Archive for January, 2012

Pitch Your Tent: Campfire Story

Scary Campfire Story: The Crying Bride

This story and 15 others will appear in the eGuide “Campfire Stories: From the Chill to the Giggle” Volume 2 coming soon to the store and to Kindle.

The Crying Bride

Crying Bride

Many years ago a wealthy man named Jacob married a beautiful woman. They lived happily for many years until his wife, Helen, began to age. Even though she was still considered a great beauty, crows feet formed at the corners of Helen’s eyes and strands of silver appeared in her long black hair.

Jacob started spending more and more time away from home and he stopped taking Helen out to dinner and to the opera since he was embarrassed to be seen with her. Eventually, Jacob met a beautiful woman, nearly fifteen years younger than his wife. Soon, he was spending all his time with his beautiful young lover, admiring how her face was unlined and there was no grey in her hair.

One day, Helen demanded to know where Jacob was spending all his time. He lied and said that he was working late nearly every day. But Jacob knew that he couldn’t keep lying to his wife for very long because Helen was bound to find out that he had another lover.

Jacob convinced his friend, who worked in a apothecary, to help poison Helen. One evening, Jacob invited his friend over for dinner, knowing that he was bringing the poison. When Helen wasn’t looking, Jacob poisoned her dinner. As they were sitting at the table, finishing their meal, Helen fell face-forward onto her plate. Dead.

Knowing that he couldn’t leave any witnesses alive, Jacob quickly killed his friend as well. Jacob took the two corpses and nailed them to opposite sides of a door. He then threw the door into the river.

Jacob was then free to start a new life with his young lover.

Before long, Helen’s ghost was haunting Jacob day and night. She would wander through the house, crying after her unfaithful husband. Helen’s ghost would slam doors, open windows and move papers.

Finally, in desperation, Jacob seized his sword and struck at Helen’s ghost. Only to discover that he had actually beheaded his young lover!

To this day, Helen’s ghost appears as a dark-haired woman dressed in white, like a bride. She has been known to follow unfaithful husbands home from their trysts and haunt them the way she haunted her unfaithful husband Jacob.

Find Your Geocache: Minting Coins

How To Mint Geocoins

So you’ve decided that you want to have your own geocoin minted? Congratulations! Here’s some things to think about before you click “Pay” and put it on your credit card.
Arizona centennial coin

1. Why are you minting coins?

Are you looking for a signature item? To promote or commemorate an event? Unfortunately, you really do need to think about this!

For example, when I minted the geocoins for a business promotion, I never expected to have to produce so many. And the cost really crept up. But, when I had a limited run of 50 Arizona Centennial Geocoins made it was for a specific purpose of commemorating that event.

However, an additional 1,000 collectable “medallions” were made that were not trackable and were sold at events across Yavapai County. (The county lawyers wouldn’t let them be called “coins” because they have no monetary value or “tokens” because they cannot be exchanged for anything. Geez!)

2. Set your budget and timeline

And do this BEFORE you talk to the various mints! If you only have $200 to spend and that’s it you need to know that going in.

And if you decide three weeks before your event that you want coins, well, I can tell you that it’s just not going to happen! It takes far longer to mint new coins than a reorder. I recommend giving yourself at least eight weeks from start to finish, just to be safe.

3. Trackable or collectable?

Trackable will add at least another $1.50 per coin to the cost. I say “at least” because most mints also charge for engraving numbers on the coin itself. Would you rather have fewer coins but they’re trackable or more that are for collections only? Again, think about your answer to number 1.

4. Come up with your sketch and features

Mints can take a rough sketch and produce beautiful coins! But, depending on the complexity of your geocoin it can drastically alter your price. Remember, geocoins do not have to be round either!

Yavapai County Centennial Coin

And you also need to think about things like how many colors of enamel you want, the finish of the coin, texture only versus enamel, how detailed it will be, etc. The mint you work with will have lots of ideas and suggestions for you. But be aware that some options will look amazing and have a price tag to match!

The Arizona Centennial Geocoins are trackable along the side. While the engraving was a bit more expensive, it allowed me to use the same dies for the 1,000 collectable “medallions.”

5. Select a mint has a great list of geocoin mints. I recommend contacting a few of them to get prices. Maybe even send them your sketch or artwork to get suggestions. But, be aware that for smaller runs of geocoins some mints charge an artwork fee. You need to be super clear that you are looking for suggestions and a detailed bid.

Then, go with the mint you feel the most comfortable with.

6. Get a finalized quote

Make sure it includes tracking numbers, engraving costs, shipping and handling, artwork fees and anything else you’re concerned about. For trackable coins, I also recommend making sure that the mint will contact on your behalf because all trackable coins must have their designs approved by Groundspeak prior to minting.

7. Decide about payment

Are several geocachers going to go in on the coins? Will you allow the mint to sell your coins (at a profit) in exchange for a few free geocoins? Will an event sponsor foot the bill?

In the case of the Arizona Centennial Coins, I got a start-up loan from the county committee and then sold the coins at my event to pay back the loan and cover the rest of the production costs. But at the end of the day, I still had to put it on MY credit card and then pay it off later!

8. Samples?

I haven’t pulled any samples for my coins that I minted but I know a lot of geocachers swear by them. It’s really up to you. If you’re budget is tight or your unsure how the design will look, then I highly recommend it. Just remember that samples can extend the process 4-6 weeks so allow enough time!


Readers Weigh In:

  • What have been your experiences minting geocoins?
  • Why did you mint your coin? How did it go?

Mystery Monday: Nature Drawing

One of my favorite pastimes when I’m in camp or at the lake is to sit and sketch. I did take a lot of art in school but I’m far form a professional artist by any means. I just have always enjoyed drawing!

Sketch 1

Pencil and watercolors

Sketching is a low-cost hobby, it’s highly portable and people think you’re totally cool. When Jessica and I stopped in Jerome the last time, we literally sat on the roadside and drew buildings. I think we had three different groups of people stop by to tell us that they thought it was totally cool we were sketching and to express the wish that they had artistic ability.

Jessica Sketching

She's leaning against a traffic barrier!

And I’m here to tell you: talent has NOTHING to do with nature drawing!

Because the act of sketching is a lot like fishing: you do it to enjoy the process, not to guarantee you have dinner!

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1. Gather your supplies

Personally, I use a Mead Academie Wirebound Sketch Book. It is spiral bound but has perforated edges, is inexpensive and the paper holds up even to water colors. And as for supplies, frankly, I think Crayola does a GREAT job. I recommend getting colored pencils and water color paints to start out with and then move on to chalk or oil pastels. You can get really brave and get water-soluble colored pencils or oil pastels.

drawing supplies

Sketchbook, pencils (colored and just grey), a pencil sharpener and a good eraser are enough to get me started.

2. Find something to draw

This can be as complex as a landscape or as simple as a flower. Spend some time really LOOKING at your subject. If you were going to just draw an outline, what would it look like? What colors are there?

3. Always use a blank sheet

It’s terrible to have a really great sketch sharing the page with something that can only be called a doodle at best. I also recommend starting as close to the middle of the page as possible as well. It’ll give you the maximum room to spread the subject matter across the page.

4. Jump in and get started

Just pick a spot and get started. The middle or the top; bottom up or from the lower right corner, it doesn’t really matter. Just get pencil to paper and start the sketch.

5. Get over yourself already!

If you ask a 5 year old if she can sing, she’ll ALWAYS say “Yes!” It doesn’t mean she’s going to be the next Taylor Swift however. But she understands that she has the ability to sing. And you have the ability to draw. Enjoy yourself and enjoy a new way to capture memories. And for all you parents out there: it will demonstrate to your kids in a powerful way that you are creative and enjoy taking the time to really LOOK at something.

Further Ideas

  • Date your sketches. I also try to include the place and who I was with.


    I was at White Horse Lake, Aug 2010.

  • Take a photo of your subject. You might want to finish the sketch later or just have a good giggle as to how your sketch looks nothing like what you were drawing!


    This was my inspiration for the flowers above.

  • You can choose what to include and what to leave out. Feel free to add details that aren’t really there or remove aspects that you don’t want to draw or find unattractive. It’s like instant Photoshop.

    This is the inspiration for the sketch at the top of the post. You'll notice I chose not to include all the foreground or even all the trees. And see the branches hanging into view in the upper lef? Yeah, I "Photoshopped" that right out!

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with techniques and drawing tools. Yes, watercolors make my paper wrinkle but I LOVE working with the paint.
  • Corral all your supplies in a tote so when the mood strikes you don’t need to go hunting for your favorite eraser.

And if you want to learn more about Jessica, head over to her blog:

This post contains affiliate links to

Fun Food Fridays: Roasted Broccoli

I know, I know, this isn’t exactly outdoor cooking. But seriously, it’s JANUARY. How many of us are camp-cooking outside in January?

Roasted Broccoli

I ate mine with a barbequed sausage and barbequed mushrooms. Nom, nom, nom.

This recipe is super-simple. In fact, the hardest part of it is remembering how to spell broccoli! (I always think it should have a silent ‘h’ in it…)


  • 1-2 large bunches of broccoli
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4-6 garlic cloves

Pre-heat your oven to 425.

Here’s the trick: make sure your broccoli is super-super dry. I have issues with not washing produce so I ran mine under some water and then shook it, patted it dry, and let it sit for fifteen minutes to air dry. If you’re okay with not washing, go for it.

Raw broccoli


Cut the broccoli into large florets. (As large as you can manage!) Then toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. You want it coated with oil but not drippy.

Put the broccoli on a cookie sheet with the garlic. I peeled mine but again, that’s up to you. To keep my kitchen as mess-free as possible, I line my cookie sheet with foil and then just drizzle the broccoli right on the pan. A sprinkle of salt & pepper and I’m good to go.

Bake for 25 minutes. The broccoli will be tender before then but not crispy so leave it as long as you can!

cooked broccoli

and after!

Set Your Hook: Product Review

Product Review: Wonder Bar Odor Removing Bar

It’s happened to us all: we’re at the lake or campsite and we get into something stinky, and all of our sure-fire at-home methods for getting the smell off our hands are, well, at home. (And how many of us REALLY always bring a lemon fishing with us?)

Here’s the easiest way to get a smell out of your skin (if it’s from fish, PowerBait, or some other unmentionable thing you touched!)

Wonder bar
Use a Wonder Bar! These stainless steel “soaps” work with just plain water and, through enough rubbing, will remove odors.

I recommend the Wonder Bar because it floats. And if you’re kneeling at a lake and drop it… well, you want it back!

I carry my Wonder Bar in my purse and have for years. It’s hollow so it doesn’t weigh anything. And it’s perfect for not only smelly things out in the wilderness but also when you shake hands with someone who is wearing too much perfume or lotion. I’ve also used it when I got gas on my hands, after pulling weeds, or handling anything that I didn’t want to have my skin smell like.

The only thing I don’t like is that it can take a lot of rubbing. But the harder and faster you rub the quicker the smells go away.

Of course, you can always just rub your hands in a metal wash basin but um, gross! Especially a PUBLIC wash basin! And it’s very difficult to get between your fingers or the back of your hands.

And, there’s a big advantage of a Wonder Bar since it’s a bit difficult to rub a knee cap or elbow in the sink! Then, just keep rubbing until the smell is gone, rinsing with clean water between rubs or letting water run over the bar as you scrub.

(Links are affiliate links)

Pitch Your Tent: Craft Project

Best Camping Blanket Ever

I hate getting cold when I’m camping. Hate it, hate it, hate it! That’s why I always use a fleece liner inside (and sometimes on top of) my sleeping bag. Of course, picking the right sleeping bag helps too!

Finished blanket

Finished blanket and Lily the mascot!

So when I ran across this fleece blanket I knew I had to add it to my camping collection. This is a basic, no sew fleece blanket that’s warm and simple to make.

The best part about fleece? It won’t unravel! Ever. And some fleece is made from recycled plastic. How cool is that!

1. You start with two pieces of fleece. Each should be two or two and half yards (72 inches) and 60 inches wide. Now, do yourself a favor and get thick, heavy fleece! Yes, you can buy it at a discount store but it isn’t as nice. And if you go to one of the better fabric stores you can get it in all different colors and patterns.

Or you can buy a no sew blanket kit. (Amazon affiliate link)

2. Make your bed. No seriously, a queen size bed is the PERFECT place to lay out this blanket since it is a large and elevated surface. I think it would slip around too much on a table.

3. Place the fleece layers wrong sides together. That’s the side that is less fuzzy OR the side where the pattern isn’t as pretty. The fleece will “stick” to itself so make sure that it’s nice and flat.

4. Line up the edges as best you can. I can guarantee one piece will be wider than the other AND one piece will be longer. Trim the excess so both pieces are about the same size. Don’t worry about cutting straight or if the pieces aren’t exactly square. You’ll never see it on the finished project!

5. Make a line of pins around each side 7 inches in from the edge. Don’t worry if you drift a bit! I use a regular school ruler to help me measure in 7 inches.

6. Cut 7″ squares out of each corner. The blanket will now look like this:

corners cut out7. Cut 7 inches into fleece at one-inch intervals around all four sides. Be sure to cut through BOTH layers. And you want to make your strips about and inch. Again, don’t worry if they’re not perfectly straight or perfectly seven inches long. However, if you go much wider than and 1.5 inches it WILL make it hard to tie!


You can see the fringe and the pins. These are a bit wider than an inch but an inch wide strips are MUCH easier to tie!

8. Using a double knot, tie the fringe pieces together. Make sure you get one from the top and one from the bottom AND that you don’t jump ahead on one layer. You want the knots to be firm but not too tight or it will pull the fabric.

Knot step 1

Knot step 1

Knot step 2

Knot step 2

Knot step 3 (Finished knot)

Knot step 3 (Finished knot)

You can use a shorter length of material for a child’s blanket. Launder according to fleece directions. I just throw mine in the washing machine on cold, regular cycle and then into the drier. I DO try to empty the lint trap halfway through the drying cycle.

Find Your Geocache: Planning a Poker Event

Holding A Poker Run Event

Back when I was organizing my big multi-day geocaching event, I decided that one of the games I would offer would be a poker run. It seemed easy and straightforward. I based it off the AJACS event we attended in 2010.

Here’s a link if you’re wondering What is a geocaching poker run?

Overall, the event went well, but I have some additional ideas and suggestions if you’re thinking of hosting a poker run event of your own.

1. Decide on the ante

I did a 50/50 pot with a $5 per player ante. The overall winner got 50% of the pot. The other 50% went to offset event costs. We had about 40 people at the event but not everyone participated. Some people were turned off that it would “cost” money but I just kept stressing that the event itself was free and the poker run was optional.

$5 ante

2. Decide how many decks

We played with 5 decks and every time a geocacher would ante up, I would assign them to a deck A-E. I went in order figuring that it would be more fair to have 3 players per deck than to have 5 players on Deck A, 5 on Deck B, and 2 on Deck C.

There are 52 cards in a deck and 5 caches of cards placed. So that means 10 choices per cache or a maximum of 10 players per deck.

Poker Registration Form download in Microsoft Excel

3. Decide on prizes

Remember that the best hand in each deck gets a prize so make sure you have enough! I went with $5.00 gift cards to Walmart. I contacted a few of my local business owner friends who each donated money to the event. Then at the event I plugged, Plugged, PLUGGED their businesses. (And sent Thank You cards after!)

4. Decide on the rules

I actually HAD a copy of the poker run rules from the AJACS event so for my event I robbed and duplicated. However, it never occurred to me to specifically outline what actions would be considered cheating. And yes, I did have a geocacher try to cheat. It really surprised me — don’t let it surprise you! Spell out what will happen to cheaters in advance and then don’t be afraid to follow through.

I also put a hard deadline on when the SEALED envelopes needed to be returned. And then I enforced it! I also enforced that the envelopes still had to be sealed.

Poker Run Rules download in Microsoft Excel

5. Invest in 5 good cache containers (ammo cans!) and chain with locks

Let’s face it, a barely hidden ammo can is temptation to EVERYBODY. So take the time and make sure that you chain yours securely so it can’t grow legs for the event.

6. Buy your supplies

One deck will allow up to 10 players so plan accordingly. It would be terrible not to have enough! And you’ll need 52 security envelopesper deck.

(Amazon affiliate links. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deals!)
Security Envelopes7. Prep the decks

You’ll need a TON of small security envelopes; 52 per deck. You’ll label 52 envelopes with your deck letter and then number them 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 for the cache container. Make sure that you put 10 in 3 containers and 11 in the last two.

Remember what I said about cheating? Well, it turns out that by flexing the envelope and holding it to the sun, you can more or less see through the security printing. The solution? FOLD the playing card in half. Is it more work? Yes. But it makes cheating virtually impossible.

8. Brush up on your knowledge of winning poker hands

Here’s a .pdf download from that even has PICTURES. I printed a similar list and then brought it with me to the event.

9. Plan how you’ll open and tabulate results

I gathered each hand, labeled the envelopes and stuck a rubber band around it to deal with later. DON’T DO THAT! I was too much work at the end of the event, the geocacher didn’t get to watch me unseal the envelopes (to know I wasn’t cheating either), and then it made calculating hands a nightmare.

What was suggested to me was to get a big cork board and pushpins. Then you’d open the 5 sealed envelopes with the geocacher and pin it to the cork board with their name and deck assignment. That way, everybody could see at a glance what everybody had. I LOVED that idea and will implement it in the future.

Readers Weigh In:
Any other suggestions for a basic, 5-card poker run?

Mystery Mondays: Goals for 2012

Welcome to 2012! There’s a tradition in the “Royal” Family of spending some time every January 1st to write down our goals for the coming year. This year, however, those plans were derailed by needing to prep for the arrival of all new carpet in my parents’ house.

But, just because it wasn’t a formal goal setting session, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have some goals and plans for 2012.

This year, I’m trying to minimize the goals like “52 weeks of 5 blog posts a week” and substitute it for goals like “meaningful blog posts, every week” to give myself some flexibility and recognize that real life happens while I’m NOT on the computer.

Of course, I do have some goals that are pretty specific. One such is to hunt down all the posts where I’ve promised I’d work on updates and changes and actually get them done! And yes, I realize that it might be for my own piece of mind rather than because it is just absolutely necessary that every single yurt in Montana be listed on the website.

One of the things I’ve got planned for 2012 is to see the culmination of a year’s hard work on my part for Arizona’s Centennial Project. After all, Arizona is the 48th state in the union so that means that in our lifetime there will only be THREE more state centennials. I find that exciting to be part of history.

I also have big plans to nurture my creativity in more eBooks and videos. I’ve got quite a few projects in the beginning phases that I just can’t wait to get to.

What about you:

Do you set goals for the coming year? What are they?

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