; it was fine!)

The cheese can be hard to cut so use a sharp knife on a stable cutting board.

Cut the mozzarella cheese into chunks and layer onto the dough. Size doesn’t really matter as long as each chunk is more or less the same thickness. If you wanted, you could shred the cheese, but that seemed like unnecessary work to me!

Top the cheese with a generous layer of tomatoes. I brought mine from The Queen Mother’s garden so most were cherry tomatoes or Roma tomatoes about the size of my thumb. I just chunked them up and piled them on.

Basil cooks down a LOT so put on more than you think you need.

Layer on fresh basil. I used about a double handful but I REALLY like basil. As the pizza was cooking, I added more basil half-way through.

Pinch up the sides of the pastry. This is just keep the cheese from melting and escaping!

Bake at 400° until the crust is golden brown and flakey. It took me about 18 minutes. Keep an eye on it because it goes from perfect to burnt in the blink of an eye.

Serves 2 people (as a main dish); 4 people as a side dish.

The Outdoor Princess’ Final Thoughts

  • I really like how there were pockets of thick cheese and areas with less. But if you wanted the cheese to be even, then you’d need to grate it and sprinkle evenly.
  • When I make this again, I will layer the basil BELOW the tomatoes. When it was baking, the basil dried into aromatic little puffs of nothing. Smelled good but not a lot of flavor!
  • To reheat, place directly on an oven rack with a baking sheet on the rack below. It toasts the bottom of the pizza so everything is crispy.
  • Someone suggested sausage on the pizza. Between the puff pastry dough and the cheese, it’s just THIS far away from being too greasy. I wouldn’t put sausage on it. But that’s just me!

Set Your Hook

Fish Cleaning 101

The Easy Way To Clean Fish: ESP Boss’ 4 Step Process

Have you ever done a Google search for cleaning fish? You’ll come up with a million and one ways to clean a fish! Holy cow!

Some fish really do have a specific way that you have to clean them, like catfish. But for your garden variety, run-of-the-mill trout, I wanted to share with you ESP Boss’ 4 Step Process.

Before you begin, make sure the fish is clean of mud, bait, and other nasties. You’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board. Running water is a help, but not required.

If any fish still have the hook in them, set them aside for last!

Here’s how we take care of a fish that has swallowed the hook and we can’t get it out: put TWO of the metal stringer hooks through it. That way, we can tell it apart from the others!

I prefer metal stringers to rope!

Step 1

Insert the tip of your knife at the anal fins. Cut the fish’s stomach area all the way until you reach the gill cover. You want to cut completely through the skin, but not into the spine.

You want a sharp knife and a stable surface.

Step 2

With your fingers, remove the insides of the fish. It’s best if you reach in toward the head, firmly grasp the entrails and pull them out working towards the anal fins. Run your finger firmly along the inside of the backbone to clean out the vein that runs along the bone.

Step 3

Rinse the cavity of the fish. If you have running water, great! If not, rinse out the cavity in a pan of clean, cool water.

ESP Boss rinsing a trout in camp. Don't dump that dirty water in camp or it'll attract all manner of beasties and bugs!

Step 4

With the fish laying on a firm surface (so you can see one eye), slide your knife up and under the gills. Firmly cut through the backbone so the gills stay attached to the head.

The gills stay attached to the head.

Discard guts and head. Or, save the head to use to catch crayfish!

And that’s it! Because trout don’t have extreme scales, there’s no need to remove the scales or skin. We typically cook them using the Fish Basket BBQ recipe.

Readers Weigh In:

  • How do you clean trout?
  • Any tips or tricks that I could share with newbies?

Pitch Your Tent: Fall Camping

9 Must-Know Things About Fall Camping

Yeah for fall! Any long-time reader of the newsletter would know, I LOVE fall camping. Why? Because there are fewer crowds, most insects have died off or have reduced their activity, fewer people, the crisp fall weather, good fishing with fewer biting bugs, fantastic nature hikes with changing vegetation, oh, and fewer people!

Ah! Fall.

(Okay, so maybe that can get boiled down to: less people and biting bugs & good fishing…)

This year, I’ll be heading camping in September rather than October. I’ve got a trip planned the last weekend in September for my birthday. We’re going earlier this year since fall is appearing across Arizona’s High Country with a vengeance this year AND because I don’t really want to chance snow in a tent!

Of course, fall camping doesn’t come without risks. People die each year when they get caught in weather they weren’t ready for. (Do you remember ESP Boss’ “fall” hunting trip in October 2006? He got snowed out!)

1. Don’t get caught in the snow. In most mountainous areas of the United States a light dusting of snow can be expected in the fall (thinking places above 7,000 feet.) If you are going to be camping at altitude be very aware of the weather forecast. A chance of rain in the low-country may mean dangerous conditions at higher elevations. Getting snowed on in the backcountry can collapse your tent, soak your gear, and can cause a number of risks and dangers.

2. Watch what you’re packing. Keep in mind that warmer clothing is going to mean added weight which means more stress on your body (if you’re backpacking or hiking.) Don’t go crazy packing for every emergency, but be prepared for what nature has to offer and cut back on how far you can travel in a day. Always bring a space blanket no matter the weather! You should keep one in each car, in your backpack, in your RV… They don’t weigh much, take up much room, or are very expensive, but they can save your life.

3. Don’t get left shivering. Make sure that your sleeping bag is temperature appropriate for the conditions — it should be written on the tag. And, don’t think that you’re close to town is any excuse! We typically go fall camping at Pine Grove Campground near Flagstaff, Arizona and are literally just half an hour from town. But, trying to make that drive in poor conditions, or suffering from hypothermia, is NOT my idea of a good time.

I'll be bringing sleeping bags AND flannel liners just in case.

If you don’t have a mummy style sleeping bag sleep with a hat on, 50% of body heat is lost through your head. Use a closed-cell foam sleeping pad under your sleeping bag — foam based pads will provide better insulation than an air mattress.

4. Cooking time! Try to keep your meals simple. You already know that elevation adds time to cooking, but also remember that colder temperatures mean longer cooking times. You’re going to consume more fuel trying to get a pot of water to boil or cooking meals. Keep a lid on the pots when you are cooking to maximize heat retention.

Oh, and pick up a good recipe book that is specifically for camp cooking. I recommend “Camp Cooking from the Pitch Your Tent/Set Your Hook Newsletter”

5. Look out for bears. Bears can spend as much as 20 hours a day foraging for food during the last weeks of fall. Keeping a clean campsite is critical this time of the year. And, if you don’t know if there are bears in your area, assume there are! Call the local Forest Service office for recommendations about safe camping in bear country where you are.

6. Be ready for the wind. Fall brings strong cold fronts across the United States which can mean cold temperatures, crystal clear skies, and a lot of wind. Your tent might be great in the summer, but could have a hard time in the wind. Make sure you stake your tent securely; they have been known to blow away even with gear and people inside of them! And, take a tip from Barry B. — check the weather. If it’s going to be windy, you might want to stay home rather than have a lousy trip!

7. Stay dry. Don’t underestimate the power of hypothermia. With daytime highs reaching only into the 50s and 60s in the fall, treat getting wet as an emergency. In air, most heat is lost through the head so hypothermia can thus be most effectively prevented by covering the head. Having appropriate clothing for the environment is another important prevention. For outdoor exercise on a cold day, it is advisable to wear fabrics which can “wick” away sweat moisture.

8. Don’t end up in the dark. Remember that not only will the weather get cooler and more unpredictable, the days are getting shorter as summer ends and we’re heading into winter. Give yourself enough time to arrive at your campsite during daylight hours so you don’t end up hiking (or setting up!) in the dark.

9. Other fall camping considerations

  • After Labor Day, many campgrounds reduce their fees, so one fall camping advantage is reduced costs. Some campgrounds are also free, but that usually means that there are no amenities like water, toilets, and garbage service. Be sure to call ahead and make sure that the campground is open!
  • Make campground reservations. Popular campgrounds will still fill up on weekends, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Most campgrounds don’t require reservations in the fall, but even if you should call and find that you don’t need a reservation, you’ve at least saved yourself the worry.
  • Plan to arrive early. At Pine Grove, they close entire loops of the campground so reservations wouldn’t be a help (they’re only accepted on the areas that are closed in the fall!) so you want to arrive early in the day to get the spot you want.

I’ve already started making my camping lists for my trip. The friend I’m taking has only been camping once before (EVER!) so I’m doing everything I can to make sure this is a fun experience. To that end, I decided to go to the more developed Pine Grove Campground (my old standby) rather than a more primitive area. Trust me, when you’re new to camping, real flush toilets make a huge difference!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your favorite fall outdoor adventures?
  • At what point do you pack away your camping gear for the winter?
  • What would you do to make sure a net-to-camping friend has a great experience?

Find Your Geocache

Geocaching Events: What and Why

Those brilliant people over at geocaching.com realized that not only do geocachers like to find and hide geocaches, they also like to get together with OTHER cachers and share stories of the hunt.

BBQ at an Event Cache.

In order to make it easier for you to meet other geocachers in your area (short of lurking at the most popular caches and popping out of the bushes for a chat) is to attend a geocaching event.

Geocaching.com calls these (drum roll please!)

Event Caches

An event cache is when an individual or a geocaching organization designate a time and location to meet and discuss geocaching. They are gatherings that are open to all geocachers and which are organized by geocachers.

There are three recognized types of event caches:

Event Cache

Anywhere from a handful to a few hundred people. They can be an evening meet-and-greet at a local cafe or an all-weekend camping extravaganza.

My very first event cache was a campout. About 200 cachers from Arizona (and farther) gathered in the deserts south of Phoenix for a weekend of caching. New caches were hidden just for the event, there was a skills contest, a poker run, and a flash mob.

Flash Mob

This was a second “event cache” where all the participants took a huge group photo. In order to get credit for the “find” for the Flash Mob event, you had to sign in. It was a fun way to meet other cachers before we all headed out to search for the elusive First To Find.

I'm in the yellow scarf and white tee, lower center of the pic. The Queen Mother is next to me; ESP Boss behind.

Mega Event Caches

Basically these are like an event cache EXCEPT for scale. Mega events have 500+ people attending and are usually HUGE annual events.

Cache In Trash Out Event

While out there on a cache hunt, we collect litter along the trails and properly dispose of it. Cache In Trash Out Events are much larger clean-up events that involve and benefit the larger community. What is Cache In Trash Out? (CITO)

One way to find these gatherings is by browsing through the event calendar: http://www.geocaching.com/calendar/

If you’ve attended an event in the past, contact that event organizer. Often times, they keep a mailing list to let people know of upcoming events in your area.

Thankfully this even included a BBQ. I was STARVING after a day of caching.

Tips To Getting The Most Out Of Events

  • Like with any cache, be sure to read the event description carefully. You might need to bring swag or geocoins to trade, trash bags to collect garbage (CITO), and food to share.
  • If you’re heading to an event that requires travel and lodging (including camping!), make sure you plan in advance. Larger events may lead to a shortage of nearby accommodations if you wait until the last minute.
  • If it’s an outdoor event, come dressed for the weather. Don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellent and a water bottle.
  • Make sure you have plenty of caching supplies AND gas in the car. When we attended this event, in the desert, we didn’t fill the gas tank up on our way INTO the event. We had to stop caching early the next day to go into town for more gas.

Readers Weigh In:

  • How many events have you attended?
  • What are your favorite types of events? Event, CITO, or Mega?
  • Have you ever hosted an event?

Mystery Mondays: The Great Muggle Conversion

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you’re having a fun-filled holiday weekend.

This weekend, I got the honor of converting a geocaching “muggle” into a brand-new cacher. If you’re not familiar with the term muggle (outside of the Harry Potter books) it means a non-geocacher and someone who knows nothing about the game of geocaching.

Here are some links to help you out:

A couple of weeks ago, I “introduced” Greg, the former-muggle to kayaking. Since he’s hooked, I thought I would also try my hand at making a true cacher out of him.

He's hooked on kayaking. I'll get him hooked on geocaching too!

For our first outing, I was sure to pull out all the stops in my geocaching bag of tricks. Since we were going kayaking at Goldwater Lake, I figured that it would be easier to just put the kayaks back in the truck and head out directly to go geocaching.

Here are a few tips when you’re heading out caching, ESPECIALLY with a newbie:

  • Load MORE caches to your GPS than you know you can find. That way, you can pick and choose depending on if the newbie needs easy or hard to find, wants to hike or is more of a park-n-grab.
  • PRINT the logs sheets. Even if you usually cache without them, having a print out that a newbie can hang on to really can make a difference. I let Greg read up on the caches as we were heading out so he knew what size container he was looking for and could refer back to the tip often.
  • Bring SWAG to trade. Geocaching was new and exciting. Part of the thrill when you’re fist getting into caching is the swag. How cool is it when you find a container you might have passed every day and not only do you find it, you can trade for trinkets.
  • Let them really LOOK for the cache. Yes, your geosense will just light up and tell you: “It’s got to be right behind that rock” but let the other person have the thrill of discovery.
  • Set them up on ACCOUNT on geocaching.com. That way, as soon as you get home, you can show them the other side of caching: the digital component. As a new cacher, I would too often forget to log the cache online. Greg’s login on geocaching.com is CodeWolf.

The first find.

When Greg and I went out, I broke my cardinal rule of caching (find bigger caches with new people) and when after a micro. But, I know the hiders’ style pretty well so I wasn’t too worried. I think it was a good choice because not only did Greg find it right away, he was also introduced to a travel bug on his very first cache. Very cool!

All in all, we found 3 caches and 1 did not find. I thought it was a very successful first-outing.

Oh, and later that day, Greg turned to me and said “Next time I come visit, can we go kayaking AND geocaching?”

Experiencing the thrill of the find.

I think he’s hooked! Welcome to geocaching!

Fun Food Fridays: Calabacitas

Calabacitas literally means “little gourds” and is a traditional recipe. This recipe has been in my family for generations. It’s the perfect late-summer, early-fall side dish since it uses up something that we’re all inundated with right now: zucchini!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 1 can Mexicorn
  • 1 can green chili
  • 1 small onion

Chop the onion into small pieces. (I grew this onion and it was VERY hot. I only used half!)

Wash the zucchini well first since you cook it with the skin on!

Dice the zucchini into 1/2 inch chunks. The real key is just to make sure all the pieces are about the same size.

Less oil is better; you want to taste the flavors NOT grease!

In a non-stick skillet, heat a bit of cooking oil. Less oil is better! I used canola oil.

When the oil is hot, fry the onion and zucchini. You want the onion just turning brown and the zucchini getting tender.

I always end up with more corn than zucchini so I ended up adding more zucchini as it was cooking.

Add the entire can of Mexicorn. I drained about half the juice. Add green chili to taste. Lower heat and cook until the zucchini is tender and the corn juice has cooked away.

Serve with sausage “dots”. (It’s a Kielbasa sausage, cut into circles and fried.) If you want to take this to the next level, cook the calabacitas IN the sausage grease!

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